A Green Monster’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Vitamin A (beta-carotene)
"You’ve probably heard of Vitamin A before, as it’s also called beta-carotene (an important antioxidant) when obtained through dietary sources versus Vitamin A supplements. Found abundantly in fruits and vegetables, this vitamin can do everything from keep your skin healthy, to improve your immune system function and more. Vitamin A is easy to get in a plant-based diet and is essential for healthy aging, protection of the skin and other major organs. It also aids in the production of healthy blood and cellular function."
There are two vitamins not produced by plants that may require supplementation: D & B12.
B Vitamins: How to Get Them in a Vegan Diet
"You’ve likely heard how important Vitamin B12 is for healthy nerve function and a healthy metabolism, but what about the other B vitamins? Vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B5 (pantothenic Acid), Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), Vitamin B7 (biotin), Vitamin B9 (folate), and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are all critical for a healthy body, including everything from metabolism and energy, to nerve function, mental focus, and for healthy digestion."
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common among those eating vegetarian and particularly vegan diets because of failure to take B12 supplements or eat B12-fortifed foods.
Vegan B12 Deficiency: Putting It Into Perspective
"It’s true, plants don’t make B12. Animals don’t make it either. B12 is made by microbes that blanket the earth. These bacteria grow in the guts of animals, which is why their bodies and products can be a source of this vitamin. Our herbivore primate cousins get all they need ingesting bugs, dirt, and feces, and we may once have gotten all we needed by drinking out of mountain streams or well water. But now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bugs. So we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore, but we don’t get a lot of cholera either—that’s a good thing!"
"What would you recommend as far as the best way to get B12 vitamins into our system, supplements? Will any over the counter supplement do? If one were lacto-ovo vegetarian, do they get vitamin B12 from cheese and eggs?"
"Most Americans believe that the best source of dietary calcium, an esteemed nutrient for its ability to build strong bones, is from dairy. For many, it may seem like a no-brainer to include dairy in a healthy diet, but science now shows that dairy is unnecessary for adequate calcium consumption."
A Green Monster’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Iron
"Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, an erythrocyte protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, needed for healthy red blood cell function and oxygen production. It also supports a healthy metabolism and is necessary for growth and development, and the synthesis of hormones and connective tissues. Plant-based foods are loaded with enough iron to sustain your body for the long haul."
Why You Need More Iron Now (And How to Get it on a Plant-Based Diet)
"Iron is something we all know we need, but perhaps we don’t know quite how much. Inevitably, health talks center around diet fads like carb-cutting, protein-packing or the good fats. Really, as conscientious eaters, we should be thinking more about our vitamins and minerals, and iron is one of the most important ones. It also one of the nutrients that people are consistently deficient in, especially women and toddlers. The good news is that it is easy to get enough iron, and it’s easy to do it on a plant-based diet."
"Dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron. Vegetarians do not have a higher incidence of iron deficiency than do meat eaters."
"Iron’s as important for your health as many other nutrients you might be aware of like protein, fiber, and Vitamin C. Iron is a mineral responsible for many things in the body – everything from carrying oxygen to our lungs, to aiding in metabolic function, and a host of enzymatic processes our bodies need to even function. Iron essentially helps our muscles use oxygen for energy and protein maintenance."
A Green Monster’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition: Vitamin K
"A vitamin found abundantly in plant-based foods, Vitamin K helps protect your skeletal system, your cardiovascular system, and is best absorbed when eaten with foods that contain healthy fats. Vitamin K is found largely in produce such as leafy greens though many other plant-based foods contain this crucial vitamin as well."