One of the most common concerns about switching to veganism/vegetarianism is health. And the common question of “Where do you get your protein or calcium?” are actually not the things you should be worried about. You can benefit from the hours I spent online visiting sites like www.veganhealth.org by reading my synopsis below (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, so if you have concerns please ask a medical professional)As a vegan you need more B12, Omega-3 and Omega-6. Other top concerns like Iodine -> fixed if you use ¼ teaspoon of iodinized salt a day, or Vitamin D -> Go outside, breathe fresh air and take in the sun (light-skinned: 10-15 minutes, dark-skinned: 20 minutes, elderly: 30 minutes).
The lowdown on B12:
- First off, the source of B12 you need can only be found in meat, soil/micro-organisms, fortified foods (cereal, soy milk etc) or supplements.
- Studies have shown that humans store B12 in their bodies for years. So if you were a meat eater for a long time then you have a decent storage of B12. You will only need 1.0 - 2.5 µg, three times a day from fortified foods or supplements.
- If you're like me and haven’t eaten meat since you were 12. Then you’ll need to create a store of B12. Buy a bottle of 1,000 µg (or greater) B12 chewable/sublingual tablets. Take 2,000 µg a day for 2 weeks. It's okay to take more than recommended.
- Note on multi-vitamins: Vitamin C in doses of 500 mg or more taken within one hour or B12 may diminish B12 availability or destroy the B12. Also for B12 absorption it needs to be chewable or sublingual.
Balancing your Omega-3 versus Omega-6:
In a perfect world you’ll drink a few teaspoons of flaxseed oil a day. Or grind flaxseeds using a coffee grinder and put them in your foods.
- Note: The Omega will not be digested from ungrounded flax seeds and heating flaxseed oil damages it, but it can be put on warm food such as toast. Flaxseed oil should be kept in the refrigerator.
For those of you not wanting to do this, here is what you need to know.
- Omega-3 and Omega-6 fight each other in your body. So cooking things high in Omega-3 in oil high in Omega-6 lessens the nutritional potential. Oils high in Omega-6: corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, "vegetable," sesame oil. Oils low in omega-6: olive, avocado, peanut, or canola.
- This table has a list of high Omega-3 and Omega-6 sources.
So the next time someone ask about your protein intake tell them they should be worried about your B12 instead ;)