Today we are talking about a generally very unknown group of substances in our food, which is often overshadowed by vitamins, macronutrients, as well as micronutrients – zoonutrients. Most people know so-called plant nutrients1In my opinion, these are not nutrients, but defensive substances that can be used medicinally in the sense of xenohermetics. However, they are just as little as aspirin a nutrient and polyphenols, such as menthol, curcumin, or sulforaphane, but could not name two zoonutrients. Many think of animal products only in fats & proteins, and thus are far from the true nutrient richness. Contrary to all the plant-based propaganda, meat & co possess unique substances that are fundamental to human survival, without alternatives from the plant world. These animal nutrients are what I call zoonutrients.

Some of them you already know, like creatine or vitamin K2 Mk-4 – but there are a lot more. Let’s take a close look at the most important ones from this shadowy existence and establish why animal products provide you so uniquely with these nutrients. Then, follow me into this exciting and rarely talked about world of nutritional science!

What are Zoonutrients?

Let’s define the word first:

  • Zoo‘ refers to anything from the animal kingdom – as in zoology, which is the study of the animal kingdom.
  • Zoonutrients‘ are the class of nutrients that are found exclusively in animal foods and their products, or are unique in their bioavailability compared to plant analogs.

Animals, plants & fungi function in a fundamentally similar way. We all have to follow the rules of physics. Nevertheless, in the close look important details differ and the exact substances are very different – here are a few examples:

  • We use mitochondria, plants chloroplasts.
  • We use ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) to transport electrons in the respiratory chain from complex I & II -> III, plants plastoquinone.
  • They consume carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, we oxygen in phosphorylating oxidation.

Exclusive Nutrients only found in Animal Foods

Fish, like meat, contains many zoonutrients such as taurine or choline. It is a super supplement if you include heavy metals in the calculation.
Zoonutrients = from animals only.

The first point of our definition was their exclusivity. You cannot find creatine, vitamin B12 or carnitine in plants. Sometimes similar substances exist, as in the case of animal carotenoids (astaxanthin, lutein, …) and plant carotenoids (beta-carotene), or comparable ones are completely absent. Why should plants also need creatine or carnosine if they do not exercise anyway? They have no need for substances that help in the production of kinetic energy.

Therefore, many substances important for animals are not found in plants.

Superior Bioavailability of Nutrients in from Animal Sources

Others occur in similar forms such as the plant beta-carotene and the animal vitamin A also known as retinol. Other examples would be iron or amino acids. The main difference here is not their occurrence, but their usability:

  • Beta-carotene conversion to retinol is not sufficient, like so many conversational mechanisms. Much is lost in content when we have to translate from plant to animal.

The three main problems with plants are therefore: poor conversation processes, the use of fundamentally different substances in plants, or even the complete lack of them. Further on, there are defense substances on top, which make it even more difficult for us to absorb nutrients from plants. Plants just don’t want to be eaten and exist by themselves.

Which Nutrients are only sourcable from Animal Foods?

Now that we have a working definition, let’s talk in detail about the main zoonutrients. There are a frightening amount that no nutritionist ever talks about, always it’s plants or meat even harmful. But make your own picture and follow the links to the source material. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth if we look at the exact mechanisms.

If you want to learn even more nutrients in far greater detail, I also have a 90-page e-book on sale for $29.99. With this you will learn all about vitamins, macronutrients, micronutrients, fiber, and zoonutrients and how to eat enough of them as part of an animal-based diet.

Fat-soluble Vitamins are Zoonutrients

The first group we’ll look at, and found only shwer in plants, are fat-soluble vitamins. Except for high-fat fruits like olives, coconuts, or avocados, you will find these almost exclusively in animal foods, predominantly the high-fat ones.2Read more here:

Retinol aka Vitamin A

Vitamin A, true retinol is different than beta-carotene and helps you see at night You can find these zoonutrients in beef liver.
Retinol – to not go blind at night.

Vitamin A, in the form of various retinols, does not exist in plants. Plants use beta-carotenes, not retinol. We can convert beta-carotene to retinol, but only a small amount.

The body uses retinol for many things, but first of all for vision. It is essential for converting light input into electrical nerve signals. Deficiency is especially noticeable in poor night vision. Retinol is also fundamental for the formation of blood cells & iron metabolism, for growth hormone, and immune defense.3

The requirement is 900 – 3,000 IU per day, but don’t worry about larger amounts up to 10,000 IU. The best way to get there is 150-300g of beef liver per week.

Vitamin K2 aka Menaquinone

Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, exists in a spectrum of forms called MK-4, MK-7, MK-9, and the longer MK-10 through MK-13. Plants contain vitamin K1, only fermented natto contains K2, but natto also lacks forms of the spectrum.4
The conversation of K1 (phylloquinone) to K2 is known, but the exact rate is largely unknown and varies greatly. Therefore, do not assume that the inactive K1 is a good form for your physical K2. In fact, many people today are K2 deficient. 5Vitamin K distribution in rat tissues: dietary phylloquinone is a source of tissue menaquinone-4 + Tissue distribution of K-vitamers under different nutritional regimens in the rat

Your body needs K2 as a cofactor for blood clotting, as well as for an enzyme that is fundamental for recycling vitamins6It’s called gamma-glutamyl carboxylase the guy and initiates the carboxylation of proteins. Also, vitamin K2 plays a role in healthy bones through what are called gla proteins to get calcium to the right places – in the bones, not the blood vessel walls. K2, D3 & Calcium form the trifecta of bone health with parathyroid hormone.

There should be 100-200mcg of menaquinone per day. As before, the best source is 300g of beef or goose liver per week. But goose fat or older cheeses are also good supplements.

3 B-Vitamins, you mainly find in Animal Foods

B vitamins are a class of nutrients that are of fundamental importance for all metabolic processes. They act as coenzymes & cofactors. B vitamins by themselves are water soluble and heat sensitive. To this end, our microbiome plays a major role in the synthesis of some B vitamins, but the exact mechanisms are largely unclear.

We look specifically at riboflavin (B2), folate (B9), and cobalmin (B12) in the context of an animal-based diet.

Riboflavin aka Vitamin B2

Riboflavin aka vitamin B2 is an important cofactor for many enzymes – its best known forms are FAD & FMN.

Riboflavin is found in all kinds of animal foods, but is difficult to obtain from Plants.
Health goes together with eating nutrient-rich!

These two acronyms are fundamental for redox reactions. Flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) is necessary for mitochondrial energy production, recycling of glutathione in the antioxidant system, and in the production of uric acid, another potent antioxidant. It also has its fingers in the methylation cycle, the folate cycle, iron absorption, and the work of the other B vitamins. In other words, everywhere.

Aim for 1.0 – 1.5mg per day of riboflavin. This is easy to meet since meat and eggs are good sources. Even 500g of beef a day (=0.9mg) plus a few eggs (1 egg = 0.25mg) or even organs contain enough.7

Folate aka Vitamin B9

Folate is found in many foods. The active form is methylfolate (5-MTHF) or folinic acid, and its derivatives. Folic acid is purely synthetic and does not occur naturally – it also blocks receptors and reduces the activity of folate-binding protein. No fucking bueno!

Methylfolate is involved in many processes through methylation:

  • Production of SAMe the main methyl donor
  • Production of cell membranes by phosphatidylcholines
  • Production of many neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin)
  • Production of nitric oxide and thus vascular health
  • Production of purines (DNA building blocks) & DNA/RNA processing enzymes
  • and countless more!

If your methylation is damaged, you are. It has its fingers in the pie in almost everything. In addition, it is very dependent on genetics, keyword MTHFR polymorphisms, and many other nutrients such as B12, B2 or glycine.

Per day 400mcg is recommended*. I would recommend lower on an animal-based diet, but no pronouncements that it is highly individual dependent on your genetics and the other nutrients in your diet. Good sources are liver and kidney for folate, as well as egg yolks (20-40mcg).8

Cobalamin aka B12

Cobalmin, or vitamin B12, is found in two forms in the body: Methylcobalamin and the unpronounceable 5-deoxyadensoylcobalmin.

Meat is full of animal nutrients other than just the reductionist thinking of fat & protein.
Animal foods are more than just fat & protein.

Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of blood cells and the function of the nervous system. Since it is fundamental for methylation, it is also involved in all folate processes. Without B12 there is no SAMe, no purines, no optimal methylation. It is so important that your saliva contains its own binding protein, called haptocorrin, which improves absorption.

There should be 2.4 – 3 mcg of cobalamin per day. On an animal diet this is not an issue, even 100g of beef liver contains 70mcg. Overdoses are not a problem because only a small amount of haptocorrin is absorbed per meal and the rest leaves the body through urine or intestine. Therefore, eat meat at every meal for sufficient B12. Plants do not contain B12. Ooopsie – bye, bye methylation!9

4 Minerals that you overwhelmingly get from Animal Foods

Minerals as well as trace elements are another hot topic. Hot because plants contain many on paper, but they also defend them just as hard through various antinutrients. Some directly punish predators in many ways, others render the nutrients useless.10The 6 big antinutrients are – lectins, tannins, phytoestrogens, goitrogens, oxalates and phytates. But there are many more like non-protein amino acids, protease inhibitors, or saponins.

This small, yet essential fact is too often overlooked when looking at nutrient tables. If 100mg of broccoli contains 200mg of magnesium & 400mg of potassium, that sounds good at first, but how much of it can you really absorb? And is it worth it to you to have goitrogens inhibiting your thyroid or sulforaphane boosting NRF2? Below we look at the minerals you won’t get from plants!


Copper is an immensely important trace element that is part of the iron metabolism and your body needs for redox reactions. It is also needed in the nervous system, the antioxidant system, and in connective tissue.

Copper occurs in the forms Cu(I) or Cu(II), single or double positively charged. It therefore wants to donate electrons and can thus reduce free radicals, oxygen radicals and certain redox couples. Proteins take advantage of this and incorporate copper into themselves. In addition, copper is a cofactor for only reactions. Often a copper deficiency also looks like an iron deficiency – a note to all iron deficient women.11

The DGE recommendation is 900mcg per day. Even doses as low as 10mg showed no direct toxicity effects IF you eat enough zinc. There is an absorption equilibrium in the gut. Great foods are seafood and beef liver, 30g already have 4000mcg copper.


Zinc, like copper, is found in animals. It is essential in the following metabolic pathways:

  • Ion transport in the intestine
  • View
  • Cell growth and development
  • Immune system
  • Nerve transmission

Either zinc, like copper, acts as a cofactor or is incorporated into structures such as proteins. It can also epigenetically influence gene regulation, determinants.12

The recommendation is 11mg – 40mg. Doses over 150mg can cause digestive problems, especially with inadequate copper consumption – so better avoid more 20 oysters at lunch. Besides oysters, animal muscle meat is an excellent source of zinc with 5-9mg per 100g.


Iron is another substance you don’t get from plants. Plants use different iron than animals. Animal iron is bound to a porphyric hemering, plant iron is not. Iron deficiency 13primary or even secondary because of copper deficiency? Who knows. is the most common deficiency worldwide.

In our body, iron acts through the heme proteins or as an enzymatic cofactor.14

  • Iron is heavily involved in oxygen transport through globulins, most commonly known as hemoglobin. This molecule alone uses 66% of your body’s iron.
  • Many mitochondrial enzymes also contain hemoproteins.
  • Iron acts there as an antioxidant, especially against hydrogen peroxide, but paradoxically also as a deliberate oxidant in immune cells to ‘burn’ foreign cells.

The DGE recommendation is 8mg to a maximum of 45mg per day. Especially meat, organs, seafood are unique sources of iron. They are only topped by fresh blood.


Calcium, boron, strontium & phosphorus are zoonutrients that build strong bones.
Calcium, boron, strontium & phosphorus make strong bones.

Everyone is probably familiar with calcium and its association with healthy bones – but there’s more to what it does!15

  • Calcium is needed by nerves to transmit stimuli.
  • It is a signal for the release of hormones & enzymes.
  • It is needed for vitamin K2 to work properly.
  • Without calcium, your muscles will not contract.

So where do you get your calcium on animal diets? The first thought is dairy – great if you can tolerate it and have quality raw dairy. Otherwise, no. Otherwise, bones are your best bet – small edible bones, like in sardines, or bones cooked out in a broth that you can eat afterwards. Certain mineral waters can also contribute to calcium levels.

The recommendation per day is 1,200mg up to 2,500mg. That’s about 4 cans of sardines, one to two powdered eggshells, or a small bone either whole or powdered as a seasoning mix…16

6 Zoonutrients, that are exclusive to Animal Foods


Choline, formerly known as vitamin B4, has been discontinued these days and is only vitamin-like. Your body can make some via methylation & PEMT, but it still needs to be supplied via diet.17

It has many tasks18

  • In advance, it is an essential component of cell membranes as phosphatidylcholine.
  • It is one of the most important methyl group donors in the BHMT pathway/short route.
  • Choline is necessary for the transport of fatty acids via VLDL.
  • It is the precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
  • Chloin & betaine are necessary to regulate cell volume – how inflated the balloon ultimately is.

Accordingly, you don’t want to have a choline deficiency – per day it should be 400-600mg. Great sources are liver with 400mg/100g (as always) and egg yolk (150mg). But fish and muscle meat also contain plenty – guess what doesn’t! Vegetables…


Creatine says something to every athlete. It is responsible for fast energy supply in high-energy cells. Think and muscles or brain tissue. Creatine acts as a buffer to provide super fast energy for 7-12s. After that, another mechanism takes over.

Where is creatine found? In muscle meat and brain tissue. Even though we can make some in our body via GAMT, this endogenous production again stresses the methylation cycle. Not good. Eat it instead and use your methyl groups for more important things like DNA building, repair or neurotransmitter synthesis.

Just ~300g of red muscle meat per day will give you plenty of creatine. No expensive powders needed. My recommendation here is 5g per day.


Carnitine is found in three forms, mainly in cells that burn fatty acids like muscle or heart cells.

Carnitine’s job is to transport fats into your mitochondria, as well as shuttle around the metabolites of this reaction. Sound important? It is. We can also make carnitine ourselves from methionine & lysine. Too bad if you can’t get methionine, without animal proteins. As before, external carnitine mitigates the need for self-synthesis. [/mfn]Role of Carnitine in Disease[/mfn]

Common doses in clinical(!) supplementation are 2-6g per day. In my opinion too much, as it would be almost 2kg of meat per day. In red muscle meat you will find around 100mg per 100g, some organs contain more like liver, kidneys & heart. With decent amounts of these you should be well supplied with carnitine.19

Carnosine & Anserine

Carnosine is similar to creatine in function, as it is also needed in the provision of energy. It is needed in contrast to creatine for longer loads of 20 – 60s. The precursor is known in fitness circles, namely beta-alanine.

The exact mechanism of action is still unclear, but a buffer effect is assumed. In addition, carnosine has a positive effect on neuroprotection, anti-aging, and the antioxidant system. Anserine is a methylated derivative of carnitine which is also present as a buffer in the brain & muscles. Again, more research is needed.

You will find plenty of carnosine & anserine in muscle meat & organs. No optimal amount has been determined yet. However, beta-alanine shows optimal effects with 1-3mg a day, so it’s probably in the slightly higher range.20


Taurine is a semi-essential amino acid found in large quantities in the blood. It is involved in fundamental mechanisms:

  • Energy provision
  • Gene expression
  • Mitochondrial antiox reactions
  • Programmed and thus intentional cell death
  • Stress signal at the endoplast reticulum21Important signal for protein balance between build-up and degradation.
  • In the brain, taurine has an inhibitory effect, as it influences GABA receptors

There is no recommendation, but I would aim for 400mg of taurine per day regarding its fundamental importance. More is usually better and harmless. Since it is heat sensitive, either raw meat, muscle or organs, as well as mild-cooked is best. Also seafood like oysters have a lot of taurine.22Review: Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid

Special bioactive Compounds like Peptides, Enzymes or Hormones

Besides the above, animal products are also full of secondary bioactive substances such as peptides, hormones, or enzymes of all kinds. Many of these have very specific effects such as activin, testosterone, and inhibin in bovine testes. Some examples are:

  • Diaminooxidase from kidneys, which degrades histamine (DAO)
  • Inhibin & activin from testis
  • Thymopentin & thymosin from thymus gland
  • Splenopentin from spleen

DAO, for example, helps you metabolize histamine better and can help with histamine intolerance related problems.23Remember, however, that histamine intolerance is never the cause, but a symptom. The cause is your gut – it is leaky due to a parasite, SIBO, dysbiosis, etc.In the same train of thought, there are many animal substances that can uniquely support your body. Eat like for like!

Even more important Zoonutrients!


The Balance of Methionine and Glycine

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body and is necessary for building connective tissues of all kinds. 30% of your body protein is collagen. However, 28 different collagen proteins actually fall into this group, the most common being the following:

  • Type I – found in articular cartilage
  • Type II – The most abundant collagen protein
  • Type III – In lymph nodes & bone marrow
  • Type IV – In cell membranes
  • Type V – In cells & hair

Your body can produce collagen itself from 3 amino acids, one of which must always be glycine. Zinc, copper, manganese, and vitamin C are also needed as cofactors. Glycine exists in a close balance with methionine.


Methionine is an essential amino acid. We need to eat it and it is found in quantity in animal meat. You need it to:

  • Methylation – the process of adding and removing methyl groups from molecules. Fundamental to almost everything that goes on in the body.
  • SAMe – the end product of methylation and your main methyl donor.
  • Creatine synthesis
  • Choline synthesis
  • Neurotransmitter Production
  • DNA repair & purine base synthesis


Glycine is not essential because your body can produce it itself in principle. However, it needs many methyl groups that are better used elsewhere.

Glycine is found in the connective tissues of animals, such as fatty cuts, cartilage, bones and tendons. Fortunately, it occurs at nearly the perfect rate unless you only eat beef fillet.24 You need it for:

  • Methylation – Glycine acts as a secondary route and buffer if the actual folate-requiring pathway is depleted
  • Skin & Joint Health – Glycine is mandatory for collagen synthesis.
  • Glycine is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter
  • Necessary for growth hormone production and muscle growth
  • Mandatory for making glutathione, one of your body’s great antioxidants

The Methionine-Glycine Balance

Both amino acids exist in something like a balance. Diets high in methionine have been attributed with some negative outcomes in scientific experiments. However, it turned out that the administration of glycine negated this balance.

I think this balance is important, but also overrated. If you eat like your ancestors, nose-to-tail, you automatically get enough glycine and connective tissue. Fatty cuts like ribeyes or leg slices, edible bones, and broth from the non-edible parts provide you with plenty of glycine. This will supplement the methionine in the rest of the diet.

Of course, if you don’t eat such things and only eat lean meat, it becomes a problem – since it’s not something humans have ever done or could afford.

The Omega-3 Fetty Acid DHA

I bet you’ve also read the myth that you can get plenty of omega-3 fats from plants. And it’s partly true, because plants like flaxseed oil contain a lot of omega-3 like alpha lipoic acid (ALA). The problem with this, unfortunately, is that our bodies don’t ‘speak’ ALA. It has to convert the ALA into its needed EPA & DHA. This conversion works with a yield of 0-7% depending on your genes. So either it doesn’t work at all, or you would have to trnk 100-200ml of flaxseed oil per day. Have fun with it.25Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)?

With such a terrible conversion, the only good source of EPA & DHA, is of animal origin. Salmon, sardines, caviar, but also pasture-fed beef contains plenty of omega-3 fats, thankfully. Brain also contains a lot, if you can get your hands on it. Besides omega-3 fats, there is of course much more inside, such as the good stearic acid or arachidonic acid.

Recommended by many are 3g fish oil/500mg omega-3 per day, in the combination of EPA & DHA. I would stay away from these capsules, as omega-3 fats are unsaturated and like to auto-oxidize. Oxidized fats are obviously not a good idea to eat. Many manufacturers put filler & vitamin E in the capsule to avoid it. Also, 3g per day is way too much – my theory is that many people are helped by this amount because they are generally basic. If you’re not, you don’t need such high amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3’s. And how do you reduce inflammation? Don’t eat bullshit. Fanatically avoid polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially vegetable oils. Be a good friend to your gut & your biology.
Rather eat good meat and fish from time to time, then you won’t have to worry about omega-3 problems.

Eat from Nose-to-Tail & you will be golden!

Many plant-based advocates condemn animal foods as useless – I hope this bold-faced lie shows itself clearly by now at the latest. Animals contain far more nutrients than plants, in the forms we need and exactly the ones we need. Plant nutrients are heavily defended, in the wrong form, or completely different. So I couldn’t imagine how many pills a vegan diet would have to swallow to make up for all these deficiencies – CoQ10 here, B12 there, creatine on top, with some carnosine.

And it makes sense – over our evolution we have been hunter & gatherers. Animals were always the most sought after, especially the nutrient-rich organs. No one celebrated collected leaves, but a killed animal did. So eat like your ancestors and enjoy their health – it’s not hard, that’s the beauty!

The post has given you some tools for argumentation, but also for your personal approach towards nutrition. Shocking that many professionals don’t include some of these nutrients in their planning. But anyway – I believe that knowledge is the vehicle to change things for the better. To improve human health. And that’s what I’m all about – truth and human health.

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