We Kiwis love our vegan diets. According to recent research, New Zealand ranks fourth in Google queries about veganism, and even though we are seen as a nation of meat-eaters with a huge lamb and beef industry, six to ten per cent of Kiwis enjoy a vegetarian or vegan diet. That's pretty impressive!
But there's one downside to veganism that many people don't talk about, and that's vegan brain fog. You know, that feeling when you can't think straight, you're forgetful, and your concentration levels are shot. Also known as "vegan brain drain," this persistent mental fog can leave even the most dedicated vegans feeling less than sharp.
What is Vegan Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a condition characterised by mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, discombobulated thoughts, and forgetfulness. It can be frustrating and even debilitating, making it hard to think. Not what you want when you're trying to live your best life on a plant-based diet!
Vegans tend to be more prone to brain fog for a number of reasons. First, vegan diets can be low in certain nutrients and vitamins that are important for brain health, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, and iodine. Second, going vegan often means making sudden diet changes which can lead to digestive tract issues along with nutrient deficiencies. This brain-gut connection can affect cognition. And third, many people who go vegan do so to lose weight. Skipping the major nutritional benchmarks that we get when we eat fish or eat meat can lead to reduced protein intake, which is a leading cause of mental fog.
In fact, according to Dr Gregory A Plotnikoff MD, many vegetarians and vegans have a poorly planned plant-based diet, and lower quantities of nutrients can lead to common symptoms such as anxiety, brain fog, depression, fatigue, insomnia and other neurological dysfunctions.
Which Nutrients are Missing in a Plant-Based Diet?
While there are many plant-based sources of essential nutrients, some exclusively plant-based diets can lack key nutrients that are important for healthy brain function. Vegan nutrition often lacks in the following:
- Vitamin B12 – found in animal products like meat, fish, eggs and dairy, B12 is essential for the development and function of nerve cells. A lack of B12 can lead to cognitive impairment, memory loss and brain fog.
- Protein – essential for the growth and maintenance of all cells in the body, including brain cells. A lack of protein can lead to cognitive decline and a decrease in cognitive abilities.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – found in fish and other seafood, omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development and function. A lack of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to cognitive decline, memory loss and depression.
- Iron – found in animal products like red meat, iron is essential for the transport of oxygen to the brain. A lack of iron can lead to fatigue, cognitive impairment and brain fog.
What Can You Do to Prevent Brain Fog on Plant-Based Diets?
Fortunately, there are a few simple nutritional interventions that can help vegans get the nutrients they need to stay clear-headed and function properly without resorting to eating meat.
- Make sure you're getting enough B vitamins. This can be done by eating plant-based foods that are fortified with vitamin B12 (like plant-based milks and nut butters), or by eating certain foods that contain high levels of vitamin B12 (like spirulina, tempeh and nori).
- Get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Consume omega-3-rich foods (like flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds), or by eating more omega-3-fortified foods (like plant-based milks and eggs).
- Make sure to eat a variety of plant-based proteins (like beans, lentils, quinoa and tempeh), or take a protein supplement.
- Make sure you're getting enough iron. Eat iron-rich foods (like dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts and seeds), or take iron supplements.
What about Choline and DHA?
It's no secret that a vegan diet is short in key nutrients found in meat, fish, and dairy products. One of those nutrients is choline, which is an essential nutrient for maintaining healthy cell membranes, nervous system function, and metabolism. Choline is predominantly found in animal-based foods, so vegans are at risk for deficiency. A vegan diet also lacks DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is pivotal to brain health. Just like choline, DHA can mostly be found in animal-based foods.
Thankfully, Simply Nootropics offers caffeine-free, gluten-free, Vegan-friendly choline and DHA alternatives that can help bridge this nutrient gap for those following a plant-based diet. We'll get to these shortly!
Choline and DHA are essential for a number of reasons. First, they help keep cell membranes in our brains healthy. They also play an important role in neurologic messaging, making sure our nerves can send signals properly. Additionally, choline and DHA are involved in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Without adequate choline and DHA, you may experience memory problems and difficulty concentrating. So if you're thinking of going vegan, make sure you research and understand the risks. Your mental health is worth it!
Protect Your Cognitive Performance and Energy Levels with Simply Nootropics
As anyone who has ever suffered from brain fog can attest, it can be a frustrating and even debilitating condition. Thankfully, there are natural ingredients that can combat brain fog and improve cognitive function.
Simply Nootropics Elevate™ veg capsules are a great option for vegans. Our all-in-one formula contains Algal DHA, choline bitartrate, B6 vitamin, and zinc - along with a carefully curated stack of other nutrients, herbs and minerals.
Algal DHA is an excellent alternative to fish oil for vegans, as it provides the same brain-boosting benefits of Omega-3 without eating fish. In fact, microalgae is a much healthier and eco-friendly source of Omega-3. Choline bitartrate is another important nutrient for cognitive health, as it helps to support memory and focus.
Vitamin B6 is essential for energy production, and zinc plays a role in brain health, mood and mental function. Together, these nutrients work synergistically to support optimal brain function and help to combat brain fog without having to resort to consuming animal products.
Don't let your ethical choices as a vegan get in the way of your best cognitive performance. You don't have to sacrifice your energy levels or concentration, and suffer brain fog, in order to do the right thing.
Simply Nootropics has you covered with vegan-friendly nootropics. To improve your cognitive function and protect your energy levels, give Simply Nootropics Elevate™ a try. Get started on your journey today.