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Question

I am a vegetarian and I grow and eat my own vegetables, especially carrots, swede and potatoes.

I have not been a vegetarian for long and have been told that I could be anaemic.

I thought that eating vegetables is good for you, so how can it lead to anaemia?

Answer

You are quite right in thinking that a vegetarian diet can be healthy and completely adequate.

However, the stricter your diet the more important it becomes to make sure that it is correctly balanced and contains the necessary components for health.

This particularly applies to vegans, who have very strict vegetarian diets.

You ask about anaemia. A vital component of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen and gives blood its red colour, is iron.

Most people consume 10-20mg of iron daily, of which only 10 per cent is absorbed.

It comes from green vegetables, flour, eggs, milk, and meat. If your diet contains inadequate amounts, additional iron can be taken as medication.

A second consideration is the range of amino acids that your food contains. It’s easier to get the full range of protein-building amino acids from meat than it is from vegetables.

So with a strict vegetarian diet, it is important to eat a balanced variety of foods.

May I suggest that you obtain a simple health guide to vegetarian diets from your pharmacist, health food shop, local library or bookshop so that you can check that your diet is providing all you need for sustained health.

[“source=netdoctor”]