7 Most Important Nutrients You Need As A Vegan (Part 2)

Make sure that you have read part 1 of this series before you read this blog post! If you have read part 1, let's dive into part 2: The remaining 3 (out of 7) important nutrients vegans should make sure they get enough of. 

*KIND REMINDER* These are UK recommended levels. Check your local guidelines and speak with your Healthcare Professional before taking supplements. 

 

5. SELENIUM

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Selenium is a mineral and it has powerful antioxidant-like properties. Selenium helps prevent cell damage, is essential for successful male and female reproduction and has an antiviral effect. It’s a strong mineral! 

How much do I need and where can I get it?

60mcg (micrograms) for women and 75mcg for men per day is recommended. It’s important not to take too much selenium as high intakes of selenium can be toxic.

Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium but have no more than 2 brazil nuts per day, as they contain a lot of selenium. Selenium is also found in chia seeds, brown rice, sunflower seeds and mushrooms. However, as there are only a few good sources of selenium, you can also discuss taking a selenium supplement with your Healthcare Professional.

 

6. CALCIUM

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Calcium is important for healthy bones, muscle contraction, cell signalling, and nerve function. And no, you do not need to consume dairy to get enough calcium. Unbiased research (not funded by the dairy industry) shows that dairy consumption does not improve bone health. Good news: you can get sufficient amounts of calcium on a vegan diet.

How much do I need and where can I get it?

The recommendation is 700 milligrams per day.

Good vegetable sources of calcium include chia seeds, almonds, spring greens, kale, pak choi, okra and dried figs.

Other excellent sources of calcium include calcium-fortified milk and yoghurt alternatives and calcium-set tofu and even calcium-fortified bread. For example, 100g of calcium-set tofu (uncooked) can provide about 350 milligrams of calcium (half the recommended amount). In addition, 400ml of calcium-fortified plant milk can provide two-thirds of the daily recommended intake.

Many people make their own plant milk and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you make your own milk, you miss out on the fortification, so make sure to include plenty of other calcium-rich foods in your diet.

 

7. OMEGA 3'S

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Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, our bodies cannot make them so we need to eat them. They are crucial for our immune system, brain and eye health.

How much do I need and where can I get it?

Some plants provide alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is an Omega 3. When you consume ALA, it get’s converted to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the body, which are also omega 3’s. Confused? Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorise these names! Just make sure you get enough of Omega 3’s. Keep reading, I’ll tell you how. 

Good sources of omega 3 (ALA) include walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds. It’s estimated that you need about 6 walnut halves, or 1 tbsp of chia seeds or flax seeds, or 2 tbsp hemp seeds per day to get enough omega 3. Some expert suggests doubling this amount to ensure you’re covered. You can also use small amounts of vegetable oil (rapeseed) in your cooking to help meet the requirement.

If you’re not a nuts and seeds fan, not to worry. You can find vegan omega 3 supplements which are derived from microalgae. Another positive aspect of taking a vegan Omega 3 supplement, or just eating nuts and seeds, is that they do not contain health-harming pollutants and metals (which fish does).

Click here to see a few examples of vegan Omega 3 supplements (I’m not sponsored).

Make sure that the supplement you get has at least 250 milligrams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

 

BONUS: VITAMIN D

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Vitamin D is important for bone health, the immune system and neuromuscular function

In some countries, especially Nordic countries, vitamin D deficiency can be common, for both vegans and non - vegans. This is due to lack of exposure to sunlight, which is the most reliable source of vitamin D. For example, in the UK, it’s recommended for all adults and children to take a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms per day, as most people don't get enough sunlight.

However, in some warmer countries, vitamin D status is not an issue as people get sufficient amount of sun (at least 15 minutes of sun exposure per day). If you don’t get much sun, check with your Healthcare Professional if you need a vitamin D supplement. 

That's a wrap!

If you found these articles useful - share them! You may have a vegan friend or two who could benefit from reading this. Sharing is caring. Also, leave a comment below if you have any questions or want to share your thoughts! I would love to hear your opinion. 

 

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