I’m no doctor, my last multivitamin was in gummy form, and I haven’t had a prune since all the Golden Girls were still alive, so take the following with a grain of salt:
Sometimes vegan diets are imbalanced. It seems the culprits are normally too much sugar, favoring grains over legumes, and going overboard with trendy foods like kale and quinoa (kale is the Jennifer Lawrence of cruciferous vegetables.
I like it just fine, but don’t really get why everyone’s crazy for it). Getting my daily protein requirement is easy; I’m told a good rule of thumb is the same amount in grams as your weight in kilos. Finding plastic-free, zero-waste supplements is another story.
I prefer whole foods for absorption, like Chaga mushroom for Vitamin A, hemp oil for Omega-3, pumpkin seeds for lysine, or one Brazil nut for selenium daily.
However, whole foods present a host of problems. For instance, biotin, choline, and chromium are not precisely measured in foods. The body can use only about 50 percent phosphorus from vegetable sources. Sea vegetables, which are rich sources of iodine, may contain far more than is safe for ingestion.
The nutrient content of fruits, nuts, and vegetables varies depending on the soil they’re grown on and irrigation and fertilization practices. Finally, absorption is affected by the way foods are prepared.
Everyone’s needs are different, but for me, getting plant-based nutrients from whole foods is the best option. I don’t seem to absorb supplements well, yet experienced a surge in energy and health when I started eating this way. It may be too early to tell if the effects of my vegan and gluten-free diet are sustainable (I feel I must emphasize that I’m genetically obliged to eat vegan and gluten-free. It’s not a choice). I do know my hair and nails are growing twice as fast now- my friends tease me about my Tony Montana pinky nail- and my skin cleared up.
That’s good enough for me!
The table below started out as only the stuff I actually eat, which is why whole grains don’t figure in much. I eventually added things like tempeh or soy.
Note: Some people need supplements no matter what they eat. Common examples include vitamin D2 from yeast or Vitamin D3 from lichen, fortified nut and seed milks, and phosphorus.
Zero Waste, Vegan, Plant-Based Nutrient Sources
|Nutrient||DRI||Plant based vegan sources|
|Vitamin A||700 mcg||Carrots, butternut squash, sweet potato. pumpkin, spinach, cantaloupe, mango, apricot, kale, broccoli|
|Vitamin C||75 mg||Cantaloupe, grapefruit, guava, mango, oranges, papayas, pineapple, strawberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, peppers, tomato, blackcurrant, dark leafy greens, some herbs|
|Vitamin D||10 mcg||Sunshine, chanterelles|
|Vitamin E||15 mg||Nuts, seeds, avocado, broccoli, mango, tomatoes, kiwi, Swiss chard, olives, greens, asparagus, beet, and turnip greens|
|Vitamin K||90 mcg||Brocoli, kale, spinach, collards, romaine, Swiss chard, sauerkraut, kombucha, natto|
|Thiamin||1.1 mg||Pine nuts, Jerusalem artichoke, nutritional yeast, active yeast, hibiscus tea, watermelon, acorn squash, tahini, macadamia nuts, sunflower seeds, spirulina, men peas, beans, asparagus|
|Riboflavin||1.8 mg||Almonds, sesame seeds, spinach, beet greens, mushrooms, trios, prunes|
|Niacin||14 mg||Chili, spirulina, peanuts, peanut butter, rice bran, mushrooms, barley, durian fruit, potatoes, tomatoes, chia, wild rice, buckwheat, green peas, avocados, sunflower seeds, tahini|
|Vitamin B6||1.5 mg||Banana, watermelon, artichoke, palm hearts, plantains, pineapple, peas, Brussel sprouts, green beans, pistachio, figs and peanut butter, sweet potatoes, almonds, avocado, water chestnuts, squash and pumpkin, chickpeas, beans, spirulina, cilia seeds|
|Folate||400 mcg||Spinach, beans, lentils, asparagus, lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, avocados, mangoes, oranges, nutritional yeast, basil, peanuts, artichokes, cantaloupe, walnuts, flat sesame, cauliflower, tahini, sunflower seeds, peas. okra, celery, hazelnuts, mint, leek, chestnuts|
|Vitamin B12||2.4 mcg||Spirulina (the best source)|
|Pantothenic acid||5 mg||Nutritional yeast, paprika, mushroom, sunflower seeds, avocado, tomato, sweet potato|
|Calcium||1200 mg||Bak choy, collars, almonds, navy beans, turnip greens, broccoli, tahini, mustard greens|
|Copper||1156 mcg||Sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, lentils, walnuts, lima beans|
|Iron||8 mg||Spinach, swiss chard, pumpkin, sea vegetables, Igiumes, tofu, tahini, molasses, dark chocolate|
|Magnesium||320 mg||Kelp, oats, almonds, cashews, cocoa, cacao, hemp / chia / pumpkin / sunflower seeds|
|Manganese||1.8 mg||Cloves, garbanzo beans, spinach, pineapple, pumpkin seeds, rye, tempeh, brown rice, oats|
|Phosphorus||55 mcg||Lentils, chickpeas, lupins, brazil nuts, beans pumpkin and sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts|
|Zinc||8.6 mg||Legumes (especially sprouted), nuts, sunflower seeds (especially toasted), oatmeal, tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, miso, broccoli, leafy greens|
|Potassium||4.7 g||Beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beet green, swiss chard, sunflower seeds, edamame, acorn squash, orange juice, peanut butter, collard greens, tomatoes, beet, quinoa|
|Iodine||150 mcg||Seaweed, peas, apples, prunes, bananas, com, kombu, arame, hijiki|
|Choline||425 mg||Bananas, raisins. oranges, lettuce, grapeseed oil, Medjool dates, nuts, tofu, tomatoes, avocadoes, celery. carrot, seeds, potatoes, quinoa, soymilk. broccoli|
|Betaine||?||Quinoa, beet, spinach, sweet potatoes|
|Biotin||n/a||Almonds, chia, peanuts, sweet potato, peanuts, onions, oats, tomatoes, carrots, walnuts|
Sources are Harvard (that’s why the daily values are for women), One Green Planet’s Plant-Based Nutrition series, Linus Pauling, and a bunch of Cleveland Clinic stuff from the nutritionist my doctor made me go to.
According to my doctor, my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels are all great. Apparently, your DHA levels will be good if you cook with lots of olive oil and eat avocadoes, flaxseed, seaweed, etc.
Sample Meals: What I Eat
One whole roasted beet (skin on- I love the tail)Half an avocado. A roasted sweet potato- if my stepfather’s cooking, sweet potato hash cooked in olive or coconut oil. A handful of cherry tomatoes. Collard greens or spinach and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil.
A giant salad (225 grams) with carrots, hummus, probably avocado, and garbanzo beans. Homemade balsamic and olive oil vinaigretteAn appleGoji berriesAlmonds
A vegetable curry with squash, green beans, onions, garlic, peas, chili, lentils, and coconut milk. A pint of berries
An orange. Olives. Pistachios
Dinner. Two cabbage steaks. Beans sautéed with celery, mushrooms, and onions. Roasted cauliflower and potatoes. A chickpea burger with tomatoes on a bed of arugula with pesto.
Homemade zero-waste vegan peanut butter cup, which is just melted chocolate, coconut oil, and natural peanut butter. Somehow I always make them as big as my hand so I can only eat one at a time
I don’t understand how girls can live on just a smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies are beverages, not breakfast! If my grandma is Vitamixing, it will have an avocado, two kiwis, an apple, a bag of spinach, and maybe cabbage or something random like that. If I’m going to the juice press down the street it usually has radish, pear, cucumber, fennel, and some other tasty things.
The nutritionist’s primary concern with me is that I eat too much, but I’ve gradually gained strength and muscle tone and my feet are no longer always freezing cold since adopting this diet. For the liver, milk thistle and mulberry work great for me, and white willow bark eliminates my pollution-related migraines.
But this is my experience. Everyone is different, and I’d never want anyone to risk their health in the name of zero waste, so please consult a physician before discontinuing or adopting a new regimen.
If there are any nutrients I missed, please let me know. I’ll try to find a vegan, unpackaged supplement alternative.