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Are There Dangers of a Fruitarian Diet?

by
author image Natalie Stein
Natalie Stein specializes in weight loss and sports nutrition. She is based in Los Angeles and is an assistant professor with the Program for Public Health at Michigan State University. Stein holds a master of science degree in nutrition and a master of public health degree from Michigan State University.
Are There Dangers of a Fruitarian Diet?
A bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen. Photo Credit tvirbickis/iStock/Getty Images

A fruitarian diet includes only plant-based foods that you can eat without harming the plant. Food choices include fruit, lettuce and other greens, cucumbers, squash, nuts and seeds. This type of diet may help you lose weight, but it is not nutritionally adequate, and you risk health problems if you follow a fruitarian diet for a long time.

Weak Bones

You may have trouble getting the calcium and vitamin D that you need for strong bones. A fruitarian diet excludes common sources of calcium such as milk, yogurt, cheese and fortified cereal. Your skin may be able to make the vitamin D you need when you are out in the sun, but if you do not go outdoors much or you always wear sunblock, you are an older adult or you have darker skin, you may need to get vitamin D from your diet. Common food sources include fatty fish and fortified milk, which are not part of a fruitarian diet.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency

If you do not take a dietary supplement or eat fortified foods, you will develop a deficiency of vitamin B-12 if you follow a fruitarian diet. The only natural sources of vitamin B-12 are animal-derived foods, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Examples include dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, eggs and shellfish. A deficiency of vitamin B-12 leads to megaloblastic anemia, or immature red blood cells, and neurologic symptoms, such as tingling in the legs.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

A fruitarian diet may increase your risk for iron-deficiency anemia, which leads to symptoms of fatigue, weakness and susceptibility to infections. Spinach and other greens are fruitarian foods that provide iron, but the iron from plant sources is in the non-heme form, which is difficult to absorb, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center. Heme iron such as in meat and other animal-based foods is easier for your body to absorb. Women of child-bearing age and female adolescents are among the groups at high risk for iron deficiency.

Psychosocial Issues

A danger of a fruitarian diet is that it may disrupt your social life, since you will not be able to eat regular meals with your friends and family. It may also lead to food cravings and obsessions. Go Ask Alice! suggests taking a careful look at your reasons for becoming fruitarian and addressing any underlying food issues that you may have. If you feel that you need to lose weight, talk to a health professional who can counsel you on healthy dieting plans and a positive body image.

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