Tuesday 6 December 2016

Promotion: Nutrition for vegetarians

Dr Evelyn Hannon

Published 01/11/2010 | 11:10

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

I have recently decided to become vegetarian but am a bit worried that I might be missing out on some important nutrients. Would you have any tips?

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LowLow nutritionist Dr Evelyn Hannon replies:

A vegetarian diet can be nutritionally balanced but the mistake that people make is to simply give up meat and fish without thinking about replacing the important nutrients. My advice is to either be a ‘good’ vegetarian or not at all!

Key nutrients that you need to pay attention to include:

Protein

Alternative sources include milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, quorn and soya products.

Iron

Non-meat sources include fortified breakfast cereals, boiled eggs, green leafy vegetables, baked beans, nuts (eg cashew, almonds, brazil), seeds (sesame and sunflower) and wholemeal bread.

It is harder to absorb iron from non-meat sources so it is a good idea to include fruit and vegetables that are high in vitamin C (eg oranges, berries, melon, tomatoes and peppers) as part of your five a day as this will help you absorb iron.

So, for example a glass of 100pc orange juice with your breakfast cereal in the morning is a great combination.

Calcium

Vegan diets in particular are often low in calcium as vegans do not eat dairy products. Non-dairy sources include calcium-fortified soya milk, sesame seeds, nuts (almond and brazil), green vegetables and dried fruit (eg figs).

Vitamin B12

Non-meat sources include dairy products, eggs, yeast extract and vitamin B12 fortified foods such as breakfast cereals or soya milk which are particularly important for vegans.

Vitamin D

Oily fish is one of the few food sources of vitamin D. Alternative sources include vitamin D fortified foods and eggs. We can also make vitamin D by the action of sunlight on our skin, but unfortunately many of us do not get enough vitamin D from this source in Ireland!



Thanks to LowLow Nutritionist Dr Evelyn Hannon RPHNutr. For more information on LowLow check out www.facebook.com/lowlowireland

If you have a question for Dr Evelyn, email health@independent-digital.com

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