Plant-Based Diets May Cause Depression, New Research Claims—But There’s Good News, Too
Going vegetarian or vegan may ward off diabetes and heart disease, but these diets could have a little-known dark side. Here’s how to stay healthy if you’re not ready to give up your veggie lifestyle.
Adding B12 to your diet
Not only can skimping on B12 potentially lead to depression, Jennifer Bowers, PhD, RD, says it can also lead to anemia, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues.
To ensure you get enough of this vital nutrient to your diet, you should regularly eat foods fortified with the nutrient, pop a daily supplement, or even do both. Since B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, your body will simply excrete what it doesn’t need.
Shop smart—use this list:
Garden of Life Vitamin B12 Whole Food Vegan Supplement
A single capsule provides more than 100 times the daily recommended intake of B12
Kashi Heart To Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal
A ¾-cup serving of this delicious, fortified cereal provides 100% of the day’s B12—for just 120 calories. Enjoy a bowl with a milk alternative (like almond, soy, or cashew milk) or mix it with some raw nuts and a tablespoon of raisins to make a trail mix.
Organic Edensoy Extra
Fortified with B12, calcium, and vitamin D, this creamy milk alternative makes the perfect addition to coffees, smoothies, oatmeal, and cereal. You can even use it to make salad dressings and soups.
Increasing your intake of omega-3s
Sure, things like walnuts and chia seeds contain omega-3 fat, but they contain a different type of omega-3 than salmon and tuna. While fatty fish and other things from the sea, like algae, contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), nuts and seeds contain something called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Since sources of ALA are abundant and, not to mention, 100% vegan-friendly, many plant-based dieters rely on ALA as their sole source of omega-3s—which is a mistake. Yes, the body converts it to DHA and EPA (the two fats that help ward off depression), but it’s a flawed process. Less than 5% of ALA consumed will convert to DHA, according to a Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care report. To ensure you’re giving your body what it needs, we suggest taking an algae-based DHA-EPA supplement, and adding ALA rich foods to your diet as “extra credit.”
Deva Nutrition Deva Vegan DHA-EPA Delayed Release
The algae used in this supplement is grown outside of the ocean, which means the capsules are free of common ocean-borne contaminants like cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
La Tourangelle, Roasted Walnut Oil
This oil has a low smoke point so keep it away from the oven and stove. Instead, whisk together 1/4 cup walnut oil, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt, to create a delicious salad dressing that’s packed with ALA.
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