Nutritional Problems That Vegans Should Watch For

Nutritional Problems That Vegans Should Watch For

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Today we have Dr. Jupitor Chakma as our guest blogger.

Vegetarians or vegans, especially pre-vegans may have some common nutritional problems, which are generally not seen among non-vegetarians. To avoid the common nutritional problems associated with eating a pure vegan diet, vegans should be watchful about their diet and nutrition.

Nutritional problems among vegetarians:

In general, a vegetarian diet has less calories then a non-vegetarian diet, because foods of plant origin have fewer calories in comparison to foods of animal origin. Foods of plant origin are high in fiber and for this reason they are of low calories.

Vitamin B12 deficiency problem:

There are also other nutritional problems associated with eating pure a vegan diet. For example vitamin B12 (a B-complex vitamin) is found only in foods of animal origin. No plant-based foods contain vitamin B12, except some pulses and legumes.

The vitamin B12 present in pulses and legumes comes from the roots of the plants which harbor some microorganisms (called symbiosis) that supply the vitamin B12 in pulses and legumes. The vitamin B12 present in pulses and legumes may not be high enough to meet our daily requirements.

So, if a person eats only plant-based foods (pure vegan), they may not get adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and suffer from deficiency disorders associated with deficiency of vitamin B12, such as megaloblastic anemia (which occurs due to deficiency of vitamin B12). To overcome vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans, it should be supplemented in diet.

Protein deficiency problem:

Another important nutritional problem associated with eating pure vegan is protein deficiency (unless planned properly). Most plant sources of proteins are not biologically complete, i.e. they lack one or more essential amino acids (EAAs), which must be supplied from an external source (such as food), as they (EAAs) can not be synthesized by human body.

For example, maize is deficient in amino acid tryptophan and lysine and wheat is deficient in threonine. So if you are a maize eater you may suffer from deficiency of tryptophan and if you are a wheat eater you may suffer from threonine. But if you combine maize with wheat or pulses (or wheat and pulses) you can compensate the deficiency of one essential amino acid in one cereal with another.

Proteins from animal sources are considered biologically complete, as they contain all the EAAs required by or body.

Vegan eating is associated with some nutritional problems. Does it mean you should not eat pure vegan diet? The answer to this question is absolutely no, you should eat vegan diet, if that is what you are convicted to do. All the nutritional problems associated with eating pure vegan can be easily overcome by bringing variety in the vegan diet. Vegan diet is healthier than some other types of diet. So eat vegan and live healthy and longer.

About Author: A doctor and enthusiastic health blogger, who is eager to learn more about blogging. Dr. Jupitor Chakma, writes regularly on his Health Blog and Online Health Website. Visit these blogs for regular updates and to read more articles by this writer.

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About the Author

A doctor and enthusiastic health blogger, who is eager to learn more about blogging. Dr. Jupitor Chakma, writes regularly on his Health Blog and Online Health Website. Visit these blogs for regular updates and to read more articles by this writer.

20 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Cynthia says:

    Me too because some vegetables out in the market is used pesticides. Now, I do plant it in my backyard to be secure the vegetables that is fresh and clean. It takes an effort to eat clean because outside is polluted and your not sure if that is clean and fresh.

    • Yes, I also have a small kitchen garden where I grow some vegetables and the vegetables I grow are much more tastier than the veg I buy from market. I think you too have same experience.

  2. Gretchen Thornton says:

    I do take a vitamin b12 supplement and I also add nutritional yeast to my food. Yes whey protein and any cereal combination can be sufficient for protein requirement for vegans. I’m on the right track.

  3. BB says:

    IF vitamin B12 (a B-complex vitamin) is found only in foods of animal origin, doesn’t that mean the B12 supplement is made of material of animal origin? The supplement is not vegan.

    • Not necessarily. Vitamin B12 is produced using recombinant DNA technology, by inserting the genetic code to bacteria, which produce large quantity of Vitamin B12.
      If you want to say bacterial products are not vegan, than it is not vegan. But I think we can say bacterial products are vegan, as bacteria are not classed under animals or plants, they are a class apart.

  4. Diana says:

    I’m on a loose vegetarian diet right now and contemplating going Vegan. Right now I take B12 supplements but how do I make up the protein deficiency in a Vegan diet? Is whey protein powder Vegan and sufficient?

    • Yes whey protein and any cereal combination can be sufficient for protein requirement for vegans.

    • Hi Diana,

      Thank you for stopping by.

      If you eat a well-balanced vegan diet, you should not be deficient in protein. Make sure you eat a variety of beans, grains, green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds. Here’s the break down:

      6-11 servings grains, 3 or more servings of vegetables, 2 or more servings of fruit, 2-3 servings of Beans and Bean Alertnates (Protein), and 6-8 servings of Fortified Soymilk & Alternates (Calcium). Read this post for more information.

      Whey protein is fine for any vegetarian who does dairy. Whey is not a vegan product. It is made from dairy.

      Take care,

      Evelyn

  5. greg says:

    There are a lot of folks out there who maybe don’t know a lot of about what it really means to eat an all vegan diet, and they just think its going to be healthy no matter what with no nutritional problems. You really need to make sure you’re getting the proper vitamins and nutrients… if done properly, it can be an incredibly healthy diet.

  6. Thanks for this article. I’m a vegetarian, however I have been eating more vegan meals lately, and I have been wondering about protein and other vitamin deficiencies. B12 was a vitamin which I have been put on to years ago before I became a vegetarian. I have nutritional yeast, but I will continue to take those B12 supplements.

  7. Adam says:

    Before I used to wonder about the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. We all have personal choices but when I read about the way animals are reared, its so much healthier to become either a vegetarian or a vegan. Thanks for sharing this post, it was interesting to read about the health benefits and what a vegan should look out for.

  8. Evelyn says:

    Hi Dr. Chakma,

    Your post is most helpful!

    Sometimes I find it very tough to fit in the protein, but I am learning the types of food I need to eat to make sure I get enough protein. Now a days, I read labels, I don’t want to be low in protein.

    I do take a vitamin b12 supplement and I also add nutritional yeast to my food. I’ve started purchasing milks and other food that are fortified with vitamin b-12.

    Thanks for your post and enjoy your weekend!

    Evelyn

    • Just make it sure that you your protein comes from at least two sources of vegan origin, e.g. rice plus wheat, or maize plus rice or rice plus beans/peas etc.
      If you are taking milk and milk products, regularly, you can get enough vitamin B12.
      Regards

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