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Are animal nutrients better assimilated than plant nutrients?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 26, 2012 at 11:49 PM

In general, are vitamins and minerals from animal sources better assimilated by our body? It seems amongst animals, humans have a relatively small gut, more suited to digest animal foods than high plant foods. As an example, is vitamin A from animal sources more easily assimilated than the vitamin A from plant sources?

Would it be wiser to eat things like liver, shellfish, etc. for vitamins and minerals than from plant sources? Except vitamin K I suppose, which isn't found in largue quantities in animal sources.

C836b2644e7319bb957fbb794a97708e

on July 27, 2012
at 06:16 AM

You are a brilliant brilliant man. I dig how you worded this- Hope you dont mind if I use it (with credit).

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2 Answers

5
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 27, 2012
at 12:51 AM

When you start putting plants against animals, what you discover is that they are complimentary to our nutrient needs. Gaps in animals are filled in by plants, and vice versa. B vitamins are generally rich in animal products, though vitamins C and E are more abundant in plants. You can get enough of the handful of vitamins and minerals well-studied just doing animals, but I don't think that's particularly desirable. You'd be missing out on the tens of thousands of phytochemicals that may also have beneficial health effects.

C836b2644e7319bb957fbb794a97708e

on July 27, 2012
at 06:16 AM

You are a brilliant brilliant man. I dig how you worded this- Hope you dont mind if I use it (with credit).

2
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on July 27, 2012
at 01:16 AM

I think there is no yes or no answer to this question. I'll use calcium as an example:

Some green vegetables are a decent source of calcium. They don't have as much as milk, but they have some. Spinach has calcium, but its absorption is pretty crappy. This is likely due to the oxalic acid (something animal products don't have very much of). But broccoli, kale, and bok choy don't have very much oxalic acid and their calcium absorption is just as good as the calcium from milk. Beyond oxalic acid, insoluble fibers (found only in plants and not animals) like cellulose and whole grain fibers decrease calcium absorption. But let's not ignore that soluble fibers (also found in plants and not animals) seem to increase calcium absorption. It's clearly a complicated issue.

When you're dealing with same mineral or vitamin (and not something like beta carotene vs. retinol) from plants or animals, it's hard to say which one is better assimilated. You really have to be specific about both the nutrient and which animal and plant you're comparing.

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