Vegans suffer from malnutrition

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Do vegans really suffer from deficiency symptoms?

Vegan deficiency symptoms due to a lack of nutrients: This prejudice persists and is often served by non-vegans. We clarify what this is all about.

Have you ever experienced this with friends or acquaintances? You happily enjoy (mostly) homemade vegan delicacies with your loved ones and at this beautiful moment someone bursts with the question: Tell me, completely without animal foods - aren't you then deficient in nutrients and vitamins? Ha, we see you smiling - so you know that too. Every vegan has probably heard this at some point in their life. But what is it about this prejudice? Are we vegans really suffering from malnutrition? Are our blood cells fit or not? Do we have enough vitamin B12? Here you go: here are the answers (which, by the way, you are more than welcome to knock your friends on the ears if they get on the nerves of malnutrition at the most beautiful moment).

First of all: a purely vegan diet has a number of health benefits. We vegans are less likely to be overweight and suffer less from diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks or cancer. Incidentally, everything is proven by studies. But of course our type of diet can have an impact on the supply of nutrients, as some nutrients are indeed found in particularly high concentrations in foods of animal origin. However, that does not mean that we vegans are fundamentally deficient in these nutrients and vitamins. The question is rather: where and how can we properly supply our body with it through a plant-based diet.

Recognize deficiency symptoms

But let's first come to the question of how you can recognize a nutrient and vitamin deficiency in the first place. It doesn't appear all of a sudden, but creeps up slowly. Until it becomes noticeable at all, the body taps into all of the body's own vitamin stores, such as our liver or fat cells. Only when a vegan malnutrition really occurs afterwards do the first symptoms appear, which, however, can vary depending on which nutrient is missing.

Common symptoms of vegan malnutrition

  • You are more often tired or feel exhausted
  • One has a greater or a greatly reduced appetite
  • One feels uncomfortable, suffers from a depressed mood with a tendency to depression
  • You often have muscle pain
  • You are generally less fit and have less physical stamina

If you notice one of the symptoms in you, it does not necessarily have to be due to a nutritional deficiency. For example, you are tired and exhausted after spending too much time in the office or a party that is too long with too much vegan sparkling wine (Link: article vegan sparkling wine). So if you suspect a nutrient deficiency, then it is best to have this clarified with your family doctor. In the meantime, however, there are already over-the-counter tests in pharmacies that can give you information about a nutrient deficiency. But it is better to check with the doctor.

Of course, it is not the case that we vegans have deficits everywhere, i.e. in all nutrients. Of course, there are usually only bottlenecks in the nutrients and vitamins that are more likely to be found in animal foods and are only found in lower concentrations in vegetable foods.

Nutrients that vegans (could be) lacking

  • Proteins
  • Vitamin B12
  • calcium
  • iron
  • iodine
  • Vitamin D

It doesn't sound like much at first, but they are all extremely important nutrients. But don't worry: there is a vegan solution for every vegan problem.

Problem area protein

Protein is actually not that big of a problem. As a vegan, you can easily get yourself an excellent supply of plant-based alternatives. Legumes, soy, nuts and mushrooms all provide us with the proteins that our body needs.

Problem area vitamin B12

On the other hand, things get more complicated when it comes to vitamin B12. Unfortunately, this has the peculiarity that it hardly occurs in plant-based foods. The exception: sauerkraut and beer. But be careful, pouring half a crate of beer every evening is not a good solution either, as the alcohol naturally deprives the body of important nutrients, which you would then have to balance out through your diet. Vitamin B12 is also a vitamin that the body absolutely needs for optimal function. Because it is important for cell division. A deficiency can have serious consequences: from anemia to long-term damage to the nervous system. Our tip: Use vegan products fortified with vitamin B12. Fortunately, there are now quite a few of these in stores, mostly in the form of soy drinks and breakfast cereals. Alternatively, you can of course also rely on dietary supplements. But be careful: even these are not always vegan and were sometimes made with the help of genetic engineering. Tip here: definitely take some with the organic seal and take a good look at the list of ingredients. By the way: Since adults can store relatively large amounts of vitamin B12 in their bodies, a deficiency (if at all) is only to be expected after about 2 to 3 years after changing their diet. Our rule of thumb: we therefore have our blood checked completely once every 3 years!

Vitamin D is a problem area

Vitamin D is also only found in very few plant-based foods such as chanterelles or mushrooms. Unfortunately, it is otherwise only found in animal foods such as fish and fish oil. Now some of you will shout: so what, the human body can produce vitamin D itself from sunlight. That's true, but only works when the sun is shining. This means that relatively many days are flat in Germany, especially in winter. When it comes to this issue, we vegans have no other option than to use vitamin D supplements as well.

Problem area calcium

Calcium is usually found in milk or dairy products. So again a real problem for us vegans. But it doesn't matter. Fortunately, there are many good and tasty herbal alternative sources here, which are also available all year round. Broccoli, kale, fennel, beans, almonds and hazelnuts contain a lot of calcium and supply our bodies with it almost as well as dairy products. Another good source: mineral water rich in calcium. Oh, almost forgot: Calcium is important for healthy bones and lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Iron is a problem area

And again an outcry can be heard. Yes, we vegans consume a lot of iron with our plant-based diet. Yes, maybe even more than non-vegans about your diet. But now comes the big but (and this but is really capitalized): the body does not absorb vegetable iron as well as iron from animal sources. A little trick helps us here: To improve iron absorption, vegans should simply take vitamin C in addition to iron-containing foods - because this helps to be able to absorb vegetable iron better.

Problem area iodine

It is also not that easy with the subject of iodine: Of course it is also found in fish. But there are also good alternatives here. Iodized table salt or algae such as nori algae, which with their iodine content cover the daily iodine requirement relatively well.

So - if you take all of the previous tips to heart, you will certainly not get a nutritional deficiency even as a vegan. Quite the opposite: we sometimes have the feeling that our non-vegan friends have a one-sided diet and that they are therefore sometimes missing important nutrients in their food. (Would also be a nice topic of conversation ... hihihi). So to say in general that all vegans suffer from nutritional deficiencies is nonsense. Therefore:

In veggies we trust!

Photo: iStock.com/fizkes

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