Dear Ask Alison,
I have a son that has recently taken interest in being a vegetarian. I am also a vegetarian however I wonder if their are risks to his growth because he is so young. I am not really sure of how much protein is in certain foods or if he's getting the proper amount. Please help!"
~ Katie F., St. Peters
Here are my favorite vegetarian sources of vital nutrients:
- Protein: quinoa, buckwheat, beans (combine with rice to make a ‘complete’ protein*)
- Iron: dark chocolate, dark leafy greens (like kale), sesame seeds
- Calcium: collards, white beans, dried figs
- Zinc: Oatmeal, sunflower seeds, chickpeas
- Vitamin B12: Fortified cereals and soy products (B12 does not exist naturally in plants), eggs, cheese
*Protein complementing isn’t essential to getting the benefits from protein-rich foods. Eating beans alone will also give you great protein benefits!
Bonus: Spirulina is a superfood, which contains all but one (vitamin b12) of the essential nutrients above! Check out the Ask Alison blog post for great ideas on "hiding" this little gem in your favorite foods.
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National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets. 2016. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/
U.S. Department of Agriculture ChooseMyPlate.Gov. Tips for Vegetarians. October 12, 2016. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/tips-vegetarians
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.