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Vegetarian Diet: Sources of Some Essential Nutrients


A vegetarian diet is healthy if it is carefully planned. If a vegetarian diet is too restricted, it may be unhealthy. Certain essential nutrients are harder for vegetarians to find in plant foods. Vegetarians may need to make a special effort to get enough calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12. It also can be difficult to get an adequate amount of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially true if NO animal products (not even dairy products or eggs) are included in the diet.

Amounts of Some Essential Nutrients Needed Each Day for Children


Calcium
1 to 3 years..............500 milligrams (mg)
4 to 8 years..............800 mg
9 to 18 years............1300 mg
Iron
1 to 3 years.............. 7 mg
4 to 8 years..............10 mg
9 to 13 years..............8 mg
14 to 18 years............11 mg (boys), 15 mg (girls)
Zinc
7 months to 3 years........3 mg
4 to 8 years...............5 mg
9 to 13 years..............8 mg
14 to 18 years............11 mg (boys), 9 mg (girls)
Vitamin D *
0 to 18 years..............200 to 400 IU * 
Vitamin B-12
1 to 3 years...............0.9 mcg
4 to 8 years...............1.2 mcg
9 to 13 years..............1.8 mcg
14 to 18 years.............2.4 mcg
Iodine
7 to 12 months...........130 mcg
1 to 8 years..............90 mcg
9 to 13 years............120 mcg
14 to 18 years...........150 mcg
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* Although the Recommended Daily Intake (DRI) 
recommendations for Vitamin D have not been updated 
yet, new clinical research shows the need for 400 IU 
for infancy through adulthood. After the age of 70 
years, some health conditions may increase the 
recommendation up to 800 IU/day. Ask your healthcare 
provider how much vitamin D you and your children should 
take. 

Sources of Some Nutrients for Vegetarians


CALCIUM                             mg per serving
------------------------------------------------------
Legumes (1/2 cup cooked) 
Navy beans                                      60
Black beans                                     46
Vegetarian baked beans                          64

Soy foods (1/2 cup)
Cultured soy yogurt, fortified                 367
Tofu                                    120 to 430
Soy milk, calcium fortified             100 to 159
Soy nuts                                       120

Nuts and seeds 
Almonds, 1/4 cup                                88
Almond butter, 2 tablespoons                    86

Vegetables (1 cup cooked) 
Broccoli                                        79
Collard greens                                 239
Turnip greens                                  208

Fruits 
Dried figs, 5                                  137
Calcium-fortified orange juice, 1 cup          300

Dairy
Cow's milk, 1/2 cup                     137 to 158
Cheddar cheese, 1/4 oz                         153
Yogurt, plain, 1/2 cup                  137 to 230
Yogurt, flavored, 1 cup                 280 to 300


IRON                                mg per serving
------------------------------------------------------
Breads, cereals, and grains 
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice                     0.9
Cereal, fortified, 1 cup               2.1 to 18
Oatmeal, instant, 1/2 cup                      1.6

Vegetables (1/2 cup) 
Broccoli                                       0.9
Bok choy                                       0.7
Tomato juice, 1 cup                            0.7
Turnip greens                                  0.6

Legumes (1/2 cup cooked) 
Baked beans, vegetarian                        1.7
Black beans                                    1.8
Navy beans                                     2.3

Soy foods (1/2 cup) 
Soybeans, cooked                               4.4
Tofu                                           6.6
Soy milk                                0.4 to 1.0

Nuts/seeds (1/4 cup) 
Cashews                                        1.5
Pumpkin seeds                                  5.2
Sunflower seeds                                2.3

Other foods 
Blackstrap molasses, 1 tablespoon              3.5


ZINC                                mg per serving
------------------------------------------------------
Breads, grains, and cereals 
Cereal, fortified 1 oz                 0.7 to 15
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons                      1.8

Legumes (1/2 cup cooked) 
Adzuki beans                                   2.0
Baked beans, canned                            1.8
Lima beans                                     0.9
Lentils                                        1.2

Soy foods (1/2 cup cooked) 
Soybeans                                       1.0
Tofu                                           1.0
Veggie meats, 1 oz                      1.2 to 2.3

Vegetables (1/2 cup cooked) 
Peas                                           1.0
Mushrooms                                      0.7


IODINE                              mcg per serving
------------------------------------------------------
Iodized salt                       90 (1/4 teaspoon)
Sea Vegetables                         varies widely
Vitamin mineral supplements            varies widely


VITAMIN D                           mcg per serving
--------------------------------------------------------
Cereals, fortified, 1 oz                 0.5 to 1
Egg yolk, large, 1                              0.6
Cow's milk, fortified                    1.2 to 1.3
Soy milk, fortified, 1/2 cup             0.5 to 1.5


RIBOFLAVIN                            mg per serving
--------------------------------------------------------
Almonds, 1/4 cup                                0.3
Cereal, fortified, 1 oz                  0.2 to 1.7
Cow's milk, 1/2 cup                             0.2
Yogurt, 1/2 cup                                 0.3
Egg, large, 1                                   0.6
Mushrooms, cooked, 1/2 cup                      0.2
Nutritional yeast miniflakes, 1 tablespoon      1.9
Soy milk, fortified, 1/2 cup                    0.2

VITAMIN B-12                            mcg per serving
---------------------------------------------------------
Cereals, fortified, 1 oz                 0.6 to 6.0
Cow's milk, 1/2 cup                      0.4 to 0.5
Egg, large, 1                                   0.5
Nutritional yeast miniflakes, 1 tablespoon      1.5
Soy milk, fortified, 1/2 cup             0.4 to 1.6
Veggie "meats," fortified, 1 oz          0.5 to 1.2


LINOLENIC ACID (OMEGA-3 FATTY-ACIDS)  grams per serving
-----------------------------------------------------------
Canola oil, 1 tablespoon                 1.3 to 1.6
Flaxseed, ground, 1 tablespoon           1.9 to 2.2
Flaxseed oil, 1 teaspoon                        2.7
Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon                       0.9
Soybeans, cooked, 1/2 cup                       1.0
Tofu, 1/2 cup                                   0.7
Walnuts, 1/4 cup                                2.7
Walnut oil, 1 tablespoon                 1.4 to 1.7
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Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-02-10
Last reviewed: 2010-06-30

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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