Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. , also known as The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet-the established effects of which provide positive healthful benefits.
As we wrap up 2017 (wow, how did that happen?), I’m excited to announce a new book that went on presale this week. I will never forget those months seven years ago working on the first edition, waking up at 4 am to write before my two small toddlers took over the day. Fast forward to last summer and my agent called to ask if I might be interested in updating Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot’s Guide)and I immediately responded with an enthusiastic, YES! So much has changed in the world of plant-based diet and nutrition since the first edition in the book. And for me, the last year has been somewhat of a personal renaissance.
My journey to a plant-based diet was wrought with limited information, unintentional sabotage by friends and family, and wider social pressures. Many of you have experienced some or all of these, but today, nearly 30 years after my journey began, we now have unimaginable resources to help our plant-based journey move swiftly and effortlessly. In early 2017 we published a paper in the Journal of Geriatric Cardiology on plant-based nutrition and it afforded me the opportunity to review the literature for advances in plant-based nutrition. I added a co-author to that paper, former NASA Scientist and metabolic guru, Ray Cronise. He’s the guy behind Magician, Penn Jillette’s amazing 100-lb. weight loss and plant-based diet transformation. He’s been working at the intersection of plant-based diet and healthspan/longevity research and brings an entirely new perspective to the table.
Together we not only co-authored that paper, but I also asked him to join me on the revised edition of Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot’s Guide). He’s gone back two centuries, to the very beginning of metabolism and nutrition and collected some of the most historically significant textbooks and articles. We have done experiments with food and metabolism and I even lost 12 lbs and achieved and maintained a weight I’ve never reached in my adult life this past year with this exciting information.
Our work overlaps perfectly and we have included that in this new edition of Plant-Based Nutrition. We have an entirely new way to organize food called the Food Triangle, which eliminates the popular, but contradictory, macronutrient-centered scheme of protein, carbs, and fat (we named it macroconfusion). There is information on the metabolic consequences of oxidative priority, which explains why we tend to gain weight eating certain foods. We use these tools to examine how a plant-based diet can promote healthspan through it’s mimicking of very successful dietary restriction without malnutrition research. We believe that a whole food, plant-based diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices is the most enjoyable and easiest step you can take to not just live longer, but to LIVE longer.
Of course you’ll also find updated material from the first edition that covers nutrition information across the lifespan from pregnancy to athletes to seniors. We have new recipes from plant-based celebrity chefs such as Matthew Kenney, Dreena Burton, Jazzy Vegetarian, Kathy Patalsky, Robin Robertson, Fran Costigan, Jason Wyrick, and Matt Frazier. It’s a great getting started guide for plant-curious friends and family and its lessons are all centered on the solid scientific evidence we lay out in our journal article. Presales will continue through the official publication date of January 9th, 2018.
Thank you for your continued support. I am so excited about the upcoming year and the explosion of plant-based nutrition information.
One nutrient that likely will fall short on a plant-based diet is cobalamin, commonly referred to as vitamin B12. B12 is produced by microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, and algae, but not by animals or plants. B12 is found in animal products because they concentrate the nutrient after ingesting these microorganisms along with their food in their flesh, organs, and byproducts (e.g. eggs and dairy). Also, ruminant animals (such as cows, sheep, and goats) have bacteria in their rumen that produce vitamin B12.
In a vegan diet, vitamin B12 may be found in fortified plant milks, cereals, and other foods, such as nutritional yeast. However, if vegans are not conscientious about taking in the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), there could be harmful health consequences. Deficiency can result in potentially irreversible neurological disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and megaloblastic anemia. B12 deficiency is not unique to vegans who do not supplement. Deficiency is also a concern with aging, medication use, and gastrointestinal issues. So much so that it has been recommended that all adults over the age of 60 years supplement to avoid deficiency.
Interestingly, the body is able to store B12 for upwards of even ten years. To further complicate this, signs and symptoms for deficiency are either not noticeable or simply very subtle. So, if B12 is not being taken in at adequate levels or if there are absorption problems, deficiency will eventually ensue. Because blood tests for B12 levels can be skewed by other variables, irreversible damage may occur before a deficiency is detected.
RDA’s for vitamin B12 across the lifespan can be found in detail here. For non-pregnant adults, aged 14 and above, the RDA is 2.4 micrograms per day. To ensure this is absorbed (in a healthy individual, barring any possible inhibitors), higher doses are recommended.
The bottom line is that it seems the best way to supplement to maximize absorption and maintain optimal blood levels of B12 is for vegan adults (as well as non-vegan adults over the age of 60) should consider supplementing with these doses of vitamin B12:
50 µg twice a day OR
150 µg once a day OR
2,500 µg once a week
High doses of B12 are safe and there isn’t a tolerable upper limit that has been established. It is best to undergo testing regularly and adjust the dose as necessary.
Plant-Based Nutrition for Healthcare Professionals
Double celebration as my new article with Ray Cronise, Plant-Based Nutrition for Healthcare Professionals: Implementing Diet as a Primary Modality in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Disease, just published in The Journal of Geriatric Cardiology.
Further, this issue of the journal is a (very) special issue as it is the first one ever to be completely dedicated to plant-based diets!
Here is the table of contents for the entire journal issue, which as you may notice, is a goldmine of information that can be shared with your physicians, dietitians, colleagues, friends, family, and anyone else who is seeking to dig deeper into this most health-promoting way of eating.