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April 09, 2011



Thank you for once again pointing out an interesting podcast. I follow your existing list of podcasts and each one often proves very interesting.

Healthy Librarian

Yikes, Chris--I definitely need to update my list of podcasts on the right-hand side of my blog--haven't done that for 3 years. Thanks for giving me incentive to do that.

Mike Weaver

Hi Debby,

I applaud your good post and its detail and being willing to address a difficult topic! It is worthy of highlighting the importance of protein; however for me, the context is to encourage whole food protein and you did a fairly good job of that. I’m going to have to digest some of your and Ginny/Jacks comments in the future but I spent quite a bit of time with this 2-3 years ago and I looked at what they said as well as others and the research. I’m not convinced that protein needs are nearly as high as they state for normal well individuals—might even be half. It could very well be the higher protein ‘needs’ are causing more calcium to be ‘needed’. The EPIC Oxford study although somewhat helpful is only identifying those who call themselves veg*n in general. This does not get at those who are whole food vegans. It is highly likely that ethical veg*ns eat much more processed foods than those who enter from the nutrition and health side. Also think that using the word – mistakes can be made several times may scare people toward the protein issue and make the eating style feel complicated. Even though you did an admirable job trying to say don’t obsess over it when one talks about mistakes, people get concerned and the ‘headline sells’. Where do you get your protein? Becomes more of a valid question from meat eaters as if to justify their situation. Most any diet of starches, vegetables, nuts that is not over 40-50% fruit can do the job and even high fruit and greens can do the job for top athletes as you site.

Highlighting some common potential problem supplements was great as well. Again still think personally that the jury is out on exact VitD blood levels (think they are set too high) and the real world efficacy of Vit D supplements. Yes I take 1000-2000 Vit D2 daily over the winter because it is much less toxic in tests to humans even in large doses. The DHA and calcium recommendations are soft and glad you highlighted that in the text. I just finished a biochem paper with 37 references related to n-3 fatty acids and intestinal inflammation—the final jury is out and we need more studies on some of these items that are well controlled.

The study link below of 2279 persons from Okinawa shows much less consumption of protein and much less calcium intake and they have the most healthy centarians on the planet in the past. We need to scrutinize the science for the effects of our western culture on some of these recommendations and see if other science exists to support the standard government and ADA positions (which I think are propped high to help the meat industry) or that support (multiple studies) of alternative safe positions that are equally valid.

Keep trumpeting the value of whole foods. Eating a whole food diet of prominently sweet potatoes (30 oz) is very healthy as the link above shows with only 39g/d of protein and 6% calories from fat--amazing. Processed food and the convenience nature of things these days with people not cooking their own foods as much brings significant difficulties with health.

Good job on keeping the interesting topics going.


I am so excited by this post! I don't have time to read carefully right now, but you can bet I'll come back and read it more, soon!


Thank you yet again for a wonderful post.

I consider iodine supplementation to be essential for everyone (vegan or not). Fluoride displaces iodine in the body and creates an extra need for iodine. In the US, we add fluoride to tap water and to toothpaste. Another source of fluoride is tea. I can't seem to avoid fluoride and so I supplement.

Dr. David Brownstein has taken a stand on the need for iodine supplementation. According to Brownstein, Iodine plays an important role in the health of breast and prostate tissues. For a short summary see and follow the links to his videos. Amazon has several of his books.

With regard to lysine, I first learned of its importance in the context of a patent issued to Linus Pauling. The patent is directed to the use of vitamin c and lysine in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The short videos of Pauling are the place to ease into this subject matter. I believe that he is in his 90's in the video. I hope I am as articulate has he was when I am in my 90's.

Here is a link to the patent.

I am of the school of thought that everyone should be supplementing with vitamin C. Insufficient levels of vitamin C (and lysine) may very well be the cause of low-grade chronic scurvy. Read the background of the invention in the patent(beginning on the first page of text in the pdf).

I am not part of the medical industry so be extra cautious when considering my statements. ;-)


Thank you for the timely post. My husband and I have were just this morning discussing whether our supplements and diets were adequate in protein and for me, calcium. I was happy to see that lysine seems to be the key as I have been taking it for years to help control the cold sores that I am otherwise plagued by. This is one book that we also will be buying.


I tried a vegetarian diet in my 20s, unsuccessfully, and I think it was because of iron and protein needs. This is such an informative post that I'll need days to read all the resources! Thanks!
Back then I just omitted the meat and did not add in other proteins wisely. This time I had observed the Hindu lacto-vegetarians with whom I work for a few years before trying again, and now I realize WHY they eat so many lentils and chickpeas. I was following their example (and putting on mass at the gym, so something is going right), but now I'll be properly informed. Thanks again.

Tiffany Allen

I LOVE your posts-each one is so informative; I look forward to them all. This post made me realize that just by not eating meat or dairy, I still have to work on getting the proper nutrition. Also, it made me concerned for my kids. I definitely limit the amount of meat and dairy they get, although they are not completely vegan. Do you have any information on children and supplements? I do give them a multi-vitamin and vitamin D, and I give them green smoothies with almond milk, but is that enough? Thank you!

Healthy Librarian

Thanks Tiffany,

I'm not an expert by any means on childhood nutrition--but take a look at the DRIs for calcium & vitamin D for kids both on the American Academy of Pediatrics site & the Institute of Medicine's. Here's what Dr. Bruce Hollis says about vitamin D & kids:

What are normal vitamin D blood levels for children?

Hollis says normal levels for children are the same as for adults. "Do you think a rapidly growing child needs less vitamin D than a staid (no-longer-growing) adult?" A colleague of Hollis' in S. Africa recently measured blood levels of active-outdoor-playing children, both Black and Caucasian. Both had similar levels--around 50 ng/mL.

The calcium from greens is more absorbable (spinach & chard excluded) than from dairy. And most of the non-dairy milks are fortified with calcium. Soy milk would have more added value than almond milk with its protein if you're OK with soy. Also, I think it's very important for kids to get DHA (the essential fatty acid necessary for brain health) & adequate omega-3s from flax or chia, greens, &/or walnuts. Some foods are fortified with DHA-and it's available in supplement form.

My grandson takes a D supplement, & also likes green smoothies--& gets DHA in some fortified foods--plus a gummy multivitamin.

Why not also try making kale chips? I'm thinking that making Green Smoothie popsicles would be a cool idea for the summer.

Good source is to take a look at Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Disease Proof Your Child It's already 5 years old, so check his Disease Proof website for updated info on the kiddos!

Chris G.

I'm late to the party here, but figured I'd leave two thoughts I've had on this since reading this intriguing post.
There are two minor concerns with supplements.
1. What comes along with the compound of interest in the supplement via processing? (e.g. PCBs in fish oils, toxins in Spirulina)
2. Is the isolated compound of interest as biologically active compared to whole foods? Many studies have shown that vitamins, minerals, etc in food contain important enzymes, peptides, and phytonutrients critical to the absorption/utilization that are not present in isolated USP nutrients/vitamins.

Also, people are vegans for dozens of reasons and I have the highest respect for all of them. I personally eat plant-based and do not consume any dairy or eggs or meats or poultry. I do, however, try to consume of a small serving of cold water marine fish (e.g. 6oz wild salmon) 3x per week, covering requirements for lysine, iodine, B12, and DHAs (nearly 4,000 mg per serving!). There's some iron too (10% RDA). Still need to cover vitamins D and calcium, however. Just my two cents.

Healthy Librarian

Good to hear from you, Chris.

Excellent comment on many levels. Glad to hear your perspective--all important points.

Glad to hear about your wild salmon consumption--I've been oodging towards this same conclusion--and have started to experiment with 2 oz. of wild salmon a day. It's so lean, no sat fat, almost a day's worth of lysine, B-12, lots of omega-3s, the hard-to-get DHA, and a powerful carotenoid called astaxanthin.

Here's my biggest concern--and you're the right person to ask--what about the ecological sustainability of the world's fish supply. What do you know about the contaminants in small-size fish & wild salmon--a concern or not?

Tiffany Allen

Thank you so much for the great ideas. I think I will purchase Dr. Fuhrman's book. I have been trying to limit soy in my family based on conflicting research I have read. Basically, I'm confused about soy! Are you pro-soy?

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