Animal source foods

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Various raw meats
Dunlop cheese from Ayrshire, Scotland.

Animal source foods (ASF) include many food items that come from an animal source such as fish, meat, dairy, eggs and honey. Many individuals consume little ASF or even none for long periods of time by either personal choice or necessity, as ASF may not be accessible or available to these people.[1]

Nutrients in animal source foods[edit]

Six micronutrients are richly found in ASF: vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin (also called vitamin B2), calcium, iron and zinc. They play a critical role in the growth and development of children.[1][2] Inadequate stores of these micronutrients, either resulting from inadequate intake or poor absorption, is associated with poor growth, anemias (iron deficiency anemia and macrocytic anemia), rickets, night blindness, impaired cognitive functioning, neuromuscular deficits, diminished work capacity, psychiatric disorders and death.[1] Some of these effects, such as impaired cognitive development from an iron deficiency, are irreversible.[citation needed]

Micronutrient deficiency is associated in poor early cognitive development.[3] Programs designed to address these micronutrient deficiencies should be targeted to infants, children, and pregnant women. To address these significant micronutrient deficiencies, some global health researchers and practitioners developed and piloted a snack program in Kenya school children.[4]

Animal source food production[edit]

According to a 2006 United Nations study, the livestock industry sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."[5] As such, using plant-derived foods is typically considered better for the interests of the environment. Despite this, the raising of certain animals can be more environmentally sound than others. According to the Farralones Institute's report from 1976, raising rabbits, and chickens (on a well-considered approach) for food can still be quite sustainable.[6] As such, the production of meat and other produce, such as eggs, may still be considered environmentally friendly (if this is done in an industrial, high-efficiency manner).[citation needed] In addition, raising goats (for goat milk and meat) can also be environmentally quite friendly[how?] and has been favored by certain environmental activists, such as Mahatma Gandhi.[7]

The planetary diet of the EAT-Lancet commission has advised substantial reductions in consumption of ASF on the basis that these diets threaten sustainability because of their environmental footprint and negative health impacts.[8] This report was challenged by Adegbola T. Adesogan and colleagues in 2020 who stated that it "fail[ed] to adequately include the experience of marginalized women and children in low- and middle-income countries whose diets regularly lack the necessary nutrients" and ASF offer the best source of nutrient rich food for children aged 6–23 months.[9]

Between 1990–2018, global intakes (servings per week) increased for processed meat, unprocessed red meat, cheese, eggs, milk and seafood.[10]

Health effects[edit]

Animal-source foods are a diverse group of foods that are rich in bioavailable nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins B12, vitamin D, choline, DHA, and EPA.[11] Animal-source and plant-based foods have complimentary nutrient profiles and balanced diets containing both reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.[11] Animal-source foods such as eggs, fish, red meat and shellfish increase circulating TMAO concentrations.[12][13] Excess consumption of processed meat, red meat, and saturated fat increases non-communicable disease risk.[11]

Animal-source foods have been described as a suitable complementary food to improve growth in 6 to 24-month-old children in low and middle-income countries.[14]

A 2022 review of animal-source foods found that red meat but not fish or eggs increases risk of type 2 diabetes.[15] A 2023 review found that substituting animal-source with plant-based foods is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Murphy SP, Allen LH. (2003) Nutritional Importance of Animal Source Foods. J. Nutr. 133: 3932S-3935S.
  2. ^ Black, MM. (2003) Micronutrient Deficiencies and Cognitive Functioning. J. Nutr. 133: 3927S-3931S.
  3. ^ Black MM. (2003) Micronutrients and Cognitive Functioning. J Nutr.133: 3927S-3931S.
  4. ^ Siekmann JH, Allen LH, Bwibo NO, Demment MW, Murphy SP, Neumann CG (2003). Kenyan School Children Have Multiple Micronutrient Deficiencies, but Increased plasma vitamin B12 is the only detectable micronutrient response to meat or milk supplementation. J. Nutr. 133. 3972S-3980S.
  5. ^ LEAD digital library: Livestock’s long shadow - Environmental issues and options Archived 2014-08-06 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Farralones Institute favoring rabbits and chicken, 1976
  7. ^ Gandhi, who favored the environmentally friendly goat and its produce Archived June 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Willet, W; Rockstrom, J; Loken, B; Springmann, M; Lang, T; Vermeulen, S; Garnett, T; Tilman, D; DeClerck, F; Wood, A; Jonell, M (2019). "Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems". The Lancet. 393 (10170): 447–492. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31788-4. PMID 30660336. S2CID 58657351.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Adesogan, Adegbola T; Havelaar, Arie H; McKune, Sarah L; Eilitta, Marjatta; Dahl, Geoffrey, E. (2020). "Animal source foods: Sustainability problem or malnutrition and sustainability solution? Perspective matters". Global Food Security. 25: 100325. doi:10.1016/j.gfs.2019.100325.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ Miller V, Reedy J, Cudhea F, Zhang J, Shi P, Erndt-Marino J, Coates J, Micha R, Webb P, Mozaffarian D. (2022). "Global, regional, and national consumption of animal-source foods between 1990 and 2018: findings from the Global Dietary Database". Lancet Planet Health. 6 (3): e243–e256. doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00352-1. hdl:10576/31607. PMID 35278390.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b c Beal T, Gardner CD, Herrero M, Iannotti LL, Merbold L, Nordhagen S, Mottet A. (2023). "Friend or Foe? The Role of Animal-Source Foods in Healthy and Environmentally Sustainable Diets". J Nutr. 153 (2): 409–425. doi:10.1016/j.tjnut.2022.10.016. PMID 36894234.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Yang JJ, Shu XO, Herrington DM, Moore SC, Meyer KA, Ose J, Menni C, Palmer ND, Eliassen H, Harada S, Tzoulaki I, Zhu H, Albanes D, Wang TJ, Zheng W, Cai H, Ulrich CM, Guasch-Ferré M, Karaman I, Fornage M, Cai Q, Matthews CE, Wagenknecht LE, Elliott P, Gerszten RE, Yu D. (2021). "Circulating trimethylamine N-oxide in association with diet and cardiometabolic biomarkers: an international pooled analysis". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 113 (5): 1145–1156. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqaa430. hdl:10044/1/86226. PMC 8106754. PMID 33826706.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Lombardo M, Aulisa G, Marcon D, Rizzo G. (2022). "The Influence of Animal- or Plant-Based Diets on Blood and Urine Trimethylamine-N-Oxide (TMAO) Levels in Humans". Curr Nutr Rep. 11 (1): 56–68. doi:10.1007/s13668-021-00387-9. PMID 34990005. S2CID 245710966.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  14. ^ Asare H, Rosi A, Faber M, Smuts CM, Ricci C. (2022). "Animal-source foods as a suitable complementary food for improved physical growth in 6 to 24-month-old children in low- and middle-income countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials". Br J Nutr. 128 (12): 2453–2463. doi:10.1017/S0007114522000290. PMID 35109944.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ Giosuè A, Calabrese I, Riccardi G, Vaccaro O, Vitale M. (2022). "Consumption of different animal-based foods and risk of type 2 diabetes: An umbrella review of meta-analyses of prospective studies". Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 191: 110071. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2022.110071. PMID 36067917. S2CID 252107061.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Neuenschwander M, Stadelmaier J, Eble J, Grummich K, Szczerba E, Kiesswetter E, Schlesinger S, Schwingshackl L. (2023). "Substitution of animal-based with plant-based foods on cardiometabolic health and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies". BMC Medicine. 21 (1): 404. doi:10.1186/s12916-023-03093-1. PMC 10652524. PMID 37968628.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)