There are a lot of vegetarians amongst us, some by circumstance and some by choice. Those that are vegetarians by choice can be divided into two general groups, those that do not eat meat, poultry or fish, but do consume dairy products as – in theory – the animals are not harmed or killed by the gathering of those products. Vegans, however, use no animal products whatsoever.
This article was posted on Aug 29, 2005
There are many health benefits to a planned vegetarian diet, as opposed to the unplanned vegetarian diets that result from poverty and a lack of food availability. However, there are also some special precautions that need to be taken to safeguard nutrition, as adequate amounts of some of the most important nutrients can be more difficult to obtain. This is especially true for those following the more restrictive vegan diet.
The body is a complex and delicate system, and the foundation of all of its functioning is chemical and electrical actions, interactions and reactions. The operation of this system rests firmly upon the balance of these chemicals. The majority of the chemicals in these essential physical processes come from the food that we eat, from the nutrients that come from its consumption. Thus, nutrition has a deep influence of the health of the body and the quality of its functioning.
Because the brain, like the body, functions on chemical reactions and electrical impulses, the processes of cognition, emotion, and so on, are also affected by nutrition. In fact, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can result in mental illness and retardation, as well as cognitive dysfunction and difficulties and emotional instability.
The Vitamin B complex offers a perfect example of how vegetarians must pay special attention to their diets to ensure peak performance of body and mind. The Vitamin B complex is involved with every major system in the body and has a role in almost every important bodily process. It is essential to mental health and functioning, and essential to life itself. However, there are certain Vitamin B complex vitamins that need special attention by vegetarians, as vegetarians do not consume the richest sources of these vitamins.
The richest sources of Vitamin B2 are milk and organ meats. It is available in enriched breads and cereals, but care must be taken to consume the right amount daily. Niacin and Vitamin B6 are other B complex vitamins in which the richest sources are meats and, again, are available in smaller concentrations in enriched breads and cereals. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. It is important to note that vitamin B12, in addition to being important to the production of red blood cells, is essential for the normal growth of children.
Nutritional supplements can serve to enhance the health benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle. Indeed, they can serve to prevent the serious health consequences that vitamin deficiency can cause. Nutrition is especially essential for children, as their minds and bodies are growing and developing. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you may want to consider the complete, safe and reliable nutrition that dietary supplements can provide.