Seeking advice: WFPB and supplements on a vegan diet

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Amarillyde
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Seeking advice: WFPB and supplements on a vegan diet

Post by Amarillyde » Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am

I started trying to follow a fully vegan diet following the advice of Dr. Campbell almost a year ago, that goes more or less like 'if you eat a whole foods, plant-based diet you'll be able to get all the nutrients you need and prosper happily ever after'. A few months down the road, I realised that reality is not quite like that. I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, I definitely get enough calories, and I spend way too much time trying to inform myself and planning how to get the most micronutrients in my diet every day, but overall I definitely feel worse than I did a year ago. Specifically, I have been feeling fatigued for months, experiencing a deep tiredness, with various low points throughout the day almost every day where I almost have to fight the need to fall asleep, despite getting an adequate amount of sleep every night. I feel really spaced out most of the time, too, as if I had suddenly lost 20 IQ points, which leaves me with so little, it's really disconcerting! :P

I've had blood tests done in March, after telling this to my GP, and the test did signal that I was quite severely deficient in vitamin D (17 nmol/L). Unfortunately I do not seem to be able to tolerate vitamin D3 supplements (which I tried taking at high doses – first 40,000 IU as prescribed by my GP, then 2,500 IU experiencing the same probable allergic reaction), but I have been getting reasonable sun exposure since then, in the last two months, so I wonder how much that could still be the reason for my fatigue. I live in the UK, so we do not have sun daily, and I realise it might take more than a couple of months to restore optimal vitamin D levels. But tbh I have reasons to think that, especially if my vitamin D was so low, this was not probably the first year I have been vitamin D deficient during the winter months, thus I'm hesitant to attribute my extraordinary fatigue solely to that.

I am more concerned about my iron levels because, tracking my micronutrients on cronometer, I've noticed that I struggle to meet my iron RDA (among other things) – though not by far, and I do try to pair iron and vitamin C rich foods most of the time. Blood test serum ferritin was 40 microg/L, so within the normal range (but still on the low side? I'm not sure, though my doctor clearly wasn't concerned about that). I lean towards this explanation as the most probable cause of my issues, and thus this leaves me with the dreaded conundrum: to supplement or not to supplement? I have tracked my nutrition for long enough to know that even if I'm not iron deficient now, I will be at some point. This brings about concerns about other nutrients, too, like DHA - even though I try to eat chia seeds and walnuts a lot, I am not always diligent –, vitamin E, calcium.

In conclusion, to compare my experience against Campbell's ideal WFPB, I believe you can only follow a vegan diet without supplements (aside from B12, which btw it seems to me Campbell is quite reluctant to talk about) if you have the time and patience to eat tons of kale several times a week :P
I know I could never invest more time and energy in planning my diet than I already do, and despite my awareness and effort to eat healthfully, I fail to fully meet my RDA for certain nutrients. This is really disappointing and disheartening, and makes me think that I won't be able to keep going without at least a small amount of animal products, which at this point I am uncomfortable with the idea of eating.
At the same time, I am equally uncomfortable taking supplements – but possibly even a bit more, and (for time's sake) I won't go into my personal psychological reasons why. But generally, what doesn't convince me is the fact that we know that certain supplements are harmful in high doses, and I don't think we have enough evidence to conclude that they are perfectly safe if taken in small doses – mostly because as a population we have not been taking them for a long enough time and there are no decades long studies. My research on the topic is not solid, so if anyone can chip in some word or some research to look at, that'd be great, although I will probably still feel uncomfortable with the idea of having to pop down a series of pills or similar for the rest of my life if I want to be vegan.
I don't really see a way out, but I'll shut up now before I write another four paragraphs :oops: – I welcome your thoughts :mrgreen:

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon May 20, 2019 2:19 pm

Sorry for the slow reply, busy weekend.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
I've had blood tests done in March, after telling this to my GP, and the test did signal that I was quite severely deficient in vitamin D (17 nmol/L). Unfortunately I do not seem to be able to tolerate vitamin D3 supplements (which I tried taking at high doses – first 40,000 IU as prescribed by my GP, then 2,500 IU experiencing the same probable allergic reaction), but I have been getting reasonable sun exposure since then, in the last two months, so I wonder how much that could still be the reason for my fatigue.
Sun exposure alone, particularly in the UK, is not likely to be able to correct your deficiency. Not in months, and maybe not even in years.

Follow your doctor's advice and take vitamin D.
If they're making you feel ill, try a lower dosage multiple times a day (even a little less during the day is better than none).
There might be *something else* in the vitamins that you're allergic or intolerant to. You can try a different brand.

Here's a liquid, very few ingredients, and it's not derived from sheep wool (in case you're allergic to that?)
https://www.nordicnaturals.com/consumer ... n-d3-vegan

Trying to get D3 from the sun is a very bad idea, and recommended against by professionals. The sun causes cancer, period. It's accumulated DNA damage. Having a dark tan can protect you a little, but it's a risk that there's no reason to take unless you have a skin disease that is treated by sunlight.
Vitamin D supplementation is well researched and not just adequate for vitamin D needs, but recommended. In health this is pretty much the level of consensus that the Earth goes around the Sun is in astronomy. Hands down, it's the most supported and recommended vitamin in the developed world.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
But tbh I have reasons to think that, especially if my vitamin D was so low, this was not probably the first year I have been vitamin D deficient during the winter months, thus I'm hesitant to attribute my extraordinary fatigue solely to that
You were probably eating more processed foods that were fortified with vitamin D in the past, so may not have has such severe deficiency. These things come in degrees.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
I am more concerned about my iron levels because, tracking my micronutrients on cronometer, I've noticed that I struggle to meet my iron RDA (among other things) – though not by far, and I do try to pair iron and vitamin C rich foods most of the time. Blood test serum ferritin was 40 microg/L, so within the normal range (but still on the low side? I'm not sure, though my doctor clearly wasn't concerned about that).
Your iron is probably fine. A lower level (low end of normal) can be protective against infection as long as your body has enough. If you don't bleed heavily then you may never develop deficiency. You're doing a good job to eat vitamin C sources with your iron.

You could take a supplement if you want (and a multivitamin IS a good idea for everybody), but Vitamin D deficiency explains your symptoms just fine.
If you hear hooves you think horse, not zebra. The known issue is likely the cause of your fatigue. No need to speculate until that has been resolved for a while.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
I lean towards this explanation as the most probable cause of my issues
Why? Your doctor did not. What do you know that your doctor doesn't?
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
and thus this leaves me with the dreaded conundrum: to supplement or not to supplement?
It shouldn't be a dreaded conundrum. There's nothing wrong with supplementing as a safety net. It's cheap, and you pretty much pee out everything you don't need.

I don't understand this prevalent anti-scientific fear of supplements. It seems to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of biology.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
This brings about concerns about other nutrients, too, like DHA - even though I try to eat chia seeds and walnuts a lot, I am not always diligent –, vitamin E, calcium.

In conclusion, to compare my experience against Campbell's ideal WFPB, I believe you can only follow a vegan diet without supplements (aside from B12, which btw it seems to me Campbell is quite reluctant to talk about) if you have the time and patience to eat tons of kale several times a week :P
If you look at our closest relatives, they all eat HUGE amounts of greens. Yeah, that's pretty much the only way to be totally foolproof without having to put in a lot of planning.

But why not just take a multi and a couple other easy supplements?
Do you have trouble swallowing pills?

Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
This is really disappointing and disheartening, and makes me think that I won't be able to keep going without at least a small amount of animal products, which at this point I am uncomfortable with the idea of eating.
At the same time, I am equally uncomfortable taking supplements
Supplements aren't harmful to animals or the environment, and if you go with reputable companies, not harmful to your health either. They won't give you super powers, but they're a good safety net.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
– but possibly even a bit more, and (for time's sake) I won't go into my personal psychological reasons why.
I think you should, because that's the root of the issue. If I really explain the science and send you links to professionals saying supplements are fine and recommending them will it change your mind without addressing the psychology?
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
But generally, what doesn't convince me is the fact that we know that certain supplements are harmful in high doses,
Yeah, so is water, salt, anything.
You need to understand the difference between acute toxicity, which everything has (you can kill yourself on certain whole foods too if you eat only them in large amounts), and cumulative harm.

Things like carcinogens and heavy metals like mercury build up harm over time by cumulative DNA damage, or building up in your tissues.
Supplements do not: your body clears out what you do not need. These are biological compounds that your body is used to working with, not poisons.
It's only harmful if you get a HUGE dose all at once.

Don't confuse the fact that something can be harmful in overdose with the idea that it must be harmful in smaller doses too.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 10:45 am
and I don't think we have enough evidence to conclude that they are perfectly safe if taken in small doses – mostly because as a population we have not been taking them for a long enough time and there are no decades long studies.
We have been taking supplements for decades, and there's no good evidence of harm from them. Likewise we've been using fortified foods for a very long time, and there's so much evidence in favor for public health that it's even been legislated in many areas.
Beyond that there's also TPN: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parenteral_nutrition, Infant formula (VERY well studied), and the fact that we've been using supplementation with pets and farmed animals for many generations. These are well studied across species.

Supplements work, and there's no credible evidence that they're harmful UNLESS they're egregiously misused.

But any amount of evidence I can give you probably won't mean anything if there are psychological hangups against it. Please let me know what your trouble is and I'll do my best to help.

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Post by Amarillyde » Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm

Thank you for your answer, @brimstoneSalad :)
if you hear hooves you think horse, not zebra.
I see your point. However, the reasons why I was inclined to believe the problem might be with iron rather than vitamin D levels is that I've had things like a cut in the corner of the mouth for entire months (also very dry skin between fingers, which the doctor mentioned as an iron deficiency symptom :?) and I've not seen that listed as a vitamin D deficiency symptom anywhere. It has finally gone away, but it's been quickly replaced by other problems. That's another thing that has been going on for months and, even if it's silly, it's really annoying and makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. The vitamin D3 supplements I tried (I tried two different brands, the high-dose one the doctor prescribed was probably sheep-wool-based, whereas the lower dose one I tried was vegan) both gave me an allergic reaction, again, on my lips, with severe swelling, scaling, bubbles, and itchiness. GP said she's never heard of it and to try again with a much lower dose, but tbh my lips problems are still ongoing (now they switched to cold sores) and I really don't think it's a good idea to try again until my lips are completely healed (if ever). This is just one more thing that makes me feel like just eating healthy doesn't cut it.

The other reason why I thought vitamin D is not the whole problem is that I believed it was easier to restore close-to-normal levels with sun exposure –- I've been getting reasonable sun exposure for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, depending on the intensity of the sun, every time we've had sun, which has been not everyday but often in the last couple of months. I am fair skinned, and if it's true that 10 min of limbs exposure to the sun can produce around 1000-2000 iu of vitamin D, is it really reasonable to think that I am still so severely deficient to explain my fatigue? I know it's not an exact science, nor sun exposure is a long-term solution, but I would think there would be some improvement :roll: Overall, anyways, I agree that I should focus on solving the vitamin D problem and that perhaps I've overestimated the possibility to do it naturally – so thanks for the useful external perspective!
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Mon May 20, 2019 2:19 pm
Here's a liquid, very few ingredients, and it's not derived from sheep wool (in case you're allergic to that?)
https://www.nordicnaturals.com/consumer ... n-d3-vegan
thank you for this, I will try it if my lips ever recover.
If you look at our closest relatives, they all eat HUGE amounts of greens. Yeah, that's pretty much the only way to be totally foolproof without having to put in a lot of planning.
My problem is that I *do* put in a lot of planning, so much so that it's very stressful. I cook all my meals, I try to keep up with cronometer. But I seldom achieve the sweet spot in which I manage to both accomplish having a *variety* of fruit and vegetables *and* a lot of leafy greens, on top of getting enough vitamin E, proteins, calcium... I find it really hard to keep up with everything, and even if I try at the end of the week my cronometer is far from perfect, and I've come to believe for a while now that the only way to eat a vegan diet without supplements is to be able to intake a large amount of daily calories, no less than 2500 and ideally more. Whereas I have to fit all my nutrients in something like 1800/day on average, which has been frustrating.
I don't understand this prevalent anti-scientific fear of supplements. It seems to be based on a fundamental misunderstanding of biology
Well, some part of the scientific community doesn't fully agree with this though, does it? Colin Campbell, for instance, doesn't recommend supplements. His argument, which I find very compelling, underlines the fact that our body is meant to get nutrients in a complex way, from food which by itself contains a variety of nutrients in certain combinations, and that we do not know (and probably will never know exactly, because the human body is way too complex) what happens when a nutrient is taken in its isolated form. It seems to me like the problem is not so much in the fact that 'nutrients might accumulate in the body', which is not the case, but rather in the fact that we feed our body something in a form which it's not designed to process.
But why not just take a multi and a couple other easy supplements?
Do you have trouble swallowing pills?
My problem with the idea of taking supplements is first of all social/psychological in nature: I grew up in a family where drugs were taken only in serious cases – not with an attitude of skepticism towards medicine per se, only nobody would ever take a drug for a headache in my household, or take antibiotics lightly, or anything like that. Now, I do not live with my parents anymore, but I have sort of inherited that mindset and I see how it's reasonable. Supplements are not drugs but, especially in the light of the above mentioned divide in the scientific (and vegan) community, I think the same logic applies. Not to make an appeal to nature, but it's very difficult for me to imagine taking a synthetic form of a nutrient because I can't get enough in the way that my body is supposed to get it. But also from a purely logical point of view, how does it make sense for me to take a pill to make up for something that I am not capable of getting from my diet? Even if supplements were perfectly safe, over which experts can't agree, I can only consider the impossibility of meeting my nutritional needs from foods as a failure of my attempt at a vegan diet.
We have been taking supplements for decades, and there's no good evidence of harm from them. Likewise we've been using fortified foods for a very long time, and there's so much evidence in favor for public health that it's even been legislated in many areas.
I understand, but honestly we've been having official public recommendations for many things before which then have turned out not to be healthy (like meat). The fact that some part of the scientific community is not convinced by supplements makes it very hard for me to believe that this might not be one of those cases.

So to recap, the idea of taking supplements makes me uncomfortable because 1) I couldn't justify it to my family, which is already a social obstacle to my vegan diet as things currently stand. I can feel their judgement just thinking of taking supplements, and ultimately if I did take them I would feel like they're right to suggest that my diet is not healthy, which I really don't want to believe.

2) I can't help but thinking that if I could survive on a vegan diet (or at least one that I can sustain, which is neither a 2500 calories/day nor an overly kale-inclusive one) I should be able to do so by eating real foods. I *have* modified my lifestyle, but I feel like I've reached my limit and plants still can't provide everything I need. It sucks. Of course I care about the animals and the environment but this to me still feels like a choice between ethics and my health, and even if it would be nice to be able to choose the first, in reality that would be a very anguishing choice for me. I know it because that's been my experience taking B12 or fortified milks for the past months.

I hate it, but I really believe only a plant-based diet that includes small but regular amounts of animal products is sustainable without supplements and this now puts me in a horrible position. :|

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue May 21, 2019 6:29 pm

Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
However, the reasons why I was inclined to believe the problem might be with iron rather than vitamin D levels is that I've had things like a cut in the corner of the mouth for entire months (also very dry skin between fingers, which the doctor mentioned as an iron deficiency symptom :?) and I've not seen that listed as a vitamin D deficiency symptom anywhere. It has finally gone away, but it's been quickly replaced by other problems.
I would not assume it's not caused by vitamin D deficiency. Wound healing is complicated, and impaired wound healing is a symptom of many deficiencies.

There's not a lot of study on vitamin D and wound healing, but there's a little:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23174792

Extreme anemia can cause something like that too, but you don't have anemia. That's why your GP doesn't think it's that, and is not worried about your iron.

Again, horse not zebra.
Fixing your vitamin D issue is not optional. It also has nothing to do with being vegan or not (although I'm glad to try to help you with it).
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
The vitamin D3 supplements I tried (I tried two different brands, the high-dose one the doctor prescribed was probably sheep-wool-based, whereas the lower dose one I tried was vegan) both gave me an allergic reaction, again, on my lips, with severe swelling, scaling, bubbles, and itchiness. GP said she's never heard of it and to try again with a much lower dose, but tbh my lips problems are still ongoing (now they switched to cold sores) and I really don't think it's a good idea to try again until my lips are completely healed (if ever). This is just one more thing that makes me feel like just eating healthy doesn't cut it.
Just eating healthfully won't cure every disease. This dematological problem is likely something else. It may be coincidence, or it could even be one of those cases where correcting a deficiency or getting healthier has side effects.

E.g. people lose weight, and all sorts of nasty stuff dissolved in the fat can get released as well as spike cholesterol.
You improving your vitamin D levels could be improving your immune system, which is attacking a previously latent herpes infection.

This is speculation, but the point is that you don't know what's going on. Don't assume it's a good idea to ignore your doctor's advice.

In the very unlikely case you're allergic to D3, try taking D2.
If that affects you too, try a topical form like a patch... although absorption may not be great that way, maybe you have some kind of intestinal reaction.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4508301/
Or talk to your doctor about getting D injections.

If all else fails, you'll need to purchase a UV light which delivers the right wavelength and basically sleep half naked under it every night for months.
Again, talk to your doctor.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
The other reason why I thought vitamin D is not the whole problem is that I believed it was easier to restore close-to-normal levels with sun exposure
It is not, unless you live in the tropics and spend literally all day outside without sunscreen.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
I've been getting reasonable sun exposure for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, depending on the intensity of the sun, every time we've had sun, which has been not everyday but often in the last couple of months.
If you're obsessive about it, that might be barely enough to *prevent* deficiency. That is far from adequate to correct an existing deficiency.

If you had a fish tank that evaporated a cup of water a day, and you left it for months until the fish were flopping around and dying on wet gravel at the bottom of your empty tank, then you decided it'd be OK to just start adding a cup a day like you were supposed to originally, would that resolve the problem and save your fish?

A dosage that can prevent deficiency is not necessarily going to fix a deficiency you already have.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
is it really reasonable to think that I am still so severely deficient to explain my fatigue?
Yes.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
thank you for this, I will try it if my lips ever recover.
Please try it immediately, and go to a dermatologist about your lips.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
My problem is that I *do* put in a lot of planning, so much so that it's very stressful. I cook all my meals, I try to keep up with cronometer. But I seldom achieve the sweet spot in which I manage to both accomplish having a *variety* of fruit and vegetables *and* a lot of leafy greens, on top of getting enough vitamin E, proteins, calcium... I find it really hard to keep up with everything, and even if I try at the end of the week my cronometer is far from perfect, and I've come to believe for a while now that the only way to eat a vegan diet without supplements is to be able to intake a large amount of daily calories, no less than 2500 and ideally more. Whereas I have to fit all my nutrients in something like 1800/day on average, which has been frustrating.
It should not be that difficult. Can you give me some sample days of what you're eating?

I'm going to guess you're eating too many sweet fruits and rice, which are mostly empty calories.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
Well, some part of the scientific community doesn't fully agree with this though, does it? Colin Campbell, for instance, doesn't recommend supplements.
Most of these fad vegan doctors are considered quacks.

Discussed a bit in this thread:
viewtopic.php?t=2282

They're about as bad as the paleo quacks.
You can find good advise from credible dietitians.

https://veganhealth.org/
https://www.theveganrd.com/

Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
His argument, which I find very compelling, underlines the fact that our body is meant to get nutrients in a complex way, from food which by itself contains a variety of nutrients in certain combinations, and that we do not know (and probably will never know exactly, because the human body is way too complex) what happens when a nutrient is taken in its isolated form. It seems to me like the problem is not so much in the fact that 'nutrients might accumulate in the body', which is not the case, but rather in the fact that we feed our body something in a form which it's not designed to process.
That's just completely false. Like I said, a lot of these doctors are quacks.

We can track mineral supplements and follow them very easily by way of isotopes. It's a bit trickier but we can do that with synthetic vitamins too.
Figuring out how something is absorbed and metabolized is a very active field of medicine. We don't even need to do that all the time, though, when we can take somebody with deficiency, give the person a supplement, then observe the deficiency to be corrected.

Colin Campbell is ancient so maybe he never learned about that in school, but its reckless for him to be spreading ignorant misinformation like that. This kind of pseudoscience fear mongering against supplements (which save millions of lives) can really hurt people.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
My problem with the idea of taking supplements is first of all social/psychological in nature: I grew up in a family where drugs were taken only in serious cases
Supplements aren't quite in the same class as drugs. They're studied like drugs, but their purpose is nutritive.
You can avoid taking drugs except in serious cases but have a sensible attitude toward supplements as a safety net and a way to be more casual about your diet and not worry too much.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
nobody would ever take a drug for a headache in my household
Not taking pain medication for a headache is not going to harm you. If you can tough it out that's perfectly fine. That doesn't apply to nutritional deficiency.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
or take antibiotics lightly
And you shouldn't take antibiotics lightly. Because they're prescribed so much (and in a large part because of casual application to animal agriculture) they're losing their efficacy. That's a serious social issue that threatens to drag medicine back into the dark ages if super bugs negate all of our best defenses against them due to our foolish misuse.

Again, does not apply to supplements *at all*.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
Supplements are not drugs but, especially in the light of the above mentioned divide in the scientific (and vegan) community, I think the same logic applies.
...But there isn't a real divide. There's an illusion of a divide due to pop-pseudoscience. That's like saying global warming is a scientifically contentious issue. It isn't.
There are a few quacks who deviate from mainstream consensus, and it's relatively easy to show that they're quacks because their deviations don't stop there.

It's like how many people mistakenly believed evolution was controversial.
Image

Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
Not to make an appeal to nature, but it's very difficult for me to imagine taking a synthetic form of a nutrient because I can't get enough in the way that my body is supposed to get it.
Not to make an appeal to nature, but... appeal to nature?

You know there are synthetic forms that are actually better absorbed, right? A diet containing man-made products can be healthier than a "natural" diet.
And if you really want something "natural" for spiritual reasons or whatever, you can get bioidentical or concentrated plant derived supplements.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
But also from a purely logical point of view, how does it make sense for me to take a pill to make up for something that I am not capable of getting from my diet?
You can get it from your diet if you make supplements part of you diet. Hey, there are even chewable ones. And literal food with supplementation in it.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
Even if supplements were perfectly safe, over which experts can't agree,
Again, even if the Earth weren't flat, over which experts can't agree...
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
I can only consider the impossibility of meeting my nutritional needs from foods as a failure of my attempt at a vegan diet.
Why?

You could if you really wanted to (you're probably doing something wrong, I'll only know when you give some details of what you're eating), but there's nothing wrong with taking a few supplements for convenience. It's not convenient to eat a lot of greens. It's healthy, sure, but most people don't want to eat that many vegetables.

If you're only in it for health, there's still reason to believe taking B-12 and iron is healthier than eating a bunch of beef, taking calcium is healthier than drinking a bunch of milk, etc.
With plants and supplements you're getting the good without the bad.

Likewise, if you're in it for any sense of ethics your vegan diet has NOT failed because you took a supplement; you still save hundreds of animals immense suffering every year, and you still massively reduce your contribution to climate change and human suffering. You also still reduce antibiotic use and the chance of catastrophic super-bugs.

Health, animal ethics, environment -- NONE of those goals fail from taking supplements.
The only thing that fails is an ego game of trying to eat nothing but 100% natural plants for some bizarre reason.
It's every bit as silly an endeavor as if I decided to only eat rhyming foods on a given day. It may be possible, but why? There's no nutritional or ethical reason to only eat rhyming foods, and no nutritional or ethical reason to avoid supplements.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
I understand, but honestly we've been having official public recommendations for many things before which then have turned out not to be healthy (like meat).
Before the discovery of B-12 it was important for people to eat some animal products. Likewise, in the past nutritional science was in its infancy, and we didn't know how to properly plan a very diet: nor was our agricultural ability up for it. You can't plan a good vegan diet from potatoes and carrots if that's all you have to work with.

We've really only had the ability to plan modern vegan diets for a couple generations. And yeah, public health recommendations are a little behind. Doesn't mean they were inherently wrong in their original contexts... except when you mix in a heap of politics (which is particularly bad with the USDA, but even they recognize plant based diets now).
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
1) I couldn't justify it to my family, which is already a social obstacle to my vegan diet as things currently stand. I can feel their judgement just thinking of taking supplements, and ultimately if I did take them I would feel like they're right to suggest that my diet is not healthy, which I really don't want to believe.
Why would you even tell them? I don't think it's their business, is it?

They're right right now because you're doing something wrong. But they'd no longer be right if you added supplements. They might still be judgmental, but they'd be wrong... like a family who can't accept your sexuality. That's their problem.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
2) I can't help but thinking that if I could survive on a vegan diet (or at least one that I can sustain, which is neither a 2500 calories/day nor an overly kale-inclusive one) I should be able to do so by eating real foods.
Maybe you just need to broaden your concept of what foods are. There's nothing wrong with supplements.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
Of course I care about the animals and the environment but this to me still feels like a choice between ethics and my health,
It isn't, though. If I'm understanding the situation correctly, it's a choice between ethics and... some weird ego thing of having to win at this and prove your judgmental family wrong.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
even if it would be nice to be able to choose the first, in reality that would be a very anguishing choice for me. I know it because that's been my experience taking B12 or fortified milks for the past months.
Have they been onto you about drinking fortified plant milks? That's terrible. Like really really terrible. This kind of behavior is no better than a homophobic family being shitty to a gay child because of their beliefs and traditions.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue May 21, 2019 3:10 pm
I hate it, but I really believe only a plant-based diet that includes small but regular amounts of animal products is sustainable without supplements and this now puts me in a horrible position. :|
You're the one putting yourself in this position by caring FAR too much about what your family thinks due to their irrational appeal-to-nature beliefs. Something that seems very hard for you to shake. You can make that choice. You just have to stop believing that nonsense and recognize that your family is treating you unfairly.

You can do a 100% whole foods plant based diet if you want... you'll probably just need a little help diet planning because you're doing something wrong. Like I said, let me know what you're eating and I'll help you.

But it seems kind of silly and unnecessary. Again, like a rhyming diet. Every single benefit of a plant based diet can be realized by including supplements too, and saving yourself some inconvenience and giving yourself a lot more flexibility on what you want to eat in a given day.

There's no reason you'd need to include animal products in your diet. If you want to give up and give into your family's pressure I doubt there's anything I cay say to dissuade you, but there's no health, environmental, or ethical reason not to be vegan and take a couple modest supplements to make things easier.

I'll help you plan a 100% whole foods plant based diet that will tick all the boxes on chronometer if that's what you really want. But I think you need to do some introspection on how much power you're giving your family's irrational judgement of your life choices.

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Amarillyde
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Post by Amarillyde » Fri May 24, 2019 6:36 am

I would not assume it's not caused by vitamin D deficiency. Wound healing is complicated, and impaired wound healing is a symptom of many deficiencies.
Yes, but I haven't been able to find anything about vitamin D deficiency being the 'cause' of cracks at the corner of the mouth. It's normally iron, zinc or B vitamins, which seem all quite possible to me, since absorption rates are not a certainty anyway.
Just eating healthfully won't cure every disease. This dematological problem is likely something else. It may be coincidence, or it could even be one of those cases where correcting a deficiency or getting healthier has side effects.
It might be a coincidence, that's true... But I've gotten yet another brand of D3 supplement (vegan and in liquid form, this time), I took the first dose yesterday (1000 IU, possibly less since it was the very first spray and that's less precise) and, without fail, today I'm developing again a mouth-corner crack – I really hope it's not going to turn into the week-long hell of blistering and swelling like the last two times, ugh :/. But in other words, taking the supplement seems to be the cause of these problems, rather than a deficiency of vitamin D being the reason of impaired wound healing, here.
But apart from my personal case, it's no mystery that, not only some supplements in high doses are harmful, but also that certain supplements do have very likely side effects (like iron, in high or just excessive doses). While I understand that drugs are useful, despite their side effects, to solve physical problems which might otherwise be left unsolved, in the case of supplements vegans must accept the side effects on purely ethical grounds. It is a perhaps small sacrifice, but it still does mean sacrificing your health a little. That's why I think it's misleading to tell people that a "well-planned vegan diet" is perfectly safe, instead of saying "a well-planned vegan diet that includes some supplements" is perfectly safe. Eating a diet that includes only small but regular amounts of animal products (I think it might be limited to two servings a week of fatty fish and seafood, though I'm not sure whether that would be enough for B12) essentially eliminates both the need for supplements and the negative effects of animal products on health. I see how if you take no issue whatsoever with taking supplements the choice is easy, but what other solution there is for those of us who do take issue with that?
We can track mineral supplements and follow them very easily by way of isotopes. It's a bit trickier but we can do that with synthetic vitamins too. Figuring out how something is absorbed and metabolized is a very active field of medicine. We don't even need to do that all the time, though, when we can take somebody with deficiency, give the person a supplement, then observe the deficiency to be corrected.
I don't think Campbell is denying that we can track a single mineral or nutrient in the body per se, his point is exactly that this is a reductionist approach that does not take into consideration the complexity of human nutrition, and when it comes to it a wholistic approach is needed. While we might be able to track the journey of one single nutrient in the body, we are currently unable to know exactly everything that is happening in our body when we eat an apple, a real food with a complexity of nutrients. The whole is more than the sum of its parts. While we know that supplements can work in solving short-term problems (and Campbell agrees on this), we do not know their long-term use outcomes. (more here, for example: https://nutritionstudies.org/evaluating ... mentation/)
Colin Campbell is ancient so maybe he never learned about that in school, but its reckless for him to be spreading ignorant misinformation like that. This kind of pseudoscience fear mongering against supplements (which save millions of lives) can really hurt people.
I hardly think that's very fair to dismiss someone as a quack just in virtue of his age. If we had definitive studies which show that supplements are completely safe and Campbell ignored them, sure... but it seems to me that the situation is nutritional science is more complex than that right now, hence the divide in the scientific community. In the same way, we can't dismiss a doctor just for being "pop" and trying to popularise a diet which can prevent some of the leading causes of disease in the Western world. He is a Cornell graduate and professor, published in world leading journals, without any ties to any industry... I would hesitate to dismiss him only because he (as many others) is not convinced by the role of supplements in nutrition.
Supplements aren't quite in the same class as drugs. They're studied like drugs, but their purpose is nutritive.
You can avoid taking drugs except in serious cases but have a sensible attitude toward supplements as a safety net and a way to be more casual about your diet and not worry too much.
Yes, only supplements are not 'nutrition', they are effectively drugs in as much as they behave differently from anything that our body has evolved to process. It might be able to deal with them, maybe all the time, maybe in the majority of the time, and maybe only sometimes... but I don't think the current status of research can make any assurances, otherwise it would be simply ridiculous to state the contrary for any doctor who would state otherwise, and it would be equally easy to produce scientific proof that they are wrong.
Not taking pain medication for a headache is not going to harm you. If you can tough it out that's perfectly fine. That doesn't apply to nutritional deficiency.
Sure, but nutritional deficiencies should be avoided by eating the right foods. Taking a supplement means that you're not doing that, in the same way that taking a drug means that there is something that needs to be fixed in your body.
You know there are synthetic forms that are actually better absorbed, right? A diet containing man-made products can be healthier than a "natural" diet.
In circumstances in which your body is malfunctioning, sure. But one thing is taking a supplement to fix a health problem which has come to be and would take very long to fix otherwise (if at all), another is to eternally keep the circumstances that generate that mistake in place, and to keep "fixing" the mistake with something that our body is not designed to use. Again, drugs and supplements work short term, but the idea of substituting in the long run natural sources of nutrition which are available and we know are healthy with man-made ones doesn't seem wise to me. Not because everything natural is good and everything synthetic is bad and should be avoided at all cost, but because we know that our bodies have evolved to eat real food while we don't know for sure whether they will at all be able to evolve to survive on isolated nutrients. And since we are fortunate enough to know what animal products are actually bad for us (not unlike supplements, they are most likely sustainable if taken occasionally, but not so if taken systematically, as the "blue zones" show), we can avoid those.
Again, even if the Earth weren't flat, over which experts can't agree...
This seems to me to be hardly the same. Flat Earth theory started in the 19th century, after the publication of a book written by a random dude who got a lot of following. We have plenty of proofs that the Earth is a sphere, and the only way to deny it would be to imagine a ridiculous, world-wide conspiracy. Scientific studies, their validity and interpretation are quite a different thing, infinitely more complex.
If you're only in it for health, there's still reason to believe taking B-12 and iron is healthier than eating a bunch of beef, taking calcium is healthier than drinking a bunch of milk, etc.
With plants and supplements you're getting the good without the bad.
I don't think beef and milk would be the answer, but salmon and seafood might, as I said above. This would still include some supplement (in calcium-set tofu, and plant milks), but in a much less systematic way.
'If you're only in it for health' is a bit off-putting: as I said, I'm all for the ethics of avoiding animal products, but I'm not convinced that replacing food with supplements is not harmful, and I'm pretty sure nobody would choose ethics over health because at that point you might just kill yourself, that'd be definitely more effective.
You can do a 100% whole foods plant based diet if you want... you'll probably just need a little help diet planning because you're doing something wrong. Like I said, let me know what you're eating and I'll help you.
Thank you for your offer, but I can plan a diet which would meet my nutritional needs in theory, I'm just saying that in practice it would be unrealistic, as my attempts have shown (and no, I rarely eat rice, and I don't eat very much fruit). Even if I'm relatively new to the micronutrients world, I have a long history of checking calories and macronutrients, so it's not for lack of theoretical knowledge that I can't fully meet my nutritional requirements, but because... life. I simply can't always be perfect, nobody can.

Finally, wrt my family, I don't care about what my family thinks of me a priori, nor they're the reason why I don't trust supplements or I have a careful attitude towards taking drugs. It's not just because "they said so and they must be right", but because it seems reasonable to me, and I haven't been able to find evidence of the contrary. The comparison with judgements over sexuality or the like don't seem to apply, to me, for the reasons explained above – there is evidently nothing wrong in loving whomever you want, but the safety of supplements... a much more complex story.

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