THE BEST SOURCE OF B-12
The brain and nervous system depend on Vitamin B-12 to function normally. When you consider that it also aids in the formation of red blood cells, DNA and energy production, it really is indispensible to our health.
It’s often assumed that animals produce b-12 given B-12 is found in red meat, eggs and dairy but animals themselves don’t produce B-12. It’s produced exclusively by bacteria generally found in soil which synthesize B-12. In the past, people and other animals would have consumed water and veggies from environments rich in B-12 producing bacteria. The sanitisation practices of modern food production however results in veggies that are void of such bacteria. If this wasn’t reason enough to debunk the argument that a plant-based diet is unnatural, consider the fact that most cattle reared for beef are supplemented with B-12 for lack of B-12 in their diets… so why not cut out the middle man and take the supplement directly?
PLANT VS COW CALCIUM?
Cows’ milk is the primary source of calcium for most people however, the majority of plant derived alternatives contain more than their dairy counterpart. Tofu, kale and soy beans are also very rich in calcium.
THE BEST WAY TO GET VITAMIN D: SUN, SUPPLEMENTS, OR SALONS?
Vitamin D is created by our own bodies when most of our body’s skin is exposed to fairly potent, direct sunlight. Relying on this method to generate Vitamin D however is problematic given over exposure to the sun’s rays is not safe. Conversely, insufficient ultraviolet B rays won’t produce the vitamin.
A number of vegan milks are fortified with Vitamin D and a few servings a day will generally meet the recommendation. To remove the hassle and ensure peace of mind, we recommend a vegan Vitamin D3 supplement.
ALGAE-BASED DHA VS FLAX
Not all fats are created equal and whilst some are downright harmful, others are critical to our health. Research has shown that saturated fat intake is strongly linked to cardiovascular disease so it’s best avoided. Monounsaturated fat as found in nuts and avos has clear health benefits, but still isn’t essential.
Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats however, are indeed essential, meaning that without which, your health is jeopardized. Fortunately, provided you are getting sufficient calories from plant-based, fat sources, Omega 6 is abundantly available.
Omega 3 is a little more complicated as there are three Omega 3 fat types relevant to our nutrition: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid); DHA (docosahexaenoic acid); and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is an essential nutrient and is plentiful within chia, hemp and flax seeds along with walnuts. A few tablespoons of any of these nutritious seeds added to your oatmeal, smoothie or salad will ensure your RDA is right on point. Always make sure to grind up the seeds first to maximise bioavailability which you can do with a blender in seconds. We recommend either the NutriBullet or Magic Bullet.
ALA containing plant foods do not contain any DHA or EPA though. DHA and EPA are technically not classified as essential nutrients however your body can convert ALA into either of these nutrients as required. The caveat obviously, is having sufficient ALA present to do so. These two nutrients are powerful at preventing chronic disease and imperative to brain health. Most EPA and DHA supplements are derived from fish oil even though fish don’t produce these fatty acids themselves, but by the algae they eat. Rather than consume fish laden with heavy metals, or fish oil supplements that support an industry responsible for decimating our oceans, we recommend the following algae-derived, DHA/EPA, vegan friendly supplements.
WILL A VEGAN DIET CAUSE IRON DEFICIENCY?
If you are simply eating enough leafy greens, lentils, whole grains amongst a host of other plant-based sources, you shouldn’t have any need to supplement iron. You can even improve your iron absorption rates by consuming some Vitamin C rich foods simultaneously. As excess iron consumption can be harmful, one should only take an iron supplement on the recommendation of your doctor once your bloodwork has been expertly examined.