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How Eating a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Can Lead to Nutrient Deficiencies?

TeamAckoMar 27, 2024

Being a vegetarian or following a vegan diet has become a popular notion these days. Even though we all understand the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet, people have been observed taking supplements for the nutrients they are missing out on.

If you are following a healthy vegan diet, then why would you need to take supplements? Isn’t it? Well, this is because people following a vegan diet are still missing out on some of the essential nutrients that can lead to different deficiencies. 

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So if you are wondering about the vegetarian diet deficiencies you might face following a vegan diet, this blog is for you. Keep reading to know more.



What Causes Deficiency in a Vegan Diet?

Deficiencies are caused by inappropriate diets, or not including the essential nutrients in your daily meals that your body requires to function effectively. If you are following a vegan diet, your everyday meals need to be rich in vegetables and fruits, and low in highly refined foods.

Although a vegan diet has many health benefits, it often lacks several essential nutrients, including D3 and B12. Since essential elements like protein are often abundant in animal-based products, vegans must supplement their diet to cover their nutritional needs.

For instance, animal products have a significant amount of protein and vitamin B12, which is essential for avoiding conditions like anemia. Furthermore, because they primarily eat plant-based foods, vegetarians may be deficient in other important elements like zinc and selenium, which exacerbates nutritional imbalances in a vegan diet.

What are the Nutrients a Vegan Diet Misses?

All the essential nutrients can be achieved within a vegan diet if you take appropriate supplements for the ones you are missing out on, with your daily meals. However, you can also aim for the same without taking any supplements, if you properly plan the diet or take help from experienced nutritionists.

For this, you need to be aware of the diet and nutrients you are missing being a vegan. Let us have a look at some of them:

Vitamin B12

Animal products are considered to be quite rich in Vitamin B12, which is a significant nutrient necessity, especially for teenagers and pregnant or breastfeeding women. As per the National Institute of Health, both adults and teenagers require a minimum of 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12. Deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be responsible for causing megaloblastic anemia and diseases related to low blood cells.


A butterfly-shaped gland present in our neck is responsible for converting iodine into thyroid hormones, known as T3 and T4. These hormones enable the regulation of certain biological functions, such as metabolism. In a vegan diet, if you are not consuming soy milk and cranberries you can face severe vegan nutrient deficiency.

Omega 3-S

Omega 3-S is a crucial nutrient for maintaining our brain and heart health. These are fatty acids that are beneficial in preventing swelling, itchy rashes or dry patches. Our body converts ALA to DHA to maintain the balance of fatty acids. However, people with vegan diets can have DHA deficiency, since it is mainly found in fish oil, fatty fish etc.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is another gem for our body. Whenever you are exposed to sunlight, your skin can produce Vitamin D. However, when it comes to your diet, Vitamin D can be of two types, Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3. While Vitamin D2 is found in plants, Vitamin D3 is found in animal-based food. Hence, vegetarians tend to be deficient in Vitamin D3 which can lead to problems like depression, and impaired brain function.

Heme Iron

One of the types of iron is known as heme iron, which is responsible for increasing blood cells in the body, thus helping prevent diseases like anemia. Heme iron is mainly found in red meat. Iron deficiency is one of the most common diseases faced by people. However, it can be easily avoided when you have a well-planned diet rich in iron.


Creatine is a molecule that is naturally produced by your liver. However, it has been observed that vegetarians tend to have lower amounts of creatine in their muscles, which can affect physical strength, or can also lead to memory loss.

This is not the case with people having meat in their diet, or having an omnivorous diet. Even though vegetarians can improve their level of creatine through supplements, meat eaters can feel no difference even without supplements.


Carnosine is a concentrated antioxidant found in our muscles and brain. High levels of carnosine ensure the prevention of muscle fatigue. However, carnosine can only be found in animal-based food which includes meat, fish, poultry etc.

Nevertheless, there are multiple carnosine supplements available for vegetarians. But if you can go without supplements through a proper diet, then why not?

Also Read: Health Insurance Policy

Final Words

To conclude, even though a vegan diet can be beneficial for a certain group of people, you must remember you may lack a few crucial nutrients this way. A proper diet or diet with supplements, can help you achieve all the necessary nutrients from both animal-based and plant-based food, preventing vegetarian diet deficiencies. So make sure to have a better understanding of diets for you, before you stick to a specific one.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are a few commonly asked questions regarding vegan diets


Can vegans get enough protein?

There are enough sources available for protein in a vegan diet. With proper planning, it can be beneficial in fulfilling the protein requirements of your body efficiently.

Is it hard to meet the Vitamin B12 requirement for vegans?

Yes, it can be hard to meet the Vitamin B12 requirement for vegans since the main sources of this nutrient are animal-based food, including meat, fish, eggs and dairy products.

Is a vegan diet good for athletic performance?

Both a vegan and a non-vegan diet can be good for athletic performance. Even though several popular athletes have a vegan diet, a proper balance of the required diet and nutrients is significant for athletic activities.

How can I know which diet I need?

You need to observe the deficiencies you are facing in your body or notice the symptoms of your problems in the body. Based on the deficiencies you have, you need to aim for the right diet plan.

Is a non-veg diet better than a vegan diet?

There can be a lack of nutrients in a completely vegan diet and vice versa. Hence if you do not want to leave out any of the essential ingredients, you can go for a properly planned omnivorous diet.


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