|Enewsletter • March 20, 2003|
Happy "Distribute Your Old Why Vegans" Day!
Vegan Outreach Office to Be Closed
March 26 - April 2.
Deadline for Leaflet Your School Day
Tomorrow! (Friday, March 21)
Feature Article: Intro: Truth or Consequences
Last week’s edition of Vegan Spam included a link to a media report about a not-yet-published study that showed a trend for vegans to have higher mortality rates than occasional meat eaters. We then received several letters asking, in effect, “Am I going to die because I’m a vegan?”
Considering pro-veg propaganda tends to portray vegans as essentially "bulletproof" to disease, it certainly can be shocking to read reports claiming that vegans do not have lower mortality rates than occasional meat eaters. What is going on?
The key here is, of course, the partisan nature of advocacy propaganda. People from the heavy-meat-eating Atkins crowd to the raw foodists are totally convinced that their diet is the best (healthiest, most natural, etc.), and that any deviation from their prescription could be suicidal.
A vegan diet can be very healthy. But optimal nutrition requires appropriate planning, not simply avoiding animal products. Unfortunately, many believe the "do not say anything negative when promoting veganism" line, which leads to less-than-optimal health.
At Vegan Outreach, we believe that providing all the facts – as well as unknowns
– is the best course to follow. True, this doesn’t lead to catchy sound
bites (“Deadly poison!”), fanciful claims, or easy prescriptions.
But we believe that, in a quest for fundamental, long-term change, distortions
and obfuscations are ultimately harmful.
Excerpts from Vitamin D: The Forgotten Nutrient
by Jack Norris, RD; full text, with footnotes and links, here
Americans are constantly being urged to consume more calcium in order to prevent osteoporosis. The recommendations have gotten to the point where it is practically impossible to meet them without supplements or large amounts of cows’ milk or calcium-fortified foods.
At the same time, little emphasis has been placed on vitamin D. That may be changing.
Nurses’ Health Study: Vitamin D More Important Than Calcium
There are many factors that contribute to bone health, making it hard to control for variables in studies. For example, while calcium and vitamin D can improve bone health, too much vitamin A (retinol, not beta-carotene) can harm bones. Since milk is often fortified with both vitamins A and D, its effect on bones is difficult to interpret.
Both dietary calcium (only from food) and total calcium (i.e., food plus supplements) were tested using 6 models for each. Of the 12 models total, only one showed a statistically significant protective effect of calcium. Vitamin D intake, on the other hand, showed a protective effect in 8 of 12 models. Vitamin D appears to be more important in conjunction with lower calcium intakes (typical in most vegan diets).
The authors conclude, “[W]e observed a significantly lower risk of hip fracture among those with higher vitamin D intakes, whether from food alone or from food plus supplements. Overall, calcium intake did not appear to be associated with fracture risk.” Still the authors believe that a steady supply of calcium is needed to ensure bone health (they do not give an exact amount).
Is Sunshine During the Summer Months Really Enough?
While not found in many foods, it is usually assumed that people do not need to worry about vitamin D because they get it from sunshine. For many years it was thought that people who got plenty of sun during the summer could store enough vitamin D to make it through the darker months. In the Nurses’ Health Study described above, vitamin D intake provided the same benefit for those living both in southern and northern climates. This adds evidence that vitamin D should be of concern for women living in any U.S. climate, not just the north.
Vitamin D and Other Diseases
Recently, some research has looked for any connection between vitamin D and diseases not usually associated with it. The research has found that low vitamin D levels are possibly linked with prostate cancer, as well as with fibromyalgia and lupus.
Based on the results above, getting 5 to 12 mcg/day, especially during the winter, seems reasonable, safe, and prudent for optimal health.
I just want to say how valuable I am finding the newest
Vegan Starter Pack nutritional pages of information. That will help
me to plan more carefully for my family's intake and with people I may counsel
in the future as a Hallelujah Acres-trained health minister. Also, this info
is helpful in rebutting claims by sour ex-vegans who did not thrive on their
versions of a vegan diet, and who are now naysayers denouncing veganism. Thank
you for making things so clear and concise, and for including documentation
Thanks for my order. After reading Vegan Advocacy,
I've decided to change the theme of my booth to an educational one focusing
on vegan/vegetarianism as the most important aspect of animal rights. It was
very helpful information.
The check enclosed isn’t much, but we wanted
to let you know how much we appreciate Vegan Outreach. You’ve supplied
us with hundreds of Why Vegans, often at no cost. As poor college
kids, we’re truly grateful. This is birthday money, but we know the
animals need it more – we’re sorry we can’t donate more.