A Guide to Wellness on a Vegan/Plant Based Diet
Most other nutrients and minerals are already heavily present in plant based foods. So you don’t have to worry about every single vitamin and nutrients. However some are in higher content in animal produce and it is easy to suffer from a deficiency due to the change in diet.
Here is a guide on how to source these nutrients from plant based foods that will help restore your hair and overall wellness:
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is very important in your diet as it helps with production of your red blood cells and the functioning of the nervous system. You will most likely be lacking vitamin B12, which is normally sourced from meat, poultry and fish as a result of the transition to a plant based/vegan diet. This could lead to a deficiency which can cause weakness, fatigue, pale skin, dry scaly scalp, damage to the nervous system and anaemia. You should try to incorporate grains, breads, plant-based milk and fortified cereals in your diet as they all contain vitamin B12. Alternatively you can take supplements which can be found in your local drugstore.
- Protein: Protein are large molecules made up of amino acid and is one of if not the most important nutrient the body needs. The body needs a large amount of protein as unlike other nutrients, protein is not stored in the body. It helps repair and build cells and tissue, aids production of hormones and enzymes in the body and helps with bone growth and strength. Hair, nails and skin are mostly made up of the protein called keratin, so it is a very important nutrient for your overall wellness. Foods like; beans, legumes, vegetables and nuts are very good sources for protein. You can also do a protein treatment to help with the strength of your hair.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Omega 3 is very good for your skin and immune system. It aids in oil production management of the skin and can protect your skin from sun damage and also potentially reduce the risk of acne on your skin. Studies have also shown that Omega 3 can increase the function of the immune system. It is usually sourced from fatty fish but as you are either vegan or on a strict plant based diet this is not an option for you. Nuts and seeds, such as; walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds are good options for sourcing omega 3. Plant based oils like; soybean oil, canola oil and flaxseed oil are also good sources of omega 3. Your local drugstore may also have plant based omega-3 supplements if you prefer supplements.
- Iron: Iron is a mineral that aids in the coordination of the body and creates energy from other nutrients. This is important for the wellness of your body and a lack of this mineral can cause anaemia. Higher contents of iron can be found in mostly animal produce however consumption of dark green leafy vegetables such as; spinach and kale will help in meeting the daily requirement of iron.
- Zinc: Zinc aids digestion and the immune system. Deficiency in zinc can cause dry skin and thinning hair. It is a key mineral (along with iron) for your overall health and can be mostly found in shellfish and meat. Plant based foods that contain zinc are unfortunately absorbed less efficiently and have low contents of zinc. However cereals or snacks fortified with zinc are very good as an alternative. You can still opt to solely source zinc from plant based food e.g; legumes, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds etc.), whole grains and fruits but ensure you are consuming enough to reach your daily quota of zinc.
Lastly, always make sure you are getting enough vitamins and nutrients from your plant based diet. If you are not sure, you should do some research to see how much vitamins and minerals you need daily to ensure overall wellness.
- Reni Oshodi