BEING VEGAN! What You Need To Know
Updated: Feb 2, 2022
The new buzz word is Vegan. It’s practically everywhere you go and everywhere you look right now from social media posts, best-selling books, athletes to perfectly sculpted bodybuilders. It’s being endorsed everywhere, in fact, it’s pretty much impossible to get through the day without hearing the word “VEGAN”!
Yes, a Vegan diet is, in theory, healthy, after all its plant-based nutrition. So why then are several Vegans coming to me with signs of nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced gut bacteria, lack of energy and even excessive weight gain?
It’s because considerable care must be taken when choosing to be Vegan. It should include an appropriate knowledge of what makes up a nutritionally adequate diet and it shouldn’t be influenced by any media hype!
A Vegan diet is by definition a diet that has no animal food sources, it is entirely plant based. The upside of being Vegan is that the research shows Vegans to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure than those on a mixed diet. However, the downside is that by cutting out all animal products from the diet there is an increased risk of certain nutritional deficiencies and this is of concern, especially if you are bringing up children on a Vegan diet.
Studies show how difficult it is for children to get adequate energy and nutrient intake from a plant-based diet! Dutch research found that young children on a strictly Vegan diet had poorer nutritional status and were more likely to have rickets and deficiencies of vitamin B12 and iron than children on a diet that included meat, fish and dairy. It is also worth bearing in mind that The World Health Organization acknowledges that only animal food sources have the potential to provide enough calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12 for children.
POTENTIAL NUTRITIONAL SHORTFALLS
I have listed below the six main nutrient shortfalls for vegans. Please read and digest the information because not doing so could jeopardise your health;
Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that is not available to humans from a plant-based diet. Most herbivores, cattle and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria in their digestive system. Vitamin B12 plays a huge role in the body and we need only 10 mg spread throughout the day to satisfy requirements, that’s less than any other vitamin.
Compared with those on a mixed diet, Vegans typically have lower plasma vitamin B12 concentrations, leading to deficiency, and higher concentrations of plasma homocysteine (an amino acid produced by the body) which increases the risk factor for heart attacks, stroke and osteoporotic bone fractures.
Deficiency symptoms take up to five years to develop in adults, however some people experience problems within a year! Vitamin B12 deficiency causes nervous system damage such as:
Pins and needles
Mood and Motor disturbances
Unusually large red blood cells
A lack of Vitamin B12 in child’s diet can cause apathy and failure to thrive!
Vegan Vitamin B12 Sources
Inadequate Plant B12
Some believe there are plant-based sources of B12, however direct studies of Vegans have shown these sources to be inadequate.
Human gut bacteria
Barley grass and most other seaweeds.
The vitamin D2 (the form of vitamin D acceptable to vegans) is substantially less bioavailable than the animal-derived vitamin D3.
According to research from Oxford University, vegans had vitamin D levels one-fourth of omnivores. A study in Finland found that 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were lower and parathyroid hormone higher in vegan women than in omnivores and other vegetarians. It also found that bone mass density in the lumbar region of the spine was 12% lower in vegans than in omnivores.
Vegan Vitamin D Sources