It’s been fascinating watching the growth of veganism over the last few years and the engagement of food manufacturers and retailers to embrace this.
A 2016 poll found Britain’s vegan population had increased from 150,000 to 542,000 in 10 years and this years Veganuary estimated 250,000 people from over 193 countries took part. Sports personalities and celebrities including Venus Williams and Lewis Hamilton have linked their success to a vegan diet whilst others such as Natalie Portman and Bill Clinton have recognised the benefits but haven’t thrived on the diet long-term. Just like any diet it can suit some and not others and being aware of the balance across nutrients is essential.
The vegan diet, which excludes all animal produce including meat, fish and eggs has been adopted by individuals for many reasons linked to health, animal welfare, climate change and sometimes religious beliefs. There have been several large-scale studies, which have supported evidence that vegan and vegetarian diets can be beneficial for heart health and reducing the risk of cancer. A carefully planned vegan diet increases levels of vegetables and plant based food, which are specifically beneficial for digestive health and immunity. It is also important to note that some nutrients will be lacking within a vegan diet, which is something we can support at The Food Teacher™ Clinic.
Supplements can be a useful way to enhance a vegan diet and some essential ones include omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin B12, zinc, Vitamin D and digestive enzymes. Reasons why these can be beneficial are detailed below:
- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids – Omega-3’s are found predominantly in fish though flaxseeds (ground seeds and flaxseed oil) can provide some omega-3 but this needs to be converted by the body to EPA and DHA. It’s also important to be aware that conversion requires other nutrients such a magnesium, zinc and Vitamin B6. There are now many vegan omega-3 supplements readily available that are derived from algae, such as Opti3 Omega-3 EPA and DHA included in The Food Teacher™ ‘Vegan Nutrition Box’ at The Food Teacher™ Shop.
- Vitamin B12 – Found mostly in dairy and meat this is needed for energy production, the brain and nervous system. Deficiency can result in fatigue and anaemia. It’s also important to note that optimal absorption also relies on adequate stomach acid. A vegan multi will most certainly contain vitamin B12 such as the Vegan Health Oral Spray from BetterYou (Vitamin D3, Vitamin B12, Iron and Iodine), which is also included in our ‘Vegan Nutrition Box’. Many foods that contain Vitamin B12 are fortified such as plant milks and nutritional yeast flakes, so some can be gained from the diet.
- Zinc – This nutrient is important for immune health and stomach acid production and is found in high levels in meat. Vegan sources include pumpkin seeds and nuts, but supplementation is often recommended. We recommend Biocare’s Nutrisorb found in our ‘Vegan Nutrition Box’ at The Food Teacher™ Shop.
- Vitamin D – This is important for bone and immune health and can be acquired through sun exposure and in smaller quantities in dairy products and fish. For this both the BetterYou spray and Opti3 Omega-3 contain some Vitamin D to support adequate levels.
- Digestive enzymes – Eating a diet high in plants tends to contain high levels of plant fibre (cellulose) so taking a digestive enzyme can support digestion, reduce bloating and wind and also increase bioavailability of the foods eaten. We recommend Solgar’s Vegan Digestive Enzymes also found in our ‘Vegan Nutrition Box’ at The Food Teacher™ Shop.
If you are a vegan or know family or friends who follow a vegan diet please do forward this information to help to optimise their diet and health and if you’re stuck for a birthday gift then why not order a ‘Vegan Nutrition Box’ for £35 (RRP £50)?
For further nutrition advice and support firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free telephone chat to discuss how we might be able to help you.