Have you heard of the term “hidden hunger”? It refers to a case where you are getting enough food to eat – not hunger like starvation – but you aren’t getting enough nutrition. What it comes down to is not eating the right kinds of foods, or enough food variety, so that you are deficient in essential micronutrients like vitamins and minerals.
While you may not notice the symptoms right away, they can be quite severe. Issues that derive from malnutrition from hidden hunger can range from a weaker immune system, impairment to the mental faculties, and even death in extreme cases.
Although cases like this are most often seen in developing, third-world countries, there is a rising trend of this happening in more wealthy countries lately as the result of fad diets. In particular, in this post I will be going into detail on the dangers of malnutrition as it pertains to a vegan diet.
The Hidden Hunger of a Vegan Diet
The rise in popularity of the vegan diet is a major culprit in the spread of malnutrition in the Western world.
It is said that the number of people who follow this diet has grown by a multiple of 4 in the last decade alone. Nearly 5% of the population of the US is vegetarian, with half of that total being vegan.
There is no doubt that there are some benefits to this kind of eating, regardless of what your reasoning may be, but there are hidden dangers to it as well.
While you may be lowering your risk of chronic disease, losing weight, and doing good for the environment and not partaking in cruelty to animals, many who abide by a vegan diet do not know that they are lacking many key nutrients that are obtained in other food sources outside of what they are eating.
One particular area of concern is bone health. In a vegan diet, with no consumption of dairy products, there is a deficiency in calcium and Vitamin D. These two nutrients play a key role in bone mineral density and strength. This issue is so severe that the bone fracture rates is more than 30% higher in vegans than compared with the normal diet population, according to doi.org.
Another essential nutrient that is deficient in a vegan diet is Vitamin B12, which is most prevalent in animal foods. Symptoms of a deficiency in this vitamin include fatigue and extreme tiredness, digestive issues, and can also lead to delays in development in young children. If left untreated, a lack of B12 can cause nerve damage that is irreversible.
What to Do
There are many other examples of malnutrition beyond just the vitamins and minerals listed above, but you get the point. If you are following a vegan diet, be aware of what nutrients you are missing out on from all the food you exclude from your consumption. For those that you have a deficiency from your food, be sure to supplement so that you are getting your recommended daily value. For my supplements, I typically shop at Amazon or HGH.com.