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The Need for DHA by Vegans and Vegetarians

Part One: Nutrition and DHA

written by Joel Furhman, M.D. February 14, 2020
The Need for DHA by Vegans and Vegetarians

RD&T contributor, Dr. Joel Furhman, discusses the need for DHA by vegans and near-vegans in this article.  From examining Blue Zones to addressing concerns about links between DHA and prostate cancer, he explains the potential benefits of conservative use of supplements.

Blue Zones and Nutrition

According to Healthline: “‘Blue Zone’ is a non-scientific term given to geographic regions that are home to some of the world’s oldest people.”

Blue Zones: Not Examples to Emulate

Some long-lived societies generally eat more plants and less animal products than other modern regions. However, most of them (except a minority of Adventists) still eat some natural animal products or seafood and are not vegan. Protective factors in their diets have been noted (such as high vegetable and legume intake, no processed foods, low meat intake); however, these societies do not represent the ideal human diet. They eat foods that are grown locally, which of course is a good thing in one sense, but has the shortcoming of not taking advantage of the wide varieties of foods that are available to us today. These populations don’t have the opportunity to use the advances in nutritional science to construct a dietary portfolio of the healthiest foods in the world. We have an opportunity to do much better than the Blue Zones.

The percent of centenarians in Okinawa is 6/10,000.1 Overall, in the Blue Zones, less than 10 percent live past 90.2 The life expectancy (after survival to 65) for Adventists in Loma Linda, CA,  is 85 in men and 87.5 in women.3 These societies live longer than the average Westerner, but that does not mean they have maximized health and longevity.

Nutritarian diet

A Nutritarian diet, along with my supplemental recommendations, does not attempt to duplicate a Blue Zone. Rather, it significantly surpasses the diets of the Blue Zones by incorporating the most current research, such as what foods enhance later-life brain function and stem cell and telomere maintenance.

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