Protein is part of every body cell, essential for healthy growth and repair of cells, for reproduction and protection against infection. Daily requirements are, however, small and there is no problem in getting enough protein on vegetarian or vegan diet. Main sources of protein for vegetarians are; Dariy, Nuts and seeds, Legunes, Cereals and their products.
Carbohydrates are used in the body for energy. They are found in startches and sugars, which are present in grains and flour and products made from these, such as bread, cookies, and cakes; and in sugar, honey, jams and preserve. Potatoes are also a good source, while most vegetables ,milk, and nuts contain small amounts.
There are two sources of fat; animal fat which is found in egg yolks or milk or its products such as cream butterand cheese. The rest of the fats are from plant origin and include a range of oils and products made from these, namely, Margerine and hard vegetable fats.
Fiber is found only in fruit and vegetable products; it is the wood, celluloseand gums which make up their structure. Dairy products do not contain fiber, nor do meat and fish, although they have chewy texture. Fiber is needed to enable the digestive system to fuction effectively and its essential for good health.
Iron is essential for making red blood cells, and lack of iron in the diet can lead to anemia. This is one of the nutritions which needs watching, althougha properly balanced diet can provide enoug. Iron is found in all legumes, lentil and other whole grains.
An important trace element, zinc is essential for healthy growth and healing, for sexual maturity and reproduction, and for the digestion of protein and carbohydrates. A shortage of zinc is often manifested in white flecks of fingernails, and sometimes in skin problems. Best sources of zinc are wheat germ, oatmeal, peanuts and brewer's yeast and, for those eating dairy products, cheese and skin milk.
Calcium is essential for the healthy formation of bones and teeth, and for normal functioning of bones, nerves, muscles and heart. Best sources are cheese, milk and milk products.
Magnesum is needed for many important roles in the body, including the metabolism of carbohydrates. It is found in a wide range of foods and damaged by heat, though it is soluble, so may be lost if the water in which vegetables have been cooked is thrown away.
A vital trace element, iodine is essential for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. The most reliable sources of iodine are seaweed and iodized sea salt. Sea salt contains iodine but it disappears during storage. Getting enough is not a problem.
Vitamins are essential for our well being. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, eyes, hair, nails and mucous membranes, and for resistance to infection. It is found in dairy products, eggs and margarine, and in all dark green and some yellow vegetables, as carotene, a substance which the body can convert into vitamin A. The Vitamins B is important for the metabolism of other foods, the healthy working of the nervous system, the production of red blood cells and many other vital functions. They are found in whole-grain cereals and products made from them such as whole-wheat bread and pasta. Vitamin C protects against infection, speeds healing and the growth and repair of tissues, and is needed for the absorption of iron. It is found in a wide range of fruit and vegetables and getting sufficent vitamin C is not usually a problem for vegetarians. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium, which is needed for strong and healthy bones and teeth. The richest sources are margarine, milk, eggs, and fortigied breakfast cereals. Vitamin E is needed for the elasticity of tissues, for general vitality and healing, and for the healthy functioning of the heart and arteries. It is found in a wide range of foods and deficiency in this vitamin is rare, espeicitally in a vegetarian diet, which generally contains plentiful amounts. Vitamin K is needed for the metabolism of proteins and for the clotting of blood. It is made by the intestinal bacteria and is also found in leafy green, egg yolk, vegetables, cauliflower, tomatoes, peas and beans, potatoes, carrots, seaweeds and alfalfa.