However, if you do eat in a certain way, there are nutrients that you need to be particularly aware of, as they are easily at inadequate levels in some diets. You can do it, of course you can. I’m simply bringing your awareness to essential substances that you may not be getting enough of if you eat a certain way.
Following are some common ways of eating and their subsequent, potential nutrient deficiencies.
If you eat a vegetarian diet, the nutrients for you to particularly focus on include:
Iron (even more so if you are a menstruating female): Food sources of iron for you include eggs, green leafy vegetables, and dates. However, although iron is present in these foods, it is not at high levels, nor is it in a form that the body easily absorbs without vitamin C. If you are a menstruating female, you need 18 milligrams (mg) per day so you may need to supplement your iron intake. Eggs are the richest vegetarian source of iron at 0.7mg of iron per egg. You can see how easily a deficiency can occur when you need 18mg per day.
Zinc: Food sources of zinc for you include eggs, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. You require 8–14mg per day, and these seeds contain 0.9mg per 100 grams (remembering how little seeds weigh). Eggs contain 1.2mg of zinc per 100 grams which equates to about 0.5mg zinc per egg. So you will usually need to supplement this nutrient.
If you eat a vegan diet, in addition to those that can be under-consumed in a vegetarian diet (keeping in mind that eggs aren’t eaten on a vegan diet), the nutrients you need to focus on include:
Vitamin B12: From the time you become vegan, your B12 stores will last between two and five years. After that you will need a supplement. Or don’t let yourself get depleted; supplement from the get-go.
Calcium: If you drink caffeinated drinks or soft drinks, your requirements for calcium will be higher than if you don’t. Green leafy vegetables, figs, sesame seeds and tahini are some examples of vegan foods that contain calcium for you to focus on.
Omega 3 fats, particularly DHA: The body can convert ALA from plants into EPA and DHA (the latter being found in algae and fish) yet in many people this is inefficiently done. Sources of ALA include flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
If you eat a gluten-free diet, make sure you obtain enough:
B-group vitamins: It is important that adequate amounts of these vitamins be eaten regularly for countless biochemical processes inside the body, and so health, energy and vitality can be optimal. Some sources include seeds, nuts, legumes, spinach, gluten free wholegrains such as brown rice, quinoa (which, botanically is a seed) and animal protein-containing foods, including offal.
If you eat a very low-carb diet in any form, you also need to ensure you obtain enough B-group vitamins.
If you eat a low-fat diet, make sure you obtain optimal levels of:
Essential fats: The omega-3 essential fats are found in oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts, while the omega-6 essential fats are found in evening primrose oil, borage oil and whole blackcurrants.
Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E and K are widely spread throughout foods that contain fat, and include sources such as meat, oily fish, eggs, wholegrains, nuts, olives (and its oil). Green leafy vegetables and carrots contain beta-carotene which the body can convert to vitamin A.
Dr Libby Weaver (PhD) is one of Australasia’s leading nutritional biochemists, a best-selling author and speaker.