Being a vegan certainly isn’t easy. Just ask Bob Harper, veteran trainer from The Biggest Loser. Bob himself follows a vegan diet, and with his contestants often discovering they have obesity related diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol, it’s not hard to see why Bob pushes a diet that eliminates red meat, eggs and dairy.
The first concern that comes to my mind when I think of a vegan diet, however, is where the protein and calcium will come from. The substitutes for protein in meat, eggs and dairy in a vegan diet can come from legumes, nuts and beans. The calcium that normally could be obtained from milk and cheese would require a calcium and vitamin D supplement, but what about your conjugated linoleic acid?
Never heard of it? Most haven’t, but it is an important concern if you go vegan. Conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, are a group of fatty acids that are found in dairy products and red meat. Conjugated linoleic acid is a fatty acid that our body can not make on its own, so supplementation for vegans is essential.
CLA is believed to have cancer protecting properties particularly in colon and rectal cancer. CLA is also believed to reduce body fat deposits and increase lean muscle mass but, oddly enough, does not seem to affect body weight. A typical dosage of CLA is between 1.8 to 7 grams per day, but there appears to be no additional benefit of taking the supplement more than 3.4 grams per day. Side effects of CLA include diarrhea, nausea, and tiredness.
Pregnant women and diabetics are advised to avoid supplemental CLA as it is not proven safe in those expecting, and it may raise blood sugar in diabetics. CLA is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and can prevent plaque from filling your arteries.
Becoming a vegan is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Vegans-to-be need to educate themselves on what nutrients they may be missing by following their new eating plan and taking supplements to fill any gaps. A vegan lifestyle can be difficult to live by, but with the help of supplements vegans can focus on getting the most out of their food without sacrificing their ideals.
October 4th, 2011