Do you need extra vitamins without meat?

Do you need extra vitamins without meat?
Published: April 30, 2020

With a well-composed vegetarian meal, it is possible to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals without meat or fish. But there are a few points of interest: vitamin B12 and iron.

Vitamin B12 is important for the nervous system and the production of red blood cells. It is only found in animal products such as meat, fish, dairy and eggs. Therefore, vegetarians should consume dairy (and eggs) on a daily basis.

An high-iron diet can reduce the risk of anemia. Vegetable iron is more difficult to absorb than animal iron. Vitamin C can help with this, because this ensures that the body absorbs iron from vegetable products better. Therefore, make sure you have enough vitamin C in your meal, for example through extra vegetables or fruit. Coffee, tea, red wine, vegetables high in oxalic acid and phytic acid inhibit iron absorption. As a vegetarian, it is therefore better not to eat these in combination with high-iron vegetable foods.
In principle, vegetarians don’t need to use extra vitamins or minerals, provided they eat enough and varied enough.

Vegans are people who don’t eat animal products at all, so for example no milk and eggs. This can cause a vitamin B12 deficiency. Ready-to-eat vegetarian burgers are enriched with vitamin B12, but meat substitutes such as tofu and tempeh do not contain vitamin B12. Seaweeds and algae are also said to be good vegetable sources of vitamin B12. However, these products do contain a form of vitamin B12, but this form is not functional for humans.
Furthermore, a vegan diet may easily contain too little calcium and vitamin B2. The risk of a shortage of calcium, vitamins B2 and B12 can be mitigated by using a (multi-vitamin) supplement.