Cut out the meat, live longer and feel better.
Yes, but only to a degree because not all vegetarian diets are healthy.
You can eat an unhealthy vegetarian diet that seriously shortchanges your health, found research at the European Society of Cardiology.
This might be thanks to poor food choices (doughnuts count as vegetarian) or dietary mismanagement.
That said, most vegetarians do take care of their health and tend to take supplements that mop up any shortfalls, but this isn’t an exact science so beware of these mistakes.
- Supplements Aren’t Substitutes
People who follow a plant-based diet can suffer deficiencies in B and D vitamins as well as zinc and iron. Whole foods have enzymes that help unlock these nutrients better than many supplements so get your blood levels tested every few months to make sure you’re on track, even if you’re supplementing.
- Believing Plant-Based is Code for Healthy
Supplementing 101: Always read the label.
Just because it says it’s plant-based, doesn’t mean that there aren’t all sorts of cheap additives that you really don’t need, such as sugar.
Be sure and thoroughly understand what you’re putting into your body and do some research on the products you intend to use.
- Being Too Budget Focused on Protein
The cheapest, and often best-selling, protein supplement isn’t always the best indicator of quality, even if it’s organic or plant-based.
A study by the nonprofit Clean Label Project tested 134 of the top selling protein powders on Amazon and found 75% of plant-based products had measurable levels of lead. Yikes!
Plants tend to absorb heavy metals that may be in the soil or irrigation water and can absorb and biomagnify these toxins in potentially harmful amounts. Proper quality control will consider this concern and include heavy metals in ongoing testing.
- Believing Plant-Based Supplements Are Drug Free
Plant-based doesn’t necessarily mean drug free, a vital consideration if you’re subject to strict drug testing as an athlete or first responder or military service member. Much like heavy metals, plants have been shown to absorb drugs from treated wastewater used for irrigation meaning the drugs we use every day may get recycled in small amounts in our food.
Plants have even been shown to synthesize human steroid hormones like testosterone or androstenedione. Plant sterols that are naturally present can also be converted to anabolic steroids in the presence of certain microbiological agents.
Choosing supplements that use third-party certification to verify and represent product quality can keep you in the clear. Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) is a leader in third-party certification and testing for dietary supplements.
Look for the BSCG Certified Drug Free and BSCG Certified Quality seals. Both programs start with an in-depth review of quality control, regulatory compliance, and verify products are made in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). This sets the foundation for any good product.
The BSCG Certified Drug Free program is the sport standard providing industry leading protection with every lot tested for more than 500 banned substances offering the best protection available for athletes, first responders, military service members or other professionals subject to strict drug testing. The program also requires verification of label claims and environmental contaminant screening annually.
The BSCG Certified Quality program is the retail standard designed for consumer and regulatory protection. This annual testing program screens for our industry leading banned substance testing menu covering more than 500 drugs, verifies label claims, and checks for potential toxins like heavy metals, microbiological agents, pesticides, and solvents.
BSCG is acknowledged as a leader in third-party certification by NIH-ODS, UFC, LPGA, NBA, CrossFit, Sport Nutrition and Dietitian Japan (SNDJ), Canadian Sport Institute, U.S. Department of Defense Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) to name a few.
The BSCG seals should fill you with a sense of trust that your supplement has what it claims on the label and is not contaminated with banned substances in sport or other potential drug contaminants.
Plants and plant-based products can certainly be your friend when it comes to nutrition, but watch out for these pitfalls. Certified supplements can help you ensure you are getting the positives from plant based nutrition.