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Question
Posted by: jade jungle eater | 2007/08/01

vegetarian diet?

My daughter is 18 years old and now eating a vegatarian diet. She lives in a residence and makes her own meals. She has always been slightly overweight. She is now very tired and teary and by her own admitance is not sure if she is eating correctly. She does not eat any meat, but will eat cheeses, pulses and fish. What advice can you give and what if any supplement must she be taking. Protein shakes? Vitamins etc.
Kind regards

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Jade Jungle Eater
It is possible that your daughter has developed iron deficiency anaemia, which is quite common in vegetarians, particularly women who lose iron every month through menstruation. I would recommend that she should have a medical checkup and have herself tested for anaemia (iron and vit B12). If she is anaemic then the dr will prescribe an iron-folic acid supplement like FerroFolic which she will have to take for at least 3 months to replenish her depleted iron stores. If she has a vit B12 deficiency, the dr will also prescribe vit B12 supplements. The fact that your daughter does eat cheese, pulses and fish is good because these foods are rich in calcium, protein, omega-3 (fish) and vitamins and minerals. The fish and pulses also contain some iron, but certainly not as much as red meat and the iron in pulses is bound to insoluble compounds which makes it difficult to absorb. Fish and cheese contains some vit B12, but once again not as much as red meat. Your daughter should mention the fact that she does not eat red meat to the dr so that he/she can decide if she needs to take an iron or a vit B12 supplement, or both, all the time.
Best regards
DietDoc

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