Answers to Your Questions
About Veg Nutrition

Iron is abundant in plant-based diets. Beans, dark green vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and whole grain or fortified breads and cereals all contain plenty of iron. Iron stores may be somewhat lower in individuals who follow a plant-based diet. However, the American Dietetic Association states that iron-deficiency anemia is rare in vegans and vegetarians.

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The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or "greens and beans" for short. If you are looking for a very concentrated calcium source, calcium-fortified orange or apple juices contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form. Many people prefer calcium supplements, which are now commonly available in supermarkets.

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Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body. Our B12 needs can easily be met by consuming a variety of vegan foods. Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk, and fortified meat analogues contain a reliable source of the vitamin. It is true that in nature, B12 is produced by bacteria, and is hard to get from plants. So it is fortunate that so many vegan staples are adequately fortified.

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The natural source of Vitamin D is sunlight. In colder climates during the winter months the sun may not be able to provide adequate Vitamin D. During this time the diet must be able to provide Vitamin D. Fortified cereals, grains, bread, orange juice, and soy- or rice milk are healthful foods that provide Vitamin D. All common multiple vitamins also provide Vitamin D.

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To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much, protein, simply replace animal products with grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight, the body gets plenty of protein. Consumption of excessive amounts of protein can cause health problems.

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Whether you are interested in promoting cardiovascular health, ensuring the proper growth and development of your child, or relieving pain, a vegetarian diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help you achieve adequate intake of the essential fatty acids. Consume one rich source of fatty acids every day, such as canola or soybean oil, walnuts, or ground flaxseed. 

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Jewish Veg thanks the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for this nutrition information.