The human brain is the most complex object in the universe. This is also the organ that consumes the most energy when compared to its weight. The brain represents only 2% of our body weight but uses 20% of total energy. This organ has evolved over millions of years, and during all this time humans have been omnivorous, that is, we eat both plants and animals. Many nutrients found in animal and plant foods are essential for the proper functioning of our brain. In this article, I will show you 5 nutrients that are very important to the brain and that are only found in animal foods.
1. Vitamin B12:
Did you know that there is not a single population in the history of the world that has voluntarily adopted a vegan diet? That is because before the creation of supplements, such a change in eating habits could have been responsible for the deaths of millions of people in a few years. Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that the body cannot produce and can only be obtained from animals. This vitamin is soluble in water, and is related to the function of each cell in the body. It is also linked to blood formation and brain function. Deficiency of this vitamin results in anemia, deterioration of brain function, symptoms of mental disorders and a smaller brain. There is also evidence that links vitamin B12 deficiency to Alzheimer’s, which is the most common cause of dementia in Western countries. The only reliable sources of vitamin B12 are animal foods such as meat, fish and eggs. The deficiency of this vitamin is usual in vegans and vegetarians, who avoid this type of food. One study found that 92% of vegans and 47% of lacto-ovo vegetarians were deficient in this important nutrient for the brain. Having vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreparable damage to the brain. If your levels are only slightly lower than they should be, you may experience symptoms such as poor memory, depression and fatigue. So even if you don’t suffer from clinical symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, you could be a little less lucid than you should be. If you decide to avoid foods of animal origin, you should make sure you consume supplements with vitamin B12 or consume foods that have been fortified with them. Algae are a potential source of vitamin B12, but their effective ability to correct the deficiency of this vitamin has not yet been proven up to this point.
Note: Vitamin B12 is essential for the health of the brain and nervous system, and is mainly found in animal foods. A deficiency of it can cause all kinds of adverse effects on brain functions.
Every athlete, bodybuilder and gym fan knows creatine. It is the most popular muscle growth supplement in the world, for good reasons. Scientific studies have proven that creatine supplements can increase muscle mass and strength. The way creatine works is that it forms a reserve of energy that quickly recycles ATP into our cells. ATP is the “currency of change” of the cells, which is what the energies of our food and our fat reserves become. During exercises that consume a lot of energy for a short period of time, creatine gives us more energy and helps us withstand more time. However, creatine is not an essential nutrient, because the liver can produce it thanks to other amino acids. However, this conversion process seems to be inefficient. About 95% of the creatine in our body is stored in skeletal muscles. Although it can also be found in the brain. In the same way that our muscles require energy to work, our brain needs energy to perform other tasks … like thinking. Vegetarians who consume creatine supplements see improvements in cognitive performance, especially in complex tasks, while no differences have been observed in people who consume meat regularly. This means that vegetarians have a creatine deficiency that negatively affects brain functions.
“Vegetarians also have a low amount of creatine in skeletal muscles. Creatine supplements are particularly effective in improving athletic performance in this group”.
If you have to avoid meat, consider supplementing your diet with some creatine monohydrate. This will make you stronger and could make you smarter too.
Note: Creatine is an important nutrient for muscles and the brain that helps provide energy. Studies show that vegetarians have creatine deficiency, which brings adverse effects on muscle and brain functions.
3. Vitamin D3:
You’ve probably heard about vitamin D before, because it has received a lot of media attention in recent years. Vitamin D is produced from cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Today, a large part of the world suffers from this nutrient deficiency, which functions as a steroid hormone in the body. Many people live where the sun is basically absent for most of the year. But even in countries where the sun is abundant, people often stay in the shadows and use sunscreens when they go outside. There are two main forms of vitamin D in the diet: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 comes from plants, while D3 comes from animals. Recent research has shown that D3 is much more effective than its plant counterpart. Some sources of vitamin D3 in the diet may be cod liver oil and fatty fish, but you would have to eat very large amounts to meet the body’s requirements. Vitamin D deficiency is related to all kinds of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Having low levels of vitamin D in the blood is also related to disorders in the brain, including multiple sclerosis, depression and cognitive impairment. If the place where you live does not enjoy enough sun during the year, the only way to get vitamin D3 is through foods such as cod liver oil and fatty fish. The alternative is to consume vitamin D3 supplements, which is highly recommended for those who have been diagnosed with this deficiency.
Note: A large part of the world suffers from vitamin D3 deficiency, which is only found in animal foods. The deficiency of this essential nutrient is linked to depression and other diseases.
Carnosine is a very important nutrient that you may have never heard of before. The prefix “meat” is the Latin term for meat, as in the word carni-voro (meat consumer). It is only found in animal tissues, which means that vegans and vegetarians will not get much of it. Carnosine is created from two amino acids and is found in high concentrations in muscle and brain tissues. This substance protects against various degenerative processes of the body. It is a potent antioxidant, inhibits glycation caused by large amounts of sugar and can prevent protein cross-linking. For this reason, carnosine has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement. Carnosine levels are significantly lower in patients with mental disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – the two most common degenerative disorders. Scientists have speculated that animal foods could protect the brain against aging thanks to its large amounts of carnosine.
Note: Carnosine is found only in animal tissues. This nutrient can reduce the damage caused by large amounts of glucose in the blood and can have strong anti-aging effects.
5. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
People concerned about their nutrition know that omega 3 fatty acids are very important. The human body cannot produce them; therefore we must obtain them in the diet. This is why omega 3 (and omega 6) are called “essential” fatty acids – if we don’t consume them, we get sick. There are two active forms of omega 3 in the body, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA. DHA is the most abundant omega 3 fatty acid in the brain and is essential for its normal development. A low consumption of DHA can have adverse effects on cognitive function and mental health, especially in children. It is also very important for women in the state, since omega 3 levels in a woman can have profound effects on the child’s brain. Some people replace the consumption of supplements of animal origin with linseed oil, which is a source with more ALA … A vegetable form of omega 3. However, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) needs to be converted into DHA in order to function. Research indicates that this conversion process is ineffective in humans. For this reason, vegans and vegetarians are more likely to suffer from a deficit of this important fatty acid. The best source of DHA is fatty fish. Other equally good sources come from grass-fed animals, and also some algae that can produce EPA and DHA.
Note: Omega 3 DHA fatty acids are critical for the proper functioning of the brain. Especially found in foods of animal origin such as fatty fish. Research indicates that vegans and vegetarians lack them.
Humans have evolved consuming both animals and plants. However, we can develop in the same way without one of these food groups. In the 21st century, people have been able to survive and function without food of animal origin as long as they consume supplements with essential nutrients.