Irish Daily Mail - YOU - - HEALTH - Dr Clare Bai­ley

Ve­g­an­ism is the fastest grow­ing food trend this year, ac­cord­ing to Tesco, with an es­ti­mated 96,000 peo­ple in Ire­land fol­low­ing the diet, as well as many – such as my fam­ily – who are at the ‘flex­i­tar­ian’ stage and dab­bling in it. But with 60 per cent of ve­g­ans aged un­der 35, I have been con­tacted by par­ents who are con­cerned that their teenagers or older chil­dren might not be get­ting all the nu­tri­ents they need.

Cut­ting out all meat, dairy, fish and eggs in favour of a plant-based diet can be ben­e­fi­cial for health if done cor­rectly – and with great care in teenagers. A re­cent re­view by aca­demics found that plant-based di­ets were as­so­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in emo­tional and phys­i­cal well­be­ing, qual­ity of life and gen­eral health.

How­ever, no mat­ter how an­i­mal-free your diet is, liv­ing on starchy car­bo­hy­drates and sweet­ened al­mond milk is not good for your health, so I asked nu­tri­tional ther­a­pist Joy Skip­per what ve­g­ans should be mind­ful of. Here are her top five points to con­sider: 1 Vi­ta­min B12 A de­fi­ciency can lead to anaemia, mus­cle weak­ness, fa­tigue, nerve dam­age and mood dis­or­ders. As the rich­est sources of this (meat, dairy, eggs and shell­fish) are no longer on the menu, ve­g­ans should make sure they eat B12-for­ti­fied foods such as en­riched ce­re­als, whole­grain breads, yeast ex­tracts and nori sea­weed. 2 Iron It is less avail­able in plant-based di­ets, mean­ing iron-de­fi­ciency anaemia is es­pe­cially com­mon in men­stru­at­ing ve­gan women, caus­ing tired­ness, short­ness of breath, light­head­ed­ness or hair loss. There is a mod­er­ate amount of iron in for­ti­fied ce­re­als, leafy greens, pump­kin, peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Mak­ing sure you also get enough vi­ta­min C (eg, from citrus fruits) im­proves the ab­sorp­tion of iron. 3 Cal­cium A lack of this min­eral can cause tired­ness, mus­cle cramps, weak nails, tin­gling and low mood. It is es­pe­cially im­por­tant for teenagers to help pre­vent their bones thin­ning when they are older. Good sources in­clude sesame seeds, broc­coli, chick­peas, kale and for­ti­fied plant milks. 4 Omega-3 fats These are needed to re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, for car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits and to pro­tect the brain. The best source is oily fish as ve­gan sources such as chia seeds, olive oil, av­o­ca­dos and walnuts are not so read­ily con­verted into the es­sen­tial fatty acids we need. Try omega-3 sup­ple­ments from sus­tain­ably sourced al­gae, such as To­gether Omega 3 DHA Rich Al­gae Oil Soft­gels (€15.75, ama­zon.ie). 5 Pro­tein We need 50g-60g a day. Good ve­gan sources in­clude tofu, lentils, nuts, whole­grains, seeds, meat sub­sti­tutes and nu­tri­tional yeast – while com­bin­ing pro­teins such as rice with beans en­sures you get all the es­sen­tial amino acids. Con­sider pro­tein shakes such as The Pro­tein Works Pro­tein Blend for Ve­g­ans (€14.50, ama­zon.ie). The Ve­gan So­ci­ety of Ire­land (ve­gan.ie) has lots of use­ful in­for­ma­tion and recipes, and Joy rec­om­mends a daily mul­ti­vi­ta­min sup­ple­ment such as Sol­gar Veg­e­tar­ian Mul­ti­ple 90 (also ve­gan-friendly, €22.50, re­vi­tal.co.uk), but see your doc­tor if you have any con­cerns.

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