Laboratory, vitamins & Co.

What nutrients can be missing from a vegan or vegetarian diet?

If you follow a vegetarian or vegan/plant-based diet, you will certainly ask yourself whether your body is sufficiently supplied with nutrients. Depending on the respective diet, it is indeed necessary to pay attention to a sufficient supply of certain nutrients or to check them via blood values. With an unfavourable choice of food, a deficiency of the following values could easily occur.

Vitamin B12

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is not found in plants in a form that we humans can use and is therefore one of the critical nutrients of a vegan diet. Therefore, it is recommended to supplement vitamin B12 if you follow a vegan diet and avoid animal foods. The vitamin B12 level in the blood provides an orientation regarding our vitamin B12 status.
Holo-transcobalamin is the active form of vitamin B12 that is actually effective in the body. This value is therefore a sensitive indicator of the extent to which you are currently supplied with vitamin B12.

Iron status

By abstaining from animal products, the body is deprived of an "easy" source of iron. Since it is more difficult for the body to utilise iron from plants, vegetarians and vegans can develop an iron deficiency if their food composition is not sufficiently balanced. We can get an idea of your iron status by means of a small blood count, iron and ferritin.

Vitamin D

Our body can produce Vitamin D itself if enough sunlight hits our skin. In the winter months, the production of Vitamin D may be limited, so that your body may also depend on the supply "from outside".

The vitamin D intake via the diet is actually lower in vegans and vegetarians than in people with a mixed diet. However, since there are actually only a few foods rich in vitamin D (e.g. fatty fish such as salmon, eel, herring), these differences play a somewhat subordinate role for the vitamin D status. Thus, the decisive factor for the vitamin D level is not the diet, but above all the latitude where you live, your daily routine (time with sun exposure), the colour of your skin and whether you use supplements or not. The blood value 25-OH-D (25-hydroxyvitamin D serum concentration) gives us information about your supply status.

With an unbalanced selection of purely plant-based foods, a deficiency of vitamin B2, folic acid, iodine, zinc and selenium can also occur. Here one would discuss in the individual case whether a control is necessary.

What can I do myself?

Do you feel listless, tired, unable to perform adequately and do you see a connection with your diet? Do you feel uncertain about a sufficient supply of relevant nutrients in your diet?
Please feel free to discuss this with our team of doctors. We will give you nutritional recommendations and plan relevant laboratory tests to detect possible nutrient deficiencies.

Good to know: Currently, laboratory tests are only covered by the statutory health insurance if there is a specific medical indication and not as a preventive measure, e.g. in the case of a vegan or vegetarian diet without complaints.