Vegetarian/Vegan Diet

Fact: only 20% of Americans eat at least the recommended 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. In it’s statement of position on the vegetarian diet [13], the American Dietetic Association states:

  • “Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for several chronic degenerative diseases and conditions, including obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and some types of cancer. Vegetarian diets, like all diets, need to be planned appropriately to be nutritionally adequate.”
  • “It is the position of The American Dietetic Association (ADA) that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, are nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

The Safety of a Vegan Diet

Many contemplating conversion to a vegan diet (one completely free of animal products) are concerned about its viability and safety, particularly for children. Given the many health benefits of such a diet, does the evidence show that vegan diets do indeed meet nutritional needs? The answer is clearly yes. According to the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on vegetarian diets [1] “Appropriately planned vegan and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets satisfy nutrient needs of infants, children, and adolescents and promote normal growth.

In one study, pediatric developmental tests in vegetarian children indicated mental age advanced over a year beyond chronological age, and mean IQ was well above average (with an average of 116 points), providing reassurance that brain development is normal.[2] Questions about the adequacy of plant-based diets were raised by Dagnelie [3] and Dwyer [4] who observed poor growth in children following a strict macrobiotic diet. The feeding practices of macrobiotic families can vary greatly from those of vegan families. Some very strict macrobiotic diets may lack adequate calories due to fat restrictions, and these diets have been modified more recently to permit the inclusion of somewhat more fat, such as is found in seeds and nuts.[5]

Most parents find it easy to plan a vegan diet that is adequate in protein, calories, vitamins and minerals. Following a vegan diet has been made easier in recent years since vegetarian products fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 are available in most food stores: vegetarian hot dogs, burgers, fortified soy and rice milks, vegetarian deli slices, and other meat analogs are readily available. Calorie, protein, and all other nutrient needs can be easily met by a vegan diet, supplemented with vitamin B12.

  • Calcium Some of the best vegan sources are fortified soy or rice milk, fortified cranberry, orange, or apple juice, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, broccoli, blackstrap molasses, tofu processed with calcium sulfate, and tempeh. Calcium absorption from these foods has been shown to be excellent.[6]
  • Vitamin D Vitamin D is normally produced within the body after sunlight exposure to the skin. If children do not get regular sun exposure or live in northern areas, fortified foods and supplements (such as any common multivitamin) are available.
  • Protein A diet drawn from varied plant sources easily satisfies protein requirements, providing all essential amino acids, even without intentional combining or “protein complementing” as long as calorie intake is also adequate. Good protein sources include cooked beans, tofu, soy yogurt, tempeh, seitan, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. “Soy protein has been shown to be nutritionally equivalent in protein value to proteins of animal origin and, thus, can serve as the sole source of protein intake if desired.” [13]
  • Calories Concern has been expressed that the increased bulk provided by certain foods in the vegan diet will cause a child to feel full before he has consumed enough calories. Including some refined grain products and peeled, cooked vegetables can reduce the bulkiness of meals. Nuts and seed butters, avocados, dried fruits, and added fats (e.g., vegetable oils) can provide additional concentrated calories without bulk.
  • Vitamin B12 Produced by microorganisms in the small intestines of humans and animals, vitamin B12 made by humans is not well absorbed and retained. Plant foods contain little of this nutrient. However, it can be easily obtained from vitamin B12 fortified breakfast cereals and soymilk, nutritional yeast, B12 fortified meat analogs, or any common multivitamin. When reading labels, look for the words “cyanocobalamin” or “cobalamin” in the ingredient list. These are the most absorbable forms of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in irreversible nerve deterioration.
  • Iron Diets consisting of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, and nuts provide adequate iron.[7-12] Consuming foods rich in vitamin C, such as orange juice, with iron-rich foods enhances the absorption of iron. Some foods are naturally rich in both iron and vitamin C, such as broccoli, Swiss chard, and other dark green leafy vegetables. Other good iron sources include iron-fortified cereals, enriched bread, pasta, rice, soybeans, chickpeas, and blackstrap molasses. Dairy products are extremely low in iron and may interfere with iron balance, especially in very small children.
  • Zinc Good sources include legumes, nuts, and zinc fortified breakfast cereals.

References:

  1. Messina VK, Burke KI. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Am Diet Assoc 1997;97:1317-1321
  2. Dwyer JT, Miller LG, Arduino NL, et al. Mental age and I.Q. of predominately vegetarian children. J Am Dietetic Assoc 1980;76:142-7
  3. Dagneli PC, van Staveren WA, Vergote FJVRA, et al. Nutritional status of infants aged 4 to 18 months on macrobiotic diets and matched omnivorous control infants: a population-based mixed-longitudinal study. II. Growth and psychomotor development. Eur J Clin Nutr 1989;43:325-38
  4. Dwyer JF, Andrew EM, Berkey C, Valadian I, Reed RB. Growth in “new” vegetarian preschool children using the Jenss-Bayley curve fitting technique. Am J Clin Nutr 1983;37:815-27
  5. Kushi M, Kushi A. Macrobiotic Child Care and Family Health. Tokyo, Japan: Japan Publications; 1986
  6. Weaver CM, Plawecki KL. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(suppl):1238S-41S
  7. Munoz JM. Fiber and diabetes. Diabetes Care 1984;7:297-300
  8. Crane MG, Sample CJ. Regression of diabetic neuropathy on total vegetarian (vegan) diet. J Nutr Med 1995, in press
  9. Roy MS, Stables G, Collier B, Roy A, Bou E. Nutritional factors in diabetics with and without retinopathy. Am J Clin Nutr 1989; 50:728-30
  10. Schirmer BD, Dix J. Cost effectiveness of laparoscopic cholecystectomy. J Laparoendoscopic Surg 1992;2:145-50
  11. McIntyre RC, Zoeter MA, Weil KC, Cohen MM. A comparison of outcome and cost of open vs. laparoscopic cholecystectomy. J Laparoscopic Surg 1992;2:143-50
  12. Pixley F, Wilson D, McPherson K, Mann J. Effect of vegetarianism on development of gallstones in women. Br Med J 1985;291:11-2
  13. ADA Position Statement, J Am Diet Assoc. 1997;97: pp.1317-1321

 


Vegetarian/Vegan Diet can help with the following

Aging  

Parkinson's Disease / Risk

Diets high in vitamin C and beta-carotene provide significant protection against Parkinson’s disease. American researchers have concluded that a high intake of animal fats is associated with a five-fold increase risk.



 

Cataracts / Risk

In a study of nurses who ate spinach or other leafy greens at least 5 times a week, it was found they had a 47-65% lower risk of cataracts.



Allergy  

Allergic Rhinitis / Hay Fever

Many of the diet and lifestyle changes recommended against allergies are a natural consequence of adhering to a more animal-free lifestyle: avoiding saturated fats (meats and dairy products), eggs, shellfish; consuming fresh fruits and vegetables (be careful of citrus in particular though), whole grains, nuts, seeds, and fresh juices; using synthetic materials such as acrylic instead of animal products such as wool.



Autoimmune  

Lupus, SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythromatosis) / Risk

Animal-based proteins (beef and milk) seem to be the prime offenders in aggravating the symptoms of Lupus. However, certain plant-based proteins appear also to be. These include soy beans, corn, spinach and carrots. [Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 1982;17: pp.417-24]

Alfalfa sprouts and legumes, to a lesser extent, should also be avoided as the constituent L-canavanine causes SLE-like diseases in primates. [Acta Medica Scandinavica 1984;216: pp. 67-274] Peas and lima beans are alright to eat in this regard.

lupus flare-ups have also been reported after the ingestion of large amounts of foods containing psoralens (celery, celery salt, parsnips and figs).



 

Multiple Sclerosis / Risk

A vegan/vegetarian diet satisfies several of the requirements set out in the Swank Diet for Multiple Sclerosis. When the disease is treated early in its course, dietary measures can provide dramatic improvement. The dietary regimens which contain the most pro-inflammatory food types (e.g. gluten, dairy, saturated fat) and the least anti-inflammatory nutrients ( vitamin D, omega 3 fats) occur in areas in which MS and other autoimmune diseases are most common.



 

Autoimmune Tendency

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. reports that for the benefits of a fast to be maintained, a vegan diet is required. Switching to a vegan diet before the water fast sometimes improves patients’ symptoms.



Circulation  

Increased Risk of Stroke

A low incidence of cerebrovascular disease was associated with geographical regions where fresh fruit and vegetable consumption (increased potassium) was high. [Low fruits and vegetables, high-meat diet increase cerebrovascular event risk. Medical Tribune March 10, 1997:26]



 

Varicose Veins

Constipation is one of the leading causes of varicose veins, although it may initially be hard to see the connection. Constipation may restrict the blood as it returns to the torso through the deep veins in the legs. Straining to have a bowel movement closes off these veins. As the blood backs up it takes another course through superficial veins, thus the blue streaks in the legs. A diet low in fat and high in fiber is best for promoting regularity: reorganize your diet to include plenty of low-fat foods, grains, fresh fruit and vegetables. A diet tending towards vegan/raw-food generally satisfies all these requirements; vegetarians should watch their fat intake.



 


 


Diet  


 


Digestion  

Constipation

A vegetarian diet is generally higher in fiber than non-vegetarian diets. Constipation amongst those on vegan and raw-food diets is extremely rare.



Environment / Toxicity  

Fungus / Mycotoxin Exposure

Cottonseed is typically found in the oil form (cottonseed oil), but is also used in the grain form for many animal foods. Many studies show that cottonseed is highly and frequently contaminated with mycotoxins.



Hormones  

Histadelia (Histamine High)

Nutritionists recommend a low-protein, high complex carbohydrate diet. Histidine, which is more common in animal proteins, should be avoided as it can be converted into histamine.



Immunity  

Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia Syndrome

See the link between Chronic Fatigue / Fibromyalgia and Raw Food Diet.



Lab Values  

Elevated Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol levels are much lower in vegetarians.[1-4] Vegetarian diets reduce serum cholesterol levels to a much greater degree than is achieved with the National Cholesterol Education Program Step Two diet.[5-8] In one study published in The Lancet [7] total cholesterol in those following a vegetarian diet for 12 months decreased by 24.3%.



Metabolic  


 

Problem Caused By Being Overweight

Obesity is a major contributor to many serious illnesses, and is much less common among vegetarians, compared to the general population. Vegetarians are, on average, about 10% leaner then omnivores.



 


 

Headaches, Migraine/Tension

When migraine and tension headache patients are placed on low-protein, natural plant-based diets, with no refined sweets of any type, they often recover within a month.



 

Gilbert's Syndrome

Chemicals that tax Phase II liver detoxification pathways tend to be found in higher concentrations in animal products than in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.



 


 


Musculo-Skeletal  

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers in one study found that participants who ate the greatest number of servings of cooked vegetables were about 75% less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those who reported eating the fewest servings. [American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: November 1999;70: pp.1077-1082]

“… 43 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, those assigned to a vegan diet… had improvement in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.” [British J Rheumatology, 36(1) 1997]

Another study found that of 22 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who completed 9 months of a vegan diet that did not contain any dairy products or gluten, 40% noted an improvement in symptoms compared with minimal improvement in rheumatoid arthritic patients who consumed a non vegan diet. [Rheumatolozy 2001;40: pp.1175-1179]

Rheumatoid arthritis patients consumed either the typical Western diet or an antiinflammatory diet, which was a modified lactovegetarian diet for an 8-month period. Patients in both groups received either placebo or an oil which provided 30mg of total fish oil omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) per kg of body weight. Those on the antiinflammatory diet compared with the Western diet experienced a reduction in tender and swollen joints by 14% during the placebo treatment while during the fish oil supplementation, the antiinflammatory diet compared with the Western diet had a reduction in the number of tender joints at 28% versus 11%, respectively, and swollen joints at 34% versus 22%, respectively. [Rheumatol Int. 2003;23:27-36]



 

Gout / Hyperuricemia

Preferably no meat should be eaten as it is rich in uric acid forming components. Raw fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts are highly recommended.



 

Osteoporosis / Risk

Calcium loss is reduced with a vegetarian type diet.

A study published in the January, 2001 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the diets of 1,035 women, particularly focusing on the protein intake from animal and vegetable products. Deborah Sellmeyer, M.D., found that animal protein increases bone loss. In her study, women with a high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio experienced an increased rate of femoral neck bone loss. A high animal-to-vegetable protein ratio was also associated with an increased risk of hip fracture. Dr. Sellmeyer states: “Sulfur-containing amino acids in protein-containing foods are metabolized to sulfuric acid. Animal foods provide predominantly acid precursors. Acidosis stimulates osteoclastic activity and inhibits osteoblast activity.”

A 1994 report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when volunteers are switched from a typical American diet to a diet eliminating animal proteins, calcium losses were reduced to less than half of baseline values. [Remer T, Manz F. Estimation of the renal net acid excretion by adults consuming diets containing variable amounts of protein. Am Clin Nutr 1994;59:1356-61]

Higher consumption of fruits, vegetables and cereals was associated with greater femoral bone mineral density (in men) in a study of 907 older adults. [Am J Clin Nutr 2002;76(1): pp.245-252]



 

Dupuytren's Contracture

The most favorable diet is a totally vegetarian (vegan) diet – no meat, milk, eggs, or cheese.



Organ Health  

Kidney Failure

A low protein diet is important in reducing the processing responsibilities of compromised kidneys.



 

Diabetes Type II

One study found that 21 of 23 patients on oral medications and 13 of 17 patients on insulin were able to get off of their medications after 26 days on a near-vegetarian diet and exercise program.[Am J Clin Nutr 1990; 51(3): pp.416-20] During two- and three-year follow-ups, most diabetics treated with this regimen have retained their gains. [Diabetes Care 1983;6(3):268-73] The dietary changes are simple, but profound, and they work. Low-fat, vegetarian diets are ideal for diabetics.



 

Gallbladder Disease

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, it was shown that vegetarian women had a much lower incidence of gallstones than non-vegetarian women. Of the 632 vegetarians, overall occurrence of gallstones was 25%. Vegetarians had only half as many gallstone problems, with 12% being found to have gallstones.



 

Cirrhosis of the Liver

Protein intake should be between about 60 – 120gm a day in patients with hepatitis C, unless a complication of cirrhosis known as encephalopathy occurs. Encephalopathy is an altered mental status. The exact cause is not fully understood and is probably multifactorial. It has been shown that restriction of the diet of animal protein and maintaining a total vegetarian diet, helps reverse this condition and improve mental capacity.

Obtain your protein by combining grains, raw nuts, raw seeds, sprouts and legumes and use of a quality whey protein powder. The cirrhotic liver cannot handle large amounts of concentrated protein and for this reason minimize, or even better, avoid the consumption of red meat and poultry. If you eat too much animal protein, ammonia levels will build up in the blood stream causing mental fatigue and confusion.



 

Kidney Stones (Urolithiasis)

Sixty men with recurrent kidney stones who were on a low animal protein and low salt diet were compared with 60 men who were on a low calcium diet. It was found during a 5 year followup that only 12 out of 60 men on the low animal protein, low salt diet had a recurrence of kidney stones while 23 of 60 men on the low calcium diet had a recurrence. [NEJM January 10, 2002;346(2): pp. 77-84]



Respiratory  

Asthma

A long-term trial of a vegan diet (elimination of all animal products) provided significant improvement in 92% of the 25 patients who completed the study. Drinking water was limited to spring water (chlorinated tap water was prohibited), and coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar and salt were excluded. [Journal of Asthma 1985; 22:44, p.13]



Risks  

Increased Risk of Stomach Cancer

An October, 2001 study by Yale School of Medicine researchers has found that a diet high in cholesterol, animal protein and vitamin B12 is linked to increased risk of a specific type of esophageal and stomach cancer, known as adenocarcinoma of the esophagus and gastric cardia, that has been increasing rapidly. The number of cases increased by 300% between the mid-1970s and 2000, according to lead author Susan Mayne, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, and associate director of the Yale Cancer Center.

The researchers found that plant-based nutrients such as dietary fiber, dietary beta-carotene, folic acid, vitamin C and vitamin B6 were associated with lower risk of these kinds of cancers.

“We found that many animal-based nutrients found in foods of animal origin are strongly associated with risk of developing these types of cancers and we were able to identify nutrients that presumably would be protective,” said Mayne. “We also found that regular users of vitamin C supplements were at significantly lower risk of stomach cancer.”

“Our results suggest that prevention strategies for these cancers should emphasize increased consumption of plant foods, decreased consumption of foods of animal origin with the possible exception of dairy products, and control of obesity.”



 

Increased Risk of Ovarian Cancer

The intake of vegetable fiber, but not of fruit or cereal fiber, was found to be negatively associated with risk of ovarian cancer, with a 37% decrease in the odds for each 10gm per day addition. [Am J Epidemiol 139(11): S37, 1994]

Consumption of foods containing beta-carotene by 71 women with epithelial cancer of the ovary and 141 matched controls was investigated. Consumption of carrots was found to decrease risk. [Nutr Cancer 15: pp.239-47, 1991]



 

Increased Risk of Hypertension

The prevalence of hypertension among vegetarians is about one-third to one-half that of non-vegetarians.[1-3] A study of Caucasian Seventh-day Adventists found hypertension in 22% of omnivores, but only 7% of vegetarians. Among African Americans, the prevalence was 44% of omnivores and 18% of vegetarians.[3] Adopting a vegetarian diet significantly lowers blood pressure in both normal and hypertensive individuals.[4-8]



 

Cancer / Risk - General Measures

“35 percent of cancer deaths may be related to diet.” [The National Cancer Institute booklet “Diet, Nutrition, & Cancer Prevention: A Guide to Food Choices”]

Cancer rates for vegetarians are 25 to 50% below population averages, even after controlling for smoking, body mass index, and socioeconomic status.[1,2] Vegans show even better results. One study found that people who include generous amounts of fruits and vegetables in their daily diets have lower rates of cancers of the lung, breast, colon, bladder, stomach, mouth, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, and cervix compared to people who avoid such foods.[3]

Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidant substances, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids, which protect cells against oxidative damage, which is related to cancer risk and other health problems.[4] The multitude of phytochemicals found in various fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts are thought to protect against heart disease and cancer.[5]



 


 

Increased Risk of Breast Cancer

In the Nurses’ Health Study, beta carotene proved protective against breast cancer for more than 87,000 women. Beta carotene both in supplement form and in foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables should be included in your diet if you are interested in breast cancer prevention.

Regarding children, plant-based diets may encourage a later menarche (beginning of the menstrual function), which has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer in epidemiologic studies.[1, 2]



 


 

Increased Risk of Colon Cancer

Diets high in fiber-rich foods may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. [The National Cancer Institute booklet “Diet, Nutrition, & Cancer Prevention: A Guide to Food Choices”]



 


 

Increased Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Diets high in meats, fried foods and nitrosamines may increase the risk, while diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.



 


 

Increased Risk of Lung Cancer

A higher consumption of potatoes, but not leafy green or other vegetables, was associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer in a study in Spain. However, higher fruit consumption was associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. [ Nutr Cancer 2002;43(1): pp.47-51]



 

Increased Risk of Lymphoma

A high red meat and animal fat intake is associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in older women.



 


Skin-Hair-Nails  


Tumors, Benign  

Colon Polyps

There have been other cases which suggest that colon polyps may disappear with improved diet and health, and the fecal material becomes less toxic. Polyps have been shown to regress and disappear when the fecal material is diverted away from the colon by a surgical colostomy. This is because toxic irritation of the colonic tissues is caused by diets or poor digestion that can contribute to toxicity in the colon. Some individuals have reported many colon polyps disappearing within years after making changes to improve their diet. Even though all the details have not been worked out, the evidence indicates that meat, fat, processed foods, and a lack of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber contribute to this toxic state.



Uro-Genital  


Key

May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended
May have adverse consequences

Glossary

Chronic

Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Hypertension

High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.

Diabetes Mellitus

A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Macrobiotics

A lifestyle and diet adapted from the Far East and made known in America by Michio Kushi. The principles of the diet consist of balancing the yin and yang energies of foods. In brief, yin foods, such as water, are expansive, while yang foods, such as salt or meat, are constrictive. For the most part, the diet consists of whole grain cereals, millet, rice, soups, and vegetable dishes, with beans and supplementary foods depending on the individual and the condition. Different types of cancers are considered either yin or yang, and the macrobiotic program must be adapted to each individual.

Protein

Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.

Mineral

Plays a vital role in regulating many body functions. They act as catalysts in nerve response, muscle contraction and the metabolism of nutrients in foods. They regulate electrolyte balance and hormonal production, and they strengthen skeletal structures.

Calcium

The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.

Cobalamin

Vitamin B-12. Essential for normal growth and functioning of all body cells, especially those of bone marrow (red blood cell formation), gastrointestinal tract and nervous system, it prevents pernicious anemia and plays a crucial part in the reproduction of every cell of the body i.e. synthesis of genetic material (DNA).

Yeast

A single-cell organism that may cause infection in the mouth, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and any or all bodily parts. Common yeast infections include candidiasis and thrush.

Iron

An essential mineral. Prevents anemia: as a constituent of hemoglobin, transports oxygen throughout the body. Virtually all of the oxygen used by cells in the life process are brought to the cells by the hemoglobin of red blood cells. Iron is a small but most vital, component of the hemoglobin in 20,000 billion red blood cells, of which 115 million are formed every minute. Heme iron (from meat) is absorbed 10 times more readily than the ferrous or ferric form.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant vitamin essential to the body's health. When bound to other nutrients, for example calcium, it would be referred to as "calcium ascorbate". As an antioxidant, it inhibits the formation of nitrosamines (a suspected carcinogen). Vitamin C is important for maintenance of bones, teeth, collagen and blood vessels (capillaries), enhances iron absorption and red blood cell formation, helps in the utilization of carbohydrates and synthesis of fats and proteins, aids in fighting bacterial infections, and interacts with other nutrients. It is present in citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries, potatoes and fresh, green leafy vegetables.

Zinc

An essential trace mineral. The functions of zinc are enzymatic. There are over 70 metalloenzymes known to require zinc for their functions. The main biochemicals in which zinc has been found to be necessary include: enzymes and enzymatic function, protein synthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. Zinc is a constituent of insulin and male reproductive fluid. Zinc is necessary for the proper metabolism of alcohol, to get rid of the lactic acid that builds up in working muscles and to transfer it to the lungs. Zinc is involved in the health of the immune system, assists vitamin A utilization and is involved in the formation of bone and teeth.

Milligram

(mg): 1/1,000 of a gram by weight.

Neuropathy

A group of symptoms caused by abnormalities in motor or sensory nerves. Symptoms include tingling or numbness in hands or feet followed by gradual, progressive muscular weakness.

Retinopathy

An eye disorder that does not cause inflammation but results from changes in the eye (retinal) blood vessels.

Millimeter

(mm): A metric unit of length equaling one thousandth of a meter, or one tenth of a centimeter. There are 25.4 millimeters in one inch.

Gallstone

(Biliary Calculus): Stone-like objects in either the gallbladder or bile ducts, composed mainly of cholesterol and occasionally mixed with calcium. Most gallstones do not cause problems until they become larger or they begin obstructing bile ducts, at which point gallbladder "attacks" begin to occur. Symptoms usually occur after a fatty meal and at night. The following are the most common ones: steady, severe pain in the middle-upper abdomen or below the ribs on the right; pain in the back between the shoulder blades; pain under the right shoulder; nausea; vomiting; fever; chills; jaundice; abdominal bloating; intolerance of fatty foods; belching or gas; indigestion.

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