“With a pure plant-based diet, it is difficult or impossible to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients,” states the German Nutrition Society’s new position on the vegan diet. “The most critical nutrient is B-12,” which is found in eggs and meat. The group says if you follow a vegan diet, you should take supplements to protect against deficiencies.
According to the German nutritionists, other “potentially critical nutrients” that may be a challenge to get in a vegan diet include omega-3s — found in fatty fish — as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine, zinc and selenium. So the group recommends that vegans get advice from a nutrition counselor and be “regularly checked by a physician.” In addition, the society recommends against a vegan diet for pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding, children and adolescents…
“B-12 only comes from animal products,” says Cimperman. “It’s necessary for proper red blood cell formation, as well as normal neurological function.”
Many foods — including some breakfast cereals, as well as some nondairy creamers and milks — are fortified with B-12. So it’s possible to get all the nutrition you need this way, if you eat enough of these fortified foods regularly.
But to make sure you’re covering all your bases, “I would recommend [taking] a standard multivitamin,” Cimperman says. It’s a good insurance policy for vegans.