February 12, 2008

More on nutrition

This article is made by me, sources are the links found in my original article on vegan nutrition, plus other sources. These are the main vitamins and minerals that are misconception that vegans lack. Although vegans are no more likely to be deficient in these; some may not know the sources to find them when newly becoming a vegetarian or vegan, although not difficult at all. With the exception of B12 all of these can be easily found, information on the sources and controversy of vitamin b12 is included in this article. For detailed information on the other nutrients, please look at the links on vegan nutrition. Hopefully when becoming a vegan or vegetarian you would make yourself aware of all the nutrients and where to get them, and keeping yourself healthy, by eating well, exercising, drinking water, getting enough sleep, and try not to stress out, worry, or get angry often. Supplements in a vegan diet are not necessary to get all your nutrients, but if you feel you need them read up on them first.

Protein is a molecule composed of a long chain of amino acids. A protein which contains all the 22 essential amino acids in proper proportions is called a complete protein. Complete proteins for vegans include spirulina, quinoa, buckwheat, hempseed, and amaranth, & soy products such as soybeans, edamame, tofu, tempeh, and miso. Protein is found abundantly in plant foods and should consume a variety of foods for protein sources. Unlike animal protein, plant-based protein sources usually also contain healthy fiber and complex carbohydrates, and consumption of animal protein has been linked to some types of cancer. Plus, it's suspected that the high sulfur content of animal protein weakens people's bones. Other protein sources (although incomplete, eaten throughout out the day makes them complete) are lentils, seitan (wheat gluten), TVP, nuts & seeds (almond, cashew, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, filberts, peanuts nuts, sesame, sunflower, flax, hemp, pumpkin seeds), beans, (black, lima, pinto, kidney, navy, baked, split peas, chickpeas, fava, mung, pink), grains (barley, cornmeal, brown rice, millet, oatmeal, rye, bulgur, whole wheat bread, wheat germ, wheat, wild rice, spelt, teff, triticale, whole wheat berries, whole wheat couscous), vegetables (raw seaweed, raw spirulina, artichokes, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, green peas, green pepper, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, mustard green, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, turnip greens, watercress, yams, zucchini, potato), fruits (apple, banana, cantaloupe, grape, grapefruit, honeydew melon, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, strawberry, tangerine, watermelon), nutritional yeast, soy milks and other plant milks, pulses, meat substitutes (such as Boca, Gardenburger, Tofurkey, Lightlife, Morningstar, Yves, etc). Detailed info. Also see: Bob Harper's Protein Choices!

Iron is an essential component of haemoglobin which transports oxygen in the blood through the body. Spinach, potato, beans (black, lentils, pinto, soy), quinoa, tempeh, peas, nuts (cashews, almonds), watermelon, meat substitutes, broccoli, seaweeds, dried apricots, wholemeal bread, raisins, prunes, dates, seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin), chickpeas, black-eyed peas, legumes, oatmeal, dark-green leafy vegetables, cabbage, tofu, pulses, wheat-germ, parsley, millet, blackstrap molasses, tomato juice, soy milk, teff, whole wheat bread, & cream of wheat are all good sources of Iron. Vitamin C helps to absorb iron. Tannin-rich beverages such as coffee and tea can reduce the amount of iron absorbed. Detailed info. More info.

Iodine is a trace mineral that's important for healthy thyroid function which regulates metabolism. Table salt is the most common, reliable source of iodine, however, sodium in processed foods usually does not contain iodine. If you don't consume table salt, you can get iodine from kelp, strawberries, dried fruit, canned vegetables, pears, soy products, potato with peel baked, wheat germ, seaweed, navy beans, & foods that contain carrageen, agar-agar, algin, or alginate.As well you can get it from a multivitamin or from kelp tablets. Detailed info.

Calcium is a mineral that gives strength to bones and teeth and has an important role in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve function. Like protein calcium is best absorbed through non animal sources. Just like people assume meat is the best source for protein (which in fact soy, spirulina, & quinoa is), people also assume animal's milk is the best source for calcium, this is simply not true. The best sources of calcium include tofu, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage, etc.), watercress, dried fruit/figs, seeds and nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame), chickpeas, broccoli, parsley, wholemeal bread, oats, tempeh, almond butter, beans (baked, black, pinto, navy, kidney, soy), kale, TVP, mustard greens, soya flour. Soy and other milk substitutes, bread, cereal, & orange juice are often fortified with calcium. Hummus with pita bread also provides a great source. By choosing these foods instead of dairy products, you can avoid the health risks associated with animal's milk—the Harvard School of Public Health says that dairy consumption is linked to high rates of obesity and ovarian and prostate cancers. Harvard even cites studies showing that heavy dairy consumption causes bone loss. Don't worry, you probably already know about all the dairy alternatives. Detailed info.

Vitamin D a group of fat-soluble prohormones, is a nutrient that helps the body use & absorb calcium and phosphorus and make strong bones and teeth. Several forms (vitamers) of vitamin D have been discovered, the two major forms of which are vitamin D2 (or ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 is derived from fungal and plant sources, while vitamin D3 is derived from animal sources and is also produced from our bodies when exposed to ultraviolet light. Most vegans will obtain sufficient vitamin D providing they spend time outdoors on bright days. Vitamin D2 sources include vegetable oils & margarines, some milk substitutes (such as soy, rice, & hemp), spirulina, fortified cereals & breads. Mushrooms also provide over 2700 IU per serving (approx. 3 oz or 1/2 cup) of vitamin D2, if exposed to just 5 minutes of UV light after being harvested. Detailed info.

Essential Fatty Acids (Omega fatty acids 3, 6, 9) are a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids which have in common a carbon-carbon double bond in the ω−3, ω−6, & ω−9 position. They are important in normal functioning for all body tissues. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include ground flax seeds, oils (flaxseed oil, linseed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil and soybean oil), walnuts, algae, hempseed, hemp milk, fortified soymilk, spirulina, green leafy vegetables (like lettuce, broccoli, kale, spinach and purslane), legumes (like mungo, kidney, navy, pinto, lima beans, peas and split peas), citrus fruits, melons, cherries, & tofu. Sources of omega-6 fatty acids include nuts, cereals, whole grains, vegetable and seed oils (sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soybean), black currant, borage, hempseed, hemp milk, fortified soymilk, & spirulina. Sources of omega-9 fatty acids include vegetable/olive oil, rapeseed, wallflower seed, hempseed, hemp milk, fortified soymilk, spirulina, & mustard seed. One omega-3 fatty acid is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vegan DHA sources include NuTru(TM) and DEVA, derived from blue-green algae. Alpha-linoleic Acid, ALA is converted by the body into DHA and EPA. Soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil all contain high amounts of ALA. In theory, one tablespoon of flaxseeds should provide the daily recommendation of ALA - from which the body would produce needed DHA and EPA. Ground flaxseed has much more omega-3 than omega-6, and is six times richer than most fish oils in ω−3. Flaxseed must be ground however, as whole seeds are not broken down in the intestines. Flaxseed oil is best kept in dark bottles and refrigerated to protect it from light and temperature. It should not be heated or used for frying.
Omega-9 includes two major fatty acids called stearic acid and oleic acid. Stearic acid is a saturated fat which can be converted to oleic acid, which is monounsaturated. Oleic acid is the most ample fatty acid which is found in nature and is the primary oil produced by skin glands. Detailed info.

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) is a collection of cobalt and corrin ring molecules which are defined by their particular vitamin function in the body. B12 is a bacteria-derived nutrient, it is commonaly thouht to be animal derived since it is mostly found in animal products. Due to current times and production natural B12 is difficult to find. B12 deficiency can lead to serious nerve damage and pernicious anemia. Deficiency is no more common in vegans than in meat eaters, although animal eaters suffer from B12 deficiency pernicious anemia more than non animal eaters mainly since heating the vitamin destroys it. Our body preserves B12 (these stores may last for twenty years or longer), and we don't need much B12 or even daily in order to not be deficient. Vegan foods that contain B12 are fortified cereals, fortified milk substitutes such as rice & soy, meat substitutes, some brands of fortified brewer's & nutritional yeast (such as Red Star & Twinlab). Sea vegetables like seaweed, dried nori, spirulina, & lactic acid fermented products such as like tempeh, msio, beer & sauerkraut contain vitamin B12, but their content varies and may be unreliable. Marmite also contains B12 which is suitable for vegans. There are also vegan B12 supplements, multivitamins, sublingual, patches, and shots for those who want to be on the safe side. Although there is controversy with these as they seem to cause severe depression and other side effect so do your research. I find it best to eat fortified foods, as well as the rawest freshest bacteria sea vegetables and fermented products, with/or monthly shots/patches/pills.
Links on Vitamin B12:
Vitamin B12: Are You Getting It?
Vegans and the Vitamin B12 Deficiency Myth
The Nutrients We Need are Plant-Based
B12: The Misunderstood Vitamin
VeganForum: B12 in plants?
VeganForum: Articles on B12
Sources of B12 for Vegans
B12 in Plant Foods
Vitamin B12 Recommendations for Vegans

Complex B vitamins are eight water-soluble vitamins that play important roles in cell metabolism and has many health benefits and their deficiencies can be serious.

The eight B vitamins are:
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin, includes nicotinic acid and nicotinamide)
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 also called vitamin H (biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 also vitamin M and vitamin B-c (folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)
Vitamin B's comes from a number of natural sources, including potatoes, bananas, lentils, chili peppers, tempeh, nutritional yeast, brewer's yeast, molasses, beer, & Marmite. Another means of increasing one's Vitamin B intake is through the use of dietary supplements. B vitamins are also commonly added to energy drinks.