For all of the vegetarians and none vegetarians out there…I am sure most of you have wondered: Is it safe? Will I develop a nutritional deficiency? Will my biochemistry change? Will it help prevent diseases? The answer to most of these questions is yes. The nutritional deficiencies can be avoided if you ensure that your vitamin B-12 requirements are met by your diet. Why? Because one of the major sources of B-12 vitamin is meat & its related products. If you are a lacto-ovo-vegetarian this shouldn’t be a concern because you can obtain this vitamin from eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese. If you do not eat any product derived from animals you should consider taking additional supplements. Why? Because B12 deficiency may lead to anemia and permanent neurological changes. B12 is involved in the formation of your red blood cells. Therefore this nutrient is key for proper oxygenation of your body. Additionally it is involved in the formation of DNA! So including this vitamin in your diet is essential! B12 protects and repairs DNA which is essential in reducing your cancer risk and slowing down the aging process. If you start feeling tired all the time and notice that you get shortness of breath while climbing a flight of stairs, exercising, or while performing other demanding activities…you should consult your doctor.
Additionally this vitamin may help protect against heart disease by reducing the production of a protein called homocysteine in your blood. High levels of this protein has been linked to higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
If you don’t like taking supplements cheese is the #1 vegetarian source of vitamin B12 (also known as Cobalamin). “Ah…the power of cheese.” I will rank for you the best cheese sources for obtaining this nutrient in a serving of 100 grams: Swiss (56%DV) > Gjetost (40%DV) > Mozzarella (39%DV) > Parmesan (38%DV) > Tilsit (35%DV) > Feta (28%DV). Hence a great way of incorporating these cheeses into your meals is by adding Swiss or Mozzarella to your veggie burgers, Parmesan to your pastas, and feta to your salads. Eggs rank second on the list. Whey powder ranks third. Milk & yogurt rank fourth. Yeast extract ranks fifth as a natural source of B12. If you are not a full vegetarian, which sometimes means you eat seafood….Clams, oysters & mussels are the #1 source of B12. Shellfish provide from 400%DV to 1648%DV of B12!!! Other potent sources (in order) include: liver, caviar, octopus, fish, crab, lobster, beef, and lamb. Be careful not to exceed the necessary intake because these foods are also packed with cholesterol.
Furthermore, the advantages of practicing a vegetarian diet are multiple. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has conducted a study about the effectiveness of vegetarian diet in treating obesity, hyperlipidemia, and Type 2 Diabetes. If you are interested in this topic – guidelines about how to conduct a proper vegetarian diet and its potential health benefits are found in the link below. The primary goal of this research study was to implement:
- “… these recommendations includes improving a person’s ability to achieve optimal nutrition through healthful plant-based food choices and a physically active lifestyle.”
- National Guideline Clearinghouse | Vegetarian nutrition (VN) evidence based nutrition practice guideline..
Hope this post was helpful…Leave comments regarding these topics or past experiences.