Nutritionists often agree that eating a diet full of vegetables and fruits can be extremely healthy for the body and the mind, but according to a new study, if that is all you are eating, you might be missing out on some essential nutrients.
Physicians at the Mayo Clinic were curious to see the types of nutrients that vegan people are getting. Even though only 2 percent of the American population is vegan, meaning that they only eat plant-based foods and nothing that comes from an animal, veganism is becoming increasingly popular mainly due to health and ethical concerns.
The researchers reviewed current literature that had collected information on the vegan diet. They focused on six main nutrients - protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B-12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids - and found that people who had poorly planned diets were deficient in some of these nutrients.
"We found that some of these nutrients, which can have implications in neurologic disorders, anemia, bone strength and other health concerns, can be deficient in poorly planned vegan diets," said Heather Fields at the Community and Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
The researchers explained that when people choose to follow a vegan diet but do not know how to plan it out, they can end up eating a lot of processed foods and not a large enough variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. The researchers were shocked to find, however, that regardless of diet planning, vegans still managed to intake a good amount of protein.
"Vegans have not been shown to be deficient in protein intake or in any specific amino acids," Fields said.
Based from these findings, the researchers recommended that people who want to make the switch to veganism should really be educated about the diet. They added that doctors who have vegan patients must pay more attention to their nutrition levels.
Vegan Action/Vegan Awareness Foundation recommends that when making the change, people should initially eat familiar plant-based foods that remind them of animal-based food products so that the transition can be relatively easier. After adjusting to the change, people can start experimenting with new vegan foods.
The study's findings were published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.