The vegan diet, if not applied properly and in some cases planned by a nutritionist, can lead to a deficit or reduction in the absorption of essential nutrients, including fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, with particular regard to vitamin B12.
As evidenced by a retrospective study from 2013, which analyzed data from an additional 18 scientific studies, vitamin B12 deficiency among vegans is quite common in every age group, social group and place of residence, so regular supplementation is recommended.
and periodic clinical examinations to monitor vitamin B12 levels in the blood. Many vegans believe that some plant-based food supplements, such as spirulina, are useful not only for compensating for mineral deficiencies but also for vitamin B12.
In reality, the intake of the vitamin is in a molecular form that is not biologically useful; therefore, reliable sources of vitamin B12 are pharmaceutical supplements derived from industrial biosynthesis. Recent studies have been aimed at finding foods with availability of vitamin B12 and a 2014 study found that the Nori seaweed provides bioavailable vitamin B12 to humans and can be useful in preventing deficiency in the vegan population.
Nutrient status and growth in vegan children
Other nutrient deficiencies, particularly risky especially in the pediatric period, can potentially lead to malnutrition, as well as greater health risks for certain diseases.
The study: Nutrient status and growth in vegan children, published on the Nutrition research, explained: "Vegan diets have risen in popularity over the past 9 years. However, few studies have examined nutrient status and the effect of a vegan diet on the growth of children.
This study analyzed the existing literature on the health impact and growth impact of selected nutrients in vegan children. We assessed the intake of calories and protein, as well as the nutrients iron, calcium, vitamin D, cobalamin and folate.
With a small percentage of outliers, vegan children showed normal growth and were less often obese. We found limited evidence that children on a vegan diet can obtain all the examined nutrients. Furthermore, as proper planning and supplementation by caregivers is needed, it is currently unknown how often vegan children follow well-planned diets.
Deficiencies in cobalamin, calcium, and vitamin D seem to be the biggest risks associated with a poorly planned vegan diet. For a m ore definitive assessment, data on the intake and nutrient status of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iodine, and selenium in vegan children are needed.
Future research should account for demographic shifts in those following a vegan diet, and should discriminate between vegan sub-populations that are open or closed towards scientific approaches, towards health in general, and toward supplementation.
Studies should assess the modes and dosages of supplementation and the use of fortified foods or drinks, as well as adherence to the diet itself. Plant ferritin as a source of iron and endogenous cobalamin synthesis warrants further scientific inquiry.
In summary, the current literature suggests that a well-planned vegan diet using supplementation is likely to provide the recommended amounts of critical nutrients to provide for normal progression of height and weight in children, and can be beneficial in some aspects. However, data on 5 critical nutrients are still missing, hampering a more definitive conclusion. "