Mayo Clinic researchers have found that vegans do not get enough vitamin B-12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein and omega-3 fatty acids. In their study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, they do not want people to abstain from going vegan but recommends adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals.

The research team analysed a study review to make sure that vegans receive their required nutrients. They found that some vegans mainly consume processed foods instead of eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which cause a nutrient deficiency.

“We found that some of these nutrients, which can have implications in neurologic disorders, anaemia, bone strength and other health concerns, can be deficient in poorly planned vegan diets,” asserts Heather Fields, a doctor of Community and Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. “Vegans have not been shown to be deficient in protein intake or in any specific amino acids.”

Buffalo seitan pizza for vegans. Photo from Wikipedia/Vegan Feast Catering

Buffalo seitan pizza for vegans. Photo from Wikipedia/Vegan Feast Catering

Apparently, two percent of US citizens follow the diet and many are following their footsteps, citing ethical, health, environment and even religious reasons. However, many still need to be informed about how to properly follow this strict plant-based diet.

This new study supports other research that has also revealed the possible consequences of a vegan diet. According to experts, not taking enough iron can cause paleness, extreme fatigue, and shortness of breath, dizziness and even chest pain.

Inadequate intake of vitamin B-12 can lead to a sore tongue, mouth ulcers, vision problems and yellowing of the skin. Calcium deficiency, also known as hypocalcaemia, can result to tingling of the fingers, poor appetite, skeletal malformation and muscle cramps.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain, high blood pressure and muscle weakness. It has also been linked with depression.

Lack of protein can also cause muscle or joint pain, muscle wasting, poor wound healing and hair breakage. On the other hand, not taking enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause dandruff, soft or brittle nails, excessive thirst and sleep problems.

These nutrients can be provided by a vegan diet. However, many do not get these because they are unaware about the food items that can provide these, hence the Mayo Clinic researchers recommend health care professionals to inform their vegan patients about the proper diet to avoid these problems.