SiderAL® and vegetarian and vegan diet
VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN DIET
In recent years vegetarian and vegan diets have spread widely in the population, becoming real lifestyles. The term vegetarianism refers to the practice of eliminating meat and animal products from the diet.
Vegetarian diets can be divided into six different types, as shown in the figure below:
|Type of diet||Nature of diet (all are devoid of flesh foods)|
|VEGETARIAN||May or may not include egg or dairy products.|
|LACTO-OVO_VEGETARIAN||Includes eggs and dairy products.|
|LACTO_VEGETARIAN||Includes dairy products, but note gg products.|
|OVO-VEGETARIAN||Includes eggs and egg products, but no dairy.|
|VEGAN||Excludes eggs and dairy products, and may exclude honey.|
|RAW VEGAN||Based on vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, legumes, and sprounted grains. The amount of uncooked food varies from 75% to 100%.|
These diets, therefore, exclude the consumption of all types of meat (pork, beef, lamb, etc.) and products based on fish, shellfish and crustaceans.
The nutritional profiles of vegetarian and vegan diets vary greatly, but in general we can identify nutritional deficits derived from these two types of diets on the basis of the food compositions that characterize them.
In fact, some scientific studies have shown that those who follow these diets are more likely to develop nutritional deficiencies, in particular iron, zinc, iodine, selenium, calcium, essential fatty acids omega-3, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
Iron Availability in food
Iron is an essential mineral for the health of our body, because it is responsible for some metabolic processes of the body, in particular:
– At bone marrow level to produce new red blood cells;
– To transport oxygen in the body;
– To promote the synthesis of lipids, carbohydrates and genetic material (DNA).
When the intake of this mineral is not sufficient, due to a poorly balanced diet or an increase in need, there may be a risk of developing a condition of an iron deficiency, also called sideropenia, that if not promptly corrected, leads to a clinical picture known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA).
The foods that contain the most iron are: liver, offal, seafood, meat in general and specifically horse meat, fish, milk, some types of green vegetables (especially Brussels sprouts and spinach), legumes (beans), nuts (including all almonds and dried figs) and cocoa.
The bioavailability of iron in diets varies greatly, in fact in vegetarian and vegan ones the iron intake is lower than in the omnivorous diet. The reason for the reduced absorption of iron lies in its mechanism of absorption, as this mineral is found in two food forms: heme iron (bivalent) and non-heme iron (trivalent).
Our body is able to absorb more easily the bivalent iron, therefore the one contained in meat and fish, while the trivalent one present in vegetables and eggs is less easily absorbed.
The average absorption of bivalent iron from meat-containing meals is about 25%. In vegetarian diets, however, the bioavailability of trivalent iron is lower, equal to 5-10%, due to a high intake of foods containing phytates and polyphenols.
Phytates are found in all types of cereals, seeds, nuts, vegetables, roots (e.g. potatoes) and fruits. These substances strongly inhibit iron absorption in a dose-dependent manner, even in small quantities. For example, bran has a high content of phytates that, by binding to iron, does not make it “free” and thus inhibits its absorption. Phytates form complexes not only with iron, but also with other essential minerals such as zinc, magnesium and calcium.
The concomitant intake of calcium with iron reduces the absorption of the latter. To limit this interference, practical solutions may include: increasing iron intake, increasing its bioavailability, and avoiding calcium-rich foods and iron-rich foods at the same meal.
The mechanism of action for inhibition of absorption is unknown, but some evidence suggests that the inhibitory effect occurs within the intestinal cell itself. Recent dose-effect analyses show that the first 40 mg of calcium in a meal does not inhibit dietary iron absorption, but above this calcium intake level, a maximum 60% inhibition of iron absorption develops.
The demand for iron in vegans and vegetarians is higher than those who follow other types of diet, primarily because trivalent iron in plant foods has low bioavailability. This could be increased by the parallel consumption of foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, strawberries and kiwi. For this reason, iron supplementation is often recommended in specific populations of subjects who follow these types of diets, such as premenopausal women, fertile women with abundant menstrual cycles, adolescents, pregnant women, or subjects with a chronic inflammatory condition.
To reduce the risk of iron deficiency, it is recommended to constantly monitor iron levels. In the event of a deficiency or an increase in iron requirements, your doctor or nutritionist may also recommend the use of a dietary supplement to restore the correct physiological values of iron.
There are many iron-based supplements on the market, but not all of them contain the same source of iron, which depending on its chemical nature, just like food iron, can be more or less bioavailable.
Iron is characterized by a metallic aftertaste in the mouth and, once in contact with the gastric mucosa, can give irritating effects characterized by pain, nausea and constipation.
SiderAL® products contain Sucrosomial® iron (iron pyrophosphate) which is protected by a matrix of phospholipids and sucrose esters of fatty acids. All these elements take part in a single structure, called Sucrosome® (Figure).
Structure of Sucrosome®.
The innovation of the Sucrosomial® technology is characterized by an excellent tolerability and allows the intake of iron at any time of the day (with the meal or away from meals), for long periods of time, and prevents any discomfort commonly associated with iron intake, such as unpleasant metallic aftertaste, irritation of the gastric mucosa, nausea or constipation. Overcoming the limits linked to the conventional integration of iron, the Sucrosomial® Iron favors the intake of this important nutrient in all situations of deficiency or increase in iron needs.
Properly planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthy and nutritionally adequate. If this planning is not adequate, it is necessary to resort to supplementation with specific dietary foods, to avoid finding themselves lacking in micronutrients essential for the proper functioning of our body.
- Bakaloudi DR, Halloran A, Rippin HL, Oikonomidou AC, Dardavesis TI, Williams J, Wickramasinghe K, Breda J, Chourdakis M. Intake and adequacy of the vegan diet. A systematic review of the evidence. Clin Nutr. 2021 May;40(5):3503-3521. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2020.11.035. Epub 2020 Dec 7. PMID: 33341313.
- Slywitch E, Savalli C, Duarte ACG, Escrivão MAMS. Iron Deficiency in Vegetarian and Omnivorous Individuals: Analysis of 1340 Individuals. 2021 Aug 26;13(9):2964. doi: 10.3390/nu13092964. PMID: 34578841; PMCID: PMC8468774.
- Śliwińska A, Luty J, Aleksandrowicz-Wrona E, Małgorzewicz S. Iron status and dietary iron intake in vegetarians. Adv Clin Exp Med. 2018 Oct;27(10):1383-1389. doi: 10.17219/acem/70527. PMID: 30062867.
- Pohl A, Schünemann F, Bersiner K, Gehlert S. The Impact of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets on Physical Performance and Molecular Signaling in Skeletal Muscle. 2021 Oct 29;13(11):3884. doi: 10.3390/nu13113884. PMID: 34836139; PMCID: PMC8623732.