Next comes the bioavailability of nutrients in plant vs. animal foods, where animal foods are better. The term “bioavailability” can encompass many things, but it starts with how absorbable the nutrients are.  It’s undeniable that the fiber in plant foods blocks nutrient absoprtion to some extent. But, it’s part of the natural order. One of my colleages, Dr. Alan Goldhamer, did a determination once of the nutrient content of his recommended vegan diet. And it had something like 39 milligrams of iron. Well, you certainly would not want to absorb 39 milligrams of iron every day. That would cause iron poisoining, for sure. So, thank God the fiber blocks the absorption of much of that iron.  The fact is that we are only supposed to absorb a small percentage of the minerals in plants. You end up sending more minerals to the toilet than to your cells. But again, that’s normal because there is a surplus there.

I’m not saying that vegans can’t get into trouble, say with iron. But, so can meat-eaters. However, something is only a problem if it is one. And the fact is that most vegans who avoid vegan junk foods, usually have no trouble maintaing their iron status.  

You realize that iron is a double-edged sword. It is an oxidizer that rusts you from the inside. It causes free radical damage. You definitely want to get enough iron, but you also don’t want to get too much. And it’s easier to avoid getting too much on a plant diet.

Unless I’m missing something, unless a person is anemic, they do not have a problem with iron. You do a CBC. You run the iron tests like serum iron and ferritin etc. And if everything is within normal limits, then there is nothing to be concerned about. And most vegans are not iron-deficient. However, a small percentage are, and it’s more likely to occur among vegan junk eaters and the aged. And that’s true for non-vegans as well. You can be a meat-eater and be iron-deficient. It happens. And if it happens to a vegan, who likes being a vegan, I would say: just take an iron supplement. Especially today because there are excellent chelated forms of iron that are very effective and gentle on the stomach. Ours is very good, and I have seen it produce great results.

Then, there is zinc, and it is known that the zinc in plants is not as easily absorbed as the zinc in meat.  And it has been shown that vegans and vegetarians have lower serum zinc levels than meateaters. But, are they showing signs of zinc deficiency, such as increased infections, poor immunity, poor wound healing, etc. I don’t think those problems are common among vegans.  But, age, again, is a factor because when people get older, they don’t absorb zinc as well, no matter what they eat.  

But, I’ll admit that zinc is a potential weak spot in the vegan diet. And, it’s one of the reasons I take our Core Multi every day which has 15 mgs of highly absorbable chelated zinc.

I have never had a zinc blood test, and I have never had any signs of zinc deficiency.  But, I’d rather be safe than sorry, so I take our Core Multi with its 15 mgs of chelated zinc, and I feel protected. I look at it as a form of insurance. I’d rather be safe than sorry. And I’d rather do that than eat meat.

Then, he addresses protein with graphs showing digestibility, with animal foods doing better. Well, no matter what the graphs say, I am 70 years old, 5’6”, 140 pounds, and I can still pull that 140 pounds up a pull-up bar 10x in a row. So, why should I doubt whether I am getting enough protein?

I have pointed out before that human breast milk has the lowest protein content of any mammalian milk at 1 per cent. However, analyses in some nursing mothers has come in below 1 percent, like .9  and even .8 percent protein.  And eating Dr. Saladino’s way is not going to alter that much.  A woman eating the Carnivore diet would still produce milk with 1 percent protein. It might go up to 1.1 percent, but that’s about it. It would not go to 2 percent, or even 1.5 percent.  Forget it. The plain truth is that the human body does what it wants to do, and it wants to make a low-protein milk- even if the mother gorges herself on meat at every meal.

Then he gets to Vitamin K2, and it’s true that you can’t get it from plants. It’s made by bacteria, and bacteria may be making it in your gut from K1. Some fermanted plant foods also have K2, such as natto from soybeans. But, I just take a Vitamin K2 supplement. Again, we have a good one, and I regard it as insurance.

Repeatedly, Dr. Saladino said that there are no polyphenols in human biochemistry, that the human body does not make them. Therefore, he claims we don’t need them. But, the human body doesn’t make Vitamin C either, and that’s why we need to get it from food. If it made it then we wouldn’t need it. So, he’s got it ass-backwards.

Then, he gave a list of essential nutrients that can only be found in animal foods: He failed to point out that most of them can be synthsized by the body, including creatine, carnitine, and carnosine. He included choline, but that is produced by plants; in fact, it’s widely distributed. He included Vitamin B12, and that is something that vegans need to supplement with, without a doubt. And it’s not just vegans because with aging, even meateaters can lose the ability to absorb Vitamin B12 from food. Supplementing with one of the sublingual forms of Vitamin B12 is a good idea for all older folks. Even if they include meat in their diet, it’s still a good idea because they could still get in trouble with Vitamin B12,  and it pays to take it for insurance. I do, and it’s this one.

I’ve known for a long time that a vegan diet has to be supplemented. You need to take B12, which everyone agrees. And I think it’s very prudent to take EPA/DHA since the conversion of plant Omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid) into the longer chain polyunsaturated fatty acids is very iffy. Then, taking some supplemental zinc and taurine makes sense to me too- from what we know. Taking Vitamin D3 is also very beneficial. All the vegans that I know or know of do take supplemental B12, but some take just that and nothing else. Some of them are even vegan doctors, and I am not going to tell you that they aren’t doing well, healthwise, because I have no basis to say it or think it. But, I take some supplements, and again, for me, it is a matter of insurance. Some people can sleep at night with little or no insurance. Others need to be insured to the hilt in order to feel safe. I would rather err on the side of caution by taking supplements for nutritional assurance, and I don’t worry about it philosophically.  My goal is not to prove the adequacy of a vegan diet.  I am much more selfish than that. My goal is to live long and to thrive and to avoid the decrepitude of old age.

The idea that a whole, natural fruit or vegetable contributes to the development of atherosclerosis is an impossibility. In other words, it’s crazy to think that fruits and vegetables cause heart disease. There is overwhelming evidence that fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and raw nuts, protect against heart disease. And if you can avoid heart disease, that will probably prevent half or more of the things that can go wrong in old age.

Likewise, fruits and vegetables are protective against cancer. You realize that cancer starts with one abnormal cell. That cell divides into 2, then 4, then 8, then 16, then 32, etc. Early on in this process, the body may get on top of it. It may swoop in and destroy the cancer before it reaches the point of no return. Do you realize that you may have already had cancer and recovered from it without realizing it?  

Well, those “phytochemicals” that Dr. Saladino is so afraid of, that he considers to be toxins, they are like Nature’s chemotherapy but without any untoward side efects. They cause aberrant and senescent cells to commit suicide, a phenomenon called apoptosis, which means programmed cell death. The capacity for apoptosis is rather built-in, but there are phytochemicals that tell the abberent cells to self-destruct.

So, there is very strong epidemiological and experimental evidence that whole natural fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods oppose the development of heart diease (which is, by far, the biggest killer) and cancer (which is second). That is reason enough in itself to make fruits and vegetables a big part of your diet.

No one has the Peter Pan complex more than I do. To say that I detest the idea of growing old is the biggest understatment ever. I know I am going to die, and I also know that before I die, I am going to decline. But, it’s a matter of degree. My goal is forestall, as long as possible, the feeling that I am not myself any more. I don’t have that feeling now. I joke about it sometimes with people. But really, I don’t have that feeling. I feel like I’m still me. I don’t feel less spry than I did 20 or 30 years ago. And I want to keep feeling spry- for as long as possible. And I am thoroughly convinced that plant foods, which have served me well, will continue to serve me well, so that I can experience a higher quality of life than most older people do. I don’t want to wind up like them. Thank you for reading this.