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The choice to be vegetarian comes with its own unique challenges, including ensuring the body receives the necessary nutrients and vitamins it requires. There are several ways a person can consume the correct amounts of vitamins for vegetarians in order to be healthy. Common methods for getting proper nutrition is from vegetarian food sources, dietary supplements, and food protein supplements. The vegetarian lifestyle involves eliminating meat from the diet, including beef, chicken, pork, and fish, and possibly also any product made with meat or fish. Those who choose to follow the vegan lifestyle also eliminate all foods from animal sources such as milk, eggs, and dietary fats, and is considered to be healthy as long as the person consumes enough proteins and other nutrients for proper body function.
Most experts believe the necessary vitamins for vegetarians can be found directly in their food sources. When meat is eliminated from the diet, there is often a loss of specific dietary vitamins and nutrients including proteins, calcium, and zinc. These deficiencies can be corrected with a healthy and well-balanced diet. Iron is one of the common dietary deficiencies found in vegetarians, but adding foods such as cashews, tofu, and lentils can help ensure the body gets enough of this important mineral. Calcium can be added to the diet in the forms of fortified orange juice and leafy green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli.
Another source of essential vitamins for vegetarians is dietary supplements and vitamins. Vegetarians can choose to take individual supplements to address their needs or choose a multi-vitamin product rich in commonly lacking nutrients. With some research, vegans and vegetarians can find vitamin supplements that are made without gelatin or any other type of ingredient derived from animal sources. Liquid vitamins are also very popular and can be added easily to food or beverages as recommended.
Protein is another nutrient often found lacking in the vegetarian lifestyle, and there are several options for ensuring proper nutrition. Some types of protein can be found in traditional vitamins for vegetarians, either in capsule or liquid form. Using nutritional yeast as dietary supplement on foods or in drinks is a good way for vegetarians to consume complete proteins. This substance has a flavor similar to aged cheddar cheese and can easily be added to popcorn, steamed vegetables, and soups for added nutrients and flavor. Beans, quinoa, and lentils are also excellent sources of protein.