I have not eaten red meat since my late teen years. However, since yoga came into my life in 2005, I have quit eating all other animals as well and have become a vegetarian. My reasons for not eating meat are environmental, ethical and health related.
To be exact, I am a lacto-vegetarian, I do eat dairy products, such as milk, cheese, butter and yogurt. However, I do try to minimize these and instead eat a whole, unprocessed, organic and plant-based diet. This diet consists of fruits, vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds and plant oils (and the above dairy products). I don’t eat grains, except the ones that are gluten-free, such as oats, quinoa and millet. I also try to avoid sugar, even though I do eat chocolate every day.
I am not going to go any deeper than this about my diet in this article. My main subject is the dietary supplements that I have found important to take in addition to my vegetarian diet. These are:
Vitamin B12 is naturally produced by micro-organisms in the soil. Animals get it when they eat unwashed plants. However, since there are not significant amounts of vitamin B12 in a vegetarian diet, it is very important to take as a supplement. Deficiencies of vitamin B12 can lead, for example, to heart problems and anemia.
The benefits of vitamin C include, for example, boosting of the immune system and protection against cardiovascular disease. It is considered one of the safest and most effective nutrients. However, even if vegetarians get plenty of vitamin C in their diet, I have decided to take some extra on most days.
Vitamin D is produced by skin in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It is difficult to get vitamin D from foods. It is involved in making enzymes and proteins in the body. There seems to be a major vitamins D deficiency epidemic in the world. It is needed for strong bones, strong immune system, heart disease and cancer prevention and osteoporosis, to name a few. Since I live in the tropics I should be getting enough vitamin D from the sun here. However, I do take this supplement on some days.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
These are essential fatty acids. Our bodies need them to work normally. They play important role in reducing inflammation in the body. It seems that humans are getting too many omega 6’s, which are in many oils and meats, and not enough omega-3’s. This imbalance seems to cause many chronic illnesses because of the body’s inflamation. That is why it is important to take a supplement. I take an animal free supplement made of algae.
Magnesium is needed for normal muscle and nerve function, healthy immune system, maintaining heart rhythm and building strong bones. I am taking this supplement just in case because of my active and sporty lifestyle. However, there is already plenty of magnesium in a proper vegetarian diet.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria to restore and to maintain the proper balance in the intestines. They also protect against harmful bacteria. Some examples of probiotics are lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and acidophilus. I alter several different brands and types of probiotics so that I can keep up a good balance of different kinds of bacteria in my body.
Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-rich things you can eat. It is an algae and can be used to help treat many illnesses and to boost the immune system. It has antiviral and anticancer properties. It is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.
The above are the supplements that I have found important to take almost on a daily basis. However, I do understand that I have to be careful with these and if and when eating a good, balanced diet, I don’t need too many other extra supplements.
Carr, Kris (2011). Crazy, Sexy Diet.
September 2013, Noon batch