Dr. Magryta: Vegans at risk for deficiencies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dr. Magryta

Every person or entity that provides you with information has an agenda, know what their agenda is before you judge and process the data.
I have avoided the “vegan” topic for quite a long time until I noted an up-tick in patients placing themselves and their young children on vegan diets.

The majority of these patients informed me that this diet shift was chosen following the viewing of “What the Health.” So I watched it.
As for me, my agenda is clear: the best health possible based on the latest and best information on disease prevention and medicine minimalism. I have no conflicts of interest regarding my opinion. I have no affiliations to organizations espousing one diet over another. So here goes!

First, let us define the word vegan. A person who does not use or eat animal products. This means that one does not consume any dairy, eggs, flesh or fat from an animal, etc.

In my opinion, the authors of the documentary What the Health offer a completely one-sided view of animal products as a detrimental substance that should be avoided. What I found astonishing after watching this movie, and then reading the online reviews and knowing the hard science, is that the information they cite is seriously problematical.

When watching a documentary or any informational session, you should always have competing views where the science eventually speaks for itself.
This movie does not offer you a competing view. The camera work and cinematic license is set up to persuade the viewer more through sensationalism than true science or evidence.

Scientific studies have shown that humans consuming a vegan diet and not taking supplements are at risk for deficiencies of vitamins A, D, K, B12, minerals: calcium, iron, zinc and the omega 3 fatty acids EPA & DHA. Of these possibilities, vitamin B12 deficiency is the biggest concern. [See https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/magryta].

Obtaining B12 from sources other than animals is exceedingly difficult. If this was not the case, vegans would not need to supplement. Every clinician that I have ever met recommends vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians alike. If you read the pro-veganism McDougall article you’ll notice this small parenthesis statement: “(We do recommend to our patients a vitamin B12 supplement and adequate sunshine for vitamin D.)”

I am a firm believer that humans are evolving, and natural paradigms are set forth for our survival. If God or nature had planned for us to be vegan, than we would not need a B12 supplement to stay healthy. I have yet to find a B12 supplement tree.

Anthropologically, we have dentition (teeth) similar to other omnivores on the planet but dissimilar to herbivores. Look at the primate research as the closest animal species to homo sapiens. According to the research, chimpanzees consumed 5-10 percent of their diet from animal sources. Seventy five percent was from ripe fruits, which makes sense as fruit is metabolized to fat via the liver, allowing the animal to bulk up for the winter, and requires less work than animal predation. We do not have a common dental lineage to herbivores.

Finally, as the data has shown over and over again from some of the healthiest humans — such as the Tsimane Indians or the inhabitants of the Blue Zones — meat was always a part of the human diet, and not associated with disease until humans altered the quality of the meat and began to significantly over-consume it. Eating animal flesh sparingly is associated with the best human health. I really do not think that there is much scientific debate about this anymore.

Having married a woman with a RD/MBA background, I have little room for unscientific blabber when it comes to humans and disease where it relates to nutrition. She has spent the better part of the last 5 years preparing her upcoming book on nutrition and childhood health. We have discussed veganism repeatedly and the outcome is always the same: it makes little sense. Truthfully, you can do a deep dive yourself and prove it with the citations on my site.

I care about your kids, and veganism seems to be a bad idea for the average American child unless you as the parent are highly educated about the sources of micronutrients needed for good health. Children are rapidly growing and require specific nutrients for optimal growth. You will have to make sure that you are meeting the body’s needs via supplementation and consuming targeted foods.

What makes much more sense is to consume a predominantly plant-based diet with whole foods and little to preferably no refined carbohydrates, then sprinkled with animal products a few times a month.

Eat eggs, fish and meat in moderation,
Dr. M

Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at newsletter@salisburypediatrics.com

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