Going vegan? what you need to know
With the current trend of reducing animal based food intake on the incline, more and more people are turning to a vegan inspired diet. The health benefits of a high plant based diet cannot be denied. Plant based diets have been associated with lowered obesity, lower cardiovascular disease, lower cancer rates, and lower blood pressure. Excluding animal based products from the diet completely however can put you at risk of becoming deficient in several important nutrients particularly Vitamin B12, protein, zinc, taurine and iron. Low taurine levels may be linked to symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, depression, high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, gout and infertility.
Lacto vegetarians eat a plant based diet that includes eggs and dairy which will provide a broader array of nutrients and putting them less at risk of nutritional deficiencies than a completely vegan diet.
Vegan diets completely cut out all animal derived products including butter, milk, cheese and eggs. Vegan diets contain minimal Taurine, an amino acid found in animal tissue. Taurine is essential for a healthy cardiovascular, muscular and nervous system. It also plays an important role in liver health and detoxification. If the diet is low in Taurine it may mean that the liver has a harder job detoxifying and removing toxins from the body making you more prone to chemical sensitivities and allergies. Adults can produce Taurine from the amino acids cysteine and methionine with the help of vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
A vegan diet therefore needs to be meticulously planned for particularly for growing children and pregnant women to avoid becoming nutritionally deficient. Unfortunately many vegetarians simply cut out animal foods without carefully planning their foods which does put them at risk of becoming malnourished. If you cut out grains and dairy for example and eat a paleo diet without the meat you will most certainly be not getting your nutritional needs met.
Nutritional supplements may be required to support low iron, zinc, taurine and vitamin B12 intake.
Always seek professional advice from a healthcare expert prior to taking any supplements or making any dietary changes.