What Supplements should Vegetarians take?
Vegetarian diets have a wide range of benefits, from reduced risk of chronic diseases to positive environmental impact. But why would someone switch from eating meat to veggies only? Well, if you love meat, you need to know someone somewhere doesn’t.
Harvard health research shows that most people choose to be vegetarians for different reasons, including religious convictions, health and concerns about animal welfare. To others, it’s the concern that eating meat impacts the environment, from farmers cutting trees for sufficient grazing land to antibiotic-c resistant bacteria from farm animal treatments.
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While a well-planned vegetarian diet has almost everything your body needs for healthy living, some essential nutrients are impossible to obtain from plant-based diets. This means you may have to take supplements that help ensure your blood levels are fully functional at optimal range in every body part.
Why should I maintain a well-balanced vegetarian diet?
Generally, a vegetarian diet involves not eating meat; instead, the person only sticks to plant-based foods. However, there are different types of vegetarians; some have flexible diets where meat isn’t cut out entirely, while some have strictly no-meat meals.
As much as this type of diet can be quite hard to stick to for some people, it comes with different benefits including:
Vegetarian diets often have low fats and calories, which frequently cause weight problems. So even if it's cutting out the weight for a week or two, these diets significantly lower the weight factor making it easy for one to manage their weight.
Reduced risk of chronic diseases
Most antibiotic-resistant chronic diseases are believed to have come from eating farm animals that have been subjected to constant chemical treatment. In addition, meat-heavy diets often lack important minerals and nutrients found in veggies. So vegetables and fruits are useful in lowering cholesterol and preventing heart complications, diabetes and many other diseases.
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Positive environmental impact
Many vegetarians are against the negative impact that eating meat has on the environment. For instance, when farmers need parcels of land to breed livestock for red meat, they often cut down trees massively, leading to CO2 emissions and other climate changes. So following a vegetarian diet helps reduce the impact of food production.
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What supplements should vegetarians take?
There are different nutrients you can’t get entirely from plant-based foods. So, if you cut animal products completely, you’ll need to take supplements with your meals from time to time to ensure your body functions properly.
Among the nutrients that you need to supplement for are:
This nutrient is primarily found in animal products so, cutting them off completely means you may be at risk of low red blood cell count or other issues to do with DNA synthesis and nerve function. So you can consume vitamin B12 supplements such as nutritional yeast, plant-based milk or breakfast cereals and many others.
The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight though the body gets its optimal boosts from fatty fish, eggs and different fortified products. So, suppose you are not taking any animal products and are living in winterised northern climates. In that case, it’s essential that you take supplements to help ensure your body maintains optimum bone health and immune function.
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Iron plays a key role in red blood cell formation and carrying oxygen across the body. Although you can get iron from beans, spinach, lentils and other fortified grains, these plant-based foods won’t meet the required iron production in your body. Instead, you may want to combine them with iron-rich fruits such as citrus to enhance the body's iron production.
Zinc is essential for wound healing, immune function, cell growth and division. These nutrients are readily found in beans,
Omega-3 fatty acids
Fatty acids are essential for your heart's well-being, although they are commonly found in fatty fish. You can obtain them from chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds and hempseeds, in addition to algae-based supplements. You can also have zinc-fortified foods as long as you handle the deficiency in your body.
You can get calcium nutrients majorly from dairy products. But if you are strictly against animal products, you risk deficiency unless you take fortified plant-based milk, kale, and other leafy greens. But for assured body function, you may want to take calcium supplements.
How to take vegetarian supplements?
If you are thinking of switching to being a vegetarian or it's your first time as one, one of the things you may never get told is it's not that easy to stick to being a vegetarian. But if you have made up your mind about it, here are some tips to guide you on how to go about the same:
Take the supplement with food
It is one thing to consume a supplement and another for your body to absorb the same into your bloodstream. Many other factors determine your body’s absorption rate and how long the supplements will be effective. So for effective consumption, it is best to take your supplements with other meals, whether breakfast or evening meals for faster absorption.
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Store the supplement properly
Most supplements have less than 10% natural ingredients, so you need to handle them carefully from storage to your usage. Advisably it is best to store your supplements in a cool and dry place that won’t affect the status of the ingredients in your supplement.
Choose a reputable brand
Are you aware of legislation that ensures you consume quality supplements and food products? This is why every medicinal or food product you purchase today will have a list of the ingredients and many other items. This, however, is not enough to guarantee that you will have a pure supplement, so you also have to ensure you buy from reputable brands for your safety.
While supplements are important for your vegetarian lifestyle, you have to remember that they should not replace a healthy diet. So you need to focus on eating nutrient-dense plant-based foods that satisfy your body's requirements. Misusing these products may have its effects. You have to know when to switch a supplement if it's not working to when to stop using one. This you can only learn from a qualified health care provider.
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