The vegan diet is one that completely refrains from eating foods of animal origin which can lead to some deficiencies in the body. In this sense, we want to advise the use of a supplementary product that helps balance the diet and avoid health risks, because the person is short of an essential nutrient.
First of all, we must differentiate two clear groups, on the one hand, there are vegetarians who consume eggs and dairy. These groups have greater ease to be able to make a proper diet focused on the gain of muscle mass. And, on the other hand, vegans who, even being part of the group of vegetarians, are stricter in their diet and do not consume any product from animals, so they need a very extensive knowledge of nutrition to be able to obtain the proteins and vitamins necessary to maintain their health and muscles.
In this sense, we highlight that people who abstain from taking foods of animal origin need some very important nutrients for the proper functioning of their body. It is worth mentioning the following nutrients: proteins of high biological value, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, D and calcium, since these are scarce outside animals.
Proteins of high biological value
Proteins of high biological value are those that have the 20 amino acids that our body needs to exercise its function correctly. If these types of proteins are not ingested, our immune system could weaken and we may have problems derived from the loss of muscle mass.
Likewise, the foods that contain this type of protein are all of animal origin such as meat, fish, seafood, egg white, milk, among others, which having the amino acids in their entirety are the ones that our body best assimilates and the ones that it uses best.
By contrast, outside the animal kingdom there is no food containing all 20 amino acids in optimal proportions. Although it is true that foods such as soy, nuts, legumes and some others, have a high component of proteins, but they are not of the same biological value as those of animal origin.
A possibility of obtaining proteins of high biological value outside the animal kingdom is by mixing foods with different limiting amino acids (those that are in a smaller proportion in a food). For example, mix legumes that are deficient in the amino acids methionine and cystine, with cereals that are a food group deficient in lysine. In this way, complete proteins could be obtained. Although you should always have a rigorous control of protein intake, so that there are no deficits of this macronutrient.
It should be noted that there are supplementary products for vegans (free of all animal sources) that can help ensure an adequate protein intake and thus reduce the likelihood of suffering from diseases derived from the lack of good quality protein in the diet.
Omega-3s help us maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, as they tend to reduce LDL levels (cholesterol responsible for forming atheroma plaques in the arteries) and also help control the formation of blood clots.
The sources par excellence of Omega-3 fatty acids are those found in the fat of oily fish. Also some crustaceans and mollusks have interesting amounts of these fatty acids.
Conversely, outside of these foods, Omega-3s are usually scarce. It could be found in nuts or flax seeds, although a significant amount would have to be consumed to obtain the recommended daily amount and the calories of the diet may skyrocket since they are foods with very high lipid content.
Vitamin B12, like the other B vitamins, is important for protein metabolism. It helps the formation of red blood cells in the blood and the maintenance of the central nervous system.
Vegans consume some foods such as brewer’s yeast, algae, some edible mushrooms, wheat germ and soy that contain this vitamin, although the amounts are very small. In this sense, vegans and strict vegetarians should take supplements of this vitamin to maintain a balanced diet and not suffer from deficiency diseases.
Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, since it is directly involved in the absorption of calcium by the bones.
The most important sources of vitamin D are found in animal foods and also in sun exposure. However, for a vegan in winter, when daylight hours are reduced, it can be a challenge to meet the requirements of this vitamin. Some plant-based foods, such as margarines or cereals, contain vitamin D, although to a lesser extent than animal sources.
It should be noted that at certain times of the year (especially those with fewer daily daylight hours) it would be convenient to use a vitamin D supplement that provides the recommended daily amount for each individual.
Calcium is one of the minerals that fulfills more functions in our body, from controlling the heart rate to contributing to the formation of our entire bone system. A lack of this mineral can have bad consequences, such as bone decalcification, loss in the secretion of some hormones and enzymes that help regulate our metabolism, among others.
The foods richest in this mineral as we know well are dairy, which includes cheeses, milk and yogurt. In addition to some marine animals such as sardines, prawns, Norway lobsters and prawns that also have a very high amount. Outside of these animal sources, some plant-based foods that contain calcium are nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts, legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, and some green leafy vegetables such as chard and spinach.
It should be noted that to achieve the amount of calcium recommended in our diet we must ingest very high amounts, even excessive of these foods of plant origin. The ideal is to get the amount of calcium we need through the combination of the intake of foods of animal and vegetable origin.
In short, we recommend before doing a vegan diet, consult with a doctor or a professional in the field,, and if the idea is carried out, make sure you have a rigorous follow-up. But in the case of vegans and stricter vegetarians, we suggest that they objectively consider the possibility of using a supplemental product that helps the individual balance their diet and thus reduce the risk of suffering from a disease deficient in any of the nutrients exposed in this article.