Lamb 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects

Vitamins and minerals

Lamb is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Vitamin B12. Important for blood formation and brain function. Animal-derived foods are rich in this vitamin, whereas vegan diets lack it. Deficiency may cause anemia and neurological damage.
  • Selenium. Meat is often a rich source of selenium, though this depends on the feed of the source animal. Selenium has various important functions in the body.
  • Zinc. Zinc is usually much better absorbed from meat than plants. It’s an essential mineral important for growth and the formation of hormones, such as insulin and testosterone.
  • Niacin. Also called vitamin B3, niacin serves a variety of important functions in your body. Inadequate intake has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
  • Phosphorus. Found in most foods, phosphorus is essential for body growth and maintenance.
  • Iron. Lamb is rich in iron, mostly in the form of heme iron, which is highly bioavailable and absorbed more efficiently than non-heme iron found in plants.

In addition to these, lamb contains a number of other vitamins and minerals in lower amounts.

Sodium (salt) may be particularly high in some processed lamb products, such as cured lamb.

SUMMARY

Lamb is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. These are important for various bodily functions.

Other meat compounds

Aside from vitamins and minerals, meat — including lamb — contains a number of bioactive nutrients and antioxidants that may affect health:

  • Creatine. Creatine is essential as an energy source for muscles. Supplements are popular among bodybuilders and may be beneficial for muscle growth and maintenance.
  • Taurine. This is an antioxidant amino acid found in fish and meat but also formed in your body. Dietary taurine may be beneficial for your heart and muscles.
  • Glutathione. This antioxidant is present in high amounts in meat. Grass-fed beef is particularly rich in glutathione.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This family of ruminant trans fats may have various beneficial health effects when consumed in normal amounts from food, such as lamb, beef, and dairy products.
  • Cholesterol. A sterol found in most animal-derived foods, dietary cholesterol does not have significant effects on cholesterol levels in most people.

SUMMARY

Lamb contains several bioactive substances — such as creatine, CLA, and cholesterol — that may benefit health in various ways.

Health benefits of lamb

As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality proteins, lamb can be an excellent component of a healthy diet.

Muscle maintenance

Meat is one of the best dietary sources of high-quality protein.

In fact, it contains all nine amino acids you need and is referred to as a complete protein.

High-quality protein is very important for maintaining muscle mass — especially in older adults.

Inadequate protein intake may accelerate and worsen age-related muscle wasting. This increases your risk of sarcopenia, an adverse condition associated with very low muscle mass.

In the context of a healthy lifestyle and adequate exercise, regular consumption of lamb — or other high-protein foods — may help preserve muscle mass.