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Are there any nutrients that a vegetarian diet is missing for teens?

A vegetarian diet if not carefully managed can be low in certain nutrients that are found in abundance in meat, poultry and fish. Nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin B12 and vitamin D can all be lacking from a vegetarian diet. It is vital to ensure that these are consumed in a healthy diet.  Here are some important nutrients and vegetarian foods that contain them:

Vegetarian foods that are high in protein include tofu, beans, lentils, soy products, nuts and nut butters.

Vegetarian foods that are high in iron include dried beans, spinach, leafy greens and iron-fortified cereals and bread. Foods that are high in vitamin C ( citrus fruit such as grapefruit and oranges and red peppers, for example) aid the body in absorbing iron so it’s a good idea to eat them together.

Dairy products are also high in calcium as are leafy greens such as kale and spinach, legumes and tofu.

Vitamin B12
A deficiency in vitamin B12 is usually not a problem for lacto-vegetarians as it is found in eggs, cheese and other dairy products.  For vegans, it is also found in multivitamin supplements and fortified cereals.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Most varieties of milk contain vitamin D. Sunlight also causes the body to produce vitamin D naturally.

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