Do vegans get deficiencies?
If so, what nutrient deficiencies are common for vegans?
And can I be vegan without deficiencies?
Let’s discuss these questions.
Becoming a vegan does not necessarily mean that giving up all animal foods automatically makes you a very healthy person.
In order to become vegan and be as healthy as possible, you will have to develop a basic understanding of how you can maintain a fully balanced diet.
There are several types of nutrients that are often missing in a plant based diet.
There are certain strategies to balance out each of them, so let’s take a look at what they are.
Here’s the most common vegan deficiencies and how to avoid them :
1- Vitamin B-12 (also called cobalamin):
This water soluble vitamin has a lot to do with the function of the nervous system and the brain and the forming of blood.
If someone is severely deficient of vitamin B12, it can cause damage to the nervous system.
People with this deficiency may experience things such as fatigue, depression, and poor memory.
Since B12 is found in the highest amounts in some animal foods, a vegan will have to use a supplement to make sure they are getting enough.
This is not necessarily the case.
In fact, a lot of people will claim that milk will actually deplete your body of calcium because its acidity will make the body tap into reserves in the bones.
Either way, vegans can get plenty of calcium in foods such as leafy green vegetables, calcium set tofu, nuts, and legumes.
However, some foods in a vegetarian diet can hinder the absorption of calcium, so this is something to be aware of.
3- Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
These are commonly found in meats such as beef and fish.
However, non meat eaters tend to have a lower level of healthy fatty acids.
They can still get a good amount from things such as seaweed, canola, walnuts, hemp, flax, etc.
These healthy fatty acids are important to the prevention of some chronic diseases, so it is important to make sure they are a part of your diet.
READ : Plant Based Omega 3 Sources
This is perhaps the most common vegan deficiencies item that most meat eaters wonder about when switching to a vegan diet.
There are lots of types of protein out there that does not include eating meat.
The tough part is that you have to find a good way to balance it all out.
For example, beans have a high level of protein, but they also have a high level of starchy carbohydrates.
If you eat a lot of beans, then your carbs are going to be very high.
Nuts have a lot of protein as well, but they are also higher in calories.
If you eat too many nuts as a way to get all of your protein, you may take in far more calories than you may think.
There are lots of ways to still take in enough protein by using soy based proteins (in the right quantities), brown rice protein supplements, pea protein powder, and more.
Being vegan means a lot more than just cutting out meat.
It is about being more aware of what type of diet you are eating and becoming informed about common vegan deficiencies that are in plant based foods.
For an complete guide on integrating more plant based meals into your diet, check out our free 7 day vegan Meal Plan for more information.