7 Essential Nutrients You Can’t Get From Plants

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2. Zinc

During a visit to the doctor’s office (especially in the cold season), you can find out that zinc is a crucial mineral when it comes to keeping colds at bay. Why? It plays an important role in regulating the body’s immune system. Unfortunately, it is quite hard to get it naturally when you’re a vegetarian. “Since zinc is found in limited amounts in plant-based foods, and zinc absorption from plant-based foods is reduced, a deficiency can occur,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.

“A zinc deficiency may lead to an impaired immune system, slow wound healing, hair loss, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.” You should try eating foods such as fortified breakfast cereal, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, cashews and chickpeas—but take into consideration that you may still need a supplement or multivitamin to get your daily recommended dose (8 mg for women and 11 mg for men).

Also, you don’t want to exaggerate with zinc… Too much of it can cause nausea and vomiting. As a tip, when choosing a zinc supplement, “look for brands that are USP-certified to ensure that the supplement meets purity and potency standards,” Palinski-Wade says.

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