Nutrients in the Vegan Diet

For a good overview, see Nutrients in the Vegan Diet – from the Vegan Society UK.

Vitamin B12:

  • Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria.
  • Many meat and dairy products contain high amounts of vitamin B12 because animals accumulate this bacterial product during their lives, and livestock are often supplemented with vitamin B12 in their feed.
  • While there is some evidence that B12 can be produced by plants, fortified foods and supplements are the only proven reliable sources for vegans.
  • Vegan Vitamin B12 supplements are made from cultured bacteria.
  • The Vegan Society sells a supplement called VEG 1, providing reliable intakes of vitamins B12, as well as Vitamin D, iodine and selenium.
  • Some fortified foods also contain B12 such as plant based milks, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals.
  • Read more about B12 here.

Protein:

  • Good sources of protein include beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, soya milk, soya yoghurt and peanuts.
  • Read more about protein here.

Calcium:

  • 400ml of calcium-fortified plant milk – just under two cups – provides roughly two thirds of an adult’s recommended daily intake of calcium.
  • 100g of calcium-set tofu (uncooked) can provide half of an adult’s daily needs.
  • Other useful sources of calcium include kale, watercress, okra, tahini, dried figs, haricot beans and almonds.
  • Read more about calcium here.

Vitamin D:

  • Taking in sufficient amounts of vitamin D can be difficult, even for people who aren’t vegan. One study found that 41% of Americans may be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Sunshine is a good source of Vitamin D. As Irish people do not get much sunshine apart from the summer months, supplementation is recommended for everyone, not just vegans.
  • Vitamin D3 in supplements is often sourced from Lanolin (sheep’s wool). However, vegan D3 supplements (made from lichen or Vitamin D2) are also available.
  • Mushrooms contain Vitamin D2.
  • Read more about Vitamin D here.

Iron:

  • Good plant sources of iron include lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa and fortified breakfast cereal.

Iodine:

  • Seaweed is a good plant-based source of iodine.
  • Read more about iodine here.

Omega 3 and 6:

  • Sources include chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, walnuts and rapeseed oil.
  • Read more about Omega 3 & 6 here.

Folic Acid:

  • Sources include leafy greens, beans, peas, lentils, oranges, beetroot, quinoa, mango, asparagus, avocado, okra, parsnips, chia seeds and ground linseed (flaxseed).
  • Read more about folic acid here.