When Needed Nutrients Aren't Found in Vegan Diets
By Stephen R. Farris
Sometimes plant-based food sources may not always have the right amount of nutrients your body needs. While a vegetarian diet is proven to be effective when it comes to weight loss and preventing certain types of cancer, your body needs these other nutrients and you'll probably have to seek them in other forms if you're not ready to include animal-based nutrients, where they are found. So what are they? Let's take a look.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
- Docosahexaenoic acid
- Heme iron
Vitamin B12 is found in animal-based foods such as fish, poultry and dairy products, It's needed for red blood cells and to ensure our brains function normally and to maintain nerves. There are other ways vegans can get B12 if they are not taking supplements, such as breakfast cereals enriched with the vitamin, along with bread, meat substitutes and soy products.
Creatine is found in animal-based foods and is stored in the muscles and brain. It is needed to help give muscles a quick energy source and helps build stronger muscles. It can be taken as a supplement for those on a vegan diet.
Carnosine helps muscle function. It can be produced from amino acids histidine and beta-alanine in the body. Considered non-essential, carnosine is found only in animal-based foods, but beta-alanine is available as a supplement.
Vitamin D is produced through sunlight on the skin. If sunlight is limited to you, then you'll need to get it through food or supplementation form. Vitamin D2 and D3 are both needed to assist in the absorption of Vitamin D into your bloodstream. However, D3 does it more efficiently than D2. D2 is plant-based, whereas D3 is animal-based. D3 can be purchased in supplement form online.
What it is, is an omega-3 fatty acid that is essential for brain development and function. It can be found in fish products, but is available in liquid or pill form as a supplement.
Heme iron is normally found in red meat and its basic function is to absorb non-heme iron from plant-based foods. Without it, vegans could end up with an iron deficiency. However, there are iron supplements available if you don't want to eat red meat or any meat, period.
Taurine plays a role in muscle function, bile and salt formation and antioxidant defenses. It's a sulfur compound in brain, heart and kidney tissue. Synthetic versions of taurine are available for those on a plant-based diet.
And if you have questions about nutrition, go see your local chiropractor and see what tips and suggestions they can offer to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Greensboro, N.C.