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Completing The Limiting Essential Amino Acid Picture

Q. You stated that “virtually any whole natural plant food, or any combination of them, if eaten as one’s sole source of calories for a day, would provide all of the essential amino acids”. So if one elected to eat only cauliflower (or broccoli or carrots or any other vegetable) for an entire day though one would obviously miss some of the necessary nutrients for a healthy diet there would always be enough of the 8 EAA’s to produce the required proteins?

The full quote is, “If you calculate the amount of each essential amino acid provided by unprocessed plant foods and compare these values with those determined by Rose, you will find that virtually any one, or combination of these whole natural plant foods provides all of the essential amino acids as determined by Rose.”

Q. You also said, “The only possible exception could be a diet based solely on fruit. Which amino acids are missing in fruit?

None. It is just that the total might be low if all they ate were fruits.

Q. However, in order for your gentle readers to enlighten family and friends not versed in the benefits of WFPB nutrition one can’t simply say it is a fact because Jeff Novick and John McDougall said it was so. We will need a brief scientific explanation to support this conclusion.

Though I am sure that most of the conclusions in your articles are patently obvious to you most of your readers lack your extensive nutritional background so a little assistance in the area of scientific method would be helpful. A sentence of explanation or a footnote source supporting your position would prove extremely helpful. It would allow us to easily research the topic further as necessary.

It was only a blog, edited down from a general article in my newsletter and not an in depth review article on the topic. The data is there and has been there for many years and I will include some of it below.

However, it is really not just about scientific studies per see, but a simple analysis of the content of food. If you go to the USDA Database Standard Reference 25 and look up the analysis of any one whole plant food, you will see that all the amino acids exist in the food and if you calculated the amount one would get at ~2500 calories, you would see all the amino acids in the right amounts. So, what more do you need?

In a way, it is like asking for proof that an 8 cylinder car has 8 cylinders just because many people think it only has 6.

Just open the hood and look. :)

However, because you asked, here are a few references...

Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. Craig WJ, Mangels AR; American Dietetic Association. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Jul;109(7):1266-82. PMID: 19562864

Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59(suppl):1203S–1212S.

Rand WM, Pellett PL, Young VR. Meta-analysis of nitrogen balance studies for estimating protein requirements in healthy adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;77:109–127.

Young VR, Fajardo L, Murray E, Rand WM, Scrimshaw NS. Protein requirements of man: Comparative nitrogen balance response within the submaintenance-to-maintenance range of intakes of wheat and beef proteins. J Nutr. 1975;105:534–542.

FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation on Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition. Protein and Amino Acid Requirements in Human Nutrition: Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2002;WHO Technical Report Series No. 935.

Messina V, Mangels R, Messina M. The Dietitian's Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications. 2nd ed.. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2004;.

Tipton KD, Witard OC. Protein requirements and recommendations for athletes: Relevance of ivory tower arguments for practical recommendations. Clin Sports Med. 2007;26:17–36.

From the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition...

Plant Proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Vernon R Young & Peter L Pellet. Amer J Clin Nutr 1994;59(s):1230s-1212s

“… One reason for discussing amino acid complementation is to introduce the question of ingestion of complimentary proteins. There is some concern, at least at the consumer level, about the need to ingest different plant proteins at the same time, or within the same meal, to achieve maximum benefit and nutritional value from proteins with different, but complementary, amino acid patterns. This concern may also extend to the question of the need to ingest a significant amount of protein at each meal, or whether it is sufficient to consume protein in variable amounts at different meals as long as the daily average intake meets or exceeds the recommended or safe protein intakes.

According to FAO/WHO/UNU, estimates of protein requirements refer to metabolic needs that persist over moderate periods of time. Although protein and amino acid requirements are conventionally expressed as daily rates (of intake), this is no implication that these amounts must be consumed each and every day. Therefore, it is not essential, at least in adults, that daily intakes of protein, or presumably of each indispensable amino acid, must equal of exceed the physiological requirement: it is apparently sufficient for the average intake over a number of days to achieve this level. This pattern of intake would allow maintenance of an adequate protein nutritional state.

(NOTE: this part is in regard to the value of the original studies done on rats and then pigs)

Earlier work in rapidly growing rats suggested that delaying the supplementation of a protein with its limiting amino acids reduces the value of the supplement. Similarly the frequency of feeding of diets supplemented with lysine in growing pigs affects overall efficiency and utilization of dietary protein. There are few data available from human studies to assess the significance of these findings. However the relevance of rat and pig studies can be questioned in view of the profoundly different qualitative and quantitative characteristics of protein metabolism in in rats and pigs compared to human subjects.