A closer look at lacto-vegetarian nutritional requirements
Following a lacto-vegetarian diet means eating plant foods as well as dairy products. While this diet can be rich in nutrients, it is important to pay attention to certain nutritional requirements to ensure optimal health. Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional needs of vegans and vegetarians.
Protein is an essential nutrient for the body, as it is used to build and repair tissues. Vegetarians and vegans can get protein from dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt, as well as plant sources such as beans, lentils, and quinoa. It is important to include a variety of protein sources in the diet to ensure adequate intake of essential amino acids.
Iron is important for producing red blood cells and transporting oxygen in the body. While iron is abundant in meat, vegans and vegetarians can get iron from plant sources such as spinach, lentils, and fortified grains. To enhance iron absorption, it is recommended to eat foods rich in vitamin C along with foods rich in iron.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and muscle function. Vegetarians and vegans can get calcium from dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. In addition, calcium-fortified plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond milk or soy milk, can also be included in the diet. Consuming leafy green vegetables such as kale and bok choy can also contribute to calcium intake.
Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products, which makes it important for vegans and vegetarians to make sure they get an adequate amount. Although dairy products contain some vitamin B12, it is important to eat foods or supplements fortified with vitamin B12 to meet the recommended daily intake. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to anemia and neurological problems.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health and brain function. Vegetarians and vegans can get omega-3 fats from sources such as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and hemp seeds. Including these sources in the diet can help meet the body’s needs for these essential fats.
Zinc is important for the immune system, wound healing, and cell division. Vegetarians and vegans can get zinc from sources such as dairy products, whole grains, nuts, and vegetables. Ensuring a balanced intake of these foods can help maintain adequate levels of zinc in the body.
Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune function. While the sun is a natural source of vitamin D, vegans and vegetarians can also get this nutrient from fortified foods such as dairy products and plant-based milk alternatives. It is important to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D, especially for those who have limited exposure to sunlight.
Fiber is important for digestive health and can be found in abundance in plant foods. Vegetarians and vegans can get fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and greens. Including a variety of these foods in the diet can help meet the recommended daily amount of fiber.
Overall, a lacto-vegetarian diet can provide a wide range of nutrients when planned carefully. By including a variety of dairy and plant foods, vegans and vegetarians can meet their nutritional requirements for optimal health.