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Forums: September 2012 Kickstart Forum: Question about Vitamins
Created on: 11/26/12 05:10 PM Views: 646 Replies: 5
Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:10 PM

I saw an interview with Lierre Keith, author of "The Vegetarian Myth." she said that you cannot get Vitamins A, D, COQ10 and K2 from a plant based diet. That they are not found in plants AT ALL. I have a hunch that she's not completely accurate about some of her facts. I researched some and found that K2 is in spinach, broccoli, and fermented soybeans (Natto). Any truth to the other vitamins?

She also talks about the fact that we need fat in our diet which we do not get enough of as vegans. She said our brain is 80% fat and we need fat as an energy source. Also,the protein in plants is wrapped in cellulose which we cannot digest so it's not a "whole protein."

I've been a vegetarian since May, trying to be a vegan, but obviously have concerns when I hear/read these counter points to what I thought to be true.

Thanks!

RE: Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:16 PM

This issue has come up before on an older forum. If you don't mind, I'll paste here what I pasted before:

I have not read the book; however, I know it has been addressed in other professional forums (that is how I heard about it). If interested in a proper review, please read Ginny Messina's (MPH, RD) response at the link below.

http://www.theveganrd.com/2010/09/review-of-the-vegetarian-myth.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheVeganDietitian+%28The+Vegan+Dietitian%29

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:24 PM

I am wondering. If the vegan diet is truly ideal, and i believe it is despite my failings at it, why do we have to take b vitamin supplements?

I continue to try.

Janeoverton

RE: Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Thanks for the quick response! I just read the response in the link you posted. It was very informational. I'm still wondering about the vitamins however. Do we get enough of the vitamins we need without eating any dairy or meat? I already take a B12 supplement. Should I also take Vitamins A, D and COQ10?

RE: Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 6:25 PM

No extra vitamins required OTHER than B12. This is assuming you have a varied, plant-based diet rich in colorful whole foods.

Why B12? B12 is made by bacteria - bacteria too far down in our intestinal tract to be absorbed in any significant amount (if at all). We, like other animals, do excrete B12 in our waste. At one time, we probably got plenty of B12 simply by eating plants in the ground, a ground that was full of bacteria. Now, our food system is much cleaner, thus lacking reliable supplies of good bacteria in the food (unless it is added to that food later, like you see in pro/pre-biotic yogurts - NO, that is not naturally occurring; it is added in a factory).

Anyone over the age of 50 should take a B12 supplement, according to our government who makes such dietary recommendations. We simply don't absorb it as well as when we are younger, regardless of diet. Why this biological error? Who can say. Maybe we were not meant to live so long. Maybe we ate so much more bacteria in the old days it did not matter. It's unclear.

And as for why we need a supplement at all on an optimal diet? It's a great question, and I would argue (in addition to the above re. B12) because of the American, animal-heavy diet, we find ourselves needing all sorts of supplemented foods due to possible deficiencies. For example, most Americans do not consume enough folate (vegans consume loads!), so guess what, it's supplemented in a lot of foods, especially refined grains. Other B vitamins lacking in the American diet are supplemented into refined grains as well. Vitamin D is supplemented into milks (dairy and non-dairy versions alike). In fact, there is NO reliable dietary source of vitamin D other than supplemented foods. Vitamin A is supplemented into low-fat cow's milk.

And don't worry, B12 deficiencies among vegans are actually rare; more common are B12 deficiencies among the older population. Still, not worth testing your stored-up B12 out of curiosity!

Susan Levin, MS, RD
PCRM Director of Nutrition Education

RE: Question about Vitamins
Posted Monday, November 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM

I have been vegetarian/vegan (mostly vegan now full vegan) for over 22 years.

I do not supplement, nor do I take vitamins. I have normal vitamin levels with the exception of Vitamin D, primarily because I have rosacea and wear sunscreen and hats and do not expose myself to the sun at all. Even that normalized quickly.

Always offer kindness and a soft word to the beings around you; You do not know their journey. Your words can be the hug they need or the shove that breaks them.


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