Deficiencies of Raw Food Diet And How To Address Them

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Raw food diets have brought about many health benefits for people and also the environment. However, it can come at a cost, for example, nutrient deficiencies. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to many health risks, such as weak muscle, weak bones, and fertility reduction.

As a result, knowing what we are missing helps us to plan our dietary intake. With this in mind, in this blog, we show you how to address deficiencies by revealing real statistics, symptoms, and solutions.

In This Article

Nutrient Deficiencies of Raw Food Diet - A Closer Look

The Nutritional Facts

fruits and nuts cut into slices on plate with cup of juice and spoon a side | Deficiencies of Raw Food Diet And How To Address Them
Before dipping into the details, let’s look at the nutritional facts of a typical raw food diet. That is information from a health article posted in U.S.News. Along with that, we also show you the recommended nutrients revealed by the federal government’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 
Nutrients Raw Food Diet Recommended
Calories 1,280 Women 19-25: 2,200 26-50: 2,000 51+: 1,800   Men 19-25: 2,800 26-45: 2,600 46-65: 2,400 65+: 2,200
Total Fat % of Caloric Intake 28% 20%-35%
Total Carbohydrates % of Caloric Intake 59% 45%-65%
Fiber 35 g Women 19-30: 28 g 31-50: 25 g 51+: 22 g   Men 19-30: 34 g 31-50: 31 g 51+: 28 g
Protein % of Caloric Intake 13% 10%-35%
Sodium 1,145 mg Under 2,300 mg
Potassium 4,025 mg At least 4,700 mg
Calcium 750 mg Women 19-50: 1,000 mg 51+: 1,200 mg   Men 1,000 mg
Vitamin B12 0.8 mcg 2.4 mcg
Vitamin D 3.01 mcg 15 mcg
You can see, as shown in the table, some nutrient deficiencies of raw food diet can be:
  • Calories
A raw vegan diet provides less protein than what people need per day. Although low-protein diets help you lose weight, they can weaken your bone health, as mentioned in one study.
  • Vitamin B12
Raw foodists take fewer vitamin B12 than recommended. Over time, this can cause nervous system damage, heart disease, anemia, as well as weakened bone health.
  • Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for bone health. According to one study, those with a raw vegetarian diet tend to have lower bone mineral content and density than those in standard American diets. That fact can be the same with raw vegan diets.
  • Calcium 
Besides vitamin D, people who follow raw food diets can also have calcium deficiencies. As mentioned, calcium deficiency can lead to bone and muscle weakness. Furthermore, it can cause convulsions and abnormal heart rhythms, which can be life-threatening. It’s even worse with postmenopausal women as they can experience more significant bone loss due to hormone change and calcium absorption difficulty. 

Deficiencies of Raw Food Diet - Signs and Symptoms

The nutritional deficiencies of raw food diet are obvious with revealed numbers. But how to know when you have nutritional deficiencies? Do they have any signs or symptoms? 

Yes, they do. Here are some “clues” for you to address your nutritional deficiencies of a Raw Food Diet:

Calories

When a person on a raw food diet is not getting enough calories, they might have several symptoms, such as:

  • Low energy levels
  • Anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Easy to get cold
  • Constipation
  • Sleep issues
  • Constant hunger
  • Irritability

Vitamin B12

When raw foodists lack vitamin B12, they can have these following symptoms: 

  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Pale or yellowish skin
  • Sore, red, or swollen tongue
  • Fatigue and weakness in extremities
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or poor appetite

Long-term vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to more severe symptoms, such as: 

  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dementia

Vitamin D

In adults, symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are not easy to notice. Here are some. 

  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Mood changes or depression

Calcium 

The symptoms of calcium deficiency will not come right away. However, as mentioned above, long-term calcium deficiency can lead to convulsions and abnormal heart rhythms. 

But trust us, you don’t want to see those symptoms, not only related to calcium, so take action now!

How to Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies of a Raw Food Diet?

woman cuts veggies on cutting board | Deficiencies of Raw Food Diet And How To Address Them

With vegans, the best way to prevent any nutrient deficiencies is by taking supplements. However, supplements are processed products. For that reason, they are unacceptable for raw foodists. The best solution here is eating or other alternatives.

About vitamin D, raw vegan foodists can get more of this vitamin from sun exposure. However, it can be difficult for those who live in northern latitudes or have dark skin. Foods that are rich in vitamin D are mushrooms. Also, raw foodists can rely on a full spectrum broad-spectrum or blue light therapy to get enough vitamin D. 

Also, foods like nori and mushroom are good sources of vitamin B12. Moreover, to increase calcium intake, some vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, can help.

Although raw food diets might have many health risks, there are always solutions. Just stay calm and solve the problems little by little. Don’t look at raw food diets in terms of deficiency; think about how beneficial they are for your health and environment. 

Are you suffering from any listed symptoms above? Which way do you choose to supply any nutrient deficiencies? Don’t forget to sign up for VegHealth to get more interesting upcoming posts.

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We chose people who were experts about the lessons they wrote, even if they didn't agree with our other contributors on every point. For example, some of our contributors eat mostly raw foods while others eat mostly macrobiotic. Some shun oil while others stir fry their vegetables. As a result, none of our contributors has endorsed all of the lessons written by other experts.