The vegan diet has undoubtedly many advantages. The products you are eating are cholesterol free, they have plenty of saturated fats, they have a higher amount of nutritional fibers, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, and amino acids, as well as a healthy source of protein. Additionally, adopting a vegan diet does not mean that your meals will be bland or monotonous. Vegan chefs are continuously creating and adapting numerous recipes that cater for vegans worldwide. There are vegan recipes for candy, cookies, muffins, croissants and even ice cream, making your taste buds grin from ear to ear.
On the other hand, the vegan lifestyle has a couple of downsides, and these include some of the nutrients that you won’t be able to get if your diet doesn’t include animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Here are some of the most common:
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential vitamins that the body cannot produce on its own. This vitamin is always obtained from animal foods, and it has a tremendous importance for the micro-cellular biological mechanisms that occur in your body. Vitamin B12 has a vital role in the formation of blood and lymph, as well as the proper function of the brain and the central nervous system.
A long-term deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause and accelerate the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (the most common cause of dementia in the Western World), anemia, and various mental disorders, as well as other neurological diseases. Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency is widespread among vegans, with an estimated 92% of them reported as deficient.
This critical brain nutrient is found primarily in fish, poultry and beef, but can also be found in eggs or certain types of dairy products. If you want to continue the vegan diet, choose supplements that have this vitamin included.
A common term for athletes or anyone involved in the world of bodybuilding, Creatine is a widely popular muscle building supplement. Creatine is essential in the recycling process of ATP, considered the energy storage of your cells, and manages the energy levels in your body. Most of the creatine, approximately 95%, is stored in the skeletal muscles, and the body uses it to maintain the brain and muscle activity.
Vegans should take creatine supplements to improve their cognitive and athletic performance. The best supplements include creatine monohydrate, a simpler compound of creatine, which is more easily digested.
3. Vitamin D3
Vitamin D has attracted the attention of almost every nutritionist in the past decades. It is crucial for the development of bones and muscles. The vitamin is produced from the cholesterol located in the skin that is activated by direct ultraviolet sun rays. Many people are vitamin D3 deficient, which is only available from animal products, such as meat or dairy.
Vegans should supplement their diets with fatty fish oil, typically cod or other ocean fish.
Although you may have never heard of it before, Carnosine is a crucial nutrient composed of two amino acids. It helps your body fight degenerative disease, it acts as a powerful antioxidant, and helps lower blood sugar levels.
Nowadays, Carnosine is increasingly becoming a popular anti-aging supplement because it also fights the onset of dementia and other age-related diseases.
Vegans are advised to supplement their diets with Carnosine supplements, in order to take advantage of its numerous benefits.
5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA and EPA are the two main omega-3 fatty acids required by the body to work properly. They are essential for the development and the function of the brain and nervous system. Low DHA intake can affect the cognitive function, mental health, and development, especially for children or pregnant women.
Many vegans choose to take their omega-3 fatty acids from flax seeds, but, unfortunately, flax seeds do not have DHA, only ALA, another type of fatty acid. To obtain DHA, the body needs to convert ALA into DHA, a very ineffective process for the human body. This is why vegans are advised to supplement their diets with fish oil or algae extracts.