Nutrition & Dieting/Veganism

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Question
Hi! I am a 26 year old female who has been vegetarian (no meat, chicken, or fish) for over 10 years. I've never worried much about nutrition since I eat a very diverse diet, even moreso than when I ate meat.

However, I have recently been advised to cut out eggs and dairy by my allergist and dermatologist, as they might be possible causes of my extreme eczema. This shouldn't be too hard for me... the only dairy I consistently eat is spreadable butter on my bagels in the morning, shredded cheddar on nachos/tacos/burritos, and feta on home made pizzas. I rarely eat a fried egg, so I really only use eggs when I bake or need a binder of some kind in other dishes.

However, cutting those few things out has me thinking about nutrition. I have never really worried about B12 or calcium, but as I am researching veganism, I am starting to get concerned. Should I be thinking about a B12 supplement? How much? What about calcium? I have thought about calcium supplements before, but have read such conflicting information about absorption that I have never actually bought one. I'm thinking since I rarely consume milk, I am probably not getting enough calcium as it is, so cutting out what dairy I do eat will not help the matter.

There is just so much conflicting information out there, I need a little guidance!

Thanks,

Cate

Answer
Hi Cate,

It sounds like you have a healthy diet with balance and variety, and that is key to good nutrition.
Since you weren't having much dairy or eggs before, there's not going to be a major change in your diet. And if your eczema does not improve you might add them back.

Calcium is found in leafy greens in significant amounts. And many nut "milk" and soymilks supplement their beverage with calcium. Still, a supplement isn't a bad idea since the RDA is rather high (1000-1200 mg). If you regularly eat calcium-containing foods you don't need a supplement to provide 100% of your daily needs. Many pills provide 600 mg and that would be enough to round up your intake from foods in your diet.

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, so if you aren't eating any, a supplement is a good idea as well. Just look for a multi-vitamin that meets close to 100% of the daily value of most nutrients (many supplement 600% or more, and that's just not necessary).

If the eczema doesn't clear up, consider looking into a LEAP program (http://www.NowLeap.com). There is a section for professionals your doctor can read, and the program administrators would be happy to answer any questions from either of you. We have seen thousands of people clear up chronic issues by eliminating foods we can see react in your body, so it is proven to work.
If you need more information or to find a LEAP dietitian in your area, feel free to get back in touch with me :)

Laurie

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Laurie Beebe, MS, RD, LD

Expertise

As a registered dietitian (RD)I am fully qualified to accurately answer questions regarding weight loss, including those from people with health conditions requiring dietary restrictions (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc) who want to lose weight, or who have been advised to do so by their physician.

Experience

I have been a registered dietitian for over 30 years and have a certificate in Adult Weight Management through the commission on dietetic registration at Level 1 and Level 2. I am also trained in coaching through Coach U and currently work as a diet coach to help people lose weight the healthy way, through gradual habit changes.

Organizations
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group, Nutrition Entreprenuers, St.Louis International Coach Federation, Toastmasters

Publications
Livestrong.com, Glamour.com, Ezinearticles.com, Ehow.com, Today's Dietitian

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Florida, 1983; Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from Case Western Reserve University 1985; Certificate in Adult Weight Management 2006; CoachU core essentials grad 2007; Level 2 certificate in Adult Weight Management 2010.

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