As a vegan, you have the potential to get the most out of your body. You can be healthier than when you ate meat. However, you must be informed. If not properly informed about the nutritional choices available and required by your body, you may be weaker and sicker than before choosing to eat a plant-based diet.
So, if you are a starting vegan and you feel more vulnerable and less energetic than before you began eating plant-based, act immediately to inform yourself about your food/nutritional choices and make the necessary changes.
As you probably know, as a vegan, you have a high risk of a deficiency of B12 because B12 is rare in vegetables, beans, nuts, and fruit. A study in England showed that more than 50% of vegans had a severe deficiency.
A deficiency of B12 vitamin causes a lot of problems. B12 is needed for, among other things, the production of red blood cells and for the nervous system. Furthermore, B12 is essential in addition to B9 (folate) and B6 to keep the level of homocysteine low. At an elevated level that occurs all too often, the brain shrinks faster. According to the American Alzheimers Association, a study has shown that in two years the shrinkage is 0.32% less (compared to 1.08%) in people who do take these vitamins. The brain starts shrinking around the age of 20. In 60 years, that would mean an additional 9.6% shrinkage in the event of a shortage of B vitamins, which is substantial.
A deficiency of B12 vitamin is the cause of a number of health issues. B12 is needed for the production of red blood cells and for the good functioning of the nervous system, among other things. Furthermore, B12 is essential in addition to B9 (folate) and B6 to keep the level of homocysteine in the blood at a low level. At an elevated level, that occurs all too often, the brain shrinks faster. According to the American Alzheimers Association, a study has shown that in two years the shrinkage is 0.32% less (compared to 1.08%) in people who do take these vitamins. The brain starts shrinking around the age of 20. In 60 years, that would mean an additional 9.6% shrinkage in the event of a shortage of B vitamins, which is substantial.
So, if you want to live a healthy life as a vegan, then you will have to take a B12 supplement because you will not get the necessary amount from your food. Manufacturers have enriched some processed products with B12. However, it is not wise to make your health depend on those products. Moreover, processed food contains many harmful substances. You could take a B12 capsule with 1000 mg Methylcobalamin B12 and 1000 mg adenosylcobalamin daily. According to the Dutch Nutrition Center there are no known adverse effects of taking too much B12.
Please note! Some people have their B12 level tested and assume that a positive result is good. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are no 100% accurate tests of the B12 level in the body. If you seek certainty, you must perform the following tests:
Omega 3 fatty acids consist of ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is available from linseed, for example. However, the largest sources of EPA and DHA are fatty fishes. That is why vegans are more likely to have a deficiency in EPA and DHA, and it is highly recommended to supplement it with 1000 mg of EPA and DHA supplements, which are based on algae.
It is advisable because the omega 3 fatty acids are used primarily by the brain. We want to feed our brains with the best there is. Pregnant women, in particular, must have a good dose of EPA / DHA, because the fetus extracts it from her when forming a brain. That is why some women suffer from postnatal depression.
There is a good chance that you have a vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency because research has shown that 75% of Americans suffer from it. This is the same for the rest of the world. Even if you think you have enough D because you are outside every day, you probably still have a deficiency since the reference values of conventional healthcare are too low.
Why is vitamin D important? It is not only crucial for bone growth, but also for the prevention of diseases by strengthening your immune system. Vitamin D helps to fight off diseases and prevent brain deterioration and tumor growth. Unfortunately, conventional doctors (GPs) consistently underestimate the importance of vitamin D.
Please let your vitamin D level tested and try to aim for a level of around 125 nmol/l or 50 ng/ml.
Sources of vitamin D consist of the sun, animal products and limited plant sources, such as sun-dried shiitake. A plant-based diet significantly increases the chance of a deficiency.
If you are below the optimal level, it is therefore recommended to take between 2000 and 5000 IU of vitamin D per day dependent on your level of deficiency. If you want to know with certainty whether you have a vitamin D deficiency, you should have a blood test done. This test is accurate, unlike B12 testing.
It is a myth that proteins can only be obtained from animal products. Animals acquire these proteins by eating plants.
However, animal products do contain the complete range of amino acids that humans need. If you are a vegan, you have to put a little more effort into eating foods that will provide all amino acids. Eat as diverse as possible, including beans and seeds, to get enough protein. Information about the sources can be found at the Netherlands Nutrition Center and other sites.
If you eat a varied diet and therefore do not eat the same vegetables every day, then you should be getting the necessary nutrients. Eat as many beans, seeds, nuts, colors of fruit and vegetables as possible. Products with intense colors contain many healthy antioxidants.
Some people think that all vegan food is healthy. Nothing is less true. Many vegan foods and beverages are highly processed foods with a lot of sugar and additives. You should avoid these as much as possible. Common sense informs us that chips (crisps), cookies, sweetened granola bars, fries, and fried dough are not good for your health.
As indicated at the beginning, if you hold to the given guidelines, you will become healthier and stronger than you would be if you continue eating meat. The documentary The Game Changers shows evidence of this through the stories of top athletes who consume only plant-based foods.
If you are overweight, have diabetes or any of a number of ailments, you will gradually lose your weight, and your illnesses and ailments will resolve themselves in time if you follow the rules above.
As a bonus, you can add an estimated 5 to 15 healthy years to your lifespan.