Whether through circumstance or by choice there are plenty of vegetarians amongst us. Vegetarians by choice fall into two groups. One group does not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but they do use dairy products. The second group is called vegans and these people do not use animal products or byproducts in any form whatsoever.
There are several health benefits of planned vegetarian diets. Even with carefully planned vegetarian diets a certain amount of caution is prudent because vegan diets can run short on certain essential nutrients. The more restrictive a vegan diet the greater the risk of this sort.
The human is a complex system and the basic elements that make it function are chemical processes and electrical impulses taking place or a cellular or even deeper level. Our diets are primarily responsible for maintaining a healthy balance of these chemicals in our bodies. The food we consume contains nutritional elements in the form of complex chemicals that are absorbed by the body and broken down to perform their functions. So nutrition is directly related to good health and the efficient functioning of our bodies.
The brain is no different in this regard from any other organ in the body. It also functions on chemical reactions and electrical impulses. Complex behavioral aspects like cognition, emotion, etc. are equally affected by nutrition as eyesight, hearing, and liver or heart function.
Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can result in mental illnesses and retardation or cognitive dysfunction and emotional instability.
Vegetarians must pay special attention to vitamin B deficiency in their diet as this is one of the most difficult vitamins to replace in a vegetarian diet. Vitamin B complex is involved in every major body system. It is equally important to mental health as physical health. Since vegetarians do not consume some of the richest sources of vitamin B complex they must pay heed to this problem and plan their diets accordingly.
The most abundant sources of B2 complex are milk and organ meats. It can also be found in enriched breads and cereals. They should be consumed in the proper amounts on a daily basis.
Niacin, vitamin B6, and other B complex vitamins are also usually found in meats and in smaller concentrations in enriched bread and cereals. Vitamin B12 is found exclusively in animal products. Vegan diets simply will not have this vitamin because it does not occur in the vegetable kingdom. B12 is vital in the production of red blood cells and the normal growth of children.
Nutritional supplements are a good way to supply the missing ingredients in a vegetarian lifestyle. There can be some pretty serious consequences due to vitamin deficiencies and these supplements can help vegans to avoid these problems.