Vegan After 40 – Vegans, Are You Taking the Proper Vitamins?

Yep, there are many great benefits of a vegan diet a few of them include:

  • Promotes weight loss.
  • Reduces your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Lowers your chances of getting certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer.
  • Manage diabetes by lowering *A1C levels.

*A normal A1C level is below 5.7%, a level of 5.7% to 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and a level of 6.5% or more indicates diabetes. Within the 5.7% to 6.4% prediabetes range, the higher your A1C, the greater your risk is for developing type 2 diabetes.

But everything in life seems to have a trade-off.

When you become a Vegan one of those is making sure you get proper nutrition. And some vitamins are harder for vegans to get. Vitamin B12, C, and Zinc are on top of that list.

This B vitamin, most commonly found in animal products, helps the body produce red blood cells and prevents anemia.

Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) plays an essential role in red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA, the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information. Food sources of vitamin B-12 include poultry, meat, fish, and dairy products.

But vegans can find B12 it in enriched cereals, fortified soy products, and supplements.

B12 may play a role in preventing brain atrophy, which is the loss of neurons in the brain and is often associated with memory loss or dementia. One study in people with early-stage dementia showed that a combination of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplements slowed mental decline

If you’ve eliminated dairy from your diet, get enough calcium—essential for strong bones—from dark-green vegetables, dried figs, almonds, and fortified soy products, or supplements. For best absorption, take calcium carbonate with food (calcium citrate can be taken any time).

And then there is the importance of combining nutrients.
For example, calcium requires magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D to function properly.

Vitamin C
Eating vitamin C–rich foods, or supplementing with vitamin C, will help your body absorb plant-based iron (in beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables, dried fruit) and iron from supplements.

Zinc
Zinc helps support immunity, cell function, and normal growth and development, but bioavailability from plant-based sources (legumes, whole-grain pasta, wheat germ, fortified cereals, nuts, and tofu) can be low. Focus on protein-rich foods such as legumes and nuts (protein also helps with zinc absorption), and take zinc supplements if necessary.

Since vitamin B12 is involved in red blood cell formation. When vitamin B12 levels are too low, the production of red blood cells is altered, causing megaloblastic anemia.

Consulting a licensed nutritionist is a good idea if you are going to maintain a vegan diet.

Physician Nutrition Specialists are recognized not only for their nutrition expertise but their skills in leading nutrition-focused multidisciplinary care teams, teaching best nutrition practices in academic health centers and medical schools, as well as integrating evidence-based medical nutrition therapy.