August 01, 2019

Nutrition for vegans

If you eat a vegan diet — a plant only diet that excludes all animal derived foods — consuming a wide variety of nutritious, minimally processed, whole plant foods can meet most nutritional needs. However, some nutrients may be tougher to get, including:

  • Vitamin B-12 — Fortified foods — such as soy products, cereals or meat substitutes — can provide some of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B-12, which is 2.4 micrograms (mcg). Still, taking a vitamin B-12 supplement is recommended. Testing vitamin B-12 levels periodically also is recommended, particularly in older adults.
  • Vitamin D — This is found in some fortified soy and rice milks and ready-to-eat cereals. Supplementation of 600 international units (IU) or more is commonly recommended, particularly if you have a deficiency or limited access to sunlight, which naturally provides vitamin D. However, there's a lack of clear data showing preventive value in vitamin D supplementation in healthy adults.
  • Calcium — Consuming a wide variety of plant foods and fortified almond, rice or soy milk can provide adequate dietary calcium for most people. It's recommended that older adults talk to a health care provider about calcium levels and possibly about the need for calcium supplementation.
  • Iodine — This mineral is needed for proper thyroid function. It's found in iodized salt and sea vegetables, but a supplement of no more than 500 mcg a day may be advised.