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Vegetarian Nutrition

Q: A friend has told me that as a vegetarian, I’m in danger of missing out on essential vitamins and minerals, particularly zinc and the B vitamins. Is this true, and if so, what foods should I eat that provide these nutrients but aren’t that high in calories?

A: Assuming you still eat dairy products such as low-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, it’s unlikely you’ll be deficient in vitamins and minerals, including zinc or the B vitamins, as these foods are particularly rich sources of many nutrients. It’s intakes of iron that are often low in people who follow a vegetarian diet as red meat is one of the best sources of this nutrient. Consequently, if you eliminate all meat from your diet – and don’t replace it with other iron-rich foods – you’re at risk of having a low intake of iron, which in the long term, can lead to iron-deficiency anaemia.

Fortunately, there are plenty of non-meat foods that contain iron, so it’s important to eat these regularly. These include eggs (if you eat them), fortified breakfast cereals, pulses, green leafy veg, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. You’ll find out more about the iron content of different foods, including those suitable for vegetarians, by clicking on: Related Question.

If dairy products don’t feature in your diet, then it’s really important to ensure that you have a well-balanced vegan diet. You’ll find out more about this here: Related Question.

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More on vegetarianism:

http://www.vegsoc.org

Find out more about events, new recipes and veggie starter packs at: http://www.nationalvegetarianweek.org/

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Using the food diary and database in WLR will enable you to track and balance your diet. You'll also see how many calories and other nutrients you need and consume. You can try it free for 24 hours.

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