A plant-based diet can provide a lot more nutrients than a meat-based diet. This will help in improving your health and preventing the development of several chronic diseases. The essential nutrients you get from plant foods are linked to weight loss, improved brain and heart functions, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, etc.
However, there are several nutrients that you won’t get from a plant-based diet. Those nutrients are only found in animal foods and vegans may have to take supplements to avoid deficiency.
Here is the list of major nutrients that you won’t get from a plant-based meal plan.
Create is one of the major nutrients present in animal foods. A significant amount of creatine is stored in the muscle cells and its main function is to act as an energy reserve for the muscle cells. That is why creatine is a popular supplement among people for muscle building. Several studies have proven the ability of creatine to increase muscle mass and strength.
Creatine is usually produced in the body by the liver. However, it was observed that the level of creatine in vegans is low and this creates many health problems. Since creatine is only present in animal foods, vegans and vegetarians have to take supplements. This will help in improving physical performance and brain function.
Vitamin B12 is mainly found in fish, eggs, meat, and dairy products. This particular vitamin is also known as cobalamin and it is water-soluble. Vitamin B12 is essential for the development of red blood cells and helps in maintaining your normal brain function. Since vegans do not consume animal foods, they are at a high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
The vegans have to take B12 supplements to avoid the risk of deficiency. If you do not get an adequate amount of vitamin B12, it will cause impaired brain function, fatigue, megaloblastic anemia, psychiatric disorders, neurological disorders, etc. Those who follow a strict vegan diet have to take B12 supplements or the foods that are enriched with vitamin B12.
Vitamin D is one of the essential vitamins that you get from exposure to sunlight. If your exposure to sunlight is limited because of the geographical conditions or any other factors, you may have to get vitamin D from the supplements or foods enriched with this vitamin. Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is one of the two types of vitamin D and it is mainly found in animal products.
Fatty fish and egg yolks are the best sources of vitamin D3. Since there are no plant-based dietary sources of vitamin D3, vegans have to take supplements to reduce the risk of vitamin D3 deficiency. Sometimes, people living in winter countries and the north pole also have to take vitamin D3 supplements. Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, cancer, multiple sclerosis, etc.
This particular antioxidant is mainly found in the muscles of animals and humans. Carnosine is very essential for the smooth functioning of your muscles and high levels of carnosine is also linked to improved muscle performance and reduced muscle fatigue. Carnosine is usually considered as non-essential because your body can create it from beta-alanine and amino acids histidine.
Studies have shown that carnosine levels in the muscles of vegans are lower than that of meat-eaters. Since beta-alanine is mainly sourced from animal products, vegans have to take beta-alanine supplements to increase the levels of carnosine levels in their muscles. This will help in increasing muscle endurance and muscle mass.
Heme iron is one of the different types of iron that is present only in meat. Our body can absorb heme iron better than non-heme iron, which is mainly found in plant-based foods. The heme iron can provide several health benefits and also improves the absorption of non-heme iron. The absorption of non-heme iron can be limited by the antinutrients present in plant foods.
Unlike non-heme iron, the presence of antinutrients does not affect the absorption of heme iron into the body. Since meat is the main source of heme iron, the risk of developing anemia in vegans are very high. With a well-planned vegan diet and supplements, you can easily avoid iron deficiency.
Docosahexaenoic acid is one of the main omega-3 fatty acids that are very important for the normal functioning and development of the brain. If you do not get an adequate amount of Docosahexaenoic acid from your diet, it will adversely affect the mental health and brain function, especially in children. Also, pregnant women have to take an adequate amount of Docosahexaenoic acid to ensure proper fetal brain development.
Fatty fish, fish oil, and certain microalgae are the main sources of Docosahexaenoic acid. This particular omega-3 fatty acids can also be made in your body from alpha-linolenic acid, which is present in chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds. However, most of the time the conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to Docosahexaenoic acid is inefficient.