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Four Supplements to Rock a Plant Based Diet


I recently connected with a supplement company called Koge and they sent me their product to review. I've been approached to review supplements on many occasions in the past but this one caught my eye. They not only have a great product lineup but have an awesome cause behind their brand. They have an honest approach in their messaging and simplicity in their lineup through monthly packages that are suited towards your needs.

I'm happy to introduce you to Andrew, co-founder of Koge. He knows that most of you in the HolFit community are avid plant based eaters and he is guest posting today and tomorrow on how you can supplement to ensure you are rocking optimal health within your diet. Today's post is on two commonly known deficiencies and tomorrow is on two you might not always think about. 

Andrew has also graciously setup a promo code for all my readers - you can save 20% on any Koge product using code HOLFIT. And - check back tomorrow for part II of Andrew's post for an awesome giveaway! Thanks Andrew!

                FOUR SUPPLEMENTS FOR ROCKING A PLANT BASED DIET

Sometimes, it seems like people make it their life-mission to tell everyone they know how poor a plant-based diet is. From a general health and wellness perspective, plant-based diets just make sense; they practically give you an impenetrable shield against heart and chronic diseases - the leading cause of deaths in the US.  Opponents are always quick to point-out deficiencies like Vitamin B12… really? Here you have a diet that’s preventing millions of deaths every year, but the drawback is that it lacks a vitamin that most of the population has never heard of?


That being said - while the pros of a plant-based diet definitely outweigh the cons - there’s always room for improvement. Often times, deficiencies stem from a lack of education, rather than a lack of sources. Most people starting off with a plant-based diet aren’t always aware they can look to natural resources to get the nutrients they usually obtain from animal-products. Of course, it’s always better to take your vitamins and minerals from natural sources, but every once in a while, supplements do come to the rescue. Let’s take a look at some of the most common vitamins and minerals that are harder to find in a plant-based diet, and how you can keep your nutrient levels up.

B12
What is B12?
There are several studies done about the ever-elusive Vitamin B12. It’s part of the Vitamin B family which is important in creating red blood cells, fighting off anemia, and maintaining our energy levels. It’s found in milk, eggs, beef and fish - making it so very hard to get to for a vegan. Plants don’t naturally produce it - but the strange thing is that animals don’t produce it either! B12 is made by microbes found in soil which then grow inside of animals. Primates are able to get their B12 levels by ingesting dirt, feces and bugs - and unless that becomes a new fad-diet, I’m sure no one will recommend doing that. We also used to get B12 from water streams, but now water sanitization plants kill off any remaining bacteria in water, including bacteria that gives us cholera - so it’s not all bad :)

How do I prevent losing B12?
B12 can be stored in the liver for years - so lots of vegans still have B12 from their meat-eating and milk-drinking days. So, before we look into how we can increase our B12 levels, let’s look at how we can maintain it:
  • Avoid heavy areas of pollution - If you live in an area with high pollution levels, get an air purifier and consider taking clean public transit if your city offers it
  • Get enough sleep and stop stressing - this is true for everything, but for B12, this allows your liver to better process, absorb, and store B12 
Where can vegans get B12?
There are a lot of posts out there about the lack of B12 in most vegan diets. However, very few about where they can actually get B12. Here are some sources to get B12 for diets that don’t involve animal products:
    • Fortified Cereals and Breads - There are currently lots of fortified foods that take into account necessary B12 levels (even Cheerios does it); however, if you are taking processed food out of your diet, this causes a problem.
    • Nori - Seaweed that contains natural B12. There are plenty of studies done debating the effectiveness of the B12 found in Nori, however, it heavily depends on the ability of your body to absorb B12 (yay for vegan seaweed)
    • Yeast Supplements - Many B12 supplements come in the form of yeast, whether it’s nutritional yeast, or brewer’s yeast. B12 is usually added into those supplements because they naturally contain high levels of vitamins from the B family, but not B12. 
    • Vitamin Supplements - There are plenty of companies that provide B12 in tablet or liquid form. You don’t need much of it and your body stores it for a while. Koge does not sell separate B12 supplements at this time - but our multivitamin found in our Daily Essentials* pack contains 50mg of B12 daily - any excess amount your body doesn’t need just gets passed out - that’s the beauty of B12!
*Note: Our Daily Essentials also contains an omega 3 fish oil tablet 

Iron
What is Iron?
Iron is another one of those minerals that various parts of our body use for different purposes. It mostly helps carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. It also helps our muscles store and use oxygen when needed. Iron is actually the most popular deficiency according the CDC, but vegans are most likely to have a lower iron store. This is because there are two types of iron: heme, and non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is the iron that’s found in plants; however, our bodies have a harder time absorbing it than heme-iron found in animal products. 

Funny side story: Most of us grew up with the notion that spinach is a great source for iron. Then a report came out, that this was due to a misplaced decimal point in the late 1800s in a study done on spinach, making it seem like a much higher source of iron than it actually is. But then that myth was busted. Moral of the story is that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet...except for this article ;) The truth is that spinach is a good source of iron, but there are plenty of other sources for iron that are just as good, if not better. It’s also very important to focus on foods and methods to help improve iron absorption.

How do I improve Iron absorption?
  • Vitamin C - in terms of improving iron absorption levels, Vitamin C and Iron are like two peas in a pod (speaking of which, peas actually have pretty good levels of vitamin C, but that’s beside the point!). Plant-based diets already have quite high Vitamin C levels, but people are often not aware of how greatly it can improve iron absorption.
Where can vegans get Iron?
This is another easy one:
    • Soybeans (8.8mg/cup)
    • Lentils (6.6mg/cup)
    • Spinach (6.4mg/cup)
    • Tofu (6.4mg/4oz.)
    • Chickpeas (4.7mg/cup)
    • Various Beans (~4mg/cup)
    • Bok choy (1.8mg/cup)
    • Almonds (5.2mg/cup)
Check back tomorrow for 2 other Minerals to be mindful of on your journey ;)

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/b12/risks.html
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/b12/documents/b12-030910.pdf
Freeland-Graves, J. H., Bodzy, P. W., Epright, M. A. "Zinc status of vegetarians". Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1980 (77): 655–661.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02869583
http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1378S.full
http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/iron.html
http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/iron.php
http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/fat/unsaturatedfat.html


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