With an estimated 600,000 vegans in the UK and a record number of people taking part in Veganuary in 2019, there’s no denying this lifestyle has surged in recent years.
The term ‘vegan’ has received a 184 percent rise in Google searches within the last 90 days alone, but how does the diet impact different age groups?
Nutritionist, Jenny Carson reveals exactly how a vegan diet can affect you if you’re 18-30, 30-45 and 45 and over.
“This period is prime for optimising nutrition and being especially mindful of bone health, detoxification besides mood and hormone supporting nutrients. Combining a busy work life with socialising and exercise demands at this age means the amount of nutrients is crucial.
“The whole B vitamin family and magnesium are essential for stress management and energy production, while endurance exercisers and females will need to be mindful of their iron and calcium intake. However, these nutrients alone are not sufficient, calcium should be taken with sufficient dietary magnesium, Vitamin D and Vitamin K.
“Dietary sources of Vitamin B12 are exclusively animal sources, in fact the vegan diet is completely deficient of this crucial vitamin. The body does not have the facility to store water-soluble B vitamins and so they are needed on a daily basis. Subsequently, food supplements containing Vitamin B12 are essential to fill the nutritional gap in the vegan diet. The most common symptom of insufficient B12 intake is fatigue, the lack of energy is a result of Vitamin B12’s role in red blood cell production, which transport oxygen to the body’s cells to produce energy.”
“Parenting and peri-menopause are some of the biggest impacts of life between 30 and 45 years. These involve good sleep practices, relaxation and energy. Focus should be on the adequate provision of magnesium, the B-vitamin family, calcium, vitamin D and K.
“As age progresses the ability to digest and utilise food can decrease, and so, a digestive ritual can be useful. Take the time to prepare and think about your meal, this triggers the first phase of digestion. It is essential that B-vitamins are taken with a meal to take advantage of such secretions, in fact some cannot be absorbed if the gastric secretions are absent”.
45 and over:
“This age group might be able to celebrate their newfound freedom from work and children that are less dependent, which allows the development of new hobbies and increased leisure time. The main health issues can be around bone, joint and cognitive health.
“Here the focus should be on adequate levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially in the form of Eicosapentaenoic acid (|EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plus Choline. These nutrients are essential for brain health, good quality cell production and joint health.
“Vitamin d supplementation can become an important inclusion in their daily regimen. Vitamin D has multiple roles in keeping your body healthy: maintaining bone health, immune function and normal blood calcium levels and aids the body’s absorption of other nutrients. Public Health England recommends that everyone living in Northern Europe require Vitamin D3 400ius throughout the winter months to avoid developing a Vitamin D deficiency.
“When looking for food supplements, look for those that include good quality nutrients and do not use non-nutritive substances such as fillers, bulking agents, preservatives, colours, additives or sugar”.