The more restrictive your vegetarian diet, the harder it is to meet your daily nutritional requirements. If you eat eggs and dairy, it will be easier than if you eat no animal products at all. If you choose to follow a vegetarian diet, it may be helpful to consult a nutrition professional to get individualized counseling to meet your needs.
Vegetarians may become deficient in vitamin B-12 because this vitamin is primarily found in animal products. It may take years to develop a deficiency of this vitamin, so ask for your blood level of this vitamin be checked regularly. According to Colorado State University, once a deficiency develops, it can result in irreversible nerve damage, so pay special attention to this nutrient. You can obtain vitamin B-12 in a supplement by itself, or as part of a daily vitamin B-complex supplement.
You may be at an increased risk of developing a calcium deficiency with a vegetarian diet, especially if you don't eat dairy products. Too little calcium can lead to the development of soft bones and an increased risk for osteoporosis later in life. You can get calcium from dark green leafy vegetables. If your diet is lacking in dairy and dark green leafy vegetables, you may want to take a daily calcium supplement or a multivitamin that contains calcium.
The iron in plant-based foods is not absorbed as well as the iron from animal sources. So, you may be at risk for developing an iron deficiency. According to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association, supplementation of iron may be wise, especially for premenopausal vegan women and any vegetarians who have maintained a meat-free diet for more than six years. Have your iron levels checked regularly if you're a vegetarian.
If you are a vegetarian you may want to take a daily vitamin that contains vitamin D. Vitamin D is present in dairy products and fish, which may be lacking in a vegetarian diet. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium so a marked deficiency may make you prone to soft, brittle bones over time.
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