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Diet recommendations for Vegetarians

Diet recommendations for Vegetarians


To work correctly our organism needs some nutrients it cannot create them itself . The unique way to gain it by the body is through the food and if it is not rich and variable we can suffer nutrition lack.

If a vegetarian, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, diet is not correctly planned, it can suppose the lack suffering in different nutrients which traditionally are provided for us in meat, fish in the traditional diet. Thus, it is very important to be careful when a vegetarian menu is prepared.

An ovo-lacto-vegetarian menu including an egg and milk as a normal food will provide us with all necessary nutrients, however, a strict vegetarian will suffer possible lacks if he does not complete his ingestion with nutrition complements.

The diets lack which take place more often are:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Some amino acids (proteins)

In addition, to continue with this article, I will show you some dietetics recommendations to increase a nutrition capacity of the vegetarian diet. If you follow this advice, your diet will be more balanced either for you or for a strict vegetarian and ovo-lacto-vegetarian.

As this theme is very extensive and it is very important, we will speak about the absorption and assimilation of the minerals we could be low: Calcium, iron and zinc, next I will speak about how we can improve the absorption of vitamins and I will give you a menu example.



As a strict vegetarian will not consume any dairy product, it is basic for him to try to ingest other food which has this mineral so necessary for the bones formation, there are some examples:

Vegetarian food rich in calcium:

  • sesame (it has to be toasted to be assimilated correctly)
  • dried fruits
  • vegetables and dark-green leaf vegetal (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green cabbage or kale)

There is any doubt, if we know how this mineral absorption works it can be the calcium requisite reached with more facility because some factors exist which improve the calcium absorption meanwhile the others damage it. Thus, we must try to increase those which facilitate the absorption.

Factors which modify the calcium absorption


  • Vitamin D: this vitamin increases the calcium absorption but there is not in the vegetal food. However, our organism is capable to synthesize it if we expose ourselves to the sun. The kids, old people or embarrassed women should be complete their diet with a multivitamin which has vitamin D, especially, if they do not drink dairy products but it will be taken in account that these supplements must be taken with caution and with doctor’s prescription because the high levels of the vitamin D can be harmful for the organism too.
  • A correct balance with other minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. Magnesium and phosphorus can improve the calcium absorption, they can be acquired with dry and dehydrated fruit, whole cereals, vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and how we can see the majority of them are the same which provide us calcium. Thus, if we have a good ingestion of this food, we will give essential minerals to our body to make it work well.
  • Sodium (cooking salt) and animal proteins stop the correct calcium assimilation, so a diet with low levels of these nourishments will be benefited in the calcium absorption.

Daily recommended human calcium necessities are around 1000 mg/day



Iron in the diet can be found differently, organic iron named “hemo” (originated from animals) and inorganic iron “no hemo” (originated from vegetal). The organism assimilates much better the organic iron then the inorganic one. Although a strict vegetarian can gain sufficient quantity of iron, it will not be assimilated well because it is originated from vegetal food.

One trick to increase the iron absorption is adding any kind of acid in the diet. Dressing with vinegar, lemon or ending the food with orange juice will let us to assimilate better an iron element.

The vegetarian food with more iron consistence is:

  • legumes
  • figs
  • plums
  • dates
  • dry fruit and some vegetables like spinach.



This mineral is primordial in many enzymatic reactions and in the immune system. It is totally distributed in the food, the problem for the vegan is that the great quantity of them is of the animal origin.

We can obtain zinc from the following vegetarian foods:

  • brewer's yeast
  • seaweed
  • legumes
  • mushrooms
  • walnuts
  • soya and some wholemeal cereals


Vitamin D

This vitamin is not in the vegetal food. However, if the organism is exposed to the rays of sunlight it can synthesize it from some intermediate molecules into the biosynthesis of the cholesterol. Although the vegan diet does not provide this vitamin, it is easy to gain it, the vegan who lives in the areas with fewer solar light can suffer the lack of this nutrient.


Vitamin B12

The diet will cover the requirements of the vitamin B12 if it includes eggs and dairy products. That is why the unlike the lacto-ovo-vegetarian, the vegans can have problems when they obtain this vitamin, because it exists only in the food of the animal origin.

Nowadays we can find in the market the nourishments originated from vegetal enriched with this vitamin such as vegetal hamburger, cereals for breakfast, soya drinking… but may be it is necessary to ingest an additional vitamin complex which has vitamin B12 in necessary quantities. Tell your doctor what vitamin complex you take to be recommended you the most suitable one by him.


Protein quality

Protein quality depends on the amino acid composition. A high biological level protein has all essential amino acids which our body needs. Food with high biological level protein is normally originated from animals but if we combine properly vegetal food we will be able to obtain the same quality proteins.

In addition, legumes and dry fruit with cereals are short of an essential amino acid named methionine, meanwhile the cereals are lack of other amino acid such as lysine. But if the both are combined, the legumes with cereals or dry fruit, the all essential amino acid will be obtained because if one acid is not in some food it will be presented in the other. Thus, the good quality proteins can be obtained through suitable combination of the nourishments of the vegetal origin.

Practically, in all towns or cities there is a traditional recite which joins the legumes with cereals, here, in Spain, e.g. we cook lentils with rice, in Mexico, the corn crepes with beans, in China, the rice with soya… People in these countries, in ancient times, realized that these combinations without ingesting much meat they had been fed well.


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