Nutritionists explain common vegan deficiencies
It is possible to be vegan and healthy. However, whether you've reduced your meat intake or you follow a completely vegan diet, it's important to ensure optimal health through your diet and lifestyle and be mindful of common nutrient deficiencies that can arise through the food choices you make.
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Our team of nutritionists explore the most common nutrient deficiencies that can arise as a result of vegan, plant-based and vegetarian diets, and importantly what you can do to avoid them.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
A B12 deficiency can cause all sorts of problems with the body. The most obvious ones will be tiredness, fatigue, B12 deficiency anaemia, low immunity and reduced brain function and low moods. Other symptoms which may be discovered after investigation including high Homocysteine levels which is linked with blood clots.
As Vitamin B12 is only found in animal foods, taking a vegan Vitamin B12 supplement is recommended if you're following a vegan or plant-based diet.
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin A deficiency can cause vision loss, skin issues and blemishes, and low immunity. Make sure you reach for foods such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red bell peppers and leafy green vegetables which are all high in Vitamin A. You can also find Vitamin A in our award-winning Daily Multi-Vitamin, also voted Best Daily Multivitamin for vegans by Choose Veganism.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for bone health, immunity and brain health. A deficiency can contribute to weak bones, low immunity, inflammatory conditions and low moods. Learn more about how you know if you're deficient in Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is only found in a small number of foods, which is why a vegan Vitamin D3 supplement, or a vegan Daily Multivitamin containing Vitamin D3 are common choices among vegans.
The most common sources of Vitamin D are foods of animal origin, such as oily fish, meat and egg yolks, however some foods that are easily found in supermarkets are fortified with Vitamin D, such as breakfast cereals and plant milk alternatives. You may enjoy reading 'What is the best plant-based milk?'.
A deficiency in Calcium may cause weak bones and teeth and insufficient digestive enzymes.
Women going through menopause are particularly at risk of losing bone density - learn more in about why bone health is so important in menopause. Calcium doesn’t necessarily need to come from dairy products as most people think - there are plenty of plant-based calcium sources that don’t come from animals including beans, chickpeas, sesame seeds, dried figs and almonds. That said, taking calcium in a bone supplement, with supporting nutrients, should also be taken to ensure you don't build up an deficiencies in calcium.
Iron deficiency can cause anaemia, fatigue, hair loss, low immunity and cognitive impairment. Good plant sources of Iron include wholegrains, dried fruits such as figs and apricots, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Not being aware of Iron-rich foods is one of our big mistakes to avoid on a plant-based diet. You may also enjoy learning about why Iron is so important, particularly for women.
Wondering if you should take a daily multi-vitamin? You may be interested in reading our latest Daily Multi-Vitamin research, including the benefits of daily multi-vitamins, how to tell if your daily multi-vitamin is good and the best type of daily multi-vitamin to take.
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