— The health benefits of a plant-based diet is well-known,
but the question remains: Could vegans be at risk for
deficiency of essential nutrients?
retrospective review by Mayo Clinic physicians recently
published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic
Association indicated that vegans should ensure adequate
intake of a few nutrients.
to a 2012 Gallup poll, two percent of the U.S. population
follows a vegan diet, which is a strict plant-based diet that
excludes all animal-derived foods. Increasingly, people are
choosing to follow this diet for ethical, environmental,
religious and health concerns. With the growing popularity of
plant-based diets, the Mayo Clinic team compiled a review of
recent literature to monitor and advise vegans to ensure
proper nutritional intake. Nutrients of concern are vitamin
B-12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein and omega-3 fatty
found that some of these nutrients, which can have
implications in neurologic disorders, anemia, bone strength
and other health concerns, can be deficient in poorly planned
vegan diets," says Heather Fields, M.D., Community and
Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Contrary to
popular belief, she says, "Vegans have not been shown to
be deficient in protein intake or in any specific amino
study points out that some vegans rely heavily on processed
foods and may not eat a sufficient variety of fruits,
vegetables and whole grains. A whole food, plant-based diet is
commendable, and a well-planned vegan diet can be adequate to
achieve proper nutrition, but requires some education.
Clinic review team recommends that health care providers
monitor vegan patients for adequate blood levels of vitamin
B-12, iron, ferritin, calcium and vitamin D.