Choosing to become a vegetarian is a good step towards a much healthier lifestyle but merely eating meals usually made of fruits, vegetables or nuts aren’t enough. It is vital to know which nutrients your body needs and from which of the foods you can get such nutrients.

While there are several benefits to switching to a vegetarian diet there are some essential vitamins and minerals that could be left out or not consumed enough. Vitamin B12, calcium, iron, protein and zinc are examples of such nutrients.

The absence of Vitamin B-12 in a diet can cause muscle weakness and anaemia. Not consuming enough calcium can lead to weak bones. Low intake of protein can lead to muscle wasting and increased weakness as well as a weak immune system and in extreme cases protein deficiency can lead to shock.

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It is not eventually beneficial if your vegetarian diet hardly contains or does not have enough of the aforementioned nutrients. You should consult a nutritionist concerning your vegetarian diet; they can help you with details of the necessary nutrients and their intake to help your body function properly and regularly.

The following are five of the essential nutrients and a few examples of the foods they can be found in:

1. Vitamin B-12: Soy-based beverages, or by including Vitamin B-12 supplements or fortified foods in your meals

2. Zinc: Eggs, cheese, soy beans, soy milk, mushrooms, lentils, black-eyed peas

3. Calcium: Yoghurt, almonds, milk, dark leafy vegetables like spinach

4. Protein: Eggs, beans, higher-protein whole grains

5. Iron: Eggs, beans, soy-based foods and nuts