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Pitfalls of Vegetarianism


Posted by Tracii H.

While being a vegetarian has many benefits to your health as well as the environment, there are some serious problems that can arise if you fail to take the proper supplements. B12 and other B-vitamin deficiencies, as well as poor protein intake can lead to anemia, malnutrition, fatigue, and generally poor health. It is important to ensure that you're getting enough of all the important vitamins and minerals that meat can provide. A good multivitamin/mineral supplement plus extra B12 and folic acid can easily prevent these problems.
 
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I was a vegetarian for 9 years, partially through my pre/adolescent ("growing") years. I experienced many nutritional speedbumps in this time, including digestive problems, fatigue, easy bruising, irregular periods, weight gain, and so on. My problem, along with many other vegetarians I have met, is that a hearty, well-rounded diet is difficult to uphold. I began eating poultry and seafood a couple years back, and many of my problems have subsided. This may also be due to my concerted effort to pair lean poultry meats or fish with more grains and vegetables.
As I just explained in another post here, I tend towards anemia as it is, not to mention I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that I manage. Being vegetarian would be very difficult for me healthwise. I personally feel that the issue is not killing animals for food (because this is part of nature), but doing so more humanely.
The fact is, animals are on the earth and we eat them. The problem is, there is not the need to put them through suffering in the process. So many companies use inhumane processes to bring us meat and milk, but there are better ways to do it. Will we have to pay for it out of pocket? yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
I'm mostly a vegetarian because I have never enjoyed the taste of meat. I eat small portions of chicken or a little ground turkey on pasta, but I just don't like the taste of meat. Now I'm not the healthiest vegetarian and I can improve my protein intake, but I have not had any health issues or problems. It does concern me about the possible health problems from not getting enough protein, so maybe I will start taking a supplement...
It is possible to have a fully balanced diet that is entirely vegetarian, but it takes work. I don't claim great expertise in vegetarianism, but do think that the potential for problems can be alleviated by two simple steps: Take a multivitamin with iron, and balance your protein intake. Taking a multivitamin with iron will prevent problems from B-complex and iron deficiency. The iron supplement is especially important for women, who need more iron than men. By "balance your protein" I refer to the problem that vegetarian sources of protein (for example, grains, nuts, legumes) vary in which of the essential amino acids they contain. That is, plant foods are deficient in one or another of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). The good news is that different plant combinations together contain all essential amino acids. Typically, a grain and a legume together make a great combination. Examples of good choices include: * Beans and tortillas. * Black beans and rice. * Chili and corn bread. * Pita bread with hummus (ground garbanzo beans and sesame seed paste). There is a good introduction to this topic at http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/Healthy-Eating-Vegetarian-Diets-Organic-Foods
Vegetarianism definitely is a lifestyle thing, and just like lifestyles, it's not for everybody. Like Stephanie, I too am anemic, and that's what took me off the pure vegetarianism streak for 3 months. Reflecting on my lifestyle helped me reconcile it all to being a pescadarian (?) -- Realistically I have no time/patience to figure out what vitamins I'm missing out on and finding replacements; this coupled with clashing cultural worlds (it's practically impossible to have a pacific islander family potluck and be vegetarian ... not being able to have mom's good ol' filipino cookin'? blasphemy! haha) ... all these factors made me realize that I need at least fish. And with eggs, I try to reconcile the animal cruelty issue with eggs by getting free range.
When I am vegetarian, I never feel ill or as if I am missing something. Other people that I know really do. It seems to be down to the individual.
I wonder if vegetarianism is easier for people who were raised vegetarian? I grew up vegetarian and to this day, I don't think I could EVER make meat a regular part of my diet, though I've slowly incorporated fish into it. I definitely experienced sluggishness and dairy overload when I was vegetarian, but that was before I knew anything about how to do it in a healthy way. Now I know it's totally possible, but maybe just a little easier to eat meat--I've found that being vegetarian requires creativity and time to spare if you want to eat well and have a balanced diet.
I'm a new vegetarian (I've been vegetarian for a little over a month). I am concerned about getting enough iron and B12 in my diet. My family doctor told me that simply taking a good multivitamin should eliminate any problems with lack of these nutrients.

Being vegetarian, like it's been said here already, one has to be careful. I have known several people in my life who went vegetarian, or even raw, and got very ill, either immediately or after a few months. One can't live off bread and cheese sandwiches! Iron and B vites are easily supplemented. Emergen-C is a STAPLE in my house, plus it provides electrolytes. A good point to remember-anemia is most often linked to a B vitamin or Folic acid deficiency. Although we tend to just think of it as an Iron deficiency, the two are related. So ensuring you get B's and Folic acid will help guard against anemia. And remember that the closer to nature that you can eat, the better health you will enjoy. Beware the pitfalls of convenience food, even those that are labeled "vegan or vegetarian. " They are still nutritionally empty and full of calories and simple carbs.

While I'm not a vegetarian: To all vegetarians I recommend frequently combining rice and beans as they make a complete protein and this will eliminate the possibility of protein deficiency. I advise everyone to take a multivitamin daily as no matter what diet you have there is a chance that you are not reaching optimum levels of vitamin and mineral intake. For vegetarians I would add a B-complex vitamin, as there are no proven vegetarian sources. (to be taken at a separate time of day from the multi-vitamin)

Check out this recent post topic about food combing theories.

Many vegetarians eat out of a packet...tofu, veggie burgers and loads of carbs.

The key to being a vegetarian...in fact the key to being healthy, the key is to eat masses of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. If these foods are your primary foods, then you get all the protein and nutrients you need. But, you do need some extra b 12.

Also, vegetarians have to put green leafy vegetables into their daily diet, such as, kale, spinach, collards, broccoli, dandelion, etc. That will cover any deficiencies one may have.

I have a blog that provides many quick, easy & healthy recipes. Try my Succulent Seductive Salad recipe. Its very tasty and healthy. Also, I have a e-cookbook called 'Quick & Easy Vegetarian Recipes To Heal Your Body' that has a recipe for Marinated Kale Salad. It's quite delicious.

Monique

www.easyvegetarian.blogspot.com

I'm 46 and have been a vegetarian for 29 years now;   eat eggs and diary, and do take omega 3 tablets, composed mostly of fish oil, since turning age 40.    I've met with my doctor regularly, undergone major surgery for a giant overian cyst, and have repeatedly been told that my blood counts are all in the normal range...briefly, in my 20s, i experienced some sickness but this was due to a syphillis infection, i think, easily cured with large doses of injected penicillin.    Oddly, yesterday, I saw my doctor of several years. for skin problems as well as some odd feelings on the right side of my brain, and he said, "You suffer from classic malnutrition, years of it, and will develop dementia."  Now, I eat beans and eggs and am a little low on really high protein content, like tofu, and i'm changing that...tofu in the morning, in the evening and so one for me...but isn't this odd?  I think I need a second opinion...wouldn't the long-term, yearly regular blood counts eliminate long-term malnutrition, depending on the definition of long-term. 

I'm 46 and have been a vegetarian for 29 years now;   eat eggs and diary, and do take omega 3 tablets, composed mostly of fish oil, since turning age 40.    I've met with my doctor regularly, undergone major surgery for a giant overian cyst, and have repeatedly been told that my blood counts are all in the normal range...briefly, in my 20s, i experienced some sickness but this was due to a syphillis infection, i think, easily cured with large doses of injected penicillin.    Oddly, yesterday, I saw my doctor of several years. for skin problems as well as some odd feelings on the right side of my brain, and he said, "You suffer from classic malnutrition, years of it, and will develop dementia."  Now, I eat beans and eggs and am a little low on really high protein content, like tofu, and i'm changing that...tofu in the morning, in the evening and so one for me...but isn't this odd?  I think I need a second opinion...wouldn't the long-term, yearly regular blood counts eliminate long-term malnutrition, depending on the definition of long-term.
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