People switch to eating more plant-based food to boost health, maximize longevity, and for various other health benefits. This is the primary reason for the shift in peoples eating habits to vegan and vegetarian diets. However, few find it difficult because of the challenges that come along with following these diets. One such issue is the higher risk for nutritional deficiencies in those who predominantly follow a plant-based diet. In this article, we will investigate top nutritional deficiencies on a plant-based diet; read on to know more about them.
Benefits Of Plant-Based Diet
Before discussing nutritional deficiencies, let us understand the benefits of following plant-based diets like vegetarian and vegan. They are healthy compared to an omnivore diet because plant-based food has lower calorie density. Besides, they have higher soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, antioxidants, and low saturated fats. This helps to prevent the development of chronic diseases like heart issues, colon cancer etc. Also, studies have found that they have the potential to prevent, as well as reverse type 2 diabetes. Apart from health benefits, people also follow this diet due to environmental concerns and religious reasons as well.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies Of Plant-Based Diet
The essential idea of following a plant-based diet is to eat more plant-based food and less of animal-based food. This does not mean that you must completely avoid animal products as certain essential nutrients found in them are not naturally available in plant-based food. For example, most of the plant proteins are not complete proteins. So, to avoid this, you must eat a variety of plant-based food products like nuts, seeds, lentils, chickpea, soy products, and whole grains. The nutritional deficiencies common with vegetarian and vegan diets are shared below.
Plant-based food is deficient in vitamin B12 because it is produced by bacteria. It is primarily found in animal food products like meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, etc. Its deficiency can be avoided by consuming vitamin B12 fortified food, supplements, and nutritional yeast.
We humans obtain vitamin D primarily from sunshine, and it is required for regulating the amounts of calcium and phosphate in our body. Hence, it is important for maintaining bone health. Its deficiency can be avoided by spending time outdoors, as well as by taking supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acid is an essential nutrient that is required for maintaining cardiovascular health as it helps to reduce inflammation. Fish and eggs are a rich source of this nutrient, You can also get it from flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
So, when preparing a plant-based meal, ensure that you are eating a balanced diet to avoid the nutritional deficiencies common to both vegan and vegetarian diets.