Common Vegan Nutrient Deficiencies
Everyone knows the hardest thing about being vegan is all of the late nights you spend slaving away, milking those tiny little almonds.
Just kidding, it’s about making sure you don’t die. Well… almost die.
I know, this probably sounds super dramatic but I’m serious! Being vegan is a great for your body, the environment, the tiny baby animals, and global food supply – but it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Being vegan can actually bring on some nasty consequences if done the wrong way. In the words of someone who has gone far too long without receiving proper credit because for some reason no one knows who actually said this fantastic quote (and no, it was not Jesus as millions of people oddly believe), “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”
Depending on your natural diet preferences before going vegan, you may put yourself at certain risks when you make the switch. For example, if you are currently living as an omnivore and getting the majority of your daily calcium from things like milk, yogurt, and cheese, then you must make a conscious decision to explore other vegan sources of calcium before making the switch. If you fail to investigate this beforehand, and end up lacking in the calcium department, you could suffer from terrifying side effects such as tingling in the lips and fingers, severe muscle aching, and even seizures. No Bueno.
An important thing to mention here is that there are plenty of omnivores out there who are not getting the daily recommended amount of many important nutrients, so this is not solely a vegan-related issue. But I’m here to talk about veganism, so that’s the focus today :)
Now there are a TON of important vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, amino acids, and everything in between. It’s not realistic to expect you to find out exactly how much of each nutrient you need, the best sources of it, and then track your consumption of each nutrient every day to ensure proper nutrition. Unless you don’t work, sleep, socialize, or basically do anything other than breathe and eat. So to help simplify this for you, I’ve created a super straightforward, comprehensive chart that shows the big hitters and the best ways to include these nutrients in your vegan diet.
Remember, switching to a vegan diet is not a one-and-done kind of thing; it’s a process that can take a while to feel out and adapt to your body in particular. You will almost certainly feel both positive and negative side effects at the beginning of your dietary transition, and these are signals you should use to make appropriate changes. If you feel your energy lacking, up your protein; if you’re having difficult concentrating, you may need to increase your zinc intake. This chart can help you to easily identify excellent vegan sources for each of these important nutrients. But remember; there are some deficiencies that do not present any obvious symptoms. This is why it’s extremely important that you check in with your healthcare provider on a routine basis to ensure that you are at the appropriate levels for all essential nutrients – especially in the beginning!
Now this post does not include all essential nutrients, but it does highlight the majority, and especially the ones that vegans are prone to being deficient in.
I will be posting another blog post later in the week about how to spot some of these specific nutrient deficiencies on your own – check back soon :)
Quick tip - you can cover 90% of these nutrients with avocado, spinach, bell peppers, sunflower seeds, bananas, oatmeal, and almonds!