I had a quick question about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through vegetarianism. I have been a vegetarian all my life. But now I am at a point in my life where I need the extra protein and iron. I'm only 22 but I live away from home for University so making meals is another issue. When I say vegetarian I mean I do not eat eggs, meat and alternatives, and fish and seafood. I do take supplements like multivitamins, iron supplements, vitamin b and d. I was wondering if there are certain foods that vegetarians should eat more often to boost intake of certain vitamins? Coming to university I have tried to eat more tofu and soy products but I feel that I cannot eat them all the time.
I am so glad you asked this question! Vegetarianism is not as simple as many people think. It takes planning, education, and the willingness to eat protein alternatives. My first piece of advice is to see your doctor, and get blood work. Tell your doctor you are a vegetarian and want to check for deficiencies, especially iron, hemoglobin, hematocrit, B12, and Vitamin D. The more complete the better.
Next, take supplements accordingly. You did not mention dairy products. If you eat cheese and yogurt, these are excellent sources of protein and calcium. Women are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies due to our "time of the month" and you will feel especially tired and weak at that time. Protein is critical for energy, muscle function, muscle building and the health of our blood! Try tofu, beans, hummus, protein powders in smoothies (search for my smoothie recipe on fitperez.com), and protein bars. Keep track of your protein intake. The general guideline for healthy people is about 50 to 60 grams of protein per day. If someone weighs more, lifts weights and works out regularly, they should consume more protein. In my experience some vegetarians only get 25 to 30 grams of protein per day — not enough!
Another tip for you is to drink ready-made Ensure muscle building or Muscle Milk high-protein shakes. They are ready to drink, have around 20 grams of protein, and are perfect for your University lifestyle! Vegetarians should take a B Complex supplement, multivitamin, and calcium.
Get your blood iron checked before taking iron, as it can be harmful if levels get too high. Good luck, and keep my posted on your progress.