The Dangers of a Vegetarian Diet

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With the rising want for a healthier lifestyle, many people are turning towards meatless diets. Vegetarianism in particular is a popular diet used to achieve an increase in overall health. While this diet has many positive effects on an individual’s health, dangers arise when using this diet during nutritional need. In particular, a vegetarian diet without a nutritional plan during pregnancy, infancy, or childhood increases risks of many types of deficiencies leading to more serious health concerns.
First, consider iron deficiency. Since meats are high in iron content, a vegetarian diet reduces iron in our body. All individuals need iron to complete bodily functions, but in times of rapid growth and pregnancy higher quantities of iron are needed: Pregnant women should consume 27 milligrams per day, children ages one to three require seven milligrams per day, children ages four to eight require ten milligrams per day, and finally infants seven to twelve months require eleven milligrams per day. If these levels of iron are not achieved it delays body functions varying with age. In pregnant women, iron deficiency increases the risk of premature babies, which have greater health risks than mature babies. In children, iron deficiency stunts growth. In infants, iron deficiency delays motor and mental function (“Iron and Iron Deficiency”). If iron deficiency is not treated, it could lead to iron deficiency anemia. To transport oxygen throughout the body, we rely on our red blood cell’s hemoglobin, an iron rich protein that carries oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there is not enough iron in circulation to produce hemoglobin, therefore, resulting in decreased red blood cells. Since most of our iron comes from meats, a diet tha...

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...s half of our body’s source of vitamin D, vegetarianism is a cause of vitamin D deficiency.
In conclusion, while a vegetarian diet can produce positive effects on our health, it is obvious that it is dangerous if it inadequately planned. A strict meatless diet requires vitamin and mineral supplements to attain a healthy balance, especially in times of nutritional need. You should carefully consider effects and create a nutrition plan to counteract any negative effects before taking on a vegetarian diet.

Works Cited

"Iron and Iron Deficiency." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD. "FAQs About Vitamin D." The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD. "Vitamin B12 in the Vegan Diet." The Vegetarian Resource Group, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2014.
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