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Common Nutrients Vegetarians Aren’t Getting

Humans evolved by consuming both plants and animals. As a result, our bodies have been conditions over millions of years of evolution to need the nutrients obtained from both sources. If we choose to restrict our diet to only one of these then we are at the risk of developing deficiency in some nutrients. Some plants are simply better sources for certain nutrients than meat and vice versa. By definition, Vegans are the individuals who have chosen to restrict their diet plan to consuming only plants and they don’t consume animal products. There are five nutrients vegetarians need monitor, so they do not become deficient in them.


Creatine is a substance which is only found in food products obtained from animals. Creatine is primarily found in the muscles; however, the brain is an excellent source as well. Creatine serves as readily useable energy storage for muscle cells, thus improving endurance and strength. Vegans have smaller concentrations of this substance in the cells of muscles. 

Since, this substance is not present in any plant based products, vegans must get it via alternative supplements.

Cholecalciferol (known as Vitamin D)

Cholecalciferol is an essential nutrient which has various imperative functions.

Vitamin D deficiency is connected with increased risk of many severe problems, including:

  • Impaired brain function
  • Cancer
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • Depression

Rickets, which is known as bone malformation, and Osteoporosis, which is known as weak bones, are notorious side effects of deficiency of vitamin D. Food sources for vitamin D are fish, especially oily fish, and egg yolks. Some other food sources for vitamin D are cod liver oil, supplements, cereals, and milk.


Heme-iron is a kind of iron which is only obtained from red meat. Heme-iron is more easily absorbed than common iron which is found in plant-based products. 

Those with heme-iron deficiency are more likely to become anemic. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. It is a vital substance which isn’t found in any plant based products. It is a water soluble nutrient which is involved in maintaining normal brain and nerve function, and generating red blood cells. 

Vegetarians have a higher risk of developing deficiency of vitamin B12, without enriched foods or supplements. Vitamin B12 is mostly available in animal products like eggs, meat, fish, and dairy products. 


Carnosine is an antioxidant which is present in brain and muscles. Carnosine is crucial for the function of muscles. Carnosine at high levels in the muscles is connected with the decreased fatigue of muscles and better performance.

Prominent food sources are meat, milk and fish. Vegans may contain smaller amount of carnosine in their muscles compared to individuals who eat meat. Vegans must put in extra effort to get this vital nutrient.

To combat deficiencies, supplements are the easiest option especially if certain foods are unavailable. To discover which supplements meet your dietary needs, check out our list of supplements.


Cells, T., New Protocol for Production of Reduced-Gluten Wheat Bread and Pasta and Clinical Effect in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A randomised, C., Loss, T. and Peroxide, S. (2018). Nutrients. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018]. (2018). Department of Health | Nutrients. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

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