VIDEO: 6 common nutrient groups missing from vegetarian diets in India – Times of India

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There is no doubt when we say that vegetarianism is a healthy choice. It can help you lose weight and cut down the risk of heart diseases and blood pressure. However, that being said, there are also some shortcomings when you follow a strict vegetarian diet. It can make you shortchanged on some nutrients, if you are not careful, with the most common ones being protein, calcium, iron, zinc, Omega-3, Vitamin D, and also, to a certain extent, some trace minerals.

While protein is something which has been discussed at length, nutritionist and dietician, Kavita Devgan tells you about the other 6 big nutrient groups which can go missing in your diet and ways you can fill the gap in your diet.

Iron is an important nutrient which doesn’t get well-absorbed in vegetarian diets. This is because, the iron we get from natural plant sources, ‘non-heme’ is not that well-absorbed, compared to the non-vegetarian sources. You must have a lot of iron-rich food in your diet and do that consciously. The quantity can help over the lack of absorption.

Whenever you have nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, and grains- pair them up with vitamin C because that helps speed up the absorbency. Choleys have always been made with a lot of tomatoes. Why? Because tomatoes help in the absorption of iron. Chickpeas and hummus work under the same principle.

Make sure you get to absorb the iron from the food. You must skip the foods which do not absorb iron in a good way.

Caffeine or a cup of tea, whenever you have something iron-rich is a very BAD idea. If you take care of these problems, you can take care of iron absorption better.


If you have dairy then you won’t face much of a problem. But for some, who can’t have or don’t like dairy, add something like sesame seeds, soy milk or other vegetarian calcium sources. Make sure that you have enough vitamin C to help absorb that calcium better.

Sprinkling some orange zest on your cholai ka saag is a brilliant idea. You can also snack on a lot of dried fruits-prunes, figs or dried apples- all these are rich in calcium. Sesame seeds are brilliant. Those small til ka laddus are potent with calcium. Make sure you have all of these. Even if you have dairy- you can supplement with these.


It is a little difficult to get zinc from plant sources, our bodies find it difficult too. Plus, there aren’t too many zinc sources around. Have enough nuts and seeds, like pumpkin seeds. Have almonds every day. Try and incorporate tofu in your diet- a brilliant source of zinc.

Again, what you can do is munch on cashews. A lot of people forget cashews. Don’t do that. Cashews have a lot more iron and zinc than any dry fruit. Make a trail mix- and do not forget to have some cashews there.


Omega 3- which is a big problem for vegetarians. The best source is fatty fish. But, don’t worry. If you have enough flaxseeds, oils or walnuts, you can try to cover up your nutrient needs there.

Vitamin D

Filling up on Vitamin D is always an issue. Indians are Vitamin D deficient. If you have a deficiency, take necessary supplements. The same goes for B12. B12 is only found in non-vegetarian and dairy sources. Hence, vegetarians tend to be deficient.

Get tested, if you have a deficiency, cover up with supplements. There are food sources, but if you are deficient, supplements can help.


If you are a vegetarian, do not think that you get blanket freedom from the ‘bad foods’. You could be eating some foods wrongly. Try and stay a true blue vegetarian by eating the best quality foods.

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