As much as we try to adopt and practice healthy eating habits, it's easier than you might think to accidentally skimp on essential vitamins and minerals. Especially if you're committed to a vegetarian or vegan diet, there's a chance you're not be giving your body enough of the nutrients it needs. Joe Kosterich, MBBS, an integrative general practitioner, recently spilled the most common vitamin and mineral deficiencies he sees in his patients to My Body+Soul. We've highlighted three of them here so you can determine whether you're missing one of them from your diet and add in the right foods to correct the deficiency right away.
Iron: This mineral is important for energy production, immune function, and supplying oxygen to muscles. "People most at risk of iron deficiency include women in their reproductive years, pregnant women, and those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet," says Kosterich. Those who suffer from iron deficiency may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, or a lack of concentration. Up your iron by incorporating spinach, lentils, red beans, cabbage, and red meat (on occasion) into your diet.
Folate: Also known as folic acid, this vitamin assists with making new cells. Someone with a folate deficiency isn't producing enough healthy red blood cells and may experience fatigue or mouth sores. Foods rich in the vitamin include green vegetables and grains.
Vitamin B12: B12 contributes to proper brain function and a healthy nervous system. It also helps the body produce new blood cells. Unfortunately, the vitamin is only found in animal products, so vegans and vegetarians are at a disadvantage, but even meat eaters "may still be vitamin B12 deficient if your body isn't able to properly absorb the vitamin from your diet." Increase your B12 intake with animal products such as eggs, fish, and poultry.
Next up, find out more from experts about supplementing your diet with vitamins.