It's in there! Do we need vegetables?

I get asked all the time how I can consider myself healthy if I'm not getting the nutrients I need from fruits and vegetables. The very thought that all the essential vitamins and minerals a body needs could be found in just meat is often a leap too far for people to make.

But it's true.

According to the Harvard Medical School, there are 14 Vitamins and 16 Minerals that are essential to the human body.

RETINOIDS AND CAROTENE (vitamin A; includes retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid and are also referred to as "preformed" vitamin A. Beta-carotene can easily be converted to vitamin A as needed.)Essential for vision Lycopene may lower prostate cancer risk. Keeps tissues and skin healthy. Plays an important role in bone growth and in the immune system. Diets rich in the carotenoids alpha-carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk. Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataractsMany people get too much preformed vitamin A from food and supplements. Large amounts of supplemental vitamin A (but not beta-carotene) can be harmful to bones.
THIAMIN (vitamin B1)Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain and is critical for nerve function.Most nutritious foods have some thiamin.
RIBOFLAVIN(vitamin B2)Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brainMost Americans get enough of this nutrient.
NIACIN (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid)Helps convert food into energy. Essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous systemNiacin occurs naturally in food and can also be made by your body from the amino acid tryptophan, with the help of B6.
PANTOTHENIC ACID (vitamin B5)Helps convert food into energy. Helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobinDeficiency causes burning feet and other neurologic symptoms.
PYRIDOXINE (vitamin B6, pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine)Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease helps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in sleep, appetite, and moods. Helps make red blood cells Influences cognitive abilities and immune functionMany people don't get enough of this nutrient.
COBALAMIN (vitamin B12)Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Assists in making new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids. Protects nerve cells and encourages their normal growth Helps make red blood cells and DNASome people, particularly older adults, are deficient in vitamin B12 because they have trouble absorbing this vitamin from food. Those on a vegan or vegetarian diet often don't get enough B12as it's mostly found in animal products. They may need to take supplements. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause memory loss, dementia, and numbness in the arms and legs.
BIOTINHelps convert food into energy and synthesize glucose. Helps make and break down some fatty acids. Needed for healthy bones and hairSome is made by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it's not clear how much of this the body absorbs.
ASCORBIC ACID (vitamin C)Foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk for some cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. Long-term use of supplemental vitamin C may protect against cataracts. Helps make collagen, a connective tissue that knits together wounds and supports blood vessel walls. Helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Bolsters the immune systemEvidence that vitamin C helps reduce colds has not been convincing.
CHOLINEHelps make and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids in many nerve and brain activities. Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fatsNormally the body makes small amounts of choline. But experts don't know whether this amount is enough at certain ages.
CALCIFEROL (vitamin D)Helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones. Helps form teeth and bones. Supplements can reduce the number of non-spinal fracturesMany people don't get enough of this nutrient. While the body uses sunlight to make vitamin D, it cannot make enough if you live in northern climates or don't spend much time in the sun.
ALPHA-TOCOPHEROL (vitamin E)Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer's disease.Vitamin E does not prevent wrinkles or slow other aging processes.
FOLIC ACID(vitamin B9, folate, folacin)Vital for new cell creation helps prevent brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy; should be taken regularly by all women of child-bearing age since women may not know they are pregnant in the first weeks of pregnancy. Can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce heart disease risk May reduce risk for colon cancer. Offsets breast cancer risk among women who consume alcoholMany people don't get enough of this nutrient. Occasionally, folic acid masks a B12 deficiency, which can lead to severe neurological complications. That's not a reason to avoid folic acid; just be sure to get enough B12.
PHYLLOQUINONE, MENADIONE (vitamin K)Activates proteins and calcium essential to blood clotting. May help prevent hip fracturesIntestinal bacteria make a form of vitamin K that accounts for half your requirements. If you take an anticoagulant, keep your vitamin K intake consistent.
CALCIUMBuilds and protects bones and teeth. Helps with muscle contractions and relaxation, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmission. Plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation. Helps maintain healthy blood pressureAdults absorb roughly 30% of calcium ingested, but this can vary depending on the source. Diets very high in calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
CHLORIDEBalances fluids in the body. A component of stomach acid, essential to digestionNew recommendations (DRIs) for chloride are under development by the Institute of Medicine.
CHROMIUMEnhances the activity of insulin, helps maintain normal blood glucose levels, and is needed to free energy from glucoseUnrefined foods such as brewer's yeast, nuts, and cheeses are the best sources of chromium, but brewer's yeast can sometimes cause bloating and nausea, so you may choose to get chromium from other food sources.
COPPERPlays an important role in iron metabolism and immune system. Helps make red blood cellsMore than half of the copper in foods is absorbed.
FLUORIDEEncourages strong bone formation. Keeps dental cavities from starting or worseningHarmful to children in excessive amounts.
IODINEPart of thyroid hormone, which helps set body temperature and influences nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and growth. Prevents goiter and a congenital thyroid disorderTo prevent iodine deficiencies, some countries add iodine to salt, bread, or drinking water.
IRONHelps hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells ferry oxygen throughout the body. Needed for chemical reactions in the body and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormonesMany women of childbearing age don't get enough iron. Women who do not menstruate probably need the same amount of iron as men. Because iron is harder to absorb from plants, experts suggest vegetarians get twice the recommended amount (assuming the source is food).
MAGNESIUMNeeded for many chemical reactions in the body Works with calcium in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and regulation of blood pressure. Helps build bones and teethThe majority of magnesium in the body is found in bones. If your blood levels are low, your body may tap into these reserves to correct the problem.
MANGANESEHelps form bones. Helps metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydratesIf you take supplements or have manganese in your drinking water, be careful not to exceed the upper limit. Those with liver damage or whose diets supply abundant manganese should be especially vigilant.
MOLYBDENUMPart of several enzymes, one of which helps ward off a form of severe neurological damage in infants that can lead to early deathMolybdenum deficiencies are rare.
PHOSPHORUSHelps build and protect bones and teeth. Part of DNA and RNA. Helps convert food into energy. Part of phospholipids, which carry lipids in blood and help shuttle nutrients into and out of cellsCertain drugs bind with phosphorus, making it unavailable and causing bone loss, weakness, and pain.
POTASSIUMBalances fluids in the body. Helps maintain steady heartbeat and send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. A diet rich in potassium seems to lower blood pressure. Getting enough potassium from your diet may benefit bonesFood sources do not cause toxicity, but high-dose supplements might.
SELENIUMActs as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activityResearchers are investigating whether selenium may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, but with mixed results.
SODIUMBalances fluids in the body. Helps send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. Impacts blood pressure; even modest reductions in salt consumption can lower blood pressureWhile experts recommend that people limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg, most Americans consume 4,000–6,000 mg a day.
SULFURHelps form bridges that shape and stabilize some protein structures. Needed for healthy hair, skin, and nailsSulfur is a component of thiamin and certain amino acids. There is no recommended amount for sulfur. Deficiencies occur only with a severe lack of protein.
ZINCHelps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver. Needed for immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing. When taken with certain antioxidants, zinc may delay the progression of age-related macular degenerationBecause vegetarians absorb less zinc, experts suggest that they get twice the recommended requirement of zinc from plant foods.

30 vitamins and minerals in all. Did you know that all but 5 are found in meat, fish, and eggs?

Seriously! Out of the 5 things we don't get from animal products, 2 we don't need anyway. 1 needs supplementation regardless of what diet you choose, and the other 2 we could use less of in most cases.

Check it out.
Each of these can be found at different levels in various meats and animal products. It's important to realize is that the recommendations for each of these vitamins and minerals are based on the Standard American Diet. This means the recommended amounts are based on a high carb diet, with plant-based foods providing a large percentage of the nutrients.

This is where bioavailability comes into play. Bioavailability is how easily the body can absorb nutrients from food that we eat. Meat has a high level, plants and carbs have a low level.

This means we need to eat more plant material to get the actual amount of nutrients we need because much of it is wasted in the process of digestion and absorption into our bodies. 

Here's a study demonstrating this with iron and zinc. 

"The iron and zinc from vegetarian diets are generally less bioavailable than from nonvegetarian diets..."

If the recommended daily allowance is based on foods with lower bioavailability, do we really need those amounts of vitamins and minerals in our diet? How much are we really getting each day on a "regular" diet?

One of the things that explain why plant food is less bioavailable is the "anti-nutrients" they contain.

"Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds found in a variety of foods — especially grains, beans, legumes, and nuts — that interfere with the absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They can even get in the way of the digestive enzymes, which are key for proper absorption. Antinutrients can also be found in plant roots, vegetables, leaves, and fruits..." -

Meat doesn't have this problem...

Playing it safe
If you are going Zero Carb and you want to play it safe, then eat organ meats or supplements made from them. Beef liver, in particular, has the highest levels, per ounce, of most of the 30 essential vitamins and minerals.

If you aren't a fan of cooking and eating liver, (I'm not, you can get powdered beef liver pills at most vitamins or supplement stores.)

I have not seen any information that leads me to believe removing vegetables will cause any reduction in micronutrients that would pose a health risk, short or long term.

To the contrary, I have talked to and can refer to hundreds if not thousands of people that do not eat vegetables and have no health issues to show for it.

In the 1930's two men ate nothing but meat for a year, under medical supervision and went through with flying colors. Summary on page 666 and 667.

There is nothing definitive
Until more research is done on how the human body works without carbs, I'm not sure we will ever truly know the answer to this question.

Old knowledge is hard to break, and new information takes time to verify and make popular.

Right now, the only real data that exists is the history (past and current) we have of whole races of people that have persisted with meat-only diets, and the testimonies of thousands of people all over the world who are doing it now with amazing stories of healing and improved quality of life.

You make up your own mind.

This is one of the most in-depth series I"ve seen on this topic. It's a must read.

Here is some info from another Carnivore resource that I shared on my Instagram account...


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