Monday, August 22, 2016

amino acids and vegetarianism

Since I've become a vegetarian, I try to myself about it. As much as possible, at least, especially in real life. Unfortunately, there are times when I have to shyly admit, "No, sorry. I'm sure your BBQ ribs are excellent, but I don't eat meat."

On the rare occasion, I receive flack for my choice. Recently it came attached with a message informing me that, "Vegetarians cannot receive all the needed amino acids."

Although I appreciate my friend being concerned for my health; I also wanted to debunk that myth.
There are 22 amino acids, some of them required or considered essential amino acids. In regards to the essential amino acids; there are arguably nine essential vitamins. Here’s a link to those nine essential vitamins found in vegetarian diets.


In addition to those nine, there are six other amino acids that are considered conditionally essential in the human diet, meaning their synthesis can be limited under special conditions.

These six are arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, and tyrosine.

Here is a list of vegetarian foods high on those six amino acids.

Arginine - Pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, spirulina, chickpeas, lentils
Cysteine - Sunflower seeds, oat bran, soybeans chickpeas, couscous
Glycine - Spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, banana, kiwi fruit, cucumber
Glutamine - Raw parsley, raw spinach, raw cabbage
Proline - Asparagus, avocados, bamboo shoots, beans, broccoli rabe, brown rice bran, cabbage, chives, legumes, nuts, seaweed, seeds, soy, spinach, watercress
Tyrosine - Raw oats, peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, adzuki beans,  lentils, split peas

Then, there are five amino acids that are dispensable in humans, meaning they can be synthesized in the body. These five are alanine, aspartic acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine.

Here is a list of vegetarian foods high on those five amino acids.

Alanine - Avocado, beans,  bran, brown rice, corn, legumes, mushrooms(white, raw), nuts, seeds, watercress, whole grains and sea vegetable like spirulina and laver
Aspartic acid - Avocado, asparagus,  sugar beets, oat flakes, sprouting seeds
Asparagine - Asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, whole grains
Glutamic Acid Beans, lentils, leafy greens vegetable
Serine - Almonds, asparagus, chickpea, cow pea, flax-seed, lentils, sesame seed, walnut and soy beans.

The last two are within the dispensable group and considered the most non-essential. These two are cystine and hydroxyproline.

Here is a list of vegetarian foods high on those two amino acids.

Cystine - Cottonseed, sesame seeds, soy, lentils 
Hydroxyproline - Peanuts, legumes, and beans

This is all 22 amino acids.

Even though I eat a well balanced diet I still augment my diet with extra amino acid sources. I use my trusty old Bragg's Amino Acids on everything (just in case). Because the product includes 16 of those delicious amino acids.

Image Courtesy: foodschmooze.org

Honestly, it is sad that the urban myth of the "complete protein" still exists. The idea that vegetarians can't get all there aminos keeps many people from becoming vegetarian. 

I believe there are a few reasons that people like to think that the vegetarian diet is lacking.

1.) Most vegetarians do not actually eat well balanced diets, as they do not understand certain dietary changes are needed. Such as, eating seaweeds for certain amino boosts.

2.) There are a lot of nutritionists schlepping off unscientific information as cause for an animal protein diet. Such as citing that carnitine is an amino acid that cannot be found in a vegetarian diet. Which is a misdirection. Carnitine is synthesized in the body from the amino acid lysine and methionine. Both available in a vegetarian diet.

This article actually cites how this  "incomplete protein" myth got started in 1971 by a well meaning socialogist trying to end world hunger and then perpetuated.by other misinformation.


3.) People often mistake mineral deficiencies or other outlining genetic health problems for vegetarian health issues. For instance I have had a copper deficiency my whole life. This is regardless if I eat meat or not. Copper is needed to create iron. Therefor, if I do not eat foods high in copper; I often can have anemic tendencies because my iron lowers. Making me appear like a “sickly vegetarian”. I supplement this by eating shiitakes, which I crave constantly.

4.) It is simply much easier and accessible to eat meat,

5.) And for the last reason. There a lot of people that just don't like vegetables. They see it as a food their parents forced down their throat at dinner. Which is a shame, because it is truly delicious!

1 comment:

  1. "There are 22 amino acids, some of them required or considered essential amino acids. In regards to the essential amino acids; there are arguably nine essential vitamins. Here’s a link to those nine essential vitamins found in vegetarian diets." I agree with these words but without biceps-shop.com you cannot make a beautiful body.

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