ATTENTION: IMPORTANT UPDATE
I would like to clarify again that I am not posting these nutritional articles as a ‘scare factor’ for vegans. If you read the piece in full, you will see that the aim is to provide important nutritional information we should all be aware of, and this is not to make veganism look ‘hard’. I wonder why there are no angry comments below an omni-targeted article which, for example, explains people should prefer lean chicken over pork and no one attacks them for making an omni diet sound ‘too hard’?
Each of the nutritional articles is researched and put together from reliable sources. Unlike many vegans, I do have a circle of family and acquaintances, living on a plant-based diet, and whether one wishes to accept it or not – every different body reacts differently to it. The health benefits are immense, if we pay attention and stay informed. Just yesterday my mother told me of someone she knows – a doctor, who has been sticking to a healthy plant-based lifestyle for years, but feeling unwell for months. It turned out her Vitamin D and B12 levels are so extremely low, she had to be given shots of Vitamin B immediately.
The key here is not to attack each other and pursue with the claim ‘the vegan diet is natural’. Yes, it is natural, but just like any diet – we need to stay educated on how to keep it healthy and nutritious.
Yes, I do attempt to make the titles provocative, so that people actually open and read the information in full before they jump to conclusions and write inadequate comments. If they do, they will see the articles are simply informative, and are not aimed at discrediting the vegan lifestyle. Why would I be discrediting something that I am embracing?
I don’t see anything wrong about making my headlines stand out from the crowd – especially when we consider the information overload everyone is facing today.
As I said, I have learned from my own experience and the experience of real life people that every single body, every single organism is different, and in order to be a healthy, vibrant vegan, who can actually lead by example, we need to educate ourselves on nutrition a little bit and do pay attention to our body signals. We should also make tests and measure our blood levels, just like omnis do.
Anything else is simply stubbornness and negligence…
Back to the original article…
I have been posting vegan nutrition essentials articles on the site for some time, and among them is a piece on How Much Protein Exactly For Vegans.
I am not an advocate of the ‘protein deficiency is a myth’ myth, because each body has different needs, and you will see this explained in greater detail in the article mentioned above.
I am very glad that due to a skin issue I had this summer, I had to dive deeper into research and find out about one essential amino acid that is actually ignored, and we should pay a lot more attention to! Everyone talks about ‘protein’, overlooking the fact that protein is in fact made up of amino acids!
The one essential amino acid I am talking about is Lysine.
This is what every vegan must know about L-lysine:
L-lysine, popularly known as amino acid K, is an essential amino acid. It cannot be synthesized by the body and thus is only available from dietary intake. It plays an important role in the synthesis of all proteins within the body.
This amino acid plays a major role in body growth and development, boosting of the immune system, absorption of calcium in the body, controlling the body’s pH, and formation of collagen, among other things.
Why is it vital?
Body growth and development:
L-lysine plays a major role in the synthesis of all protein in the body. Protein is the main nutrient responsible for growth and repair of bodily tissues. Deficiency of this amino acid can result in stunted growth and a weak muscular skeletal structure.
Absorption of calcium in the body:
Calcium plays a major role in the development of the skeletal, nervous and hormonal systems. However, its absorption requires other minerals and amino acids, such as lysine, to be present. Deficiency of lysine can thus result in brittle bones and teeth as well as problems in the nervous system.
Formation of connective tissue:
Lysine is needed for the synthesis of collagen. This is the main element needed in the formation of connective tissue and bones in the body. In this way, lysine also helps in maintain healthy skin, cartilage and tendons.
Maintenance of a healthy circulatory system:
L-lysine is needed for the synthesis of the nutrient carnitine. This nutrient is needed by the body for the conversion of fatty acids into energy. Carnitine plays a major role in metabolizing fats and thus keeping bad cholesterol levels low. A deficiency of carnitine causes an increased risk of developing heart and circulatory system diseases.
Boost the immune system:
L-lysine helps the body resist attack by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Studies have shown that l-lysine blocks the effects of arginine, another essential amino acid. Arginine promotes the replication of HSV, the virus responsible for cold sores and herpes.
The RDA for lysine is more important than for protein. If you meet lysine requirements on a vegan diet, you will most likely meet protein requirements.
Per serving, legumes and seitan are the foods highest in the amino acid lysine. Tofu, tempeh, soy meats, lentils, and seitan are the highest, followed by other legume foods. Quinoa, amaranth, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds are also decent sources of lysine.
It is very hard to design a vegan diet that meets lysine requirements for a person who does not exercise daily
without including legumes, seitan, quinoa, amaranth, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds without having too many calories.
It is much easier to do for regular exercisers whose calorie requirements are higher – the low lysine foods will add up to provide enough. While many vegan, raw foodist athletes appear to thrive on the diet many raw foodist non-athletes struggle with raw diets; it might be the case that part of this is due to the athletes eating more calories and thus meeting lysine needs with low lysine foods.
If you are suffering from skin issues, hair loss, or having herpes outbreaks too often, this is a clear sign that you might be lacking in lysine.
Consider taking a supplement or restructuring your vegan diet to include more lysine-rich foods!
Also check out 10 Ways To Improve Your Vegan Diet And Lifestyle
Sources here and here.
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