photo by Andy*Matthews
Like any lifestyle, veganism requires some research in order to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition. If you’re feeling a little off, it might be time to do a nutrient check. Are you feeling tired and devoid of energy? Feeling a little down? Kinda blah? Are you having a hard time concentrating? Sometimes all it takes is some adjustments to your vitamin levels to get you back on track.
Omega 3 is an important fatty acid that can easily be lacking in a vegan diet. It’s very important for retinal and brain function. Low levels of Omega 3 are linked to depression. Most meat-eaters get their Omega 3s through fish or fish oil supplements. Vegans can get it through algae, hemp, walnuts, walnut oil, flax, soybean, canola oils or veggie supplements like Deva Vegan: Deva Vegan Vitamins Dha, Algae, 200 mg.
Folate (B9) deficiency can also be linked to depression. Luckily, vegans can easily amp up their folate through fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. Some sources of folate are: asparagus, leafy greens, beans, sunflower seeds, oranges, strawberries, melons, and whole wheat. If you are experiencing diarrhea, loss of apetite, weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability, forgetfulness, or behavioral disorders, you may want to get some more folate. And really, all the B vitamins are important for your well-being so getting a B complex supplement is not a bad idea.
Magnesium is needed for serotonin production. Stress can cause magnesium depletion, which can lead to feelings of depression. This is another easy one for vegans to replace through food. Good sources include legumes, nuts, whole grains and green vegetables.
Potassium deficiency can cause mood swings, low blood pressure, fatigue, muscle weakness, muscle pain, and irregular heartbeat. Go here to check out all the sources for potassium. Should be pretty easy for you to find something on that list you’re willing to swallow.
Vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle and bone weakness and pain, chronic fatigue, depression, and a wide array of other ailments. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of health problems. It can be a common deficiency in plant-based diets, since many people get vitamin D through dairy and fish. No worries though. 10 minutes of sunlight each day and perhaps a supplement and you’re good to go. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D through just food anyway. Sunlight is your best medicine. And while you’re outside enjoying the sun, go for a walk, bike ride, jog, or what have you. Exercise also helps with the blues.
Iron deficiency can make you feel sluggish, weak, and depressed. It can also tamper with mental function. Leafy greens and whole grains are the cure. Eat up! And, feel free to have a supplement on hand, if you’d like.
Iodine deficiency can cause fatigue, depression, weight gain, irritability, cold intolerance, and decreased concentration. It is important to get 100-300mg per day. Buy some iodized salt or iodized sea salt. I buy this kind: Hain Sea Salt-Iodized 26 oz. A quarter teaspoon a day is all you need. Baked potatoes, bread, kelp, navy beans, sea vegetables and strawberries also contain iodine.
Additional sources: http://www.iherb.com/productdetails.aspx?c=1&pid=142626534831935813&utm_source=gb&utm_medium=f, http://altmedicine.about.com/od/healthconditionsatod/a/Depression1.htm, http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5553.html, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp, http://www.oralchelation.com/ingred/VitaminD1.htm, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Can_a_vegan_diet_cause_depression, http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/nutrition/nutrition_for_everyone/iron_deficiency/index.htm, VegNews|May+June 2009