People on a plant-based diet are encouraged to pay special attention to their intake of Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, and Vitamin D. These key nutrients are not as prevalent in plant-based food sources, but vegans can ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need by picking the right foods.
Iron is a mineral that supports the creation of hemoglobin, which is used to deliver oxygen throughout the body. Some plant food sources of iron include soybeans, red kidney beans, lentils, enriched cereals, and nuts and seeds. Plant-based eaters can maximize their absorption by pairing plant-based iron food sources with foods high in vitamin C.
Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. This vitamin is only found in trace amounts in plant foods. The best plant-based food sources for vitamin B12 include fortified plant-based milk such as soy beverages, vitamin enriched breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast.
Calcium is a mineral that regulates many bodily processes. It keeps bones and teeth strong, and plays a role in nerve function, muscle contraction, blood clotting, blood pressure, and the immune system. Plant foods that contain calcium include fortified tofu and plant-based milk such as soy beverages, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Vitamin D is essential for the proper absorption of calcium. It’s mainly found in animal products, but plant-based eaters can get their required vitamin D intake by consuming the following foods: fortified plant-based milk like soy beverages, orange juice, and soft margarine.