Vegans are commonly confronted by people who believe a plant-based diet can’t possibly provide enough protein, enough iron, enough vitamins to keep a person healthy long-term. Kristina of YouTube channel FullyRawKristina, a fully raw vegan for over nine years, put these assumptions to the test… with a blood test. (1)
There’s a persistent misconception that a person can’t get enough protein without eating animal products. The truth is that a plant-based diet can provide all the protein needed to build and maintain strength; in fact, some high-profile and skilled athletes are vegetarian or vegan (2). The No Meat Athlete website contains a chart of best vegetarian and vegan sources for amino acids, along with a wealth of other resources (3).
The normal range for a total protein blood test is 6.0-8.3 gm/dL (4); the doctor testing Kristina followed a stricter range of 6.4-8.4. Kristina’s test result was 7.4, squarely normal.
Anemia and Iron Sufficiency
Another tenacious myth assumes vegetarians are anemic. There are actually a variety of raw vegan foods that are rich in iron, like the nutritional powerhouses of green leafy vegetables and dried beans (5). Eating plenty of vitamin C helps your body to maximize how much iron you absorb from food sources. The Natural News blog has multiple articles on tips for increasing iron intake and absorption (6)(7)(8).
The normal range of hemoglobin levels for an adult woman is 12 to 15 gm/dL (9). Kristina’s level was at 12.4.
Calcium and Bone Health
Kristina’s blood test turned up normal calcium levels, and perhaps more telling, low levels of parathyroid hormone. When the body is deprived of calcium the parathyroid gland secretes a hormone that leaches calcium out of the bones, (10) and over time this results in bones that are thin, weak, or misshapen. Vitamin D is essential for the body to use calcium properly, and Kristina’s Vitamin D level was 41 ng/mL, well inside the healthy range of 20-50 ng/mL. (11)
Vegetables and fruits are naturally full of vitamins, so it’s no surprise Kristina’s measured vitamin levels were healthy. There is one vitamin that’s not found in any member of the plant kingdom, though: vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria as well as animals, so in the past dirt remaining on root vegetables or leafy greens could provide the vitamin. With today’s insistence on completely clean vegetables… and with the modern need to make sure produce is rinsed so it is pesticide-free… this source has eliminated. Fortunately, as Kristina’s doctor says, vitamin B12 is among the easiest to supplement.
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