You’ve probably heard all the buzz around plant-based diets. They’ve become a household name thanks to documentaries on Netflix and the many celebrities promoting their nutritional benefits. More and more grocery stores and restaurants are adapting their menus and shelves to accommodate the new craze. But many wonder if a plant-based diet fulfills all the necessary nutritional needs, or if the practice requires supplements.
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is just as it sounds: a daily nutritional regime centered around eating plants and food made with plants. Many followers interpret the menu differently, but the most traditional version of the practice is similar to a vegan diet without any processed goods. Some necessary vitamins and minerals are missing from a plant-based diet, meaning followers should consider supplements.
There are lots of different diets throughout the world, each one incorporating a varied assortment of food. And for many, supplements help to correct any nutritional deficiencies. A plant-based diet is similar to a vegan diet, so some supplements are helpful.
Vitamin B12 is a peculiar supplement, as most diets don’t get enough. Even traditional western diets with animal products don’t provide enough B12. Therefore, many people across the world are deficient, not just vegans or plant-based dieters. You can find B12 naturally in soil, which is why so many of us, regardless of our diets, have deficiencies. But you can also find B12 from other sources, such as nori, spirulina, and fortified products, like milk and cereals.
B12 is essential to the health of your nervous system, and also creates red blood cells that transport oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, damage to the nervous system, and heart disease.
Eating fatty fish is the most traditional method of getting enough Omega 3s, but plant-based dieters can source it from chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans. They’re essential for the development of the brain and eyes and also lower the risk of specific ailments, such as inflammation, depression, and certain cancers.
Most people get iron from meat and other animal byproducts, which is why those who follow a plant-based diet can become deficient. Its importance is similar to Vitamin B12, as it carries oxygen throughout the body, creates DNA, and metabolizes energy.
A lot of companies enrich processed foods with iron, such as cereal and bread. But iron is also naturally occurring in many foods, like nuts and seeds, beans, and cruciferous vegetables.