Why it’s hard to be a healthy vegan

December 06, 2011
Volume 08    |   Issue 50

What do Betty White, Mike Tyson, Ellen DeGeneres, and Robin Williams have in common?

Their diets put them at risk for heart disease and stroke.

You see, all of them are vegans – vegetarians who eat no animal products. This is a popular way to eat today. But many vegans don’t realize this diet could kill them.

A recent study conducted a review of dozens of articles published on the biochemistry of vegetarianism during the past 30 years. The conclusion of the researchers: People who eat a vegan diet increase their risk of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis or “hardening of the arteries.” And these conditions can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

The reason a vegan diet increases your risk is that the limited diet doesn’t give you enough essential nutrients to be healthy. Vegans are often low in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. As a result, vegans tend to have elevated blood levels of homocysteine. Their levels of HDL, the “good” form of cholesterol, often drop as well. Both are risk factors for heart disease.

Can you be a healthy vegan? Without a doubt!

All you have to do to be a healthy vegan is increase your daily intake of dietary omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. One way is to eat a little animal protein, such as salmon and other oily fish. This won’t work for most vegans, but I have two other answers. You also can eat flaxseeds, walnuts, and other nuts every day. I used to be a strict vegetarian, but realized I wasn’t getting enough omega-3s. So I take an omega-3 supplement (Daily Omega). And I added a little salmon to my diet. A strict vegan can take a plant-based fatty acid supplement in a vegetarian capsule. I like ProThera’s Flax/Borage Oil (888-488-2488) and Yes EFA.

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Vitamin B12 is a little harder to get. Good sources include seafood, eggs, and fortified milk. Or you can take a vitamin B12 supplement found in all health food stores. Some people may require an injection of vitamin B12 from their doctor to keep their levels sufficiently high.

Your voice of reason in Women's Health,


American Chemical Society, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221533.php.

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