Getting essential nutrients while eating vegan on a budget (November ninety, day 11)Posted: November 11, 2013
I’m often not the best at checking I’m getting everything needed in terms of vitamins and minerals. I try to eat a wide variety of foods in moderation and hope that I’m covering my needs through the diversity of my diet, but there are some things I’ve been trying to keep a bit more of an eye on since starting this challenge.
I tend to stockpile UHT value soya milks (which are fortified with the same amount of calcium as dairy milk) when I can get a lift, because they’re heavy, but I ran out a few weeks back and haven’t got around to buying more. Knowing I wasn’t getting as much calcium as normal, I hoiked a bottle of calcium tablets I bought ages back (I think 60 tablets was less than a fiver from Holland and Barrett. They may have been in a ‘buy one, get one for a penny’ sale) from the back of the cupboard and have been trying to pop a half dose most days. I’ve tried to add molasses to things it goes well in (porridge and smoothies are enjoyable uses, since I can’t make gingerbread while the oven is out) as a couple of teaspoons of that are about 10% rda, other sources have included oranges and broccoli – maybe not a huge amount there but it all adds up.
The days are getting shorter and colder in the UK and that means little-to-no vitamin D coming from the friendly sun for about the next four months. I still have some Vitashine vegan D leftover from a large amount I was given (on request) as part of a gift from my parents some time back, and in the winter I try to take them fairly regularly. I reckon I average 3 a week at the moment which I think is probably okay as they’re quite large doses per capsule. They’re not cheap, but I may as well take them while I’ve got them. Before this I alternated between the Vegan Society’s multivitamin and other vegan brands with a vitamin D content during the winter months. Possibly a multivitamin makes most sense cost-wise but they are often in weird proportions that make no sense to me, typically with at least five times the RDA for B5, for instance.
At the moment, a jar of Meridian yeast extract, which I’ve been eating on crackers, is providing a reasonable amount a few times a week. I hear it’s best not to heat b12 too much, but I did also enjoy some stirred through some slightly cooled-down mashed potatoes yesterday. I’m not a massive fan of nutritional yeast, but I did buy a big tub of b12-fortified stuff a few months ago, so it has done double-duty in going towards my using-up-cupboards efforts and supplementing the b12 I’d otherwise probably get from soya milk. While again a multivitamin would be more cost effective, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable, and I have heard the stuff absorbs better if it’s chewed, so there’s that.
This is something UK vegans need to keep an eye on since our salt isn’t fortified, unlike many other countries. Too much can be just as bad as too little but various information sources seem to differ on how much is too much, and what reliable sources can be found. I had been sprinkling Herbamare (containing kelp) on my food sometimes over the summer, eating an occasional bit of seaweed, and I believe fruit and veg do have small amounts of iodine, but I’m thinking a supplement with a properly controlled dose might be a good idea for this one.
Apart from these changes I’m just carrying on doing what I usually do, e.g. my main sources of omega 3 are flax seeds in my smoothie, and rapeseed oil to cook with, and I have enough of both of those to last several months. Iron is coming from pulses, green veg, dried fruit and molasses, vitamins A and C are plentiful in the many types of squash and other veg I’ve been eating, and I’ve been getting a reasonable amount of protein from the usual sources, maybe slightly heavier on the almonds, peanuts and chickpeas and less on the processed sausage-type-things but that’s probably all to the good.