When one decides to turn vegan, immediately all of his non-vegan friends, parents, relatives… become expert dieticians and nutritionists. Quite almost ALL. How is it possible? Well, that is something that science still has to discover. Nevertheless, let us proceed step by step:

Firstly, remember that your friends/parents/relatives were not doctors before you turned vegans, so they are not doctors now. Only a doctor can tell you about possible vitamin deficiencies. Moreover, he/she can tell you, only after your blood exams show real problems: so do not be discouraged by psychological terrorism! It is true and important to keep yourself in good health, so take a blood test to be sure everything is fine.

Secondly, remember that vegan diets are able to provide all the necessary vitamins in adequate quantities to the nutritional requirements. With the sole exceptions of vitamin B12, that must be assumed through a bacterial source supplement, (see: https://www.oipa.org/international/where-do-you-get-your-b12/) and vitamin D.

…yeah, yeah. However, are there only two vitamins? Of course not. Anyway, non-vegans refer only and exclusively to B12. And this is quite absurd! Why? Because vitamin B12 is not just a vegan problem!

vitamina_b12Indeed, vitamin B12 is not produced by plants or by animals. In nature, bacteria present in the soil produce vitamin B12, and then plants contain B12 thanks to bacterial contamination. As long as we do not live anymore in the state of nature, we usually accept the basic hygienic practices, which impose to wash the vegetables right before eat them. In addition, the same principle applies for the animals: they are grown in intensive farming, so are fed with fodder added with fortifying agents.

So: what is the point of killing animals that are fed with B12 supplements? Why just don’t eat fortified food? Or directly B12 supplements? Until now, I have found no answers that can justify the holocaust humans are imposing on animals.

Let’s pass to other important vitamins:

Vitamin A has antioxidant properties; it is essential for the view, the tropism of body tissues and the immune system. This vitamin is found primarily in yellow/orange-coloured fruits and vegetables. Vegans usually take it in greater quantities than omnivores.

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is essential for the production of energy and for the muscular and nervous functioning. Vegan diets are rich in this vitamin, which is abundantly present in whole grains.

vitamin-kVitamin B2 (riboflavin) is linked with many enzymes of the organism. This vitamin can be found in whole grains, broccolis, mushrooms, peas. Vegans assume it in sufficient amount.

Vitamin B3 (also known as PP or niacin) is fundamental for other organism functions, as shown by a deficiency of it, which lead to pellagra. The major symptoms of this latter are dermatitis, dementia and diarrhoea. Vitamin B3 can be found in good levels in whole-grain cereals, so vegans quite never have problems with it.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid or vitamin W) can be found… everywhere! Brewer’s yeast, wheat’s bran, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, soy, dry peas, raw molasses, integral flour of Saracen wheat and in the vegetables. Quite impossible to have B5 deficiencies!

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is essential for the integrity of the nervous system. Like the other vitamins of group B, it can be found in whole-grain cereals.

Vitamins - healthy life concept

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) is required for cellular reproductive functions. A deficiency can cause anaemia during pregnancy and, in consequence, birth defects. This vitamin is abundantly contained in vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, oranges, legumes, etc.), so that its intake by vegans is higher than the omnivores’ one.

Vitamin H (biotin), which still has unknown metabolic functions, is contained in grains, soybeans, tomatoes, peanuts and brewer’s yeast. Vegans consume adequate amounts of it, and probably more than omnivores.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in addition of being a potent antioxidant, is required in keeping the immune system and connective tissue intact. It is contained only in plants and especially in fruits (the fruit par excellence is surely oranges) and vegetables. Vegans assume far higher amounts than omnivores.

Vitamin D is necessary for the wellness of bones, but it is independent from one’s diet. See: https://www.oipa.org/international/vitamin-d-the-sun-related-vitamin/

Vitamin E (tocopherol) is a powerful antioxydant, which prevents the action of free radical, and so the aging of all organism. It can be found in vegetable oils, sweet potatoes, cabbage, hazelnuts and other vegetables.

Vitamin K rules the synthesis of certain factors of blood coagulation. Deficiencies (which increase the risk of bleeding) are very unlikely under normal health conditions for any kind of diet. This vitamin is present in large amounts in leafy green vegetables, as well as being synthesized by gut bacteria.

So, as we can see, developing vitamin deficiencies is quite difficult for a vegan with an appropriate and balanced diet. Anyway, whenever feeling down, tired… a blood test can mark the difference between a heavy life and a joyful one.




Paola Colombo