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 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Programs for Vegetarians 
 

There is also some concern that a high-fiber vegetarian diet does not provide enough of the important minerals such as zinc, manganese, copper, iron, and calcium, or that the phytic acid in grains combines with these minerals in the intestinal tract and reduces their absorption. Recent research described in Dr. Stuart Berger’s How to Be Your Own Nutritionist suggests that after a few weeks of high-fiber vegetarianism, our body improves its absorption of zinc, iron, calcium, and copper. In any event, I recommend a good mineral supplement program to ensure that we ingest enough of these nutrients. The mineral intake should be in balance, because a high amount of one mineral may interfere with the absorption of the others; this is especially true for zinc and copper or calcium and magnesium.

As part of the supplement program, I suggest a general multiple-nutrient formula, vegetarian-derived, of course. Additional calcium-magnesium is suggested if there is low intake of dairy products. Extra vitamin D will enhance calcium absorption, and this is particularly important during the less sunny months and for those who avoid the sunshine. I encourage taking extra zinc (and copper and manganese to balance with zinc) because it is so important and dietary deficiencies are common, even in vegetarians. I often suggest additional iron, especially if the red blood cell count is low; menstruating women frequently need higher amounts of iron. It is wise for vegetarians to have blood counts done occasionally (every year or two) to make sure that anemia is not developing.

In regard to supplemental vitamin B12, I suggest it for all strict vegetarians. It is contained in almost all multiple formulas, though even higher amounts are often wise, at least several times yearly for a month or so. Vitamin B12 may often help with problems of fatigue. If there is any problem with absorption (this can be checked by monitoring blood levels), vitamin B12 injections would be indicated. An amino acid formula or protein powder may also be useful if there is any fatigue, excessive weight loss, or concern about inadequate protein ingestion, digestion, or assimilation.

The following table offers a basic supplement plan as insurance for those on a vegetarian diet. Some naturalists do not like to take "vitamins," as they are not whole foods, but extracts of foods or synthetic preparations, but in many instances I feel that they are indicated. They are suggested here as a means for prevention of depletions and deficiency diseases. If we eat very well, balance our foods, maintain low stress levels, stay attuned to our body functions, and occasionally test body nutrient states and biochemical functions, then we might be able to avoid supplementation. However, I recommend at least short-term periods, several times yearly, of more intense nutrient intake to ensure proper availability of all the micronutrients.


Vegetarianism Nutrient Program

Calories 1,800–3,000*
Protein50–70 g.

Vitamin A5,000–10,000 IUs Calcium500–800 mg.
Beta-carotene10,000 IUs Chromium200 mcg.
Thiamine (B1)25 mg. Copper2 mg.
Riboflavin (B2)25 mg. Iodine 150 mcg.
Niacin (B3) or50 mg. Iron men—15 mg.
Niacinamide (B3) 50 mg. women—25 mg.
Pantothenic acid (B5)100 mg. Magnesium 350–500 mg.
Pyridoxine (B6) or50 mg. Manganese 5–10 mg.
Pyridoxal-5-phosphate50 mg. Molybdenum 300 mcg.
Cobalamin (B12)100–250 mcg. Selenium200 mcg.
Folic acid400 mcg. Silicon 100 mg.
Biotin 500 mcg. Zinc 30 mg.
Choline250–500 mg.
Inositol250–500 mg.
Bioflavonoids 250 mg. Lactobacillus2 billion organisms
Vitamin D400 IUs
Vitamin E400 IUs Optional:
Vitamin K 150–300 mcg. L-amino acids1,000 mg.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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