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Nutrition The Basics Continued.

 

 

 

 

 

We need calcium for strong bones (along with its super sidekick Vitamin D, which helps us to absorb it). Calcium is essential for your body’s growth and development, so as well as eating plant foods rich in it, make sure you eat lots of fruit, vegetables, and protein.

Keeping in mind that cow’s milk contains 124-130 mg of calcium[1], the foods listed below are great dairy-free sources of calcium:

Food Serving Calcium (mg)
Non-dairy fortified milks, e.g. soya, almond, coconut, hemp, oat 250ml 300
Individual yoghurt portion 150 gr 150
Tofu (calcium-set) e.g. Cauldron plain tofu One 250 gr pack 500
Kale boiled 80 gr 120
Raw watercress 80 gr 130
Brazil nuts 30 grams (small handful) 130
Pak choi 100 gr 105
Dried figs 100 gr – four to six pieces fruit 250
Orange 1 medium 50

‘……..there are lots of other non-dairy sources of calcium including fortified soya products, pulses, nuts, seeds and white bread. Additionally, fresh fruit and vegetables contain a number of key vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are good for bones’

 

 

Iodine helps make the thyroid hormones, which keep cells and the metabolic rate healthy. As with vitamin D, there is concern that many UK citizens, vegan or not, are not receiving adequate iodine in their diet.

  • Some countries add iodine to table salt (but we realise salt is not exactly a health food!). A better, regular source of iodine can be obtained from sea vegetables or supplements.If you regularly eat seaweed (multiple times a week), you will probably get adequate iodine from the seaweed. However, the availability of iodine from seaweed is variable and it can provide too much iodine.**
  • Health professionals suggest a modest iodine supplement: 75-150 µg every few days.
  • Cereals and grains can also be good source of iodine, but this depends on the amount of iodine in the soil where these foods are grown. [1]

**Word of caution: you can consume too much iodine by eating kelp, and hijiki should be avoided as it has been found to be contaminated with arsenic.[2]

 

 

 

 

 

A great way to guarantee you’re absorbing enough iron from plant foods is to eat a significant source of vitamin C with meals (such as an orange or orange juice), and avoid tea and coffee when eating.

Your body needs iron to be healthy and strong. It is needed to make proteins, such as haemoglobin and myoglobin. Popeye, however, wasn’t entirely accurate; while spinach does contain iron, it doesn’t have significant amounts of it – just 2.71mg in 100g[1], in fact!

Some iron-rich foods are other dark green leafy veg, dark chocolatesweet potatoes, peas, tofu, dried fruit – raisins, dates, figs, prunes and apricots, molasses, beans, artichokes, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds (these are great sprinkled on top of your morning cereal or porridge).

Here are some more suggestions, complete with levels:

Food Serving Iron (mg)
Fortified cereals 40 gr Varies according to brands: Grape-Nuts and Raisin Bran are amongst the highest, with up to 12 mg per serving
Baked beans Half a tin 2.5
Spaghetti Medium-sized serving 1.3
Kidney beans Quarter of a tin 2

A very small percentage of women develop iron-deficiency anaemia – this is especially the case with endurance runners, or women with heavy periods. If you have concerns about your iron levels, please visit your GP. They may decide to take a blood test and recommend supplementation if your iron levels are low.

The UK’s RDA of iron[2] varies depending on your age and sex:

  • Male 19-50 years: 8.7 mg
  • Females 19-50: 14.8 mg
  • Females 50 years and over: 8.7 mg

 

 

 

 

 

There are three types of fat in our diet: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are called non-essential fats, as our bodies can make these. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats that we need to obtain from our diets – the two types are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Easy omega cheats:

  • Flaxseeds are great in smoothies, over muesli or cereal, and can be used in place of eggs in baking.
  • Add walnuts, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to plant based yoghurts or muesli.
  • Western diets tend to have a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and it is often higher in vegans. It is essential to obtain a regular supply of omega-3, as it is essential for our bodies to function. Try and increase your intake on omega-3 and control your intake of omega-6 fatty acids.

Good sources of omega-3 are:

In contrast, fats higher in omega-6 fatty acids are obtained from:

According to two credible nutrition authorities, the World Health Organisation and European Food Safety Authority, you should get at least half a percent of your calories from the short-chain omega-3 ALA in the food sources above. Your body can then take the short-chain omega-3 from these and elongate it into the long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA found in fish fat. The question, however, is whether the body can make enough for optimal brain health. Until we know more, Dr Greger recommends taking 250mg (2-3 times per week) of pollutant-free long chain omega-3s directly. (These are obtained from algae; this is where fish get their omega-3 from!).

Vegan supplements providing DHA or DHA plus EPA are widely available we have a fantastic filter on this website. Just choose the product you are interested in and go to the ‘vegan’ filter.

More and more women are realising that a plant based diet is a healthy way to eat during pregnancy and that there’s no reason to stop being vegan just because you’re pregnant [1].

  • Following a vegan diet during pregnancy is a positive way to help ensure your unborn baby is given the best start, as many of the well-known foods to avoid are naturally omitted, such as fish, raw milk and cheese, soft and blue cheeses, deli meats, luncheon meats, hot-dogs and under cooked meats [2]. However, you must also take into account the food that you need to eat more of in order to give your baby all the nutrition they need.
  • All vitamins and minerals are vital during pregnancy and eating a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, wholegrain products, beans, nuts and seeds virtually ensures that you’ll meet most of your nutrient needs (i). However, there are certain nutrients you need to be more aware of as a vegan. Vitamin B12iodine, and choline are nutrients that vegan mothers should make sure they have a reliable supply of [3].
  • The UK NHS recommends that all pregnant women take a supplement containing 400mcg of folic acid in the first trimester of pregnancy and 400 iu of Vitamin D, during the whole of pregnancy. Read on to find out more about these vital vitamins and minerals…

Vitamin B12

B12 protects the nervous system. Without it, permanent damage can result (e.g., blindness, deafness, dementia). Fatigue, and tingling in the hands or feet, can be early signs of deficiency.

Vitamin B12, like folate, is needed to help red blood cells divide. With B12 deficiency, their blood cells will fail to divide properly and they will become fatigued and suffer from macrocytic (aka megaloblastic) anaemia.

Luckily, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria such that it does not need to be obtained from animal products [5].

There are only two reliable sources of vitamin B12 for vegans: foods fortified with this nutrient, for example, fortified plant milks and yoghurts and B12 enriched nutritional yeast, which is grown on a B12-rich medium, and supplements[6].

Your baby’s nervous system develops before birth and in the first few months thereafter. Vitamin B12, folate, iodine, DHA (an essential fatty acid) and protein are all essential nutrients to assist with this, ensuring your baby has a healthy functioning nervous system.

Babies who have not yet built up their reserves of B12 MUST get adequate dietary vitamin B12. Without it, the infant can develop brain damage. When a breastfeeding mother is getting sufficient B12, her baby will receive enough through her milk.

In the UK, the NHS recommends around 1.5mcg per day for all adults aged 19 – 64[7]. In the USA, the recommended intake of vitamin B12 for pregnant women is 2.6 mcg, and for nursing mothers it’s 2.8mcg[8].

Some good sources of Vitamin B12 include:

A number of ways exist to get enough vitamin B12. One of, or a combination of, the following approaches are particularly recommended:

  • Take a B12 supplement daily – A good quality vitamin or multi-vitamin that includes 25 – 100 mcg of vitamin B12 should be sufficient.
  • Eat Fortified Foods Daily – Eat two servings of B12 fortified foods daily, such as non-dairy milks, vegetarian meat, cereals, nutritional yeast flakes, and yeast extract.

There’s not currently enough evidence to know exactly what the effects of taking daily high doses of Vitamin B12, but it’s understood that taking 2mg or less each day is unlikely to be harmful[7]. It’s not recommended to take higher doses than this, and if you’re really worried about it, always seek professional advice.

Vitamin D

Mothers who breastfeed their babies MUST ensure that they have adequate vitamin D levels. Breast-fed babies are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency so this is crucial, particularly if they do not receive a daily supplement and live in the more northern parts of the hemisphere. A deficiency in vitamin D, can have an effect on the development of your baby’s bones.

The Department of Health recommends that all babies have vitamin D drops from birth to make sure they get enough. Babies who are having more than 500ml (about a pint) of infant formula don’t need vitamin drops because formula is already fortified with vitamins[9].

If you’re unsure about any of this, ask your doctor for more information on a suitable dose for your baby and ensure not to give them more than what is recommended.

Calcium

Calcium helps your baby’s teeth to develop, even though they don’t appear for some time after birth. They develop during your pregnancy, along with your baby’s skeleton, around three weeks after conception. Babies born at full term contain approximately 20g – 30g of calcium, most of which is laid down during the last trimester [10]. As this is the peak time for bone growth, your baby will need 200 – 250 mg of calcium every day. During this period the baby’s bones are very supple and by the time they are born, they will have accumulated about one ounce of calcium in their bones, provided by you.

In order to compensate for the additional calcium requirements during this time, your body is increasing its absorption by double! Despite this fact, the RDA of calcium remains the same during pregnancy as it was pre-pregnancy – 700mg per day. Experts don’t consider that any increment is necessary during pregnancy[10], so as long as your calcium levels were good beforehand, and you are continuing with a similar diet, then you should be okay. Be sure to get these levels checked if you are unsure though.

Good vegan calcium sources:

  • Green vegetables – Kale, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, collard greens
  • Nuts (almonds)
  • Seeds (tahini)
  • Fruits (figs) and fortified fruit juices
  • Fortified tofu and soya beans
  • Often spinach and sweet potatoes are said to include good calcium levels, however the oxalic acid present in these foods affects the amount your body is able to absorb from them. Around 30% of the calcium content of foods is absorbed by the body.

Iron

During pregnancy your body’s requirements for iron and zinc are high. It’s recognised that if iron stores are inadequate at the start of pregnancy, it may be necessary to take supplements. In practice, many women are prescribed iron supplements during pregnancy and may also be given dietary advice to help them increase their iron intake[10]. Most nutritionists advise any pregnant woman to take a good quality iron supplement during this time, just to be safe, as it’s very hard to meet this need.

Good vegan sources of iron:

During pregnancy, iron not only assists your body with its usual role of helping red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, it also helps deliver oxygen to your baby. During pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters, your body’s blood supply increases 40 – 50%. So to make this extra blood, you need a lot more iron!

Naturally, a woman’s body absorbs iron better during their pregnancy, so take advantage of this by stocking up on iron rich plant-based foods and letting nature work it’s magic!

The reason why vegans struggle to get enough iron during pregnancy is that the form of iron found in plant-based foods, known as non-heme iron, is not as easy for the body to absorb as some forms found in meat products (heme iron). The institute of Medicine suggest that vegetarians have 1.8 times more iron than meat eaters to compensate for this.

While you may have to think more thoroughly about this one, it’s perfectly viable to get just what your body needs during your pregnancy on a vegan diet if you endeavor to make good food choices, speak with your healthcare provider and keep a stock of good quality vegan iron supplements.

Zinc

The recommended daily intake of zinc for women is 7mg, and 9.5mg per day for men[11].

Vegan diets can include substances that inhibit zinc absorption, so it is important to take this into account, especially during pregnancy. Needs for vegans may actually be 50% higher than the RDI. The reason for this is due to the fact that plant foods, particularly unrefined grains such as wholemeal bread, pasta and rice, are high in phytates, which can block zinc absorption [12].

According to some studies, intake of zinc should be increased when on a vegan diet to between 12 and 16.5 mg a day[13].

Good vegan sources of zinc include:

Iodine

Iodine is needed for healthy thyroid function which regulates metabolism. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early infancy can result in cretinism (irreversible mental retardation and severe motor impairments) and can inhibit brain development in a fetus, so vegan women should ensure a reliable source of iodine [13].

Sea vegetables are one good source of iodine in vegan diets, although the amount varies greatly and some types may contribute excessive amounts of iodine. The most reliable source of this nutrient is iodized salt – or an iodine supplement 

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

There are three types of fat in our diet: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are called non-essential fats, as our bodies can make these. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats that we need to obtain from our diets – the two types are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Easy omega cheats:

  • Flaxseeds (American name) Linseed (European name) are great in smoothies, over muesli or cereal, and can be used in place of eggs in baking.
  • Add walnuts, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to plant based yoghurts or muesli.
  • Western diets tend to have a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, and it is often higher in vegans. It is essential to obtain a regular supply of omega-3, as it is essential for our bodies to function. Try and increase your intake on omega-3 and control your intake of omega-6 fatty acids.

Good sources of omega-3 are:

  • Ground flaxseeds (Linseeds) – 1-2 tbsp a day should supply your needs
  • Chia seeds – 2 tsp
  • Walnuts (4 halves) and walnut oil – 1 tbsp
  • Canola oil is richer in omega 3 fatty acids than other neutral tasting oils so use this when you need a plain oil. Otherwise extra virgin olive oil is recommended for its other nutritional properties.

In contrast, fats higher in omega-6 fatty acids are obtained from:

According to two credible nutrition authorities, the World Health Organisation and European Food Safety Authority, you should get at least half a percent of your calories from the short-chain omega-3 ALA in the food sources above. Your body can then take the short-chain omega-3 from these and elongate it into the long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA found in fish fat. The question, however, is whether the body can make enough for optimal brain health. Until we know more, Dr Greger recommends taking 250mg (2-3 times per week) of pollutant-free long chain omega-3s directly. (These are obtained from algae; this is where fish get their omega-3 from!).

Vegan supplements providing DHA or DHA plus EPA are widely available at http:www.yourhealthylifeshop.co.uk.

Vitamin D

With indoor living, clothing and avoiding the sun inadequate levels of vitamin D are being seen increasingly in the UK population as a whole.

A nationwide survey published in the British Medical Journal found that more than 50% of the general adult population have insufficient levels of vitamin D, and that 16% have severe deficiency during winter and spring.

Public Health England now recommends that everyone in the UK take a vitamin D supplement in autumn or winter of 10mcg (400 IU) a day.

Ensuring regular sunlight in the spring and summer months will also help. Fifteen minutes each day of midday sun on the forearms and face without sunblock should produce sufficient vitamin D for Caucasians under the age of sixty during summer. Those who have darker skin or who are older may require thirty minutes or more.

Other’s have recommended higher doses of vitamin D.

Useful Online Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

There may be a lot of protein in meat, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anywhere else. In fact, vegans simply do what cows, pigs, sheep and chickens do; we go to the source – plants.

Legumes (beans, peanuts, peas, lentils and soy), seitan, and quinoa are the best sources of protein, and you’ll also find it in grains (brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, bulgar); nuts (brazil, peanut, cashew, almond, pistachio and walnut); and to a lesser extent, green vegetables (kale, sweet corn, artichoke, and brussels sprouts).

While protein is an essential macronutrient, protein deficiency is not a concern for most of the UK population. That said, it’s important to be aware of what plant based foods are protein-rich, and try to include some in all your meals and to eat a variety of plant-based proteins.

There are 20 amino acids which make up protein and our body is able to make most of these itself. However, there are 9 aminos which we need to get from food, and these are known as essential amino acids.

While plant-based foods on their own will have most of these, there are 2 essential amino acids that some foods are lower in than others – lysine and methionine. Typically, cereals such as rice and wheat are lower in lysine, and legumes like beans, pulses & peas are lower in methionine. By ensuring you’re eating a balanced diet that includes both methionine-containing cereals and lysine-containing legumes, you’ll be getting all of the essential aminos .

Here are a few good high-protein meal ideas:

Peanut Butter Sandwich

Tofu Scramble/Stir Fry with Tofu

Veggie Burger

Tempeh sandwich

Hummus Wrap

Lentil Soup/Bolognese/Shepherd’s Pie

Bean Burrito

Quinoa Salad/Burger

We’ve gathered together many fantastic recipes full of protein, and we think the only challenge you’ll have is finding the time to make them all!

It is worth noting that it is high-calorie and high-protein foods that give you that ‘full’ feeling. Simply removing animal products from a standard diet could leave you with mostly low-calorie foods such as salads, vegetables, and fruit. Eating only these foods could quickly leave you feeling hungry and weak. Some people make this mistake and then feel that being vegan is a challenge.

Many animal products are high in fat – some have over 50% of calories come from fat. Removing these can drastically reduce your fat intake (especially saturated fat), which can be hugely beneficial, especially if you have high cholesterol [1]. Make sure, however, that you are getting adequate plant fats in your diet – these are the good fats and essential for health. Sources of plant fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, and olives.

provided by www.vegauary.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selenium plays a key role in metabolism.

Selenium is an essential trace element that plays a key role in helping the immune system and preventing damage to cells and tissue [1].

In some countries, the UK included, selenium levels in the soil are very low. Plants get selenium from the soil, and so the levels of selenium available in the soil will affect how much is available in plant-based foods [2]. Brazil nuts are a brilliant source of selenium. Just one a day can provide all your needs [3], or you can make sure you get some via a selenium supplement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamin A is essential to human health. It is great for our eyesight, our immune system and bone growth[1].

Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A. This means that good sources of Vitamin A are vegetables that are high in beta-carotene – carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, cantaloupe, mango, apricots, and kale – so eat some of these every day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The biggie (and probably the most controversial). It need not be. Ensure that you get a reliable source of vitamin B12 through fortified foods (eat at least two a day at different meals) or cyanocobalamin supplements. In the US, the RDA recommends 2.4mcg per day [1], and in the UK the recommended dose is 1.5mcg per day [2].

Oregon State University in the USA has put out recommendations that people over the age of 51 either take B12 supplements or consume foods fortified with B12 to make sure they are reaching a Recommended Daily Allowance of 2.4mcg [3].

Fortified foods. You’ll hear that a lot. But what does it actually mean? Well in this case, it means that it has B12 added, and if you eat these foods regularly, then you may be getting enough B12 to hit your RDA of 2.4mcg. If this seems like it might be difficult then take a daily B12 supplement and worry no more.

Examples of some fortified foods are, fortified non-dairy milks and yoghurts, fortified nutritional yeast (known as ‘nooch’ within the vegan community!) and marmite.

As B12 is non-toxic there is no harm in taking higher levels if you choose to. The body only absorbs as much as it needs to so there is no point in taking high doses [4].

It is important to note that if you are concerned about your B12 levels, you should get them checked by a medical professional. If you are low in B12, you may have an issue with absorbing it and regardless of how much you have in your diet, medical intervention may be required. This is relevant to everyone, regardless of their current diet.

 

 

 

 

 

With indoor living, clothing and avoiding the sun inadequate levels of vitamin D are being seen increasingly in the UK population as a whole.

  • A nationwide survey published in the British Medical Journal found that more than 50% of the general adult population have insufficient levels of vitamin D, and that 16% have severe deficiency during winter and spring.

Public Health England now recommends that everyone in the UK take a vitamin D supplement in autumn or winter of 10mcg (400 IU) a day.

Ensuring regular sunlight in the spring and summer months will also help. Fifteen minutes each day of midday sun on the forearms and face without sunblock should produce sufficient vitamin D for Caucasians under the age of sixty during summer. Those who have darker skin or who are older may require thirty minutes or more.

Other’s have recommended higher doses of vitamin D. There are many vegan Vitamin D Supplements.

 

 

 

 

 

Zinc helps our body grow new cells, promotes healing[1] and aids with processing carbohydrates[2]. Good sources of zinc include legumes, nuts, seeds and oats, leafy green vegetables, and sprouted seeds and beans.

This article has been downloaded via www.veganuary.com

Please note http://www.yourhealthylifeshop.co.uk has placed easy links to a selection of vegan products that are available online.

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