What You Need To Know About B12 Part 2

What You Need To Know About Vitamin B12

In the last post, I briefly touched on why we need vitamin B12 and how much of it our body requires. In this segment, I’ll be talking about the best vegan sources for vitamin B12. Not all B12 supplements are vegan due to some animal-derived fillers, even though B12 itself is always vegan.

As previously mentioned, we need 3-5 micrograms a day of B12. If you are relying on fortified foods to acquire your vitamin B12, pay careful attention to servings sizes. If one serving only has 1 microgram of B12 in it, then you will need to consume 3 servings throughout the day to reach your recommended dietary allowance (RDA).

B12 supplements on the other hand may be more convenient and more economical. Although most supplements tend to have more of the vitamin than the body requires or can use, there is no harm in exceeding the recommended amount for this vitamin by combining sources. So no need to worry about taking a supplement and consuming a fortified food in the same day. Only intakes above 5000 micrograms per week should be avoided due to lack of evidence for toxicity from higher amounts. Better to err on the side of caution.

It is also more beneficial to chew the tablet since it increases absorption. Absorption of B12 can vary widely from about 50% if 1 microgram is consumed to about 0.5% for amounts above 1000 micrograms. Therefore, if you are consuming B12 less frequently, you need to be consuming in a higher amount. You can take a daily supplement of 10 micrograms or a weekly supplement of 2000 micrograms. The amount and frequency is up to you for what works best with your schedule.

It is also worth mentioning that individuals 50 years or older should supplement regardless of their diet. According to The Institute of Medicine, “Because 10 to 30 percent of older people may be unable to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12, it is advisable for those older than 50 years to meet their RDA mainly by consuming foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a vitamin B12-containing supplement.”

When no dietary supply occurs, deficiency symptoms can take five years or more to develop in adults, however some  can experience symptoms within a year. Even though the onset of symptoms from deficiency can take years to develop due to the body’s ability to recycle this vitamin, it is critical that you still get the recommended amount either daily or weekly depending on your choice of consumption. This is because there is no consistent pattern of symptoms and (mostly in rare cases) the damage to the nervous system can be irreversible.

So where can you get your B12? Here are my recommended sources below (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. Fortified plant-based milks
  2. Fortified cereals
  3. Nutritional yeast
  4. Supplements

Be careful with nutritional yeast though as B12 is light sensitive so getting it from a bulk bin may not be sufficient. And be sure that it is fortified as not all nutritional yeasts contain B12.

The same is true for plant-based milks–double check that it is fortified as several are not. We recently picked up some almond milk from the brand Simple Truth which is fortified but we’ve gotten the Silk brand in the past which wasn’t.

And here are some safe vegan B12 supplements that I found:

VeganSafe

Spring Valley

MegaFood

Nature’s Bounty

Safeway

Obviously there are more than just these 5 I mention so just be careful that they are vegan and provide the right amount for the frequency you choose to take.

xoxo Rachel

What You Need to Know About B12 Part 1

What You Need To Know About Vitamin B12

As you may or may not know, B12 is a vitamin produced by bacteria in the soil. Prior to modern times, our ancestors consumed enough B12 from the vegetation since they didn’t wash it before eating like we do now. Animals get their B12 in the same manner–they eat the grass and vegetation that has a bit of soil on it containing B12.

Because this nutrient is so important (and because as I was researching I found so much I wanted to talk about) I’ve decided one post isn’t enough and I am making a mini-series to discuss everything you need to know about B12.

B12 is essential since all cells in the body need it.  The first effects of it are seen in the blood and nervous system. Megaloblastic anemia, characterized by large red blood cells, is a common result of deficiency. A patient even with severe deficiency can tolerate the low red blood cell count which can always be cured by taking small amounts of B12. You only need 3-5 micrograms a day but your chances of getting anemia from being deficient is less than one in a million.

Additionally, it has been observed that B12 can be recycled by the body for up to 20 or even 30 years (assuming you don’t consume any more during that time). However, it is very unlikely that you’d be able to completely avoid it for that long. So many foods these days are fortified with it. Though there are recommendations that if you’re on a whole food plant-based diet that you should be supplementing it after three years. This is because even an omnivore can be deficient in B12. If you start off deficient when switching to a vegan diet a supplement can immediately correct this deficiency. It’s best to get your blood tested first, and then decide whether supplementation is necessary.

Most of the time though the deficiency is related to intestinal diseases and not the diet. But again, the chances are one in a million of  developing a disease from being deficient.

Next up, I’ll talk about the best vegan sources for getting your B12.

xoxo Rachel

Do We Require Animal Protein?

Anytime I so much as yawn at the office, my coworkers quickly jump to the conclusion that I’m tired because I lack animal protein. I know it’s all in jest, but I think some of them really are trapped in that belief that you need it to be healthy.

So what’s the deal with protein anyway? Well there are 9 essential amino acids, meaning they can’t be produced by our bodies. We must acquire them through our food. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) Position 2016, “Vegetarian, including vegan, diets typically meet or exceed recommended protein intakes, when caloric intakes are adequate.” This means that as long as you’re eating enough calories, you will consume enough protein. So don’t starve yourself.

A common misconception is that plant proteins are not complete, or that we have to combine proteins in meals to adequately absorb the complementary proteins. The AND states,

“The terms complete and incomplete are misleading in relation to plant protein. Protein from a variety of plant foods, eaten during the course of a day, supplies enough of all indispensable (essential) amino acids when caloric requirements are met.”

So you don’t have to try to get all of the essential amino acids in one meal. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agrees with the AND that humans do not need to eat certain proteins together to receive adequate nutrition. As you may have seen in this post where I showed everything I ate in a day, I easily met my protein requirements.

So which plants do I eat to get my proteins? Well, all plants have protein, but here are some sources with a higher concentration:
Top-Sources-of-Plant-Based-Protein

And it should be mentioned that even with plant protein more does not necessarily mean better. Excess protein calories do not magically turn in to muscles. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for protein for an average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To find your average individual need, use this calculation:  body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams)

That should be more than enough to build and maintain muscle mass for the average person. Be weary of consuming too much protein as excess puts a strain on your kidneys and puts you at risk for kidney stones.

As for animal protein, there are many risks associated with consuming it. Animal protein triggers the release of the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1 while plant proteins bring levels down. Consuming meat in general is also linked with heart disease and strokes, increased insulin levelsinflammatory arthritisfertility issues in women and the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. The list goes on. And it is frightening.

So do yourself a favor and ditch the meat.

Also, (pointed-comment-at-my-coworkers-who-are-not-even-reading-this) protein is not a source of energy unless you are starving. The majority of the body’s functions run on glucose which I easily obtain from my high carb diet. So no, I’m not tired because of my lack of animal protein, I’m tired because of your lack of understanding of it.  😛

xoxo Rachel

This is not the greatest meal in the world, this is just a tribute!

Couldn’t remember the greatest meal in the world, no no, this is just a tribute!

Just a little Tenancious D humor for ya:

Right, so it’s Valentine’s Day weekend, and we are making a tribute to the greatest Italian meal in the world! AKA, some pasta and veggies.

I found this Creamy Vegan Garlic Pasta With Roasted Tomatoes recipe from the Minimalist Baker. It sounded like the perfect dish to make as our Valentine’s Day meal along with some homemade bread (holla bread machine!) and of course dessert (edible cookie dough).

Now, I know after just posting about my efforts to stick to the Nutritarian diet, this meal goes against all principles, BUT it’s a special day and certainly is not how I regularly eat. Not only are we celebrating Valentine’s Day, but we are celebrating a year being homeowner’s and Valentine’s Day last year was the first meal we cooked in our home. It’s a tribute to House (our endearing and super clever name for our home).

So for this meal, we decided to make our pasta with the addition of mushrooms and asparagus for some added nutrients. And it just so happened to form a salute to the Italian flag.

italian flag veggies

We drizzled some oil and spices on top before baking the veggies.

oil and spices

We also spiralized some zucchini to add to our pasta.

The pasta turned out so good and creamy. Definitely a worthy tribute to the greatest Italian meal in the world.

vegan creamy garlic pasta with roasted veggies

We also decided to make a side of bread with our very own bread machine! We’ve had this baby for a while and are just now getting around to using it (fail). It is so easy to use though and takes all of the work out of making a loaf of fresh homemade bread. I remember in my Bakery Science days, how tedious and time consuming it was to make bread. We had labs that would last 6-8 hours dedicated to learning the science behind baking the perfect loaf of bread. Now, a bread machine can do it all.

Our first loaf:

homemade whole wheat bread

It turned out really well! Although it missed mixing in everything (some dough got stuck to the upper corner of the bowl). I think you can actually lift the lid and scrap it down while it’s running, but I got nervous about messing it up so I just left it to do its thang.

whole wheat bread

For all you bakers out there, just look at that crumb structure! Not bad, not bad.

homemade whole wheat bread

The meal came together nicely.

vegan creamy garlic pasta with roasted veggies

vegan creamy garlic pasta with roasted veggies

Mmm vegan parm sprinkled on top.

For the cookie dough, we followed this recipe from Buzzfeed. We went the cookies and cream route but added Red Velvet Oreos because we’re fancy. We also replaced the butter with vegan butter and the milk with almond milk. I don’t think I did the greatest job smashing the Oreos before mixing them in, but it still tastes good! We used whole wheat flour because that’s all we have on hand and it was a bit dry. I should have known to add more liquid but didn’t think of it. Oh well!

red velvet oreo cookie dough

And that was our ahhhmazing Valentine’s Day meal. What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

xoxo Rachel

P.S. Mushrooms are fun.

mushroomstache

Food I Pack For The Day

Keeping up with my new year’s resolution to stick to the Nutritarian Diet, I am actively adjusting how I eat in order to pack in ALL of the nutrients everyday. Or at least most of them.

And what timing this is as I am currently recovering from a bit of a head cold. Just stuffed up sinuses so nothing major, but a majority of my coworkers are getting hit with the flu. Either I picked up something completely different, or perhaps the Nutritarian lifestyle is already at work, boosting my immune system so much that I am only showing one symptom of the flu? That sounds right.

In case you don’t know what the Nutritarian diet is, check out my previous post about the health study and how you can get a free book! I’m all about the books, about the books, no treble (Meghan Trainor, anyone?). The book is Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He coined the term “Nutritarian” and describes it as being “nutrient-dense and plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods, which also facilitate weight loss.”

The study focuses on the health of the Nutritarian diet and the occurrence, recurrence, and progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and all forms of cancer. Another key benefit from the diet is the reduced occurrences and symptoms of the common-cold. Basically, the diet is centered about your micronutrients, those elusive vitamins and minerals that are essential for daily bodily functions. The World Health Organization describes them as “magic wands” (not kidding) that “enable the body to produce enzymes, hormones and other substances essential for proper growth and development.” Not only that, but the immune system relies on an adequate supply of those micronutrients to function efficiently.

Alright, you get the point.

So here’s what a typical work day looked like before I started planning ahead:

8:00AM I eat a banana on my way to work

8:30AM Get to work and immediately eat a package of the belVita brown sugar breakfast cookies

9:00AM Buy a small iced coffee with hazelnut syrup and a splash of soy milk

11:00AM Small snacks of wheat thins to tide me over until lunch

12:00PM Eat the healthy lunch I packed

2:00PM Hunger strikes and I grab some wheat thins or peanut butter pretzel bites

3:30PM Snack time again as I get antsy for the work day to end–time for a Kid’s Cliff  Bar

4:30PM Almost time to leave and workout, better fuel myself with one of the previously mentioned snacks again

As you can see, I snack a lot, mostly in the afternoon since the coffee suppresses my morning appetite for the most part.

So here’s an example of a typical day of food I take with me to work. *Note, this is not everything I eat in a day, just what I take for work so that I’m not tempted by all of the processed snack options.

Food I pack for the day

Food I pack for the day

So here’s what I take:

My oatmeal fixin’s so that I can make it at work. This replaces the belVita temptation. I take a tablespoon of ground flax seed, a teaspoon of maple syrup, and a half cup of berries–blueberry and blackberry this time. I keep the quick oats and cinnamon at work and just add water to cook it in the microwave. This is pretty filling from all of the fiber so I don’t need to snack throughout the morning (but I still have my coffee… gotta work on that).

Oatmeal Fixin's

Next, I always have a healthy lunch full of vegetables, whole grains or legumes, and starches like sweet potato. This stew did not disappoint.

Food I Pack for the Day

My afternoon snack is now carrots with hummus. Turmeric = yellow hummus. Mine is homemade but you could get store-bought as well. I just prefer mine without oil, which store-bought ones usually contain. Oil = acne for me. Another great snack is a piece of fruit like an apple with some peanut butter or some raw almonds.

turmeric hummus

And lastly, I have the banana right before I leave work so that I’m fueled up for my workout. A piece of fruit is a great pre-workout snack.

Now, with a little preparation, my snacks are definitely more aligned with the Nutritarian diet and I’m much more efficient throughout the day without the constant snacking.

What healthy choices are you making throughout the day? Do you suffer from constant-snacker syndrome like I do?

xoxo Rachel

Eliminate 10 Items Resolution #2

I really wanted to address the current situation with the purge of animal welfare documents from the USDA site, but for some reason I can’t bring myself to do it (still can’t grasp the absurdity of it all). All I will say is that so much cruelty goes unseen and to do away with those documents that so many organizations depend on to protect animals is appalling. However, the single most effective way to end the suffering of animals is to vote with your dollar every time you’re at the grocery store. Stop the suffering!

Anyway, that wasn’t the purging I intended to talk about today. It’s another month which means another day of purging 10 items from my household. As mentioned in the last elimination session, I was targeting the bathroom vanity. I just have too much makeup, hair products, and randomness in there. It’s hard to find things and stay organized.

Here she is in all her glory. Please excuse the scratched up wood. We are planning to refinish it someday.

The vanity

But anyways, here’s what we’re working with. And yes, I claim all of the drawers. Daniel gets nothing.

The vanity before

In the top left drawer I keep my base layer makeups like primer, foundation, concealer, and powders. I organized things in order of use because I’m practical like that. Or something. Second drawer on the left holds eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascara, and lip colors. Bottom left is feminine hygiene (gotta have that stuff conveniently located–ya know?). Top right–again most used hair stuff like combs and brushes, a hand mirror, bobby-pins and the like. Second right is additional hair stuff like hair bands, hair ties, and more bobby pins. Bottom right is basically the bathroom junk drawer though it’s mostly nail care with some hair and teeth (crest white strips) mixed in.

Here’s what I purged from the top left drawer:

top left drawer purged

Mostly, it’s really old makeup, that I used up or never quite matched my skin right. Or that I loved so much I didn’t want to admit it was empty–like those NARS concealers. *sigh*

In similar fashion to my previous elimination, here’s the side-by-side comparison. It’s now so much easier to find the makeup I want and the excess clutter in the back of the drawer is gone.

1stleft

The second drawer is definitely more organized now but I still have wayyyy too much make up. I got rid of mostly old make up again. Some of this stuff is like 10 years old. Yikes.

2nd left drawer purged

By the way, that container with the tape on it is my homemade dry shampoo, in case you were wondering.

2ndleft

The bottom drawer didn’t need much help already but I cleared out some items that didn’t fit the “theme” of the drawer.

3rd left purged

Basically it was just that bag in the back full of the items above. I am planning to keep the hand sanitizer because I use that stuff like it’s going out of style. The rest is going to a good home. I’m also keeping the bag, because it’s cute (I can’t help myself!) but I have moved it to the location where I keep bags. And yes, that’s all of the feminine hygiene products I use–a menstrual cup and some panty liners. If you’re a woman and you haven’t heard of a menstrual cup you should educate yo’self! They are awesome.

3rdleft

Now for the other side. This drawer was really all things I used, just disorganized. There were spare toothbrushes in there that I moved to our medicine cabinet, along with some face cream. Everything else stayed.

1st right

Below is what I removed from the second drawer. I ended up getting rid of some ill-fitting headbands, some old makeup brushes, contacts I don’t need (yay LASIK!), and some skin cream from my eczema-suffering days.

2nd right purged

The second drawer doesn’t look like a huge improvement but I was able to organize it more. Obviously Powercat face stickers and a green twirler hair tool that I don’t know how to use or why I have it are necessities. I need help.

2nd right

Here’s what I removed from the third drawer. I still technically need to confirm with Daniel that I can get rid of the razors… I think they’re his? Although I have been known to use a male Gillette before. So many blades!

3rd right purged

The third drawer was just chaos. Old nail polishes, razors, and teeth whitening strips that I’m sure were past their prime (I’m considering oil pulling for a more natural whitening remedy). The after is so much better with just the “essentials.” You know, fake nails and eyelashes.

3rd right

I like these posts because they keep me accountable with my resolutions AND someday when I forget what happened to something I had I can look back at these posts and be like “Oh yeah, I got RID of it” and then cry because the void of that item will never be filled again.

How do you organize your bathroom? Do you hoard old makeup/beauty products like me?

xoxo Rachel

 

Calories?

calories

Although I don’t count calories, I have been curious lately how many I’ve been eating. When I heard about other female vegan bloggers/vloggers and how many calories they consume on a daily basis (mostly in the 2000+ range!) I became intrigued. Wow! Can they really eat that much? Do I eat that much? And we’re talking some fine fit ladies here so I was curious to see where I fell on the spectrum.

So on Sunday I tracked everything I ate to see what I was getting. I used Cronometer because they give you a breakdown of both macro and micronutrients.

Here’s my overview:

Food Diary Overview

I hit 88% of my targets overall. Iron, calcium, and folate were below target but, had I not been at a calorie deficit, I likely would have been close to or surpassed them. As for B12, I’m not worried about that yet because our bodies can recycle B12 for years and most plant-based milks are fortified with it. However, I do plan to take a B12 supplement in the near future just because even someone on a Standard American Diet can be deficient in it.

So now on to what I actually ate:

Food Diary 1.29.17

This isn’t in any particular order, just what I ate as it came to mind. For some clarity, I broke down the meals I ate below.

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with fresh fruit

Lunch:
Fresh spring rolls with thai peanut sauce

Snacks:
A banana with peanut butter
Pretzel sticks

Dinner:
A big salad topped with cucumber, black olives, walnuts, and Dorothy Lynch salad dressing
Sweet potato stew with kale, carrots, corn, green beans, and mushrooms

This was a pretty average day, although, it was a weekend when I’m at home and tend to eat healthier. Work has too many tempting snacks (fruit roll ups, wheat thins, peanut butter pretzel bites–oh my!). But as mentioned from my resolutions update, I am working to be better prepared on those days.

But the real takeaway in all of this is that I wanted to show how you can get all of the nutrients you need on this plant-based diet and more–check out that fiber and Vitamin C! And not an orange in sight. The thing is, although it is important to make sure you’re not over or under eating in calories, the main thing is to focus on micronutrients. If you’re eating WHOLE PLANT-BASED FOODS, you should be able to hit your micronutrient goals without over eating in calories. Why? Because whole plant foods are nutrient dense, not calorie dense. You will get full before you can over eat. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle. And the foods are so tasty! Just look at this amazing lentil soup I’m enjoying tonight.

Vegan Lentil Soup

So here are my nutrient results from the day:
Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 7.50.00 PM

Just some items of note, I jogged outside for thirty minutes that day so I easily reached my Vitamin D quota just by sunshine alone. And look how easily I hit my Omega-3-6 by adding flaxseed to my oatmeal!

My protein intake wasn’t too shabby either. The Recommended Dietary Allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. That’s about 46 grams of protein for the average woman. Although I didn’t quite make it, I also didn’t reach my recommended calorie intake. Had I done that, my protein would have hit it.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 7.50.14 PM

I also want to be transparent and keep it real. So speaking of real, on Saturday I ate an entire bag of chips #noshame. I sent Daniel to the store hungry and he came back with a bag of chips for each of us (salt & vinegar are the best!). I wasn’t craving chips until they were right there in front of me. I didn’t eat them all in one sitting but every time I walked by the kitchen I grabbed a handful (or three) and by the end of the day the bag was empty. Whoops!

It happens. And you know what? It’s okay. Sometimes you stray off course but don’t let that deter you from getting back on it the next day or even the next meal. Plus, nothing wrong with a little splurge every now and then.

xoxo Rachel