Why Vegetarians & Vegans Should Supplement with DHA | Chris Kresser
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Why Vegetarians and Vegans Should Supplement with DHA

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DHA is a crucial nutrient for developing babies, children, and adults, yet there are no sources of DHA in vegetarian or vegan diets. Some advocates of vegetarian diets have claimed that vegans can get enough DHA by consuming plant-based forms of omega-3 like flaxseeds and walnuts. But is that really true? Read on to find out.

vegan dha supplement
Cold water fatty fish is a good source of DHA, a nutrient lacking in the vegetarian or vegan diet. istock.com/richcarey

A couple of weeks ago, Joe Rogan invited me to be a guest on his top-ranked podcast. Joe is a fantastic guy, a skilled interviewer, and knowledgeable about health and nutrition in his own right.

We covered a variety of topics, including Paleo and vegan vs vegetarian diets; Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Science; functional vs. conventional medicine; and the importance of lifestyle and behavior change.

One of the particular issues we discussed related to vegetarian and vegan diets was the importance of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA. I summarized research indicating that vegetarians, and particularly vegans, have lower levels of EPA and DHA than omnivores and that plant-based omega-3 fats like flaxseed and walnuts are not adequate sources of EPA and DHA in most cases. I argued that most vegetarians and vegans will need to supplement with preformed DHA—from microalgae, for example—in order to ensure adequate levels of these important fatty acids. I stand by this claim, and, as you’ll see below, the evidence clearly supports it.

What I got wrong on the show was that vegans need to take several capsules of microalgae supplements in order to meet their daily DHA needs. In fact, with most microalgae products on the market today, vegans can take one or two capsules a day to meet that need. I was basing the larger number of capsules on a higher target of DHA per day that I previously recommended, but I have since revised my view on based on new research suggesting potential harm from too much omega-3 fat. That’s an important difference, and I apologize for any confusion it may have caused.   

One final note before we dive in. As I said numerous times on the show, I am not arguing that it’s not possible to be healthy on a vegan diet. Spectacular athletes like Rich Roll demonstrate that it is. My argument is that 1) there is a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies on a vegan diet (including DHA, the subject of this article), especially without smart supplementation, and 2) there are numerous factors that determine whether one becomes nutrient deficient on a vegan diet, which explains the wide range of responses. If someone is going to commit to a vegan diet, these are the facts they need to be aware of in order to increase their chances of success.

DHA and Vegans in a Nutshell

This is going to be a long article filled with a lot of scientific references because I want to provide a comprehensive summary of what the research says on this topic. But I also want to make it accessible to people who aren’t scientists or healthcare professionals. I’m going to summarize the key takeaways right up front, and then I’ll go into further detail on each of them below.

Here’s the 30-second summary:

  • In all but one study I’ve seen, omnivores have the highest DHA levels, followed by vegetarians, followed by vegans.
  • Conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient: less than 5 to 10 percent for EPA and 2 to 5 percent for DHA.
  • Even those low numbers may be optimistic because most studies show that supplementing with plant-based forms of omega-3 (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) like flaxseed oil does not increase serum or breast milk levels of DHA.
  • The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inhibited by linoleic acid (plant-based omega-6), nutrient deficiency, genetics, health status, and sex. This may explain why ALA is a sufficient source of DHA for some vegetarians and vegans, but not for others.
  • DHA plays a crucial role in fetal and childhood brain development (affecting visual acuity, intelligence, problem solving, etc.), and a growing body of evidence shows that adults that consume higher amounts of DHA have lower risk of many diseases, including cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and other behavioral disorders.
  • Therefore most vegetarians and vegans should supplement with preformed DHA to ensure adequate levels of this crucial fatty acid.

Omnivores Have Higher Levels of DHA Than Vegetarians or Vegans

Numerous studies have shown that, on average, omnivores have higher levels of DHA than vegetarians and vegans, with vegans at the bottom of the scale. For example, one study in 196 meat-eating, 231 vegetarian, and 232 vegan men in the United Kingdom found the following EPA and DHA levels, by group (1; see Table 2):

EPA levels (mg/L):
Omnivores: 0.72
Vegetarians: 0.52
Vegans: 0.34

DHA levels (mg/L):
Omnivores: 1.69
Vegetarians: 1.16
Vegans: 0.7

Lest you think this effect is limited to white males in the UK, similar results have been found in studies of Austrian, Dutch, Australian, Finnish, Chinese, and US adults. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) The authors of the Austrian study noted that vegetarian diets promote “biochemical tissue decline” and that vegetarians and vegans “should supplement with preformed EPA and DHA, regardless of age and gender.” (2)

This leads to three conclusions:

  • There is less EPA and DHA in the typical vegetarian and vegan diet than in an omnivorous diet
  • Vegetarians and vegans are not converting ALA into EPA and DHA at a rate sufficient to match the serum DHA levels of omnivores
  • Vegetarians and vegans are either not supplementing with DHA at all, or they are not taking enough, since their blood levels are lower than those of omnivores

Why Do Vegetarians and Vegans Have Lower Levels of DHA Than Omnivores?

Now that we’ve established that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels, on average, of DHA than omnivores, let’s explore why this is the case. There are two primary reasons:

  1. Lower intake
  2. Reduced conversion

Lower intake

This one is quite simple: EPA and DHA are found almost exclusively in animal foods. Seafood and marine oils are the primary source, but pasture-raised meat and dairy products (and, to a lesser extent, conventionally raised meat and dairy) also contain modest amounts. The only significant source of preformed DHA in plant foods is microalgae (which is why most vegan DHA supplements are made from it). (9)

Reduced conversion

This one requires a bit more explanation, but it’s crucial to understand, so please bear with me.

A fatty acid is a chain of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms with a carboxyl group on one end. Fatty acids are classified on the basis of how many carbon atoms are in the chain, as well as how many double bonds exist within the molecule.

As you can see from the chart below, it is also possible for the body to synthesize EPA and DHA from the short-chain omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is found in plant foods such as flax, hemp, and pumpkin seeds and walnuts.

diagram-650-1

Adapted from Das UN. Biotechnol J. 2006 Apr;1(4):420-39

 

Looking at this chart, it’s easy to see why a vegetarian or vegan might assume that they can meet their DHA needs simply by consuming flaxseeds and walnuts.

However, research indicates that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient and extremely limited. Less than 5 to 10 percent of ALA gets converted to EPA, and less than 2 to 5 percent gets converted to DHA. (9)

Even these low conversion rates may be a best-case scenario, especially in the case of DHA. Why? Because ALA supplements have little effect on blood or breast milk DHA levels in adults, and although adding ALA to infant formula does raise DHA in babies, it doesn’t raise it to the level that babies get from consuming breast milk. (10)

This is hugely important because, as we’ll see below, DHA is an essential nutrient for fetal brain development, and low maternal DHA levels are associated with lower IQ and visual acuity and suboptimal brain development.

Another important point to understand is that a wide variety of factors—some of which are common in people following a vegetarian and vegan diet—may further inhibit the conversion of ALA to DHA. Studies have shown that the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inhibited by linoleic acid, nutrient deficiency, genetics, health status, and sex. (11, 12) Let’s look at each of these in turn.

Linoleic acid

Linoleic acid (LA) is a plant-based omega-6 fat, found in things like nuts and seeds, avocados, and industrial seed oils used in virtually all packaged, processed, and restaurant foods. Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans have a high intake of LA compared to ALA—an average ratio of 10:1—which would impair conversion of ALA to DHA. (2) In addition, a large proportion of dietary ALA is oxidized, and thus unavailable for conversion into DHA. (13)

Recent research suggests that the optimal conversion of ALA to DHA occurs at a ratio of LA to ALA of 1:1. (14) However, reducing LA intake that significantly is extremely difficult to achieve when following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Other studies have shown that a ratio of between 2 and 4:1 may still allow for adequate conversion, but note that this is still significantly lower than the average omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 10:1 for vegetarians and vegans. (2, 15)

Nutrient deficiency

If you look back at the chart above, which demonstrates the conversion pathways of essential fatty acids, you’ll see that there are several important enzymes in that pathway: delta-5-desaturase, elongase, and delta-6-desaturase. Like all enzymes, these require certain nutrients as cofactors in order to function properly. These include vitamins B3 and B6, vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, and zinc. (16, 17, 18, 19)

As I’ve written elsewhere, vegetarians and particularly vegans are at higher risk of deficiency of some of these nutrients—especially iron. Vegetarians and vegans have lower iron stores than omnivores, and vegetarian diets have been shown to reduce nonheme iron absorption by 70 percent and total iron absorption by 85 percent. (20, 21)

This suggests that deficiencies in vegetarians/vegans of nutrients that are required for optimal conversion of ALA to DHA may further explain why their levels of DHA are lower than omnivores.

Genetics

Delta-5- and delta-6-desaturases are encoded respectively by the FADS1 and FADS2 genes. Recent research has shown that different FADS1 and FADS2 genotypes are associated with significant differences in DHA levels. (24) This shouldn’t be surprising, since, as you now know, the delta-5- and delta-6-desaturases play an important role in the conversion of ALA to DHA. A variety of other genes have been shown to affect this conversion as well. (18)

Quite simply, this means that there are genetically determined individual differences that affect the rate of conversion of ALA to DHA. This could explain why some vegans are able to maintain higher levels of DHA without supplementation than are others.

Health status

Studies have shown that the delta-5 and delta-6 conversion enzymes don’t function as well in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, or certain metabolic disorders. (16, 18) Like genetics, differences in health status can influence individual conversion of ALA to DHA and may explain some of the variation observed in vegetarians and vegans.

Sex

Finally, it appears that young women convert significantly more ALA to DHA than young men. The most likely explanation is that this is nature’s way of ensuring adequate levels of DHA in pregnant and lactating women, which, as you will see below, is crucial to the health of the developing baby and child.

One study showed that women converted 21 percent of ALA to EPA and 9 percent to DHA, whereas men converted 8 percent of ALA to EPA and 0 percent for DHA. (25) Yes, you read that correctly: zero percent conversion in men. This led to an average conversion of ALA to DHA in men and women combined of 4.5 percent, but obviously that average doesn’t tell the whole story. This may explain why, anecdotally at least, men don’t do as well on vegan diets as women.

Why Is DHA so Important—and How Much Do We Need?

The importance of DHA in the diet has been widely covered in both the mainstream media and the scientific literature for the last two decades. DHA is an essential nutrient for fetal brain development, and low maternal DHA levels are associated with lower IQ and visual acuity and suboptimal brain development. (26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31)

Some studies argue that the lower DHA levels observed in vegetarians and vegans do not constitute overt deficiency and that evidence of harm is limited. Vegans have used this as an argument that DHA supplementation isn’t required.

However, a growing body of evidence suggests that even adult requirements for DHA may be higher than currently recognized and that adults who consume higher amounts of DHA have lower risk of cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and other behavioral disorders. (32, 33)

This shouldn’t be surprising, given that the RDA for each nutrient is the amount required to avoid deficiency symptoms—not the amount required to promote optimal health, which is often much higher than the RDA. There are numerous examples of where the RDA is likely insufficient for promoting optimal health—such as zinc, iron, and B12—and given the research above, DHA seems to be another.

But how much DHA do we need? Recommendations vary widely depending on the country and organization, ranging from 100 mg/d on the low end to 300 mg/d on the high end. Based on research linking DHA with all of the benefits mentioned above, a panel of experts at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommended a daily intake of EPA and DHA combined of 650 mg/d, with at least one-third of that amount (approx 215 mg/d) coming from DHA. (34)

In theory, with a conversion rate of 2 to 5 percent of ALA to DHA, this means vegans and vegetarians would need to consume between 4.3 and 10.8 grams of ALA per day to produce 215 mg/d of DHA, depending on where they fall in the conversion spectrum.

How does that compare to the average intake of ALA in the United States? According to a study of more than 14,000 men and women in the US, the intake of ALA is 0.97 g/d in vegetarians and 0.86 g/d in vegans. (35) This is obviously well below the range needed to produce 215 mg/d of DHA.

Some vegans have argued that even the higher dose of 10.8 grams of ALA per day is easily obtainable simply by taking a tablespoon of flaxseed oil. However, as I mentioned earlier in the article, most studies show that supplementing with ALA does not increase DHA levels in the serum or breast milk, so it seems that in many cases flaxseed oil will not solve the problem. (10, 36)

Given the high intake of LA and low or nonexistent intake of EPA and DHA in vegetarians and vegans, it wouldn’t be surprising to see low tissue levels of EPA and DHA in these populations. That’s exactly what research shows. For example, one study found that EPA levels of vegans were only 12 to 15 percent and DHA levels were 32 to 35 percent of those of omnivores. (37) Another study found that EPA levels in vegans were only 22 percent of those of omnivores, and DHA levels were 38 percent of those of omnivores. (38) Finally, and most concerning, a study found that vegan infants had less than 30 percent of the EPA and DHA of omnivorous infants. (39)

Conclusions

I started with the conclusions of the article in the introduction, but let me review them again here:

  • Vegetarians and vegans have lower levels of EPA and DHA than omnivores. This indicates that they aren’t getting enough ALA in their diet to produce sufficient DHA and that most vegetarians and vegans aren’t supplementing with preformed DHA.
  • The conversion of plant-based forms of omega-3 found in foods like flax seeds and walnuts into EPA and DHA is inefficient.
  • Supplementing with ALA  (e.g., flaxseed oil) does not adequately increase serum or breast milk levels of DHA.
  • DHA is crucial to human health during gestation, childhood, and adulthood.
  • Therefore, most vegetarians and vegans should supplement with preformed DHA to maintain optimal blood levels.

This is especially true for populations with higher DHA requirements, like pregnant and lactating mothers, and in those with poor conversion, like men, people with nutrient deficiencies, and people with chronic illness. As discussed in the article, ALA supplements like flaxseed oil aren’t sufficient in most cases, and supplementation with preformed DHA is necessary for maintaining optimal blood DHA levels.

The best option for those unwilling to consume seafood is a microalgae supplement. Algae is the base of the food chain for fish, and it is rich in DHA. (DHA can be retro-converted to EPA, so it is not necessary to supplement with EPA separately.) Most products on the market contain about 200 mg of DHA per capsule, so a dose of one to two capsules per day would suffice.

For those who are not vegetarian or vegan, however, the best option is to simply eat 12 to 16 ounces of cold-water fatty fish per week. This not only provides adequate amounts of preformed EPA and DHA, but it also provides highly bioavailable protein and other nutrients like selenium that are important to health. Although I’ve written extensively about why concerns about mercury in most fish species are overblown (here, here, and here) and why the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks, if you’re concerned, you can simply choose low-mercury species (which is what virtually all public health organizations recommend). And contrary to what some have claimed, dioxins and PCBs are not a significant health concern when it comes to seafood consumption.

I’ll close by recognizing that there are many reasons why people choose to go vegetarian or vegan. Some are compelled by the environmental impact of confinement animal feeding operations (CAFO). Others are guided by ethical concerns or religious reasons. I respect these reasons and appreciate anyone who thinks deeply about the social and spiritual impact of their food choices—even if my own exploration of these questions has led me to a different answer.

If you do choose a vegetarian or vegan diet for yourself and/or your children, understanding how to mitigate any possible adverse effects of that choice—in this case, suboptimal intake of DHA—will maximize your chances of success and minimize your chances of harm. I hope that this article serves that purpose.

220 Comments

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  1. Chris,

    A wise man once said that it’s so easy for propaganda to work and dissent to be mocked.

    Who says that Omega 3 fatty acids are even essential when sufficient Omega 6 fatty acids are consumed from raw whole foods?

    I’ve dried algae EPA/DHA supplements and my brain started to bleed. Says enough on the safety of Omega 3 supplements.

    I consume a plant only diet rich in Omega 6 fatty acids from whole foods with the magnesium; mainly from Hulled sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios and rarely hemp hearts or other seeds with a good amount of ALA. My brain functions faster and my cursive hand writing is elegant and precise compared to the sloppy and illegible hand writing of those who consume a lot more Omega 3 fatty acids.

    Everything isn’t as black and white as everyone keeps writing.

    • Dear Essere, it appears that you really don’t understand the “omega-3/omega-6 fats” controversy, judging by your comment. We are not dealing here with “propaganda” NOT in the USA!
      May I suggest you look-up Dr. Mark Hyman (a US specialist on FATS) who has published several books on this topic and states the following:
      “Increased consummption of omega-6 oil, which are highly inflammatory to the body and unstable, has subsequentlly increased inflammatory diseases. Over-consumption of omega-6 and unter-consumption of omega-3 fats increases numerous health issues including CVD, type 2 diabetes, obesity, pre-diabetes, IBS, arthritis, astma, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Thats because omega-6 fats fuel your body’s inflammatory pathways and counteract the benefits and availability of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, creating even more diseases.”

      Dr. Hyman is talking about vegetable oils like soybean, sufflower, canola oils…but, you can gather your own info re. these and his recommended oils on: drhyman.com

      In fact, he states “consuming too many omega-6 fats also increases mental illness, suicide & homocide, studies show a connection to mental illness with inflammation in the brain.”

      You mentioned you had a STROKE from consuming too many omega-3 oils? They can be blood-thinning…but it depends on the QUANTITY of your intake. – Anything over or under-consumed can be detrimental to your health…even water!

      • Re-read my comment and your comment.

        ““Increased consumption of omega-6 *****OIL******, which are highly inflammatory to the body and unstable, has subsequently increased inflammatory diseases.”

        I don’t consume OILs.

        Fatty acids don’t cause inflammation. When fatty acids become oxidized from oxidizing agents such as oxygen or air pollution, they turn into lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxides found in vegetable oils cause inflammation and so does air pollution and many other toxins.

        I’ve never stated that I consume oils. I consume FRESH RAW WHOLE PLANT FOODS and take my time chewing my food.

        I tried taking 1 of the following capsules of Omega 3 supplement daily:

        EPA: 300mg, DHA: 500mg
        Total Omega-3: 835mg

        Definitely not a lot of Omega 3’s.

        NON-OXIDIZED Omega 6 fatty acids from fresh raw plant foods are superior and in time everyone will understand that we need non-oxidized Omega 6 fatty acids to repair our cells and prevent degeneration. Gingivitis is a sign of Omega 6 fatty acids deficiency since Omega 6 fatty acids are required to initiate the inflammatory response therefore our immune system can repair the damage caused by the toxins of the present messed up society.

    • Recommended to grind them before eating.

      Once ground they should be stored in refrigerator to stay fresh and not go rancid.

  2. I am glad you mentioned:

    Why do vegetarians and vegans have lower levels of DHA than omnivores?

    Lower intake
    Reduced conversion

    Increasing intake has already been discussed: Nori seaweed does have EPA (see package direction, needs to be run over burner, turning green, before eaten) rather than just ALA, but ALA is rich in chia, flax, hemp, walnuts,

    And also found winter squash, whole soy, black lentils, cauliflower.

    AND… because omega-3’s compete with omega-6 for use in body, definitely eliminate all omega-6 oils, and prefer omega-3 rich nuts like walnuts, vs. cashew, and others high in omega-6’s.

  3. I am experiencing voice suppression of my very respectful and appropriate, but contrary views in your other vegetarian article comments section.

    An article written directly to someone like me, veganish thinking going 100 percent, is vegan for me or should I think twice? as your article title states.

    This happening amongst Americans who have a deep reverence and constitutional right to free speech is both sad and bothersome to me.

    Chris, if you do read most of the comments on your blog, is this what you want a blog, with your name on it, to represent? Respectful Contrary view voice suppression, right here in America in year 2016? I am hoping it is not.

    • D aka antonymous, how about a view on diets and an argument against veganism being contrary maximum health rather than a worry of having your views suppressed? Are you that feeble a character to worry about being confronted in a debate when a blog is exactly that, a debate with arguments for or against. Give me some science, some relevance to read instead of a sob story please. Vegans and veggies I hope you don’t keep pets and if you do, that you don’t try to turn them into herbivores as that is evil

      • What happened is I was trying to post in another section, and the moderators were not posting my comments- suppressing my voice, by either not posting or significantly delaying posting my comments.

        I do not think you would like not having what you posted, appropriate and respectful, but contrary comments, being delayed or disgarded, rather than being posted quickly for others to read.

  4. Well planned whole plant-based diets, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, omega 3 rich seeds, some seaweed, and B-12 including vegan are nutritionally complete (algal sups, may be a good idea for vegans, vegetarians (no fish) and definitely pregnant women in a SAFE dose) This diet pattern avoids many negative excesses: sodium, saturated fat, cholesterol (recently shown to “feed”/proliferate breast cancer cells, heme-iron, carnitine, choline, natural growth hormones, exogenous estrogen and other hormones…

    And no other diet seems able to compete with the 65+ grams of fiber including prebiotic fiber, such as resistant starch etc. and total antioxidants and other beneficial phytonutrients from whole plant foods as this one.

    One study, not sure how well done, and to be fair was a low study number 40+ people found significant reductions in thiamin, riboflavin, and calcium in a diet eliminating whole grains, dairy and legumes, but not limiting fruit.

    http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/8/5/314/htm

    If going low carb, and minimizing fruit, significant reductions in total potassium, magnesium, fiber and vitamin C is also likely.

    • 4 month study only so hard to back up? Not sure why fruit is relevant here when vegetables Trump them, no pun intended! They have more fibre vitamin’s and minerals than fruits. Legumes are carbs and reaching ketosis will be difficult with them featuring heavily in diet but you are staying on a glycemic system I guess

  5. For plant-based eaters, including vegan and vegetarians. This is one of the best articles from a vegan RD on omega-3’s.
    See link: http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/omega3

    It is important, particularly for pregnant women and lactating mothers to get enough DHA in their diet, including omnivore mothers. Natalie Portman changed her diet a bit to accommodate pregnancy and lactation. With algal DHA, it is easy to get without eating fish, and B-12 supplementation is critical, also. Talk to your doctor about dosage.

    Also, in addition to algal supplement, foods eaten by cultures thriving with very low intake of animal products may be a wise addition and include soaked chia seeds, copious greens, and winter squashes. Also, fermented whole organic soy like tofu, and a little seaweed. These foodshave omega-3’s and many other nutrients that likely help your body more efficiently convert, but will still be a small conversion, so.. think about taking out any junk, including the excess omega 6 fats in oils and peanut butter, and add plenty of foods listed and talk to doctor about dosing of algal supplement.

    But one caveat to Chris. Some things, though very likely does not apply to DHA, are actually better in lower amounts. Cannot always assume different/lower is bad. For example, lower, not excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol and heme iron in tissue (not iron in blood) is a good thing, found in plant based eaters, though once considered, not good in comparison to high levels in eaters of Western diets.

    • Just wanted to add, some new information, for me at least.

      Nori seaweed (used in sushi), which has more modest amounts of iodine, than other seaweeds, does have EPA. Though researchers, need more study in the area of omega-3’s, it may be sensible to assume that EPA would have much better, more efficient conversion to DHA than the ALA (alpha linoleic acid) in flax and chia.

      So, plant based dieters should be encouraged to eat a bit of Nori, rather than other excessively high iodine seaweeds, on a regular basis to POTENTIALLY raise DHA levels. Algal supplements can be used but, under supervision and approval of doctor. Algal supplements can thin blood too much and cause aberrant bleeding and easy bruising, you can get too much omega-3’s.

      Besides homemade sushi, I like to put just a few flakes in a stir fry, vegetable soup or miso soup.

  6. Hi Chris, thank you for all your work. Is there a particular brand of supplemental DHA you would recommend?

  7. Chris Kresser is extremely poor at logic.

    (A) In all but one study I’ve seen, omnivores have the highest DHA levels, followed by vegetarians, followed by vegans.

    so what?

    (B) Conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient: less than 5 to 10 percent for EPA and 2 to 5 percent for DHA.

    it’s not INEFFICIENT! it is what it is, just like the efficiency of a gas engine. the fact that it is “LOW” percentage wise does not imply something is wrong, or that people will be deficient.

    (C) DHA plays a crucial role in fetal and childhood brain development

    so what? that’s what breast milk is for

    conclusion?

    Therefore most vegetarians and vegans should supplement with preformed DHA to ensure adequate levels of this crucial fatty acid.

    what a bunch of garbage.

    the conclusion does not follow from the statements.

    • Our bodies are not gas engines my friend…
      low levels of DHA from vegetarian and vegan diets have been extensively demonstrated to be detrimental.
      And I sincerely hope that your brain haven’t stopped its development at the end of breastfeeding…
      Chris wrote an extensive article about ALL the shortcomings of vegetarians and vegan diets. DHA is only one aspect.
      Eme-iron, zinc, taurin, carnitine, B12, etc. are some of the others…
      the point is always the same here.
      you vegans are free and respected for your choice from my standpoint.
      I have vegan friends who say: “it’s my choice” and I respect it. They don’t push craps as fascist truth. Otoh the sectarian extremist fringe of veganism preachers of a biblic truth are just patetic

      • Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
        You pretend to have respect for vegans and vegetarians, but 99% of your ubiquitous diatribe reflects exactly the opposite.

        • I just don’t have respect for bogus arguments to justify fascist campaigns toward meat eating when the evidence clearly shows all the other way around.
          I have huge respect for people who make their own choices without having to justify them with bogus biased claims.
          I apologize if my point has been misunderstood.
          If you are fine with a vegan diet good for you, but don’t try to sell it as the healthy and sustainable way, because it’s not the case

          • I am a vegetarian and perfectly happy with my diet thank you.
            I’m not selling anything to anyone, especially dubious supplements.

          • Sorry, but it is sustainable for the 100+ year old vegans from Loma Linda, CA, and, yes, they take a B-12 supplement. But you do too, at least, second hand.

            95% of farm production animals get B-12 supplemented in their grains/feed to pass B-12, to consumers. Their water and other means of B-12 extraction is gone due to our chlorinated treated water, and lack of dirty grass they used to be eating, a similar B-12 dilemma for modern day humans and primate relatives living in the zoo.

            Vegan cows, pigs, sheep, chimps, and humans are all taking B-12 supplements; this is all good. B-12 is important!

      • The only things vegans need to supplement with are B12, Iodine, DHA and vitamin D. What’s funny is most people who eat meat also need to supplement with B12, DHA and Vitamin D. Some vegan women need to supplement with iron, but so do some omnivores. From cleveland clinic, to pritikin, to Harvard Med, to WHO, a vegan died is the Healthiest diet on planet earth. all your opinions and blogs won’t change peer reviewed science.

        • Great post. It is so true. Omnivores are just as likely to need extra vitamin D and, if over 50, definitely B-12. Salt became iodized in America, because omnivores had low iodine levels in the Goiter belt! Many omnivores in the studies, not looking only at the averages, also had low DHA levels so you are spot on!

          Wish they would do routine DHA testing for plant-based eaters, so we could now how well we are converting, and whether fudging omega ratios is the key to increased conversion or what level of supplementation would be ideal.

        • Also, wanted to mention, that there is an opportunity for EPA in vegan diet, with modest rather than excessive levels of iodine- Nori seaweed, the type used to make sushi. Though research needs to be done, I believe, it is sensible that EPA from Nori seaweed would be more efficiently converted to DHA than ALA, and may be a great way for vegans and vegetarians to increase DHA levels.

          I put a couple Nori seaweed flakes in my miso, stir fry and veggie soup. Just follow package directions and cut off a bit with kitchen shears. It’s faster than homemade sushi and cheaper than always buying sushi at store.

      • Just for clarity, respectfully want to point out more is not always better.

        You said, ” Eme-iron, zinc, taurin, carnitine… etc. are some of the others…”

        Stating it is bad/unwanted for vegans/vegetarians to have these in less amounts. Cannot speak definitively for zinc, does not appear to be a problem, however, heme-iron and carnitine have been shown to have profound negative effects in excess.

        Carnitine, beyond what your body makes, ingested from food produces TMAO in gut which acts as a pro-oxidant and catalyst in atherosclerosis. A good article for those interested:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650111/

        Heme iron accumulation has been associated with a number of debilitating Western diseases including Alzheimers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Some of the ill effects of too much iron, such as diabetes risk, have been known for decades in those with hemochromatosis, disease with loading excess heme iron.

        http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-study-suggests-that-iron-247864

        http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/minerals/article/good-and-bad-iron

      • Want to respectfully point out that more is not always better.

        You said, heme-iron, taurine, carnitine as things better in larger amounts. But these in excess have significant negative effects in Western diseases including Alzheimers, atherosclerosis and diabetes.

        Excess carnitine, more than body produces, hits the gut and creates TMAO which acts as pro-oxidant and catalyst to atherosclerosis. Great article for those interested:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3650111/

        Diabetes and cognitive risks of iron overload have been know for decades with persons with iron overload disorder, hemochromatosis and now, UCLA found iron overload as a key player in Alzheimer’s.

        http://www.berkeleywellness.com/supplements/minerals/article/good-and-bad-iron

      • B-12 is given to animals so you can get it too. Please do not shame plant-based eaters because they need to take B-12, you are getting a synthetic version via animal consumption, also.

        Carnitine and choline are not something that you want a lot of. Carnitine that you need is made by your body; it is not considered an essential nutrient. Choline and carnitine both create TMAO when they hit your gut, which is known to accelerate atherosclerosis, and recent study suggests, not good for kidneys either.

        https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/2015/02/gut-flora-dependent-tmao-new-studies-extend-its-reach-beyond-the-arteries-to-the-heart-and-kidneys/

        Besides the high levels of carnitine and choline in meat and eggs, the saturated fats will increase LDL-C, which are the building blocks of atherosclerotic plaque.

        Heme iron overload (too much heme iron) has demonstrated to increase risk of diabetes, particularly in post menopausal women.

        From article: women who consume too much heme iron (the kind found in animal foods) have as much as a 28% increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This research, published last year, is based on a study of over 85,000 middle-aged women over a 20-year time frame. Another study from 2004 showed similar results: About 33,000 healthy women with high iron stores followed for 10 years had a significant increase in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. (taken from Diabetes Self-Mananagemnt, 2007, March by Amy Campbell)

        This article is addressed to vegans and vegetarians; that’s why the plant-based eaters are here.

        • Deanna, I hate when tricky words like “excess” are used. Of course “excess” of anything is not good. Your eliminating meat and that is suboptimal for most.

          I know you mean well. but most long-term vegans appear clearly malnourished, and or pale complected. Even the experts.

          Not being rude it’s just a fact, were all just looking for a middle ground here. 84% of people return to meat. It’s a fact. Go look at that study too.

  8. Matthew Legge at atpscience.com claims the following:

    Turmeric helps to efficiently convert dietary omega 3 oil linolenic acid into the active DHA, resulting in elevated levels of DHA available! Fish oil is famous because it naturally contains DHA and vegetable sources of omega 3 are often less efficient because they have to convert linoleic acid to DHA; well turmeric enhances this conversion and makes dietary oils work better.

    http://atpscience.com/turmeric/

    I didn’t see any reference to studies to back up the claim but it sounds interesting.

  9. Hi there. I wanted to comment on your appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast. First off, thank you for providing useful information on possible nutritional deficiencies among vegans and vegetarians. It seems to me after weighing all the nutritional information, that it does not take much for a vegan to be nutritionally complete and healthy. All it takes is a balanced diet and some supplementation, all of which is readily available in this day and age. So I am curious why you mentioned that you needed to bring animal foods back into your diet for health, while in the same breath acknowledging that it is possible to be very healthy without consuming animal products? It sounds like you defeated your own statement.

    Another thing I wanted to mention. I heard you and Joe make some defensive and comments about vegans questioning eating meat. So eating meat has had an evolutionary place in humanity. Understandable. But now we’re here. Evolution would also say that we have a biological drive to reproduce. Many people choose not to. We are highly conscious beings. We have the power to decide which way we want to take a step. We are not bound by instinct and habit, but they make for common excuses for behavior. Veganism is not about you or me. It’s not about having a diet. It’s not about an image. It’s about saving the world. Billions and billions and billions of animals from land and sea are enslaved beyond their worst nightmares to feed humans’ picky appetites. Meanwhile, animal agriculture shits in our rivers into our oceans creating dead zones. Rainforests are dying at 1-2 acres per second. 91% of Amazon rainforest deforestation is because of animal agriculture. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I want to make it very clear that your claim to have sympathy and reasonable conclusion to eat animal products, makes NO actual change in the world. Speaking the word sympathy does not save any animals, or any trees, or any oceans. The world does not need more sympathy. The world needs more vegans. If you have really studied buddhism and meditation, you would know that any need for defensiveness and roundabout reasoning comes from the ego. If you really have practiced buddhism, look deeply into your own actions and intentions. That will tell you why you eat dead sentient beings. Take yourself out of the equation for a moment and take a look at the big picture. Nobody granted us the power or the right to enslave the world, we assumed that power. Every moment we have a choice. So don’t tell me about why yours is reasonable. Actions speak for themselves.

    And if anyone wants to mention that killing plants is wrong or that plants feel pain.. Tell me, since when did you care about plants? Humans have to eat. We all understand this. Can’t we eat the things that don’t have emotions and central nervous systems?

    • Actually, Chris is not convinced in any way about veganism.
      He’s just polite and since he runs a clinic where he also have vegan clients, he is just respectful of any choice and he tries to provide the best solution for anyone irrespective of their path.
      I was disappointed at first but then I understood that he has to do it to be balanced and over the parts due to his practice.
      I respect any choice either, but don’t sell that being vegan is environmental friendly neither toward yourself and the other animal.
      it breaks the natural chain and you’ll pay the bill at the end.
      grazing ruminants can restore the ecosystem and biodiversity, while agriculture is destroying the planet. That’s the apparent fact that can’t be denied. If you want to be vegan good for you anyway, it’s your choice but don’t sell it as the best choice otherwise people will bite back

      • I do NOT think it breaks the natural chain to be 95-100 percent plant based.
        Beyond America, Canada, Europe and Australia, humans have been very plant based. Many of these diets are 95-100 percent plant based, a few spots with insects being the main animal sourced foods.

        Because humans cook, and have amylase genes to produce amylase enzyme in saliva …nutritionally it is proven, you can get the nutrients you get in animal sourced foods, from cooked plant foods, with b12, and D fortification, also done in animal foods.

        Beans, tubers, whole grains, seeds and sea vegetables can replace most or all animal sourced foods.

        Hopefully, research will provide clear answers on DHA and conversion soon! So, those not eating fish, can make best decisions. Algal sups for pregnant and nursing Moms seems essential and wise, for both omnivore and plant based.

        Most people are eating domesticated v. Wild animals, so there really is no natural chain here. We can produce as much as we want, and I think this is part of the reason human health and health of planet have declined so rapidly.

        Additionally, anthropologists recognize humans and primates are actaually pretty low on chain. Many believe we were more scavengers in some areas and more insect or very small game (lizard, small bird) opportunists/hunters. We are much closer to chimps, orangutans and gorillas than lions. They are all very plant- based, close to 100 percent.

    • With all due respect, I have to disagree that vegans are going to save the world. The world will be here long after humans have destroyed it or it hits the reset button and destroys us. I don’t disagree with the fact that we are certainly screwing things up based on the need to feel and give shelter to the globe on a scale that has never been seen before, (factor in capitalism and greed on top of that, and that’s where things really get weird and complicated).

      Unfortunately there’s a price for all of this. If 7 billion people were to become vegans, we’d have a different set of food shortage problems, and also an unprecedented animal control problem. (I’m a vegan by the way). This discussion could go on for years with varying degrees of opinions. I don’t disagree that commercial fishing and factory farming are a huge problem. The only solution to this is for everyone to grow and\or hunt your own. Right now, I do neither, so I have to make a change myself and am just as much a part of the problem as anyone else. However, just speaking about 300+ million people in a capitalistic United States, how is everyone going to find time to grow their own garden and hunt their own meat while maintaining a 40 hour work week?

      I also know the whole argument of “there’s enough land to grow everything to feed everyone on the planet instead of feeding animals that we then eat”. The problem is that you would still have to do that commercially, which means a whole host of other problems. (Pesticides and a lack of enough crop farmers, just to scratch the surface of how to accomplish this.)

      As I’ve heard “someone” say before, and I agree, “Life Eats Life”.

      You mentioned at the bottom of your post: “And if anyone wants to mention that killing plants is wrong or that plants feel pain.. Tell me, since when did you care about plants? Humans have to eat. We all understand this. Can’t we eat the things that don’t have emotions and central nervous systems?”

      You said it yourself “Humans have to eat” That is most certainly correct…..and wee have to eat life. Again with all due respect, who are you to say that it can’t be anything with “emotions or a central nervous system” This stance is where things get very weird to distinguish what is edible and what is not. Also, when insinuations are made about vegans saving the world, IMO, that’s precisely the attitude and viewpoint as to why people sterotypically think vegans are pompous assholes.

      I don’t disagree with many of your other points amount how animals are treated to do these things commercially, but how are you going to change it? We have no idea of the long term evolutionary effects of synthetic supplementation in place of nutritionally dense, natural foods. Perhaps that is a path that would lead us to a different type of human experience\existance, I have no idea. However, there’s no denying that the consumption of meat is what got us to the point of where I’m typing this on a computer and sending it out over the air and others are reading my thoughts…..crazy!

      At the end of the day, to each his\her own. If you want to eat meat, eat it. If you want to be a vegan and supplement, do it. If you have the means to be a savage and hunt wild game, grow your own garden and plan for the apocalypse, DO THAT SH&T!

        • Actually, Tim’s comment is by far the greatest here out of hundreds and it’s very well balanced. This is the persons that I respect irrespective of their choices. He’s right when he says that if we go on reasoning with the old paradigma, whether we are paleo, vegans or something else, we’ll go nowere. As Einstein used to say, it’s not possible to solve a problem if you think in the same way that generated it. Until production economy will be our God, we’ll suffer and go on with destroying our health and our planet. It takes to change. Really.
          You see that most of you Vegans are distespectful extremists that directly go even against your fellows that don’t agree at 100%.
          You are like Geova preachers that rely on fake evidence or anedoctal fables. You can go around with claiming that you are a healthy superathlete, but none of us can verify if you are actually healthy, actually vegan or actually natural drug free. In this regard, I wouldn’t trust even in Paleo people that go out with these claims. It takes much more than fables and tales. It takes to complete a puzzle made of archeological and antropological evidence, comparative physiology, RCTs etc… that together make sense for the biological plausibility toward causation. If we just take one of these piece alone and try to sell a Bible, we are not reliable.

        • I’m really astonished at the idea: “you are not vegan because you don’t think like me, i.e follow the sectary dogma. Do you have rituals and sacrifice meat eaters?
          So far, I still haven’t heard such hostility among the paleo community, though there’s still a lot of debate.
          however, it’s useful because it perfectly enlights the sectary extremist organization of most vegans.

      • Hey, thank you for the reply. I wanted to clear a few things up. I did say that being vegan is about saving the world. It’s about being a part of saving the world. Its about taking it upon yourself to align your actions with common sense, peace, and your heart. I understand that being vegan alone is not going to save the world of all its problems, but I didn’t claim that. It’s funny how far down a tangent this discussion often strays. All the sudden were talking about problems that don’t exist yet. Right now, billions of animals are suffering. What’s my solution? Not eating animals. Whatever anyone predicts might happen if everyone stopped eating animals, is something to be dealt with quite a bit further down the road. I’m talking about whats happening right now, and what actions are helping the world right now. And yes, corporate business models and GMO’s are very important problems as well, but really, it’s not the main problem that being vegan is fighting. But somehow it always ends up as a way to discredit vegan actions.

        About plants, I am not telling people what they should or should not eat, what I’m saying is that we do not have to eat animals. It’s not required. We decided that we deserve to eat meat at the expense of another conscious beings’ birthrights. If you wanna play complete objectivity, if you believe that eating flesh is no worse than eating plants, why don’t we just start cooking humans then? We’re the ones so heavily overpopulating this planet. Were the ones fucking everything up. I’ll tell you why, because deep down, something feels off when we see another “blood relative” suffering or dying. We convince ourselves otherwise and are deeply conditioned feel indifferent. But that deep intution is there. Just look at the difference in treatment between pets and wild animals. The only differences are emotional attachment and emotional distance. If we spent time with cows and pigs, we would see that they are conscious beings with personalities and emotions, just like us.

        Look, animals are desperate for our help. They’re literally screaming. Lets cut all the bullshit and at least see that clearly.

      • Like the open mind to allowing people to make their own food choices and tolerance of diverse eating.

        My view, is I just wish kids, adults, everyone would have a better grasp of the positive and negative consequences of their food choices for personal health and the health of the environment.

        Knowing how wonderful greens are for are health (though too low in calories to be staples), why are we not growing them hydroponically and vertically everywhere- offices, schools, restaurant, they are so beautiful.

        And, many crops like sweet potatoes, peas, beans etc.. can be grown with so little space, fertilizer and pesticides and create a caloric and nutritionally rich option. Why are we not producing these en masse.

        When people know better, they do better. I just feel too many industries, are interfering with the massing knowing better and, thus, doing better.

  10. Hi Chris – I listen to Joe’s Podcast regularly. It’s such an entertaining, enlightening resource for me, (and I’m sure for millions of others). Anyway, your Podcast, was the first that I actually stopped to take notes on. I need to go back and do the same on the Dr. Rhonda Patrick podcasts. Such a wealth of scientific information from you two regarding diet and biochemistry.

    I’m currently a vegan, (2 years now), and was a vegetarian for 7 years previous to that.

    Like you and Joe covered, there are too many variables for me to take any kind of stand on ethical eating. I’m just looking to get the most nutritional value out of my diet that optimizes my body to its’ full potential.

    I’m actually considering introducing meat back into my diet, specifically fish to start so that I can get the good brain benefits of B12 and everything else that comes with it. I’m okay with supplementing and think it’s important, but my mindset has shifted a bit to the thought of if I can get it from food, why supplement unless I’m still lacking specific nutrients.

    However, I would like to consider having a full blood lipid profile done just to see where my current diet has me at.

    My “normal” food day consists of:

    Upon Awakening: Kombucha

    Breakfast: Coffee with 2 TBSP Coconut Butter, (no sugar)

    Mid-Morning: Roasted\Salted Pumpkin Seeds

    Late-Morning: Smoothie (Greens, Coconut Milk, Water, Various Fruits, Hemp Seeds, Flax or Chia Seeds, Goji Berries or Maca Powder (no sugar)

    Early Afternoon: Raw Veggies, (Carrots, Celery, Peppers, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Cucumber, with Guacamole and\or Baba Ganouj or Hummus)

    Mid-Afternoon: Unsalted Mixed Nuts, (Walnuts, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios & Pine Nuts)

    Late Afternoon: Tea

    Dinner: Obviously this varies, but I gravitate toward some protein and vegetables, and try to incorporate something fermented (I.E. Tofu with Kim-chi or Bubbies Pickles)

    From here, I usually do intermittent fasting for about 13 to 15 hours.

    I take a B12 and Vitamin D3 supplement daily\weekly

    I feel like my diet is pretty decent. However some of my concerns are that I’m lacking something but don’t really know it and it may show up later. Some of these vegan\vegetarian foods in stores are just as processed as anything else and I’m thinking are probably not good for you. (Examples would be Tofu, Tofurky Dogs, Veggie Burgers, etc.). I buy mostly organic foods, but again, I’m gravitating toward wanting to get back to the most nutrient dense, least processed diet. I feel like I’m on a good path, but I’m always looking to improve and optimize.

    Any thoughts on the blood lipid profile or anything else for that matter?

    I’m not one of those overly sensitive vegans or folks who lose their mind when you critique their diet. I welcome it.

    Thanks for all the great information you give and for any insight you might provide here.

    • sounds like good stuff tim! I would TRY and introduce your fasting into your daily eating routine as practised by dominic d’agostino . I have been trying for a few months to eat like this, a big breakfast and a big dinner in this modified ketogenic diet. If I have to, I have a fatty snack for lunch, maybe (macadamias, eggs, fish +veg) to get me through, alongside a ketone supplement. I am able to get through the day without hunger if I eat enough for breakfast and I work outdoors heavy lifting and burn thousands of calories. Eating low carb high fat is expensive and needs organisation for sure but the simplicity of not having to snack with multiple meals is welcome for me. Breakfast is tricky, waking up earlier to give time to build an apetite. I have not looked at my blood since this effort but it feels logical eating like this, not putting stress on the system by eating often and I am enjoying the integrity and quality of this diet. Not missing the carbs too badly although there is some craving still. I am working hard on gut health, more mushrooms, lots of organic vegetables (large part of diet), and this turmeric sauerkraut they sell at the market which is a fixture in the fridge. My weekly diet will include; avocados,macadamias,chicken livers/hearts,organic beef steaks/chicken,mackerel,mussels,oysters,sourdough bread(in moderation),organic cheese,plenty organic salad and vegetables,sauerkraut,biodynamic eggs (3 per day min),lots of butter,avocado oil,hemp oil,mct oil. The best part of the podcast for me was reminder to eat organ meat more, just like the predators do, its so logical. If I can cram in more goodness into a smaller and compact meal, its feels beneficial. good luck with life

    • The best vegan resource, in my opinion, is Becoming Vegan written by long term vegans, and dietitians Brenda Davis and Ginny Messina. Very comprehensive. Check it out on Amazon

  11. Great information I have read in this article, I was trying to search some information about the importance of DHA in our body I found this article which proved helpful for me.
    Thank you for sharing such a great information.

  12. Wow! I love this information. Nutrient depletion in my vegan customers is always a concern of mine. I will link this to my customers for sure. In addition, I have had significant improvement in my patients that add the fats, A,D,E,K and DHA in mood disorders ie, depressive mood, major depression and even improvement in my ADHD patients with adequate DHA intake. Again, love the info and keep up the great work. I am very happy to have found you.

    • Despite having significantly lower intakes of EPA and DHA (from fish or fish oil), blood levels of EPA and DHA in vegans and vegetarians were approximately the same as regular fish eaters.

      The results indicate that the bodies of vegetarians and other non-fish-eaters can respond to a lack of dietary omega-3 EPA and DHA by increasing their ability to make them from omega-3 ALA.

      And as they said, “The implications of this study are that, if conversion of plant-based sources of n-3 PUFAs were … sufficient to maintain health, it could have significant consequences for public health …” (Welch AA et al. 2010).

    • Actually industry have little interest on advising animal food in a cereal grains based economy.
      This is the main reason why meat is continuously demonized, also because grain fed cows compete with humans for that junk to eat.
      Veganism is a perfect way to induce people to eat more grains.
      Indeed, ironically, vegans end up with eating far less vegetables than paleo dieters because of the grain-legumes based diet.

      • As a vegetarian, my diet is virtually all vegetables, so I don’t fit into your assumptions, neither do millions of others.

      • Beans and whole grains are less calorie dense than meat. So using these for protein, gives you more calories for vegetables, seeds etc…

      • Beans and whole grains are less calorie dense than meat. Getting protein from these gives more calorie budget for vegetables, seeds etc..

  13. Would adding bivalves to an otherwise vegan diet aid in avoiding having to supplement with DHA? If so, are there easy (ha-ha) ways or guidelines to know how they are sourced or brands/companies that can be trusted more than others? For example, buying frozen X versus fresh X.

    Thanks!

  14. I am mostly raw vegan for 7 years. Been through a super healthy pregnancy with no EPA DHA supplementation. Breastfeeding our 2.5 year old, who is super smart and developing well – height, weight, milestones. Actually even ahead of her age. It’s important to not consume too much Omega 6, which can negatively affect ALA to EPA and DHA conversion. I know hundreds of vegans who don’t supplement with Omegas and are thriving. Why do we need to have DHA similar to meat eaters anyway?

    • @Yulia. You make a good point. Maybe it is time they developed a different set of standards when testing vegetarians/vegans. About blood count – how is it that so many vegetarians feel good, look good, etc., yet are told their blood is “too low”?

      It is not a simple issue of what we eat, but of what we are able to digest and assimilate. It can get pretty complicated.

  15. I would like to know the difference of these two terms : vegetarians and vegans……thank you. And thank you very much for all the diet-knowledge you are sharing with your followers…God bless you…

      • This is correct. Vegans don’t eat any animal byproducts. This also would rule out any products that contain whey, casein, gelatin, cochineal, etc. There is quite a long list of foods/ingredients that are not compatible with a vegan diet.

        And if you want to get more complicated, ‘ethical vegans’ do not buy items that use animal products such as wool or animal hair, nor do they buy products that aren’t cruelty-free.

  16. One important point left out here is biological need.

    Maybe vegans just require less DHA?

    I can definitely see the need for smart supplementation in some cases – but we shouldn’t be working towards one rda for everyone. For example, we know that althetes need more water, electrolytes and calories – why shouldn’t this viewpoint extend to all nutrients and all lifestyle choices?

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