This is a guest post by Mishka Thomas, a food and beverage blogger
The tragic death of an infant is among the many cases that shed light on the consequences of vegetarianism/veganism, among which are fatal vitamin deficiencies. Sergine and Joel Le Moaligou of France fed their 11-month-old daughter Louise breast milk alone– one day in March 2008 the baby became listless and the couple called emergency services. The baby died of a vitamin deficiency.
According to the autopsy report, the baby suffered from a vitamin A and vitamin B12 deficiency, which experts say raises a child’s vulnerability to infection. The deficiency may have been due to an unbalanced diet, and that the couple did not heed the doctor’s advice for hospitalization when Louise contracted bronchitis and had dropping weight during her nine-month checkup.
While breast milk is a near-perfect food that proves to be the best nourishment you can give your baby, its nutritional value is influenced by the mother diet. Louise’s mother is a vegan, and it apparently created vitamin deficiencies in the breast milk that she was fed on exclusively.
Are you convinced that a strict vegan diet is the healthiest way to go? Read on and be enlightened about the potential deadly dangers of this practice.
The Health Setbacks of Going Strictly Vegan
Many individuals go down the vegetarian/vegan route based on their ethical or spiritual convictions. However, this dietary choice often leads to serious effects, as avoiding all animal foods may deprive you of the critical nutrients needed for optimal health and well-being. Even Angelina Jolie, a vegan for so many years, was quoted as saying “It nearly killed me.”
Vitamin B12 deficiency is thing to watch out for. Vitamin B12, one among the eight B-complex vitamins, is naturally found in animal foods such as meat, fish, milk, milk products, and dairy.
Researcher Michael Donaldson, PhD, of Cornell University reveals his study on the Hallelujah diet, a strict vegan diet:
“Our study revealed early signs of vitamin B12 deficiency in 26 of the 54 people tested, after following the Hallelujah Diet for as little as two to four years…
Based on the published studies and our results, adequate vitamin B12 status of vegans cannot be taken for granted. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants, and small children are particularly vulnerable to B12 shortages. Ensuring adequate B12 is critical for normal neurological development and maintenance, with shortages resulting in permanent damage.”
Another concern: even if vitamin B12 is water-soluble, it does not go out of your body quickly like other water-soluble vitamins do. It is stored in your kidneys, liver, and other bodily tissues. As a result, vitamin B12 deficiency many not manifest until after a number of years.
Saturated fats, animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil, and vitamin A are other nutrients that a growing child may be missing out on with a strict vegan diet.
Know Your Nutritional Type, Too!
If you are currently following a vegetarian or vegan diet, it may be beneficial for you to add a number of animal-based proteins to your eating choices, like raw organic eggs and dairy. However, its sufficiency largely depends on your Nutritional Type, which determines the ratio of fats, carbohydrates, and protein you need.
Here are the three groups under Nutritional Typing:
1. Protein Type – High amounts of healthy fats and protein, lower amounts of vegetables
2. Carb Type – High amounts of vegetables, lower amounts of protein and fat
3. Mixed Type – somewhere between Protein and Carb Types
Your body needs some of each of these categories above, but individuals require different ratios of each. While some may thrive on large vegetable amounts and very little animal protein, this ratio would spell disaster for some people.
You fare worst on vegetarian and vegan diets if you are a natural Protein Type, as sticking to such diet deprives of your body’s essential fuel, as dictated by your genetic and biochemical makeup. Consider these facts for yourself and your family, and especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
About the Author
Mishka Thomas is a food and beverage blogger, favoring healthy, organic finds and restaurants found in his hometown in Los Angeles. He was diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency a year ago, and this forced him to reevaluate his dietary and lifestyle choices. He is currently living with his partner of five years and their daughter, Belle.