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Answers from the BJC Experts

Ask the BJC Expert allows you to get the answers you need about a variety of health, medicine and exercise issues to help you live a more healthy life.

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What’s a good, healthy way to stay vegan and still get all my vitamins?

You can stay vegan and be healthy fairly easily. Those who follow vegan diets consume no animal products. You want to eat a variety of different fruits, vegetables and whole grains to get a balance of everything you need. Include good sources of Vitamin C to aid iron absorption, such as oranges, strawberries, broccoli and tomatoes. Sources of iron include legumes, iron-fortified cereals, grains and dried fruit.

To help meet calcium needs, you can use tofu, calcium-enriched products (orange juice, various grain products), broccoli, legumes, almonds and fortified soy milk. Vegetables and starches contain some protein; beans are an excellent source; plus you can include tofu, soy or protein analogs. You can find these usually in the vegetable section of the grocery store.

Other nutrients that may be lacking when following a vegan diet would be zinc and vitamin D. Zinc is found in whole grains, legumes and fortified breakfast cereals — like Wheaties®. As for Vitamin D, sunshine and fortified margarines can be a help for this nutrient. To get in adequate amounts of vitamin B12, again, consume vitamin B12 fortified cereals, meat analogs and fortified soymilk. As you can see, eating a variety of foods is the key. 

It has been shown that people following a vegetarian diet have lower blood cholesterol levels and a reduced risk for heart disease. 

If you'd like additional information, nutrition counseling services are available at several BJC facilities including:

BJC dietitians also can be located by calling Help For Your Health at 314.747.7234.

If you live outside the BJC HealthCare service area, you can find a nearby registered dietitian at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

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