Complications of Vegetarian And Vegan Diet

Low on oil?

Vegetarians and vegans are at risk of having a low intake of essential fatty acids. Omega-3 oils found in oily fish are vital for a healthy brain and nervous system function and are also required during pregnancy and throughout breastfeeding. They are needed for cardiovascular protection, hormone production and promoting healthy hair, skin and nails.

The main vegetarian and vegan source of omega-3 essential fatty acids is flax oil – preferably oil that has not been subjected to heat or light. Flax oil is ideal drizzled over brown rice, baked potatoes or incorporated into a salad dressing.

Poor protein power

Unless careful attention is paid to protein combining in daily meal planning and cooking for both vegetarian and vegan diets, it is very easy to become protein deficient. Protein is an important component of bones, muscles, connective tissues, organs, hair, skin and nails. Proteins are also utilized to generate enzymes, hormones, immune cells and chemical messengers that influence biochemical reactions and body processes. Protein deficiency can be expressed in many different forms including weak muscles, poor bone strength, poor hair, skin and nail condition, frequent infections and poor immunity.

Amino acids

Amino acids are also strongly involved in brain chemistry as they are used to form the brain chemicals dopamine, adrenalin, noradrenalin and serotonin. These neurotransmitters are responsible for generating your feelings, emotions, mood and sleep. Poor dietary intake of amino acids such as tryptophan, leads to imbalances between neurotransmitters. Symptoms include anxiety, nervousness, depression paranoia, mania, and insomnia. It is often this lack of amino acids that is often involved in the progression of some eating disorders, as a low intake of food can exacerbate body dysmorphia and anxiety over food intake.

A word about Dairy

As a vegetarian it is very easy to develop an over reliance on dairy produce such as cheese and yoghurt as your main source of protein. However we believe that variety in the diet is of paramount importance.
Remember to get your protein from all food groups, whilst rotating your dairy intake. You can choose from cows, sheep’s or goat’s milk products or perhaps soya instead. However there seems to be a perception that all soya products are healthy, and whilst they make a good protein choice, many soya products, especially are all too often packed with sugar and flavorings which do not match the healthy aura that soya products have. This may have more significance for vegans who will obviously be avoiding all animal products and thus perhaps more reliant on soya products. There are many benefits to be gained by choosing to follow a vegetarian and vegan diet, but it does not require only commitment but also education and variety.


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