Many of the questions that come to me via email, this blog and through social media are ones that I’ve answered somewhere at one time or another—in my books, in blog posts or in other articles online.
Sometimes the information that people need is spread out across several resources, though, and I thought it might be helpful to consolidate it all into one place with a series of nutrition primers. My goal is to share information in response to the most frequent questions I receive, and to do so as concisely as possible, while still covering everything you need to know. So, it’s less information that you’ll find in my books, but more than what you might find in blog posts.
The first one is on vitamin B12 and it addresses, among other things, the reasons for recommending cyanocobalamin.
My plans for future primers (hopefully in the next few months) include:
- Omega-3 Fats
- Iron and Zinc
- Supplements for vegans
If there are others you would like to see, let me know in the comments below.
And please take a look at Vitamin B12: A Primer for Vegans
Looking forward to this series. Question I would like to see addresses.
I went 100% vegan last September because of heart disease; my cardiologist said I was a massive heart attack waiting to happen and my chance of surviving would have been almost zero. Obviously, that got my attention.
I’ve followed the dietary recommendations of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Cleveland Clinic, which is 100% vegan. He and Dr. Dean Ornish are against any added oil in the diet. I have read that some oil is needed to assimilate some nutrients. My question is what you think of his prohibition of any added oil?
Great plans, thank you!
I’d love to see a focus on Vitamin E, which I find to be the most difficult nutrient to get unless I’m really going crazy on very specific foods (almonds, sunflower seeds).
This is a fantastic idea, Ginny! I’m sure it will be very beneficial for new vegans. And maybe even some experienced vegans too.
In reference to Steve’s question about Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, I’ve never understood his prohibiton of ALL oil. I can understand telling heart disease patients or people at an increased risk of heart disease to remove all oil from their diet, but people in general? It doesn’t make sense to extrapolate what seems to work for the heart disease patients he’s worked with over the years to the general population.
Now I am not an expert, but Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Ornish seem to be behind the times. Low-fat diets aren’t as beneficial for heart health as previously thought. Study after study shows that the type of fat is more important than total fat. Olive oil in particular appears to be particularly heart healthy because it is monounsaturated and it has some protective phytochemicals. In spite of this, Esselstyn and his followers recommend prohibiting even olive oil. They ignore the growing body of evidence of how healthful the Mediterranean diet is, which usually includes generous amounts of olive oil. Increasingly, I’m seeing vegans sharing “olive oil is bad for you” on social media.
This doesn’t mean it is okay to overdo it with olive oil, just that it can be part of a healthful diet, unless your doctor recommends otherwise because you are at high risk of heart disease or recovering from it.
Eric: To my knowledge(I’m not a nutritionist) vitamin E deficiency is almost non-existent in the developed world, and it is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means the body can store it in its fatty tissue. It occurs plentifully in nuts, and many oils. Except in some extreme medical cases, hardly anyone(vegan or non-vegan) needs to supplement with vitamin E, or even be concerned about it.
I might be in a unique situation 🙂 I don’t have a colon, and have a history of Crohn’s disease, so nuts aren’t high on the list of foods that I eat – and I tend to stay away from most oils (I DO use oils, just not in therapeutic doses).
I’m concerned about Vit E because when I track my intake on Cron-o-meter, it’s always low, despite hitting all other nutrients. I’m just worried that I’ll run short eventually.
I’m with you on the oil. I even think that the doctors mentioned above and others might even be unduly strict with those suffering from heart disease.
But that’s just a suspicion. The problem as I see it is that there have been no studies comparing a low fat (<10% calories fat) vegan diet with a moderate fat (25% to 35%) vegan diet. My feeling is that the results for those with heart disease might be similar.
Personally, I have tried and loath a no oil, low fat diet the likes of which Esselstyn et al suggest.
Incidentally, I use olive oil/canola oil in my cooking and enjoy soy 'meats' and nuts, avocados etc, and I've never felt healthier. Blood work suggests same. But that could be because I've been vegan 25 years and started when I was a young man.
Could be I've got lucky genes. But that's all irrelevant, I never became vegan for health reasons.
Hi. Thank you for this concise reference you will be building.
I try my best to cook and eat whole food, plant based but to get my husband onboard I have to offer some of the meat alternatives. As more and more soy-based items enter the market I was wondering if you could give some information on the latest studies of just how healthy soy is, the best way to consume it, and what to look for.
Looking forward to all your articles.
I think you should do one or more primers about the foods that people think need to be avoided, but shouldn’t be avoided for most people. Oil is one of them, but there’s also soy and several others!
Seconding this! Would love to see more of these sorts of posts from you, Ginny.
I love that you’re doing this series and am really glad I’ll have ONE place to point people! =D
I just ready your B-12 primer – very helpful. I am vegan, and recently started taking a B-12 supplement (cyanocobalamin), but it has 2500 mcg. Since you say to take 100 mcg twice a week, would it be sufficient to take my 2500 mcg supplement only once per week, or is that not enough? Thank you!
2,500mcg B12 once a week is fine. At least according to Dr. Michael Greger at http://nutritionfacts.org/2011/09/12/dr-gregers-2011-optimum-nutrition-recommendations/
Ever since going vegan, I have been struggling with dry skin. I get dandruff in my hair, beard, and even my eyebrows sometimes! Is there anything dietary I can do differently to help with this?
That’s terrible, I feel for you! I had no idea. Disregard what I said, that was just general advice. Just listen to your doctor.
hello im new to your blog but so far I have been loving your posts! I just would like to see more on low creatinine levels in vegans and if that is something to be concerned about especially if your a vegan lifting weights to gain muscle mass. Okay thank you!