Q. Does my teenage daughter, who recently decided to become a vegetarian, need to take certain supplements to make sure she gets enough nutrients?
A. Vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular and are usually healthier than the standard American diet. As a word of caution, some adolescents will use a vegetarian diet to reduce calories as part of an eating disorder. The major nutrients of concern are iron, zinc and vitamin B12, which can be adequately covered with a multivitamin with iron. Omega-3 fatty acids and calcium are also often deficient in a vegetarian diet. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and soy. Soy milk, cheese and yogurt, juices and breakfast bars fortified with DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) and calcium are also available.
Jeff Jump, M.D.
Medical Director The Center for Integrative Medicine
1100 East 3rd Street, Ste. G-100
Chattanooga, TN 37403