Humans evolved eating both plant foods and animal foods.
By completely eliminating either, we risk becoming deficient in key nutrients.
This article lists 7 nutrients that you can not get from commonly consumed plant foods.
Vegetarians and vegans may need to supplement with some of them in order to maintain optimal health.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient found in virtually no plant foods.
Also known as cobalamin, vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient involved in the development of red blood cells, maintenance of nerves and normal brain function.
Without supplements or enriched foods, vegetarians are at a high risk of vitamin B12 deficiency (1).
The signs, symptoms and risks associated with deficiency include:
- Weakness, fatigue (8).
- Impaired brain function (9).
- A variety of neurological disorders (10).
- Psychiatric disorders (11).
- Neurological disorders in babies of breast-feeding mothers (12).
- Megaloblastic anemia (13).
- Possible links with Alzheimer’s disease (14).
- Possible links with heart disease (15).
Vegans must get vitamin B12 by taking supplements or eating enriched food or certain types of seaweed.
In addition, a few plant foods naturally contain small amounts of bioactive vitamin B12. These include:
Another plant food often claimed to contain vitamin B12 is spirulina. However, spirulina contains so-called pseudovitamin B12, which is not biologically available. For this reason, it is not suitable as a source of vitamin B12 (26).
Bottom Line: Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods and certain types of seaweed. Vegans can get vitamin B12 by taking supplements, eating enriched foods or eating nori seaweed.
Creatine is a molecule found in animal foods.
Most of it is stored in muscles, but significant amounts are also concentrated in the brain.
It functions as an easily-acessible energy reserve for muscle cells, giving them greater strength and endurance (27).
For this reason, it is one of the world’s most popular supplements for muscle building.
Creatine is not essential in the diet, since it can be produced by the liver. However, vegetarians have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles (29).
Because creatine is not found in any plant foods, vegetarians and vegans can only get it from supplements.
In vegetarians, creatine supplementation may have significant benefits. These include:
Many of these effects are stronger in vegetarians than meat eaters. For example, vegetarians taking creatine supplements may experience significant improvements in brain function while meat eaters see no difference (31).
Bottom Line: Creatine is a bioactive compound that is lacking in vegetarian diets. It plays an important role in brain and muscle function.
Carnosine is only found in animal foods. However, it is non-essential since it can be formed in the body from the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine.
Dietary sources of beta-alanine, such as meat or fish, may also contribute significantly to muscle levels of carnosine.
Vegan beta-alanine supplements are available online.
Bottom Line: Carnosine is a nutrient only found in animal foods. It is important for muscle function. Beta-alanine supplements are effective at increasing the levels of carnosine in muscles.
4. Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that has many important functions.
Deficiency in vitamin D is linked to increased risk of various adverse conditions. These include:
- Osteoporosis, with increased risk of fractures in the elderly (46).
- Cancer (47).
- Heart disease (48, 49).
- Multiple sclerosis (50).
- Depression (51).
- Impaired brain function (52).
- Muscle wasting and reduced strength, especially in elderly people (53, 54, 55, 56).
Osteoporosis (weak bones) and rickets (bone malformation) are the best known effects of vitamin D deficiency. Whether vitamin D deficiency contributes to the other conditions, or is just associated with them, is less clear.
Also called the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D doesn’t have to come from the diet. It can be produced by our own skin when it is exposed to sunlight. However, when sunlight exposure is limited, we have to get it from food (or supplements).
There are two types of vitamin D in the diet, ergocalciferol (D2) found in plants, and cholecalciferol (D3) found in animal foods.
Of the two types of vitamin D, cholecalciferol (from animals) is much more potent than ergocalciferol. In other words, it increases blood levels of bioactive vitamin D much more efficiently (57, 58, 59).
Bottom Line: Cholecalciferol (D3) is a type of vitamin D found in animal foods, especially fatty fish. It is much more effective than the plant form of vitamin D, ergocalciferol (D2).
5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid.
It is important for normal brain development and function (61).
It is mainly found in fatty fish and fish oil, but also in some types of microalgae.
Bottom Line: Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in fatty fish and fish oil. It is also found in microalgae, which are a suitable dietary source for vegetarians.
Heme-iron is a type of iron only found in meat, especially red meat.
It is much better absorbed than non-heme iron found in plant foods (76).
Not only is heme-iron well absorbed, it also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods. This phenomenon is not entirely understood and is called the “meat factor.”
Unlike non-heme iron, heme-iron is not affected by antinutrients, such as phytic acid, often found in plant foods.
Bottom Line: Meat, especially red meat, contains a type of iron called heme-iron, which is much better absorbed than non-heme iron from plant foods.
The function of taurine in the body is not entirely clear.
It is not essential in the diet since small amounts are produced by the body. However, dietary taurine may play a major role in the maintenance of taurine levels in the body.
Bottom Line: Taurine is a sulfur compound that has many important functions in the body. It is only found in animal foods.
Take Home Message
Vegetarian and vegan diets may be very healthy for some people.
However, there are a few important nutrients that are impossible to get from commonly consumed plant foods.
If you plan to completely eliminate animal foods, then be extra prudent about your diet and make sure you are getting everything your body needs.
Editors note: Click here to Find a Local Farmer
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Do You Know Your Body’s Most Important Weight Loss Secret?
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | HEALTHY FATS | REMEDIES
Recently, Doctor of Naturopathy, weight-loss expert and best-selling Amazon author Liz Swann Miller, creator of the Red Smoothie Detox Factor, revealed 2 of the secrets to easy, steady weight loss. Secrets the big food corporations do their best to hide from us.
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You probably know most of us eat too much processed food. What you may not know is that it’s full of toxic chemicals and substandard, dirt-cheap ingredients designed to make you eat more…and force you to gain weight.
Here’s how it works...
“That stuff is just a lot of calories your body can’t use,” Liz told me, “Some are poison. And all these foods are stripped of the anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories that help your body detox. The result? Your body expends huge amounts of calories to eliminate some toxins—the rest, it stores in your fat to protect you. This is why most people are hungry all the time. They’re not getting energy they need.”
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Natural Diabetes Treatment Works Better Than Prescription Drugs *PROOF*
By Richard Neal
Tags: HEALING | REMEDIES | PREVENTION
According the latest statistics, diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes in the United States is reaching epidemic levels:
Total: 29.1 million people or 9.3% of the population have diabetes.
Diagnosed: 21.0 million people.
Undiagnosed: 8.1 million people (27.8% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed).
Source: CDC Website
Drugs Treat Symptoms, Not Disease
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#1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat
By J. Davis III
Tags: HEALING | PREVENTION
I bet you can’t guess which muscle in your body is the #1 muscle that eliminates joint and back pain, anxiety and looking fat.
This “hidden survival muscle” in your body will boost your energy levels, immune system, sexual function, strength and athletic performance when unlocked.
If this “hidden” most powerful primal muscle is healthy, we are healthy.
d) Hip Flexors
Take the quiz above and see if you got the correct answer!
P.S. Make sure you check out the next page to get to know the 10 simple moves that will bring vitality back into your life!
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