Leading a healthy lifestyle, be it vegetarian or vegan, comes with ovation and criticism. We’ve all experienced those pesky meat-eater questions, especially the ones pertaining to protein intake. Out of nowhere people become nutritionists and are concerned for your protein intake safety. Well, I am here to debunk the false-hearted, who may need to hear that “I told you so” when it comes to plant-based proteins and nutrients.
Proteins & Amino Acids
Proteins and amino acids are essential in aiding in the growth and strength of the body from the inside out, including muscle and bone strength, along with boosting the immune and nervous systems. Amino acids come in a variety of 22 different types with only 9 being essential; leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and histidine. Of the many food options high in protein and aminos, the top choice plant sources are hemp, chia and sesame seeds.
All protein and aminos aside, there are other vital sources of nutrients that are essential like healthy sources of fat, which come to us by way of Omega-3’s. There are 3 categories of Omegas; EPA, ALA, DHA. The least crucial of the 3 is ALA—our bodies don’t naturally produce them, but we can find them in many foods like hemp, chia and flax seeds, and oils. The 2 crucial Omegas are EPA and DHA, which are both found in fish and seaweed. EPA is used to reduce inflammation, blood pressure and cholesterol, while DHA is categorized as a component of gray matter found in the brain, retina, cell membrane and the testis and sperm; which makes it also useful in preventing and treating prostate cancer.
After protein intake, B-12 is another heightened topic of discussion. It is a vital nutrient that comes from micro-organisms and synthesizes and regulates the brain, nervous system, and metabolizes cellular function by converting carbohydrates into glucose that naturally energizes the body. You will hear people mention manmade supplements as an option, however natural sources come from spirulina, non-dairy milk, and fortified grains like hemp, quinoa, and amaranth.
Vitamin D2 & D3
When it comes to the discussion about Vitamin D intake, there is a debate between D3 and D2. Neither D3 nor D2 are biologically active within us and only become active through ingestion or absorbed through the skin. Of the two D2 is the healthiest option, unlike D3, which is derived from animals and manmade supplements; D2 can easily be obtained through foods like mushrooms, non-dairy milks, fortified grains, and UV rays of the sun.
The most important thing to consider when choosing any nutrients, whether they’re proteins, aminos, omegas or vitamins, is to use natural food-based options before resulting to manmade supplements. Perineal plant-based sources like hemp and chia are considered two of the greatest sources of proteins because they contain nutrients similar to those found in the body. Both hemp and chia contain the protein, amino acids, omega-3’s, B12, Vitamin D & K, along with calcium, iron and zinc, making them the greatest sources to implement in a vegan, vegetarian lifestyle.