One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.
Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.
Some even encourage vegans to avoid all supplements.
Despite meaning well, this type of advice can do more harm than good.
Here are 7 nutrients that you may need to supplement with while on a vegan diet.
1. Vitamin B12
Foods often touted as rich in vitamin B12 include unwashed organic produce, mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella and nutritional yeast.
Some believe vegans who eat enough of the right plant foods don’t need to worry about a vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, there is no scientific basis for this belief.
Several studies show that while anyone can have low vitamin B12 levels, vegetarians and vegans have a higher risk of deficiency. This seems especially true for vegans who are not taking any supplements (1, 2, 3).
Vitamin B12 is important for many bodily processes, including protein metabolism and the formation of oxygen-transporting red blood cells. It also plays a crucial role in the health of your nervous system (4).
Too little vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and nervous system damage, as well as infertility, bone disease and heart disease (4, 5, 6).
The daily recommended intake is 2.4 mcg per day for adults, 2.6 mcg per day during pregnancy and 2.8 mcg per day while breastfeeding (4).