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Do Plant-Based Meals Risk Brain and Nutrient Deficiencies?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

vegetarian choline deficiency

Story at-a-glance -

  • Choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development, is an essential nutrient that humans must get from dietary or supplement sources
  • Animal foods such as eggs, dairy and meat are a major contributor of choline to the diet
  • Only 8% of U.S. adults are getting enough choline (including only 8.5 percent of pregnant women, and trends toward plant-based diets could make deficiency even more common
  • Choline plays a role in cognitive function, liver health, neurological disorders and more
  • Organic, pastured eggs are one of the best sources of choline you can eat; one hard-boiled egg may contain 147 mg of choline

Many health organizations recommend plant-based diets as good for people and the planet, and it’s true that most could benefit greatly from adding more vegetables to their diets. However, there are risks involved when you move from eating a diet rich in plant foods to one that is strictly plant based.

Nutrient deficiencies not only are possible with a strict plant-based diet but probable, depending on your diet, with choline being among them. Choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development, is an essential nutrient that humans must get from dietary or supplement sources.


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