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Nutritional Vulnerabilities and Challenges to be Both Vegetarian and Healthy

Summary: Any “restricted” diet can be deficient in valuable nutrients. Individuals with genetic predispositions who also choose a vegetarian diet can develop mental and physical illnesses.

Nutritional Vulnerabilities and Challenges to be Both Vegetarian and Healthy

My Story: As a teenager, my love of animals led me to become a vegetarian. Unfortunately, I had no knowledge of healthy versus unhealthy vegetarian diets. It was the 80’s and I embraced the “low fat diet” trend. My diet consisted mainly of cereal, bread, pasta, French fries, fruit, a little cheese, and some vegetables. By age 16, I was bulimic. By 19, I was terribly sick with Lyme disease. My body was depleted. My mind no longer worked properly. My genetic vulnerabilities along with nutrient deficiencies set off a perfect storm of illnesses that have required a life-time to resolve.

Lessons I Learned That May Apply to Your Teenager: Malnutrition causes mental illness. Deficiencies of vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids DHA and EPA are commonly identified in teenagers struggling with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Adolescents need an abundance of nutrients as their brain and bodies develop. During adolescence, the average individual increases their weight by 50% as their skeletal frame, muscles, and soft tissues mature. During these years, the body is also introducing and utilizing “new” hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters. The teenage brain and all other tissues need abundant, appropriate nutrients to develop correctly.

If your teenage son or daughter decides to become vegetarian or vegan, consider working and learning with them how to prepare balanced meals with the appropriate amounts of healthy proteins and fats. Fill their young, growning, vulnerable bodies with nutritious food. Know that a true vegan must supplement to obtain the correct nutrients for mind and body health. Give your children the tools they need to thrive.

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