Vegan Diet and benefit, nutritional needs and deficiencies, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 12 2016

 

A vegan is a person who shuns using animals and animal products for food. Some strict vegans avoid using animals for clothing and other purposes. In practice, a vegan (an adherent to veganism) commits to the abstention from consumption or use of all animal products, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Some may even avoid honey. Some vegans follow the philosophy of avoiding articles made of fur, wool, bone, leather, feathers, pearls, coral, and other materials of animal origin. Many vegans also avoid products that have been tested on animals. People who avoid eating all animal products, but who otherwise use animal by-products (for example, leather shoes) are commonly referred to as dietary vegans.

Supplements and vitamins that benefit those on a Vegan diet or Vegetarian diet
If you have a vegan diet or lifestyle, you are probably getting lots of important carotenoids, flavonoids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients, unless you are eating lots of simple carbohydrates. However, as a vegan, even if you have a good diet, you may still be missing some key nutrients if you don't consume animal or dairy products. V
egans have particularly low intakes of vitamin B12 and low intakes of Calcium.  Nutrients that are found in very small amounts in a plant based vegan diet and could possibly be beneficial as supplements for a vegetarian or a vegan, include:

B12 vitamin, also known as methylcobalamin -- B12 is crucial for healthy red blood cells and the neural system.
Carnitine is a nutrient that helps with energy production in mitochondria and helps form acetylcarnitine.
CoQ10 is another nutrient crucial for energy metabolism within mitochondria. A vegan diet would have little CoQ10.
Creatine is a nutrient that helps form stronger muscles and adds strength.
Vegan or Vegetarian body building enthusiasts could benefit from creatine.
Fish oils provide important omega3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA. Alternatively, flax seed oil could be a partial substitute. Flax seed oil provides omega3 fatty acids that may be converted into EPA and DHA, but there is no guarantee that such conversion will occur in adequate amounts. If you wish to take DHA in fish oils from a vegetarian source, consider DHA from algae.
Iron - Iron deficiency can cause fatigue. Iron deficiency, even to a moderate degree, can hinder memory and learning -- but iron supplements can turn those problems around.

PLoS One. 2016. Food and Nutrient Intake and Nutritional Status of Finnish Vegans and Non-Vegetarians. Vegetarian and vegan diets have become more popular among adolescents and young adults. However, few studies have investigated the nutritional status of vegans, who may be at risk of nutritional deficiencies. To compare dietary intake and nutritional status of Finnish long-term vegans and non-vegetarians. Dietary intake and supplement use were estimated using three-day dietary records. Nutritional status was assessed by measuring biomarkers in plasma, serum, and urine samples. Vegans' data was compared with those of sex- and age-matched non-vegetarians. All vegans adhered strictly to their diet; however, individual variability was marked in food consumption and supplementation habits. Dietary intakes of key nutrients, vitamins B12 and D, were lower in vegans than in non-vegetarians. Nutritional biomarker measurements showed lower concentrations of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3), iodine and selenium/ Vegans showed more favorable fatty acid profiles as well as much higher concentrations of polyphenols such as genistein and daidzein. Eicosapentaenoic acid proportions in vegans were higher than expected. The median concentration of iodine in urine was below the recommended levels in both groups. Long-term consumption of a vegan diet was associated with some favorable laboratory measures but also with lowered concentrations of key nutrients compared to reference values. This study highlights the need for nutritional guidance to vegans.

By adding these supplements, a vegetarian or vegan may notice having more energy and pep, and perhaps a feeling of uplifted mood. Even if no such effect is noticed, a vegan and vegetarian will do their body good by providing these missing nutrients as part of a life long health maintenance. However, rather than taking these nutrients separately, you can now take them together in a well-thought out formulation by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Veg Power Rx is made specifically for vegetarians or those on a vegans diet or those who eat very little meat, fish and foul and thus may be missing, or getting very little, crucial nutrients for optimal health such as vitamin B12, iron, creatine, carnitine, and several other nutrients. As a Vegan or Vegetarian, are you getting all the nutrients for optimal health?

If you wish to take supplements suited for vegetarians, visit Ray Sahelian, M.D. for a list of products suited for you.

Supplement Facts
Amount Per 4 Capsules:
Vitamin D - 400 iu (as cholecalciferol)
Vitamin B2 - 4 mg (as riboflavin)
Vitamin-B12 - 200 mcg (as cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin)
Iron - 12 mg - (as ferrous fumerate)
Iodine (as kelp) - 80 mcg
Zinc (as zinc oxide) - 12 mg
Calcium citrate - 400 mg
CoQ10 - 20 mg
Creatine - 600 mg
Carnitine - 120 mg
Flax Seed Oil - 240 mg

Suggested use: As a dietary supplement, and depending on your vegetarian or vegan diet, consider taking anywhere between one to four capsules a day with breakfast or split with breakfast and lunch.

Why become a vegan?
People become vegans for a variety of reasons, including ethical concerns such as animal rights and the environment, as well as more personal reasons such as health benefits and spiritual or religious concerns. Less than one percent of Americans are vegans.Vegans, if they follow a healthy vegan diet, are likely to be thinner, have better cholesterol levels, lower blood sugar levels, and overall be healthier than the average American who eats a normal Westernized diet.

Vegans and Creatine
A vegan does not ingest much creatine since creatine is mostly found in meats, fish, and chicken. Creatine helps muscle stay bulky and strong. In a study published in the Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, thirty-two healthy men, who regularly consumed an omnivorous diet, were split into two groups. One group consumed a LOV diet while the other group had an omnivorous diet (they ate everything). The study lasted 26 days. In addition to their diet, on day 22 of the study, subjects were assigned in a double-blind manner to receive either creatine monohydrate 0.3 g per kilogram of body weight per day or an equivalent dose of placebo for 5 days. The results demonstrated that consuming a LOV diet for 21 days decreased muscle creatine concentration in individuals who normally consume meat and fish. However, the creatine content of muscle in the LOV group returned back to normal after a period of only 5 days. Dr. Sahelian says: A strict vegan should consider supplementing with creatine.

Vegan Diet and Vitamin D Deficiency
Nutrient adequacy of a very low-fat vegan diet. J  Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Sep;105(9):1442-6. Dunn-Emke SR, Weidner G, et al. Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Sausalito, CA, USA.This study assessed the nutrient adequacy of a very low-fat vegan diet. Thirty-nine men (mean age=65 years) with early stage prostate cancer who chose the "watchful waiting" approach to disease management, were instructed by a registered dietitian and a chef on following a very low-fat (10%) vegan diet with the addition of a fortified soy protein powdered beverage. Three-day food diaries, excluding vitamin and mineral supplements, were analyzed and nutrient values were compared against Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI). Mean dietary intake met the recommended DRIs. On the basis of the Adequate Intake standard, a less than adequate intake was observed for vitamin D. This demonstrates that a very low-fat vegan diet with comprehensive nutrition education emphasizing nutrient-fortified plant foods is nutritionally adequate, with the exception of vitamin D. Vitamin D supplementation, especially for those with limited sun exposure, can help assure nutritional adequacy.

Vegan Diet better than ADA diet?
According to a report in Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association, those who eat a low-fat vegan diet lower their blood sugar more, have lower cholesterol levels, and lose more weight than people on a standard American Diabetes Association diet. The vegan diet does not have animal products such as meat, fish and dairy and is low in fat and sugar. Researchers tested 99 people with type 2 diabetes, assigning them randomly to either a low-fat, low-sugar vegan diet (without meat, fish, or dairy) or the standard American Diabetes Association diet. After 22 weeks on the diet, 43 percent of those on the vegan diet and 26 percent of those on the standard diet were either able to stop taking some of their drugs such as insulin or glucose-control medications, or lowered the doses. The vegan dieters lost 14 pounds on average while the diabetes association dieters lost 7 pounds. An important level of glucose control called hemoglobin a1c fell by 1.2 points in the vegan group and by 0.38 in the group on the standard diet. In the dieters who did not change whatever cholesterol drugs they were on during the study, LDL or "bad" cholesterol fell by 21 percent in the vegan diet group and 10 percent in the standard diet group. Participants said the vegan diet was easier to follow because they did not have to measure portions or count calories.

BMJ Open. Feb 5 2014. Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate ('Eco-Atkins') diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial. A self-selected low-carbohydrate vegan diet, containing increased protein and fat from gluten and soy products, nuts and vegetable oils, had lipid lowering advantages over a high-carbohydrate, low-fat weight loss diet, thus improving heart disease risk factors.

Risk for osteoporosis
A concern has been that female vegans might not get enough of certain nutrients, including calcium, to maintain a healthy bone mass. In one study, Buddhist nuns -- who follow a strict vegan diet free of all animal products -- had bone mass that was comparable to women their age who ate meat. This was despite the fact that vegans generally consumed about half as much calcium and protein as meat-eaters do, according to researcher Dr. Tuan V. Nguyen, of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. The nuns consume soybeans, which studies suggest may lessen postmenopausal bone loss -- possibly due to estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. Regular exercise, particularly weight-bearing activities that make the body work against gravity, is known to build and maintain bone mass. Osteoporosis International, online April 7, 2009.

Vegan Diet and Weight Loss

People who eat a low-fat vegan diet, cutting out all meat and dairy, lower their blood sugar more and lose more weight than people on a standard American Diabetes Association diet. In addition, those on the vegan diet lower their cholesterol more and end up with better kidney function, according to the report published in Diabetes Care, a journal published by the American Diabetes Association. The vegan diet removed all animal products, including meat, fish and dairy. It was also low in added fat and in sugar. The American Diabetes Association diet is more tailored, taking into account the patient's weight and cholesterol. Most patients on this diet cut calories significantly, and were told to eat sugary and starchy foods in moderation.
     Participants report the vegan diet was easier to follow than most because they did not measure portions or count calories. Three of the vegan dieters dropped out of the study, compared to eight on the standard diet. Researchers tested 99 people with type 2 diabetes, assigning them randomly to either a low-fat, low-sugar vegan diet or the standard American Diabetes Association diet. After 22 weeks on the diet, 43 percent of those on the vegan diet and 26 percent of those on the standard diet were either able to stop taking some of their drugs such as insulin or glucose-control medications, or lowered the doses. The vegan dieters lost 14 pounds (6.5 kg) on average while the diabetes association dieters lost 6.8 pounds (3 kg). An important level of glucose control called hemoglobin a1c fell by 1.2 points in the vegan group and by 0.38 in the group on the standard diet.
 

Vegan Diet questions

In your August 2006 newsletter you discussed the vegan diet. In my opinion as a health food store manager, a vegan diet is not as healthy as a good vegetarian diet ... I never recommend it. It is not the fat that causes problems with sugar control ... it is large amounts of various starches. The American version of a vegan diet concentrates on rice and beans to compensate for the protein intake ... this is the main problem! Starch turns to sugar (causing low-blood sugar ... and diabetes) ... then turns to fat!
    It is difficult to have a healthy Vegan diet since there is a tendency to resort to a lot of starches that turn into simple sugars and then bad fat. But, people sometimes resort to a vegan diet not necessarily for health reasons, but for personal ethical and moral beliefs. A person who is careful may be able to have a very healthy vegan diet, but it takes a lot of effort and knowledge.