Some people go into veganism with a very basic understanding of our bodies and the importance of nutrition. This can lead them to believe that simply eating more vegan foods will somehow magically ensure that they are living a healthy lifestyle.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. A vegan lifestyle may appear healthy on the surface, but you really have to get into the nitty-gritty of nutrition to understand how to live vegan properly. If you do it incorrectly, you can risk causing serious damage to your heart or other organs that need specific vitamins and minerals to thrive.
In fact, it is thought that vegan and vegetarian women have a higher rate of developing anemia than those who practice a more conventional meat-eating diet. And that is to be expected if they are not taking the care to nourish their bodies and think about the foods they are eating.
B12 is a vitamin that comes exclusively from animal sources. If you have taken animal sources out of your diet, then the only other option is to get foods that are fortified with it if you want to combat iron-deficiency. Without enough B12, it can make it difficult for your body to absorb and utilize iron. Not only that, but foods that vegans eat are often low in iron, while animal products are high. That is just the fact of the matter. Fortunately, there are several other ways you can get iron, such as in eating leafy green vegetables, tofu, and broccoli, or ingesting vitamins or supplements.
Make sure you do everything in your power to get your vitamins from food sources, as those are the easiest for your body to absorb. And if you are going to eat foods you know are rich in iron, eat foods alongside them that are rich in vitamin C to aid in absorption. That way you know for sure exactly what your body is getting.
Unfortunately, it is not enough to buy all the self-proclaimed vegan foods and call it a day. Having a very thorough understanding of your body and the way it works will help you to make sure you are not going to be deficient in anything that your body needs to thrive. Cognitive functioning can be affected if you are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids; another nutrient most often found in meat products. There are several supplements out there made for vegans and anyone else who may need them, so be sure that you are giving your body all the tools that it needs to avoid deficiency.
If you fear you may already have a deficiency, explain your diet to your doctor and tell them your concerns. They may be able to do blood tests and provide supplements that will help to get your levels back to normal before it causes serious damage, or prevent worse from happening.
If you are new to veganism, you have an advantage. You now know just how important a knowledge of your body’s needs happens to be, so you will have the preparation you need to thrive!
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