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11 Essential Nutrients & Where to Find Them in a Plant-Based Diet

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11 Essential Nutrients & Where to Find Them in a Plant-Based Diet

Whether you enjoy a vegetarian meal from time to time, or you have decided to take the leap and switch to a vegan diet, here are some tips to ensure you get all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Plant-based diets often include a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and legumes, which are highly nutritious. But have you ever wondered exactly which vitamins and minerals support your well-being? Let’s find out!

  1. Vitamin A

You have probably heard that carrots are good for your eyesight. Well, this is because they are rich in vitamin A, which contributes to the maintenance of normal vision. Not only that, vitamin A also supports the normal function of your immune system. Look for orange fruits and vegetables, as they contain the carotenoids that your body will then turn into vitamin A: carrots, sweet potatoes, dried apricots, cantaloupe melons, and so on. Other vegan sources rich in vitamin A include spinach and kale.

  1. Vitamin C

Feeling a bit sluggish lately? Vitamin C may help you fight tiredness! This vitamin also ensures the good function of skin, gums, bones, blood vessels, and more. So make sure to include some of the following food sources in your diet, as they are rich in vitamin C: blackcurrants, red and green bell peppers, kale, papaya…

  1. Vitamin D

Good news everyone, sunbathing on a deck chair in your garden is actually super healthy (as long as you don’t get a sunburn, that is). That’s right, your body naturally produces vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, which helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth and supports the normal function of your immune system. You can also boost your vitamin D intake by consuming fortified products such as plant milk and cereals, or by eating mushrooms.

  1. Biotin (Vitamin B8)

Want glowy skin and shiny hair? Make sure you get enough biotin in your diet. You can find it in a variety of vegan food sources: legumes (such as lentils, beans, etc.), nuts, bananas, strawberries, apples, cabbage, mushrooms, tomatoes, and many more.

  1. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is really important, as it contributes to normal blood coagulation and ultimately supports proper cauterisation. It can be found essentially in green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli, spinach and spring onions So make sure to eat your greens!

  1. Calcium

If you want healthy bones and teeth, don’t miss out on calcium! Other benefits of calcium also include supporting the normal function of your muscles. Calcium-rich foods include fortified plant milk, or in seeds (sesame, chia, flaxseeds), kale, watercress, okra, tahini, dried figs, white beans and almonds.

  1. Copper

Copper not only supports the good function of your energy system, but also of your nervous and immune systems. It helps carrying signals between your body and your brain. You can find copper in shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds (particularly almonds, cashews, and sesame seeds).

  1. Iron

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. Don’t panic, though, because there are a lot of plant-based sources that contain it! Your body needs iron for a number of reasons, including normal oxygen transport in the body and normal function of your immune system. It can also help reduce tiredness and fatigue. Iron-rich vegan foods include legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans), tofu, nuts and seeds (cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds), kale, and more. For iron to be properly absorbed by your body, make sure to avoid tea or coffee during your meals. Instead, you can combine your iron intake with vitamin C, which can increase absorption.

  1. Magnesium

Don’t skip this one if you want to keep killing it at the gym! Magnesium supports the proper function of the muscles, and also contributes to fighting fatigue and can help reduce stress levels. You can get magnesium from algae, avocados, nuts (particularly almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts), legumes (lentils, beans, chickpeas, peas, soybeans…), tofu, seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin and chia seeds), whole grains (quinoa, …), bananas and dark chocolate.

Have you tried our highly nutritious vegan Peanut Boost bar that combines peanuts, almonds, pistachio nuts with pumpkin, sesame seeds and dark chocolate yet? Perfect for that magnesium boost!

  1. Selenium

Selenium promotes the maintenance of normal hair and nails. Not only that, it also helps the immune system function properly. You can find selenium in Brazil nuts, brown rice, sunflower seeds, baked beans, mushroom, oatmeal, spinach, lentils, cashews and bananas.

  1. Zinc

Last but not least, zinc! It contributes not only to your fertility, but also helps your body to use macronutrients correctly. Good zinc sources include legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils), tofu, nuts and seeds (walnuts, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds), wholemeal bread and quinoa.

Take-away

There you have it! Keeping track of your nutritional intake is important to make sure you avoid deficiencies. Remember that the key to eating healthy is to have a varied, well-balanced diet, and to favour wholefoods and fresh produce when possible. Have fun trying new vegan foods and recipes on your plant-based journey!

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