On a Vegetarian Diet? 4 Nutrients You Need for a Healthy Vegetarian Diet Routine

Dec 22, 2015 06:30 AM EST | By J. Navarra

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Are you planning to start or have you already started your vegetarian diet even right before the Christmas dinners and parties galore? Well, there are a few things you need to remember before you start eating the vegetable and fruit salad in every event and meals that you take. 

Congratulations on your move to becoming healthy but just a few reminders before you start or you might lose track and become unhealthy in the process.

Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., and associate professor of nutrition at the University of Massachusetts tells us that sometimes when an individual decides to go vegetarian or vegan, they neglect to consider things that our body needs when they start cutting out dairy and meat in their diet. These can be replaced by healthier alternatives with the nutrition necessary for the body to function. This is needed so vegetarian dieters won't get sick. 

Mangels suggest to always remember these four nutrients:

1. Protein - The human body needs protein and you can get it from other sources aside from meat. Protein is needed for the body to continue to build and develop tissues and muscles. The recommended protein for each pound of your body weight is 0.4 gram. So becoming vegetarian means you have to find the right replacement for protein. There are protein rich plants as well. You can get that from tofu, chick peas, quinoa, beans and nuts. 

 A quinoa, black bean and corn salad dish
(Photo : Getty Images)

2. Calcium - Scratching dairy off the list? Calcium is needed for the human body to rebuild and build bone structure. It has also been found necessary for muscle and nerve functions. The recommended daily amount is 1,000 milligrams but there are alternatives if you say no to cow's milk. You can take calcium from almonds, collared greens, broccoli, kale, tofu and fortified soy. Just ask your local grocer for these.

3. Iron - This is very important especially for females who undergo periods. But it's a nutrient everybody needs. There is no quick alternative for this. Instead, pair your meals with anemia-preventing minerals found in lentils, Swiss chard and soy beans. 

4. Vitamin B12 - Probably the most important nutrient as it supports nerve and brain functions. It's usually found in shellfish, meat and dairy products but you can fortify your body's B12 needs with fortified almond or coconut milk, breakfast cereals and meat alternatives.

Be sure to remain healthy by remembering these vital nutrients as posted online by Rachel Warren, and not just munch on leafy greans alone. With that said, have a festive and healthy holiday season! 

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