If you're a vegetarian, or just don't like the taste of meat, it's important to know to add certain nutritional values to your diet, or you may end up being malnurished in some way. So, to keep your body and mind healthy, check that your daily intake covers them all!
Calcium, as you probably know, helps build bones and teeth (which are also bones) as well as helping the neurons in your body to transfer messages to the muscles. Fish are an excellent source of calcium, but if you're vegetarians, you can get this essential mineral from dairy products, enriched soy products, nuts, legumes and green vegetables, broccoli, okra and cabbage.
Iodine is essential for your metabolism, as in converting material into energy, as well as the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. It is usually found in sea fruit and so many vegetarians suffer a lack. Vegetarian sources include cooking salt, table salt and enriched dairy products.
The body requires iron to make hemoglobin which carries the oxygen in the blood stream. Red meat and poultry are a great source of iron, but if you are looking for vegetarian alternatives, you can get your iron from dried fruit, legumes, seeds, vegetables and whole wheat grains and flax seeds. Take into account that when you take these with coffee, tea or cacao, their absorption rate goes down because these products contains mixtures that block the absorption of iron. This is the reason why vegetarians are advised to consume iron with sources rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, peppers, strawberries and guavas, which markedly improve its absorption.
DHA and EPA are two type of the omega 3 fatty acid, and they are important to the development of both the eyes and the brain, as well as keeping your heart healthy and ticking. Omega 3 is mainly found in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, but can also be consumed from vegetarian sources such as flax seeds, walnuts, canola oil, flax oil, soy oil and soy products. Some types of energy bars also have omega 3 in them.
Every cell in our body contains protein, and we need it in order to fix cell damage, build tissues, grow hair, fingernails and bones. Protein is in almost every food we eat, and so there's a large variety of vegetarian sources: Soy, beans, bran, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, almonds and eggs to name a few.
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Vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells and DNA, and is required for the neurological functioning of the body. It is found naturally in meat, but is also added to foods like soy milk and energy bars, and can also be found in eggs and various cheeses like yellow cheese, mozzarella cheese, pate cheese, cottage and eggs.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is important to bone health, as well as serving an important function in the nervous system, the muscle system and the immune system. The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to the sun, but modern living as well as cloudy environments, don't always allow enough exposure. Vegetarian sources for vitamin D include: Milk and enriched soy milk, certain mushrooms, banana and avocado.
Zinc is extremely important if you want a functioning immune system and body cells. Although it can be found a-plenty in beef, you can also consume it from soy products, peanuts, hummus, pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, wheat germ, oatmeal and a variety of legumes, if in smaller concentrations.