Following a more balanced vegan diet is often associated with deficiencies of vitamin B12, iron and possible hormonal alterations.
Photo: Ella Olsson / Pexels
It is undeniable that vegan eating is going through a hot moment. However, this type of diet goes beyond a fad, it has been proven to be one of the best alternatives to enhance health, prevent diseases and live longer. It is also the most environmentally friendly trend. Although its list of benefits is long and it is a diet that significantly benefits physical, mental and emotional health, we cannot forget that it is a more restrictive type of diet. With this, it is normal to present some consequences and the main one is the risk of missing out on several key vitamins and minerals. In addition, in some cases you could experience weight gain, if you fall into the trap of eating processed vegan products, which are characterized by their high content of carbohydrates and calories.
Fortunately with the proper information and research, It is very possible to start the vegan lifestyle with success and without putting our health at risk. Based on this, we set out to select four of the most characteristic negative effects, without a doubt it will be useful to take them into account.
1. Increased risk of vitamin B12 deficiency
It is no surprise to say that one of the main side effects of following a vegan diet, is vitamin B12 deficiency. It is an essential nutrient for the body to have energy and even plays a role in the generation of DNA and red blood cells, it is essential to obtain it through food. What happens with strict vegan diets is that they avoid the consumption of dairy, fish and meat, which are one of the richest food sources in vitamin B12 All of animal origin! It is also worth mentioning that most foods of plant origin do not contain vitamin B12. Its deficiency deteriorates health and is related to an increased risk of neuritis, inflamed nerves that lie outside the spinal cord and brain. Among the main symptoms of this condition are: muscle weakness, throbbing pain and, in severe cases, paralysis of the affected area. The recommendation for follow a vegan diet and avoid this deficiency, is to consume vitamin B supplements.
Vitamin intake./Photo: Shutterstock
2. Increased risk of hormonal alterations
It is well known that vegans and vegetarians have to supplement the consumption of proteins of animal origin, although there are extraordinary plant alternatives: tofu is the most used option, especially as a substitute for red meat. Soy-based foods, such as edamames, tempeh, tofu, and unsweetened soy milk or yogurt, are minimally processed, which means they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. However, it is essential to be very careful with processed soy-based products, such as energy bars, protein powders, and sweetened soy milk and yogurt. The reason? They are often related to alterations in the hormones of the female body due to their high concentration of isoflavones (a type of plant estrogen, also known as phytoestrogens). The high doses of soy can cause infertility problems due to its strong anti-estrogen effects, however it is unlikely as it is necessary to consume large amounts for this to happen. Therefore, as long as you do not overdo it and base your diet on these types of products, there will be no big problem.
3. Increased likelihood of ingesting toxic metals
Those who follow a vegan diet consume more soy protein than those who identify as vegetarians or omnivores. While it is true that soy-based foods are nutritious, very rich in protein and a great ally of intestinal health; may contain a type of toxic heavy metal called cadmium. For more context: There is a study carried out in 2011, in which it was found that people who consumed tofu products showed higher cadmium concentration in urine samples compared to those who did not consume any. The important thing to know is that the health effects of cadmium are devastating, as it is very toxic to the kidneys and can cause kidney disease or weaken bones. A good alternative is to go for other sources of plant-based protein such as lentils, quinoa, beans, and oats.
4. Risk of iron deficiency
There are mixed opinions on the risks of iron deficiency in the vegan population. On the one hand, it is important to mention that several non-vegan foods are considered the best and most common sources of iron in the general population: eggs, fatty fish and red meat. However, bet on a well-thought-out vegan diet that is characterized by a good balance in iron-rich products of plant origin It’s the perfect solution! Include foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds, legumes, broccoli, tofu and soy products, and nuts. The key is to make sure you are getting enough of these foods on a regular basis. to keep iron levels in check.
Iron. / Photo: Shutterstock
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