If you’re on a weight-loss journey, listen up!
I’ve been answering a lot of questions about macronutrients and weight-loss ever since I wrote the The Heatlthiest Macronutrient Ratio For Weight-Loss, but people are forgetting that our macronutirient intake is only one part of the equation..
So, I wanted to give you a quick summary of the importance of making sure your micronutrients are fulfilled on a caloric deficit eating regimen.
But before you get into the good stuff, I wanted to let you know that I have a Avoiding Micronutrient Deficiencies While Losing Weight video on my IGTV channel for those of you who would rather consume video content! It’s a great watch.
A micronutrient is a chemical element or substance required in trace amounts for the normal growth and development of living organisms.
The NIH has shown that micronutrient deficits are prevalent in weight-loss diet plans. Special attention to micronutrient rich foods is required to reduce the risk of micronutrient deficiencies in the design of most calorically-restricted diets.
With that said, as you start to incorporate more nutrient-dense plant-foods into your diet, you’ll be receiving an abundance of micronutrients and minerals. However, there are a few nutrients that you may need to buy certain foods and/or supplement for.
Keep in mind that Oxford Academic has proven that vegans get more carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins A, C, B6, B9, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and iron — AND vegans have only half the risk of meat eaters of requiring an emergency appendectomy. But, when it comes to vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin K2, Zinc, Iron, and DHA, there are certain foods you should consider eating to make sure you’re in the clear, with vitamin B12 and vitamin D being the main two to watch for.
It’s important to know how to avoid them because it only takes a couple deficiencies to start a domino effect of bad events within your body!
I’ll go over Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D since they’re the most important. But if you’re wanting to learn how to avoid deficiencies with the other micronutrients, be sure to check out my Common Deficiencies on a Vegan Diet: How to Avoid Them and Thrive blog post.
Vitamin B12 (the most important)
What is it? It’s a very important water-soluble vitamin that takes part in maintaining healthy nerve and blood cells and helps in the production of the body’s genetic material.
B12 is mainly found in animal foods while plant foods don’t directly contain it. This is because B12 is synthesized by bacteria, microorganisms, fungi, and algae, but not by plants or animals. The reason animal products contain B12 is because they consume these organisms with their food, usually through supplementation.
It’s been agreed upon, by many of the best plant-based doctors, that you should either be supplementing this vitamin, or eating plant foods that are fortified with it, every day. When supplementing, plant-based nutrition experts recommend a total weekly dose of 2000 mcg to 2500 mcg. According to the NIH, this is best done with doses of 400-500 mcg about 5 days out of the week for better absorption.
A B12 deficiency can lead to gastrointestinal issues, megaloblastic anemia, and irreversible neurological disorders. People who aren’t supplementing and infants who are breastfed by vegan mothers who aren’t intaking a reliable source of B12 regularly are both at risk for deficiency.
It never used to be like this..
Many years ago, we drank from pond/lake water, which contained adequate amounts of B12. But, in today’s sanitized world, our filtered water doesn’t supply us with the B12 we were once accustomed to drinking.
So, with our small bodies of water being too dirty to drink from and our water supply being filtered, vegans are left in a tricky spot since we refrain from eating animal products that contain high amounts of supplemented B12.
Personally, I supplement this vitamin because I’m aware that I don’t eat enough fortified B12 foods daily, such as fortified plant-milks, nutritional yeast, or cereals.
This happens to be an ironic topic because some people don’t think it’s “natural” to be supplementing a vitamin, but don’t realize that most of the worlds’ vitamin B12 supplements go to livestock. Animals don’t manufacture this vitamin like some believe, they simply give us an altered version of the B12 they were once supplemented with.
Weird, right? So, you can either eat fortified foods, take a vegan-friendly supplement, or obtain it second hand through animal products that were previously supplemented with it, it’s your choice.
Once you know this information, it’s very empowering to say the least!
Vitamin D (second most important)
What is it? It’s commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.” It plays a key role is managing the calcium in our bones, blood and gut, and makes it easier for your body to communicate with itself.
Vitamin D is synthesized by our skin when ultraviolet rays from sunlight contacts us. But if you live in an area with little sunlight, you must make sure you’re eating foods that contain it or are taking a vegan-friendly supplement.
Since most vitamin D is found in animal products, it’s important to manipulate your plant foods to help make sure you’re in the clear. Mushrooms have a significant amount of this vitamin, especially sun-dried mushrooms. There are also many foods/drinks that are fortified with it, such as most plant milks, cereals, orange juice, etc.
When deficient in vitamin D, people often experience low energy, weaker bones, chronic pain, and even depression.
- Birth to 1 year: 400 IU (international units)
- 1-70 years: 600 IU
- 70+ years: 800 IU
So, to make sure you don’t experience a deficiency, make sure you either get plenty of sun, eat/drink fortified products, or supplement with a vegan-friendly vitamin capsule so your energy and mood stay up!
If you’re someone who needs reassurance, I’d recommend downloading the Cronometer App (the web version is free) so that you can easily track your foods. This will give you solid data on your macronutrient and micronutrient intakes.
If you don’t download it, then make sure that you’re eating nutritionally-dense plants so that you’re not cutting yourself short on anything.
Also, blood tests can be done if you want to be on the safe side of things. This can give you a good indication to how well your diet is maintaining your vitality levels!
If you do all of this, you won’t have anything to worry about throughout your weight-loss journey 🙂
- Optimize your foods in your eating regimen so that you avoid common deficiencies that occur during a calorically-restricted diet
- Take a vegan-friendly vitamin B12 supplement and do your best to eat fortified foods/drinks.
- Take a vegan-friendly vitamin D supplement when you’re not receiving at least 20 minutes of direst sunlight exposure, or it you’re not eating enough fortified foods/drinks.
- Stay away from empty calories, such as sugar, so that you’re not wasting a portion of your calories on calories that have zero nutritional value.
I hope you took some value from this blog post! If you have ANY questions or concerns, be sure to contact me and subscribe to this website with the form below and I’ll get back to you ASAP!