If you’ve been thinking about transitioning to a raw vegan diet, you’ve probably already heard or read your share of the risks and dangers of raw veganism. On the surface level, it would seem like eating a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables would have to be good for you. Right?
And yet, there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that raw food eaters need to pay a little extra attention to make sure they don’t miss out on certain essential nutrients otherwise they may suffer from various nutritional deficiencies as mentioned below.
If you are going to transition, you should read about what it is like to be a raw vegan and know what kind of deficiencies you may run into.
There are two big pitfalls when it comes to a raw food diet that can trip you up and lead to an unsustainable, nutrient-deficient diet:
Danger #1: Not eating enough calories
This is certainly one of the most common pitfalls of the raw food diet. Because veggies and fruits usually have a natural low-caloric count, it can be very easy to go through the day without eating nearly enough calories. This is the number one cause of nutrient deficiencies in raw foodists; it isn’t that the nutrients aren’t in the food; it’s not enough food is being eaten.
To avoid this issue, I may start with downloading one of those “count my calories” apps. Ironically, you likely won’t be trying to avoid eating too many calories. Instead, you will be making sure you are getting the full amount of food that nature intended.
If you don’t take measures to make sure that you are eating enough calories early on in your transition to a raw food diet, you are setting yourself up for failure. While you may feel at first that you are eating plenty of food, you do not feel hungry, and you have plenty of energy throughout the day, if you actually start counting, you will often find you haven’t eaten nearly enough. Failing to eat enough calories can eventually lead to a crash with the raw food diet that reverses your health trend altogether.
Danger #2: Eating too much fat
Another common pitfall of the raw food diet is going the “gourmet” route and eating mostly foods that are high in fat, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. Many of the delectable recipes you will find online for raw food are simply far too saturated with fats. These fats are essential, but they should only be making up about 20% of your diet, while most of the rest should be made up of fruits and vegetables.
You may be hard-pressed to believe it with all of the negative propaganda against the raw food diet out there, but fruits and vegetables naturally have most of the essential nutrients that we need. But if you are going to eat a raw food diet, you must make sure that you are mostly eating those highly nutritious fruits and vegetables and you are not relying on fatty, though tasty, foods to get through the day.
Furthermore, a few nutrients that a person on a raw food diet is more likely to have deficiencies of. Fixing this problem isn’t a big deal; you may simply just have to seek out a special food that is rich in that nutrient or suck it up and buy a supplement. The key is to be aware of these possible deficiencies, plan for and address them.
Common Nutritional Deficiencies in Raw Vegan Diets include:
A lack of vitamin B-12 is one of the most common issues that raw foodists run into. Unfortunately, this may be a vitamin which you will have to replace with a supplement, as there are not many credible sources of B-12 in the raw food lifestyle. The form of B-12, which is needed by the human body, is most commonly found in animal-sourced products. The forms of B-12 found in plants are not compatible with the roles needed to play in the body.
You may not notice the effects of B-12 deficiency early on while eating a raw food diet. This is because the body can store B-12 for quite a long time. However, when the deficiency does arise, it is often detrimental and damages the body irreversibly. You can find a good vegan source of B-12 with the Gar-den of Life Vitamin Code Vitamin B-12. This is a raw vegan source of the B-12 that your body needs, and it’s highly suggested that you use this product as a safeguard.
Raw food diets have also been linked to lower cholesterol levels. You may think that sounds like a good thing, but a too-low good cholesterol reading is just as dangerous as a too-high bad cholesterol reading. One of the ways you can avoid low cholesterol on a raw food diet is by making sure you eat a sufficient amount of fatty foods like avocados and nuts. You should make sure fats make up about 20% of your overall diet.
Poor bone density
This is one of those issues that can arise from a lack of eating enough calories on a raw food diet. Not eating enough calories leads to lower body weight and a deficient amount of calcium and vitamin D in the body. These are huge risk factors in conditions such as osteoporosis (a condition characterized by weak, brittle bones). Ensure you eat your total necessary calorie count every day to ensure you don’t run into this issue down the line.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Depending on your skin tone and local climate, you may need to worry about Vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced in the body naturally due to being in the sunlight. However, vitamin D is produced more easily in people with light-colored skin. In addition, if you do not spend much time outdoors, such as during the cool of the Winter, you may not be getting enough vitamin D from the sun.
If you don’t believe you are getting enough vitamin D due to one or more of the above factors, you can find vegan supplements for the nutrient. Try the Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW D3 for your vegan-friendly supplement.
Omega-3 Acids Deficiency
Omega-3 fatty acids are typically found in flax seeds and fish oil. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as eating an ample supply of flaxseed to ensure you do not become deficient in omega-3. While one kind of omega acid is found in flax, you can easily miss out on the other two in your diet.
Rather than using fish oil to supplement your omega 3 acids, try Oti-3, which is made with an oil that comes from a form of algae that fish get their omega-3 nutrients from.
Here’s what you can do to ensure you stay healthy on a raw vegan diet:
All-in-all, one of the most important things you can do is take responsibility for your own diet and learn exactly what your body needs to function properly. While it may seem like a daunting task to begin reading up on nutrition and learning exactly what should be eaten, you’ll quickly find yourself absorbing the information and using it during your meal plans.
You can learn exactly what kinds of nutrients to need and what kinds of raw foods can provide it. Most of our essential nutrients are found in the raw food diet – it is just a matter of eating enough of it and at the right proportions. By learning more about our required nutrients, you can keep better track of yourself through your diet transition and watch for the common deficiencies which arise. You may also want to download a nutrition app that helps you see exactly how much of your essential nutrients you have eaten throughout the day and how many calories you have eaten as well.