Mum of a Vegan – Zinc

Zinc is another extremely important mineral that can be low in some vegans. Zinc is used for many functions in the body including protein digestion, healing and repair, production of hormones, production of enzymes and as part of our antioxidant and immune systems. It is also helpful in getting rid of cadmium in the body. High cadmium levels are possibly associated with risk for heart disease and very high levels can impact bone health and both liver and kidney function. Zinc enhances production of a protein that binds to cadmium and prevents its damaging effects.The recommended daily intakes of zinc are 7 mg for women and 9.5 mg for men. This is because zinc is used up in the production of semen. As we have seen with iron, there are many plant based sources of zinc but there is evidence that they are less biologically available for the body to use, so again a vegan needs to think more about including zinc rich foods in their diet, than someone who also eats meat and fish. The best sources of zinc in vegan diets are legumes (beans, soy foods and peanuts), nuts and seeds. The table below shows some good sources and the amount of zinc they provide. These foods are also good sources of both beneficial oils and protein too and some of them also contain iron. Amount of food Amount of zinc mg 30g hulled hemp seeds 3.0 30g pumpkin seeds 2.0 30g cashew nuts 1.8 100g tofu 1.6 150g cooked quinoa 1.6 30g chia seeds 1.4 30g ground flaxseeds 1.3 2 slices medium wholemeal bread 1.2 30g...

Mum of a Vegan – Vitamin B12

This week I am continuing to look at micronutrients. The next one is Vitamin B12 which is crucial for health but particularly difficult for vegans to consume in their diet as it is found in animal products.This nutrient is needed to help speed up reactions in your body. Deficiency can cause anaemia and nervous system damage. Sub optimum levels are also linked to potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications. Vitamin B12 is made by micro-organisms and isn’t produced by plants. Fortified foods and supplements are the only proven reliable sources for vegans:If aiming to get from food, the vegan society recommends that you should have 3 mcg per day from fortified foods:Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products, soy products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals. You can check the amount per serving on the back of the pack. Aim for a daily intake of at least 3 mcg (micrograms), spread over several sittings. For example if a serving of fortified plant milk contains 1 microgram of B12 per serving then consuming three servings a day will provide adequate vitamin B12. Some of the fortified foods that my son has regularly are Marigold Savoury Engevita yeast flakes, which can be added to soups and casseroles to improve their flavour. A teaspoon contains 2.2 mcg B12. It also contains other B vitamins plus some iron and zinc. 100ml Oatly Oat milk has 0.4 mcg B12, a serving or Cheerios has 2.9 mcg and a teaspoon of Marmite has 0.5mcg. Some vegans may prefer to supplement. The advice is to take either...

Mum of a Vegan – Iron Levels

The last couple of weeks I have talked about the issues concerning macronutrients particularly ensuring that your child has they right fats and protein when on a vegan diet.   For the next few weeks I am going to look at some of the vitamins and minerals that your vegan son or daughter may be lacking in. One of the big ones is iron.  Iron is an essential mineral and is a component of haemoglobin, that carries oxygen round the body to give you energy. The recommended daily intake of iron varies by age and gender. This is because too much iron is not good for you. Dose recommendations are: 8mg in children aged 9-13 years11mg in teenagers aged 14-18 years18 mg in women  age 19-50 years8 mg in men 19-50 years, and 8 mg in all adults over 50 years.   The difference between young women and men is to do with blood losses from menstruation.  Iron deficiency anaemia is associated with fatigue, weakness, light-headedness and shortness of breath. Many plants do contain reasonable levels of iron.   Good sources include: dark green leafy veg, such as collard, kale and spinachbeans, such as haricot, butter, pinto, black and soylentilsseeds including  pumpkin, sesame and sunflower dried apricotsherbs such as thyme and parsley Indeed, several studies have indicated that vegetarians and vegans may often consume more iron than meat eaters. However, as was the case for good oils the form the iron comes in varies between plant and animal sources, which can have a big effect on how available it is for the body to use.  There are 2 types of iron:...