Article by Angela Haldane
Q. My daughter has recently decided that she wants to become vegan. My concern is that she will become deficient in vitamins. What is the best approach for this type of diet?
A. A vegan diet means that the food is derived from natural plant sources only. It is more restrictive than a vegetarian diet, as it eliminates eggs and dairy products as well as meat. Eggs and dairy products provide the vegetarian diet with vitamin B12, vitamin A and D, and protein.
Vitamin A can be found in orange and dark green vegetables as beta carotene. Vitamin D can be synthesised from sunshine – get outdoors for some ultra violet rays!
Protein is obtained from combining grains plus legumes at the same meal. This ensures that the 22 amino acids that are essential to the diet are received. For example soymilk and muesli, tofu and noodles, hummus and crackers.
Use plenty of nuts,seeds and oils to get the essential fatty acids too.
Vitamin B12 does pose a problem, I usually recommend to vegan people to take a multivitamin that has 30-50 mcg of Vitamin B12.
Research states that 92% of vegetarians have serum vitamin B12 levels below the normal range of 200 pg/ml. Vitamin B12 is required for the formation of red blood eells.
B12 deficiency can lead to pernicious, macrocytic, and megaloblastic anaemia which will result in tiredness and a lowered immune system. Depression can also be alleviated by B12 supplementation. B12 injections are prescribed by medical doctors when these circumstances arise, and the response is very effective. However as a long term measure on a daily basis, a multivitamin is sufficient.
Sources of iodine are seaweeds – keep to NZ seaweeds to avoid toxic contamination. Pacific Harvest Karengo can be dry toasted in a fry pan and used as a condiment. Iodine is necessary for thyroid and breast health.