Why Being a Vegetarian is Making You Depressed

By Amanda Sylvie, MPH, RD, LD - May 2, 2019

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Eat your veggies

We've all heard this before, and for good reason! Vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes are components of a well-balanced vegetarian diet. Each provides a rich variety of nutrients and fiber that contribute to the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Vegetarian diets are known to enhance the immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes and reduce inflammation.

Since we know vegetarian diets are so healthy for our bodies, shouldn't everyone eat a vegetarian diet? Probably not, and we'll explain why.

Because the benefits of a vegetarian diet are widely known, let's focus on those who would not benefit from a vegetarian diet. We'll also discuss some negative health implications that may accompany a vegetarian diet.

When we speak about vegetarian diets, it's important to recognize a few differences that often fall under the umbrella term "vegetarian" as noted below:

  • Vegetarian – a diet primarily consisting of non-animal products but may include dietary components such as milk/dairy, eggs, and/or fish. These incorporations are known as lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, and pescatarian, respectively.
  • Vegan – a diet that does not include any animal products or animal by-products. In some cases, a vegan diet excludes honey and butter, as well.

What Could Go Wrong?:

Protein Quantity – In an omnivorous diet, most protein comes from animal products (meat). When consuming a vegetarian diet, you have to take extra care to make sure you are consuming enough protein for your body. Additionally, the body needs to be digesting, absorbing, and utilizing the protein properly.

Inadequate protein in the diet can lead to hair loss and/or easily pluckable hair, symptoms mimicking hypothyroidism, brittle or weak nails, fatigue, mood imbalances, ankle swelling from retaining fluid, frequent illnesses, and chronic fatigue. You can use this calculator to determine how much protein you need each day.

Protein Variety – Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Since different protein sources are made up of different amino acids, it's important to make sure you're consuming a variety of protein sources. If someone eats only grain- and soy-based foods as their primary protein sources on a daily basis, the variety of amino acids they consume will be quite limited.

Compare that to a diet consisting of additional protein sources such as fish, chicken, beef, eggs, and pork in addition to vegetable protein sources such as quinoa or rice and legumes.

Amino acids help to make neurotransmitters. To improve neurotransmitter balance, you need protein variety in your diet. If you don't have enough protein variety in your diet, you may experience neurotransmitter imbalances. Symptoms often include anxiety, poor sleep, mood swings, brain fog or other short-term memory challenges (even in a person's 20s-30s).

If you are frequently overeating, it may be a result of low neurotransmitters or your body may be craving proteins in order to obtain needed amino acids. Amino acid supplements are often added to vitamin packs to maintain brain balance for your neurotransmitters.

Genetics – Methionine is an amino acid that is essential for methylation and helps to form the body's "master antioxidant": glutathione. As an essential amino acid, you can't create it in your body but must consume it from your diet, and, methionine is primarily found in animal products!

Depending on your genetics, you may or may not efficiently retain methionine from your diet. If you're carefully following a well-balanced vegetarian/vegan diet but still experience fatigue, frequent illnesses, or brain fog and early cognitive decline, you may not be genetically wired to live healthfully on a vegetarian/vegan diet. If you think you may not be efficiently processing methionine, Wellnicity's supplement, EpiSupport, can provide methionine.

Contact your Wellnicity clinician to incorporate the brain balance supplement EpiSupport into your Wellness Packs. If you feel better when taking EpiSupport, this may be an indication that you don't process methionine efficiently. This simple amino acid supplement can be easily added to your custom vitamin pack.

The Brain Balance test can also provide clues for showing when methionine is an issue for you. This is most frequently indicated when norepinephrine levels are elevated or high-normal and when epinephrine levels are low. Because methylation is an important part of this conversion process, if methionine is not being processed efficiently, then the conversion will be sluggish. Get the most out of your Wellness Pack by knowing exactly what brain balance supplements to include. Then, when you're ready, get vitamins delivered to your door - just the way it should be.

Please, call or email your Wellnicity clinician today to discuss your nutrition and health concerns. We're here to help get you on the path to feeling better!