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Make sure you get enough of these nutrients if you don't eat meat.

5 nutrients vegetarians need. Learn more.

Reviewed 6/12/2024

5 nutrients vegetarians need

A vegetarian or vegan diet can give you all the vitamins and minerals you need to be healthy. But you'll need to take a little extra care to make sure you get enough of certain nutrients. Here are five nutrients that can go missing with a meatless diet and tips for making sure you get enough of them.


Calcium is important for healthy bones. Milk and other dairy products are good sources, as are nondairy products like kale, spinach, almond butter and tofu.


You need iron for healthy red blood cells. Vegetarians can get this nutrient from fortified breakfast cereals; soy foods, like tofu; dark, leafy greens; beans; and nuts. Tip: To increase iron absorption, eat iron-rich foods and foods that are high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers and tomatoes.


Protein is essential for all parts of your body, especially your muscles. Vegetarian sources of protein include beans, soy products, nuts, eggs and dairy products.


Vitamin B12 helps the body make red blood cells. Vegetarian food sources include eggs; dairy products; and fortified foods, like nutritional yeast, cereal and soy milk (check the product label for details). Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you should take a vitamin B12 supplement.


Like calcium, vitamin D bolsters bone health. There are few food sources of vitamin D, but almost all dairy products are fortified with it. Nondairy sources include mushrooms; eggs; and fortified foods like plant milk, cereals and juices (check the product label for details) Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if you should take a vitamin D supplement.

What's your vitamin IQ?

Do you really need vitamin supplements for good health? This short quiz can help you learn more. TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE


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