Dietary Sources of Important Nutrients for Vegetarians

Information provided by the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Regardless of which category of vegetarian you are, you need to include a variety of foods in your diet, including whole grains, as well as fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds. By reading the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (USA) advice for vegetarians, you can make sure that your daily diet meets the needs of your body.


Vegetarians should consume a variety of sources of calcium in order to meet their daily needs. Studies have shown that vegetarians absorb and absorb more calcium from food than non-vegetarians. Dairy products are a rich source of calcium. If dairy products are excluded from your diet, enough calcium can be obtained from plant foods.

Here is a list of vegetarian sources of calcium:

  • Low-fat or skimmed milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Soy milk or rice milk
  • crops
  • Calcium-fortified juices
  • Calcium Enriched Tofu
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • beans
  • Almonds and almond oil
  • Sesame seeds and sesame oil (tahini)
  • soy nuts


Vegetarians should consume a variety of sources of iron to meet their daily needs. Consuming natural sources of vitamin C (citrus fruits, orange juice, tomatoes) at every meal increases iron absorption.

Sources of iron:

  • Soy, nuts
  • Dark green vegetables, herbs
  • beans
  • Iron-fortified bread, rice and pasta
  • Peanut butter


Protein is found in most plant foods as well as animal products. Your body will create its own complete protein if you eat plenty of foods that contain enough calories throughout the day.

Vegetarian protein sources include:

  • beans
  • Whole grains
  • Soy products
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Dairy produce

Vitamin B12.

B12 is found in all animal products, including eggs and dairy products. Getting enough vitamin B12 is generally not a problem for vegetarians who eat some dairy or eggs. Strict vegetarians or vegans, however, may need to supplement their diet by choosing vitamin-fortified foods or by taking no more than 12 percent of the daily value of vitamin B100 (cobalamin).

Vegetarian sources of B12:

  • Foods fortified with vitamin B12, including nutritional yeast, soy milk, muesli. Be sure to check the label.
  • Dairy produce

Vitamin D.

Dairy products are fortified with vitamin D in the United States. People who choose not to eat dairy products and who do not get exposure to sunlight on a regular basis may wish to consider taking vitamin D, no more than 100 percent of the daily value.

Vegetarian sources of vitamin D include:

  • Foods fortified with vitamin D: soy milk, cow’s milk, orange juice, muesli


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