Plant-Based Diets Lack Essential Nutrient Warns Nutritionist
The ongoing push towards plant-based and vegan diets risks worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health, warns a leading nutritionist in a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient – choline – found predominantly in animal foods.
Choline is an essential dietary nutrient critical to brain health, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.
Choline also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage.
The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.
In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes.
These are at 550 mg/day for men.
Lead author Dr Emma Derbyshire said: “This is… concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets.
“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK.
“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this.”