Our diets form the cornerstone of our health, and make all the difference between just trudging through life and thriving. If you are thinking about shifting to a raw foods lifestyle, or have already made the quantum leap to this vibrant colorful world of living foods, you probably feel like a superhero.
But if you don’t, and you have already gotten past the detox phase, then it may be that your body is not getting all the nutrition it needs. And even if you do feel amazing, deficiencies can still creep in over time, so it’s best to be aware of the potential holes in a raw vegan diet before they become a problem. Some nutrients need to come from supplements, and others can come from particular foods.
Shouldn’t All Necessary Nutrients Come from a Balanced Diet?
In a perfect world, all of our nutritional needs would be met by eating a wholesome diet full of fresh vegetables and fruit, with some sprouted nuts, seeds, and legumes to round it out. But today’s world is not always ideal, and some times we need to take drastic measures to find balance.
Even when we eat with the best of intentions, it is hard for modern soil to keep up with our needs. Topsoil has been stripped of its vitamin and mineral content. A study in the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology from 2009 showed that contemporary vegetables do not supply nutrients in the quantity our bodies need – especially if we are living in a fast-paced stress whirlwind.
The Full Package: Making a Raw Food Superhero
These are the little guys that are the most challenging to get from a raw foods diet. Supplementing with these three nutrients is recommended to keep your full superhero powers activated.
Vitamin D is responsible for maintaining bone density and supporting the immune system. It has also been linked with dental health and certain forms of cancer. Insufficient vitamin D levels have been linked to heart disease and increased mortality.
Vitamin D is hard to obtain from food sources for omnivores and raw vegans alike. New studies indicate that supplementing with1000 iu of vitamin D per day can build up the necessary levels in the blood stream.
Check the label of your vitamin D supplement to be sure it comes from vegan sources. Most D3 supplements are not vegan, but D2 is not absorbed as efficiently. There are raw vegan D3 sources available.
B12 is essential for proper functioning of the nervous system, and to produce DNA, red blood cells, and nerves.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to fatigue, numbness (neuropathy) depression, memory loss, blood disease, loss of the ability to taste or smell, and many other neurological disorders. (source)
Supplement with methylcobalamin to save your body from having to convert cyanocobalamin. Sub-lingual B12 seems to be the most easily absorbed, though you can also get powdered B12 capsules, open the capsules into a little water, and hold that water under your tongue until it is absorbed.
Algae Oil for Essential Fatty Acids EPA and DHA
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) perform countless vital functions, including reducing inflammation, balancing the “good” and “bad” cholesterol levels, providing the structure of cellular membranes, and allowing communication between cells. Omega-3s also play important roles in mental health, heart health, and immunity.
It is possible to get some omega-3s from eating flax and chia seeds, but the type of EFAs in those seeds (ALA) has to be converted to the crucial EPAs and DHAs. Flax and chia alone may be insufficient to get all the EFAs we need.
A poor omega balance, with more omega-6s (plant oils like sesame, sunflower, corn, and soy) than omega-3s is one of the major contributors to the inflammation epidemics our industrialized nations are experiencing now. In particular, deficiencies of the omega-3 EPA has been linked with heart disease, cancer, neurological disorders, and autoimmune disorders.
According to the Hippocrates Institute, algae are the most efficient source of EPAs and DHAs. High DHA/EPA algae oil supplements are a vegan and sustainable source for these vital nutrients.
Eat Your Way to Health
We can get adequate amounts of some nutrients from a balanced raw diet that includes the foods mentioned with each nutrient:
* Calcium – Essential for bone and blood health, calcium is found in leafy greens, sprouted legumes, figs, soaked almonds, oranges, sea veggies, and sesame seeds.
* Selenium – This more obscure mineral that is essential for the metabolism and reproductive system can be found in Brazil nuts. Just one large Brazil nut per day provides all the Selenium you need.
* Iodine – Iodine is important for the thyroid gland, and contributes to mental and physical developmental disabilities. If you choose not to use iodized table salt, you can get plenty of iodine from a tablespoon of kelp, dulse, and other sea vegetables.
* Iron – Iron is essential for proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. It is found in sprouted lentils, sprouted beans, sprouted quinoa, soaked pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pine nuts, Swiss chard, and collard greens. Iron absorption is increased when it is consumed with vitamin C, so squeeze some lemon juice on your sprouts or have strawberries with your seeds.