Following vegan or vegetarian diets means avoiding all animal foods including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and even honey. Avoiding the consumption of an entire category of animal foods can lead to the deficiency of certain nutrients. Some nutrients can only be observed in animal foods. It may not be possible for vegans and vegetarians to acquire these nutrients unless they take supplements. The following are some of the nutrients that can be lacking from your diet if you only eat plant-based food.
This is an important nutrient that is crucial for the normal working of the body. Animal-sourced foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are a good source of this vitamin, as it is abundantly present in them. However, it does not naturally occur in plants. So you won’t be able to derive it from the common plant foods you eat.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is involved in the production of red blood cells, maintaining nerves, and promoting normal brain function. The deficiency of vitamin B12 is associated with a large number of health problems. The following are some of the important symptoms you might experience if you lack this nutrient:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Psychiatric disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Impaired brain function
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Might be linked with heart diseases
- Might be linked with Alzheimer’s disease
People who follow plant-based diets have a great possibility to experience the deficiency of vitamin B12 except for Lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products. Vegans might have to take vitamin B12 supplements for getting adequate amounts of this nutrient. Otherwise, it can lead to irreversible damages.
Although today, you can find a lot of plant-based foods that are enriched with vitamin B12. Consuming these foods can be beneficial for vegans to derive their daily recommended intake of vitamin B12. Some plant-based sources of this vitamin are breakfast cereals, and a few plant-based milk, etc. These foods can be beneficial for you to get your daily requirement of vitamin B12 when following plant-based diets.
This is a molecule present in animal foods. Although creatine is mostly reposited in muscles, notable amounts of this nutrient are also found in the brain. Creatine acts as an easily accessible energy store for your muscle cells thereby giving them better endurance and strength. So it creates a popular supplement in the world used for muscle building.
Studies show that this nutrient can help increase muscle and strength. Creatine can be produced by the liver, so it is not essential in your diet. Nevertheless, several studies show that vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower levels of this compound in their muscles. It is not possible for people who follow plant-based diets to get creatine from their foods, as it is only present in animal tissues. So, they will have to take supplements for getting creatine to improve the strength of their muscles. For vegans, creatine supplements can offer significant health benefits like:
- Improvements in their physical performance.
- Improved brains function like memory
Certain effects created by creatine supplements can be stronger in people following plant-based diets than meat-eaters. For example, vegans who take supplements for this nutrient can experience notable improvements in their brain functions while meat-eaters might not see any difference. This may be because of the already high amounts of creatine found in the muscles of meat-eaters.
This is an antioxidant that is exceedingly accumulated in the brain and muscles of animals and humans. It is very significant for muscle function and higher levels of carnosine are associated with reduced muscle fatigue and better performance. Carnosine can be only acquired from plant-based foods. Though it is considered non-essential, the human body can produce it from certain amino acids like beta-alanine and histidine.
Studies reveal that, when compared to the meat-eaters, vegans and vegetarians tend to have lesser amounts of this antioxidant in their muscles. However, taking beta-alanine supplements can help increase the levels of carnosine in your muscles which can be beneficial for increasing muscle and improving endurance. There are vegan-friendly sources of this amino acid to add to your plant-based meal.
Vitamin D is a significant nutrient that is necessary for your body to promote various body functions. It is responsible for supporting the absorption of calcium which is crucial for your bones. You can get vitamin D2 from plant-based foods and vitamin D3 from animal foods. Among these D vitamins, vitamin D3 can help increase the amounts of absorbable vitamin D in your blood than vitamin D2. Nevertheless, vegans might not be able to acquire vitamin D3 as its main dietary sources are animal foods.
If you are following a diet based on plant-based foods, then you might be lacking the nutrients listed above, as they are only present in animal foods. That said, you can get vegan-friendly supplements of these nutrients for preventing their deficiency.