I am a 20 year old female and have just started to follow a vegan diet. I am taking a multivitamin and trying to get protein from nuts and healthy oils. What nutrients should I be careful to get or add and what are some of the signs that I am not getting enough of these nutrients?
If you are taking a multivitamin that will certainly help to prevent any serious deficiency, however it is still important to create a balanced diet and ensure you are getting a varied source of nutrients from your foods. Ensuring adequate protein intake is important however there are plenty of options and making sure you consume a protein rich food with each meal with help keep Soy is rich in protein, edamame beans and tofu are a good source of soy protein. Mushrooms, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans (must be cooked) and grains like quinoa are also good sources. Nutrients you want to focus on consuming are Omega-3 fatty acids which can be found in flax seeds and walnuts, Iron found in beans, seeds and leafy green vegetables. Zinc from nuts and seeds. Calcium from Broccoli, Kale, Molasses. Vitamin D from Mushrooms but also from sunlight exposure. Getting 10-15 minutes sunlight exposure everyday at least on your arms and face will help your natural Vitamin D production. Vitamin B12 is more difficult to source in the vegan diet, your multivitamin will help, but you might want to consider adding some fortified yeast supplement.
Can the vegan diet be healthy if done properly?
Absolutely, recently a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people following a vegetable based diet had a 12% lower risk of dying compared to meat eaters. http://www.livescience.com/37102-vegetarians-live-longer.html Sometimes peoples protein or fat consumption may be a bit low, but with good meal planning there is no reason why this should occur.
I’ve recently been starting to go vegan and eating more whole vegetables and fruits (as opposed to vegan junk-food) but I picked up a soy protein isolate to take in the morning. Is 25 gm of soy protein too much soy? I drink almond milk and avoid soy in general because I know it’s bad for estrogen levels if you consume too much. If it is too much, can you suggest a different protein source?
In the case of soy protein isolate the majority of the active ingredients found in soy have been removed during the processing, leaving only the protein. However some believe that there are still some estrogenic compounds intact in the protein powder. If you are active and engaging in exercise a single serving of 25 grams soy protein daily would not be too much. If you are concerned about the possibility of phyto estrogens you may want to consider Pea protein isolate. Pea protein products are becoming more readily available and there are a variety of brands that offer flavoured or unflavoured products. http://www.iherb.com/Growing-Naturals-Yellow-Pea-Protein-Vanilla-Blast-16-7-oz-475-g/42062