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Greg Scott

What drove me from vegan food to a pill

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Can someone recommend a few kinds of nuts that would provide varied nutrients, and are not too pricey?

See Dean's reply for link to other discussion. (Remember, searching the forum is your friend!)

 

I hope this isn't another case where I miss a highly relevant post, but at least this time I did some searching before posting this.

 

This post merely outlines why I have started popping pills. Certainly those who cook food or buy processed foods have more choices than I.

 

I prefer raw food, and have never wanted to spend time cooking any food.

 

I am one of those fruitarians who doesn't eat nuts or seeds.

 

Wikipedia: Fruitarianism states:

Fruitarianism is a diet that consists entirely or primarily of fruits in the botanical sense, and possibly nuts and seeds, without animal products.

Well when I started out 43 years ago, it just didn't occur to me that nuts were part of a fruitarian regimen.

 

Later I learned that nuts are fruit:

A nut in botany is a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains unattached or free within the ovary wall.

Who knew? Not I. But anyway, that's a technicality, not a reason to impose nuts on oneself.

 

I have nothing against nuts or seeds. I just never bothered with them, that's all.

 

But after CHRON-O-Meter revealed a selenium deficiency, I looked into adding some nuts or seeds that contain selenium.

 

I had already been warned off Brazil nuts as having the potential to provide a toxic overdose of selenium.

 

According to CHRON-O-Meter, one would have to consume:

  • walnuts: 1308 kcal in 200g to boost selenium intake by 18%
  • almonds: 1150 kcal in 200g to boost selenium intake by 9%
Other nut options suggested by CHRON-O-Meter's "Ask the Oracle" didn't appeal to me (e.g. Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dry roasted, with salt added), but the Oracle did draw my attention to "Chia seeds" (which I am unfamiliar with):
  • chia seeds: 972 kcal in 200g to boost selenium intake by 201%
That's more like it! I used 200g for easy comparison with walnuts and almonds, but 100% selenium RDA is provided by:
  • chia seeds: 486 kcal in 100g to boost selenium intake by 100%
There are other sources of selenium, so a smaller serving of chia seeds might suffice:
  • chia seeds: 243 kcal in 50g to boost selenium intake by 50%
After this investigation, I'm still not keen about nuts and seeds.

 

I've never taken pills for nutrients, until recently when I followed Dean's advice and started getting B12 from a pill rather than from yeast flakes, and that seems satisfactory.

 

So I've decided to get selenium from a pill.

 

Sources of various micronutrients are listed in Dean's extremely helpful post Dean's Vegan Supplement Regime.

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Good summary Greg. Thanks for posting it. I agree with you in general that its best to get nutrients from food, but also on making an exception to this rule of thumb for selenium.

 

Unless you're willing to risk it with brazil nuts, a concern Michael nicely highlights in this post via this study in particular [1], selenium is one of those micronutrients, where it doesn't seem worthwhile to try to get the RDI from foods. B12 for vegans is obviously another, and I'm glad to see you're supplementing that one as well. 

 

Speaking of which, since you've been eating a fruitarian diet for decades, I would strongly recommend getting your B12 level and homocysteine tested. If the former is low and/or the latter is high (B12 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, which can accumulate to harmful levels without enough B12 in your blood), you may need to boost your B12 a lot higher than the RDI for a while to correct for a big deficit as a result of years of low B12 intake.

 

Whether it turns out you are deficient or not, it would be interesting to find out. I'm doubtful, but if you're not suffering from neurological or any of the other serious symptoms of a B12 deficiency after decades of a low B12 diet, maybe there is a source of B12 in your diet you don't realize.

 

--Dean

 
[1] Carol L. Secor, Donald J. Lisk. Variation In The selenium Content of Individual brazil Nuts. Journal of Food Safety Volume 9, Issue 4, pages 279–281, January 1989
"Analysis was performed on 72 individual nuts obtained in stores as shelled nuts in bulk and shelled and unshelled nuts in packages. Their average selenium content was 14.66 ppm with a range of 0.2 to 253.0."

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Speaking of which, since you've been eating a fruitarian diet for decades, I would strongly recommend getting your B12 level and homocysteine tested. If the former is low and/or the latter is high (B12 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, which can accumulate to harmful levels without enough B12 in your blood), you may need to boost your B12 a lot higher than the RDI for a while to correct for a big deficit as a result of years of low B12 intake.

 

Whether it turns out you are deficient or not, it would be interesting to find out. I'm doubtful, but if you're not suffering from neurological or any of the other serious symptoms of a B12 deficiency after decades of a low B12 diet, maybe there is a source of B12 in your diet you don't realize.

Dean,

 

Right from the beginning I always sought a B12 source. For years I ate tempeh, yeast flakes, fortified breakfast cereals (one source at a time).

 

I was always concerned about bioavailability.

 

Sometime in the last few years I read that tests on vegans relying solely on tempeh for B12 revealed them to be deficient, so I gleefully eliminated tempeh.

 

I still wondered about yeast flakes and the cereals I eat dry.

 

Your recent advice prompted me to go with the pill, and I have no regrets.

 

Thank you.

Edited by Greg Scott

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Ah, I didn't realize you'd been eating the yeast flakes and/or fortified cereal for a while now. You should be fine then, and as we discussed on the other thread, these sources aren't really more natural or unprocessed than B12 in pill form.

Dean,

 

Not that it's important, but yeast flakes are a recent thing for me (last year or so).

 

I didn't like tempeh, so to minimize consumption, I always ate some dry breakfast cereal, just for its B12 content. I thought of this as taking a pill, since the cereal is processed food.

 

I did wonder about its bioavailability, since in vegan articles tempeh was usually recommended more warmly than fortified breakfast cereals.

 

I think the literal pill is more convenient, so I'll discontinue the cereal.

 

Mental flexibility is important, especially as we age and naturally become hidebound.

 

Although I follow one of the most restricted diets, it's due to personal quirks including laziness and irrational aversions, rather than to dogmatism.

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A few points on B12 (yes, some of this repeats previous posts):

 

In Japan it has been found that some people with a blood B12 as high as 300 (in US units) are actually deficient.  So japanese guidelines now advise a blood level no lower than 400, in US units.

 

Second, a few years ago people around me (of course they didn't say so at the time, which would have been helpful) thought I must be getting alzheimer's because they noticed repeated and bewilderingly inexplicable lapses in memory.  Fortunately, purely by luck, an SDA GP ordered a blood B12 test, and it showed a somewhat low level around 120 (apparently, for me, 120 is seriously low).  Daily supplementation fixed the problem.  After several months I was back over 500.  I still have not been able to establish whether the deficiency causes memories not to be stored, or whether they are stored normally but cannot be retrieved.

 

Third, the body can absorb only a tiny amount of B12 in a day.  So, unlike in the case of many other nutrients, taking one big pill intermittently is useless because only a tiny amount of it will have been absorbed.  But a tiny amount daily can do wonders if there is nothing fundamentally wrong with your absorption mechanism ('intrinsic factor' etc.).

 

Fourth, a prolonged inadequate intake of B12 causes serious irreversible neurological damage.

 

Fifth, I believe there is no imaginable level of B12 intake that is toxic.  So it is unimaginable that a small daily supplementation, no matter your dietary intake of it, could be harmful.  I crush up the cheapest-per-unit pills into powder and take a tiny amount daily.

 

Sixth, those who do have an absorption problem can solve it with occasional intra-muscular injections.

 

Seventh, before the remedy was discovered, B12 deficiency was a terminal disease.

 

Rodney.

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