So you’re getting enough protein, adding plenty of healthy fats, but what about the rest of it? Yes, vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, but how do you make sure your child is getting enough B12 and iron?
These two nutrients, in particular, are more commonly found in animal foods, and are often missing in vegetarian diets. It doesn’t have to be that way, however.
Vitamin B12 is important for energy, mood stability, and brain function. In fact, symptoms of B12 deficiency are so similar to those of depression that psychiatrists in some European countries are required to prescribe B vitamins before any psychiatric medications.
Absorbing B12 and from food sources requires healthy digestion, so if you find yourself deficient, check out that piece of the puzzle, as well. (N.B. Certain medications are linked to B12 deficiency, particularly those prescribed for acid reflux.)
B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, so vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products fare slightly better than their vegan counterparts. All hope is not lost, however! You can get your recommended daily amount through fortified foods like Vega One and certain non-dairy milks, and natural sources like tempeh, seaweeds, spirulina and chlorella, nutritional yeast, and even mushrooms!
Iron is another important part of energy levels, playing a key role in blood oxygen delivery. Those with low iron experience low energy, irritability, pale skin, and weakness. It is especially important for females, once they have begun to menstruate.
Iron is surprisingly easy to come by in a vegetarian diet. It can be found in lentils, beans, and peas, sesame and pumpkin seeds, vegetables like swiss chard and spinach, and even in dried fruits like apricots. Also, just 2 Tbsp of Blackstrap Molasses contains nearly all the iron you need in a day. You can boost your absorption of food-sourced iron by pairing iron-rich foods with foods high in Vitamin C. (Think spinach salad with a lemon vinaigrette.)
And you’re in luck: the spirulina and chlorella you’re already taking for your B 12 levels also contain quite a bit of iron!
So if you were to make a smoothie with:
Fortified non-dairy milk
Vega One Protein Powder
Spirulina and Chlorella
Strawberries (high in Vitamin C)
you’d be getting a huge hit of B12 and iron with very little effort at all!
What are your favorite ways of getting these nutrients into your diet?
About The Author:
Kelly Boaz, CNP
Kelly is a holistic nutritionist, specializing in eating disorder recovery and food freedom. She is also a public speaker (TEDx King St. West, TDSB) and a writer. Learn more about Kelly, and about booking private consultations at kellyboaz.com Twitter: @kelly_boaz Facebook: /KellyBoazDotCom