2005

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Sociology, Theology, Anti-Religion and Exploration: Forcing Humanity Forwards


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Vitamin A and Iron deficiencies in Vegetarians

Added the following two bits to "Issues in Vegetarian Diets" by Vexen Crabtree:

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A (retinol) is found in animal liver (in abundance), cheese, eggs, oily fish (such as mackerel), milk, fortified margarine and yoghurt7. It only comes from animal sources. There is a chemical similar to vitamin A, called beta-carotene "a substance that the body can convert into vitamin A"[Byrnes 2000]. Dr Byrnes also notes that this conversion, however, only takes place efficiently when animal fats are present. Otherwise the amount coverted into vitamin A is very small. We can't convert all our beta-carotene into vitamin A though, because beta-carotene is itself an important part of our diet and in addition. Some people cannot do it at all. "Infants and people with hypothyroidism, gall bladder problems or diabetes (altogether, a significant portion of the population) either cannot make the conversion, or do so very poorly".

Iron:

“Iron deficiency, which causes tiredness, is the world's most common nutritional problem. In the UK around 20% of women are anaemic. Iron is the least plentiful nutrient in the typical British diet. It can come from plant sources (inorganic iron) or from animal tissues (haem iron). Haem iron is absorbed around five times more efficiently than inorganic iron - this is why eating red meat is recommended for preventing anaemia. Lead researcher Dr Andrew McKie said: "Currently pregnant women suffering from anaemia are given supplements of inorganic iron, but these are poorly absorbed and poorly tolerated.”
BBC News, 2005 Sep 10

It is dangerous for women to remain on a vegetarian diet during pregnancy. Not only is substitute iron less efficient, but some people cannot tolerate it at all. If a woman's baby is intolerant to inorganic iron, a vegetarian diet can be fatal for the baby and harm the mother more than normal as her iron requirements are much higher and only iron obtained typically from red meats is adequate and efficient for her.

Wow... I didn't know that. I am in the 'humans are omnivores and therefore cutting out meat is bad for your health' camp.

I do like the one about vitamin b12 too. It being an animal exclusive vitamin, and that veggies only get enough of it from eating the food that has had animal manure spread on it. Snnrk.

Vitamin B12 is not a problem for vegetarians, who get enough from dairy and eggs. It's only a problem for vegans, and they can get sufficient B12 from supplements, fortified foods (soymilk is often fortified with B12), and Marmite.

Mmm, Marmite.

Personally, I view vegetarianism as an eating-disorder.

I've been given a handy book for christmas in the form of 'The complete guide to Sports Nutrition' by Anita Bean. I'm not a leaf-eater though but I'm hoping this book will help me pick up some of the missing nutrition from my diet.
Additionally the guy (uh, consultant would be a better title) at the gym recommended taking vitamin suppliements saying that unless you eat some amazing diet full of everything your liable to miss certain vitamins/minerals/etc. While not too bad for your average person if you engage in a large amount of physical exercise you need to make sure you get it right.

IIRC, there's evidence to suggest that iron absorption is increased with a higher intake of vitamin C, so the lower iron levels in a vegetarian/vegan diet is offset by the much higher vitamin C contents of those diets.

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