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Nutritious and Delicious?

Veggie Health
Last week I was asked to highlight the health cons of a vegetarian diet in response to my post on the pros of veggie health. Although it is possible to get all the nutrients you need without having meat in your diet, it requires a lot of careful planning. Here are a few potential vegetarian deficiencies that may arise with an unbalanced diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids
– Fish are essential in providing omega-3 fatty acids.
– Omega-3 fatty acids slow-down the onset of atherosclerosis, reduce triglyceride levels, acts as an antiinflammatory agent and help with personality disorders.
-non-fish substitutes for omega-3 fatty acid include flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, tofu, microalgae oil.

Vitamin B-12
-Vitamin B-12 is primarily found with the protein we consume in seafood, dairy, eggs, and meat.
-Some vitamin B-12 supplements have been found to inhibit metabolism, increase deficiency, and lead to anemia and nerve damage.
-Veggie vitamin B-12 substitutes include tempeh, miso, sea vegetables, soy milk, meat analogues or “meat” made from soybeans.
-These sources do not contain significant levels of vitamin B-12. Vegans may be at high risk for this deficiency.

Calcium
-The majority of the calcium we consume comes from dairy products.
-Calcium helps reduce blood pressure, builds strong bones, reduces chances for osteoporosis.
-Calcium substitutes for dairy include some tofu, roots, legumes, and soy milk.

Iron
– Iron is important for transporting oxygen throughout your body.
– Deficiency can cause fatigue and a decreased immune system.
– Animal foods provide higher levels of Iron absorption than do plants.
– Ways to compensate for Iron absorption deficiency include consuming vitamin C while consuming plants with iron, or avoid consuming calcium, whole grains, legumes, tea or coffee while consuming plants with iron.

There are vegetarian diets available for everyone including pregnant women, children, and the elderly. Each case of deficiency depends on what the individual is missing from their diet. With dedication and very careful planning, it is possible to lead a vegetarian diet without jeopardizing your health. However, the stress from having to plan out each meal may be just enough of a health problem within itself.