I have recently (five weeks ago) started eating a vegetarian diet, and I love it. My body feels so much better overall. I am lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I can eat dairy products and eggs, but I do not eat any meat at all including fish.
I think I am getting enough protein through milk, cheese, eggs, etc. But I am worried about that a little bit, and especially about B12 and iron. I need help from those of you who eat vegetarian and/or vegan. Are there food products you consume to get what you need of B12 or iron? or what supplement recommendations do you have?
For B12, if you are consuming at least a cup of milk daily, you should be all set. The RDA for adults is 2.4 mcg. A cup of 1% milk contains a bit more than 4 mcg. Even if you don't have milk, eggs, cheese, and yogurt can add up to the RDA.
Iron is a bit more of a challenge because non-heme iron does not absorb as well. Consequently, the RDA for adult females is 32 mg/day which is quite a bit. The dairy and egg contribute a small amount. However, there are many good vegetarian sources, mainly beans and dark greens. Also, many grain foods, especially cereals have high levels of fortification, so it may not be too hard to achieve. Again, VRG.org provides an excellent resource: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.php
Still for both of those nutrients, many people (vegetarian or not) can be poor absorbers of those nutrients. In that case supplementation may be necessary. There is no harm in adding a B12 supplement as insurance. However, you should NOT supplement with iron unless a blood test confirms there is a problem.
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