Why is veganism exploding in popularity

Diet: How healthy is a vegan diet?

However, not all people who do without animal products suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency: Although only 20 percent of the participants took dietary supplements, in the EPIC Oxford study only about every second vegan had vitamin levels that were too low after ten years Blood. Clinical signs such as anemia, tiredness and neurological complaints such as numbness and tingling are rare in those affected - although some cannot be reversed.

Why some vegans do not suffer from deficiencies is debatable. It could be because memories build up in the body over the years as long as someone eats a mixed diet. If the person then changes, the reserves will last for three to ten years. In addition, the vitamin B12 level is influenced by genetic characteristics, although not to the same extent as by diet. A pronounced microflora in the lower small intestine, where vitamin B12 is absorbed, could also lead to a kind of "self-sufficiency".

Another possibility would be that the vegans concerned are ultimately not really consistent in their renouncement and consume finished products with leftover milk or egg powder, explains Claus Leitzmann, emeritus nutritionist at the University of Giessen. Incidentally, deficiencies in iron, calcium and protein also occur relatively rarely. "Vegans are very nutrition-conscious and have an above-average knowledge of nutrition," says Leitzmann. Nevertheless, experts recommend an annual blood check, if possible right at the beginning of the diet change.

It is also puzzling why vegans who do not consume fish and therefore hardly any of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are considered healthy, have blood values ​​similar to those of fish eaters. Researchers at Norwich University suspect that with a low intake of EPA and DHA, the body begins to convert more vegetable fats such as linolenic acid. This seems to be the case especially with women.

Caution during pregnancy and with children

According to the positive findings from long-term studies, a vegan diet is now considered beneficial for adult, healthy people. Nevertheless, experts advise caution in special situations, during pregnancy, while breastfeeding and with children. If possible, pregnant and breastfeeding vegans should not only take vitamin B12, but also calcium, iodine, omega-3 fatty acids and iron in tablet form. It is also important to ensure that there is an adequate supply of energy. Due to the vitamin B12 problem, among other things, various professional associations such as the European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) and the DGE advise against vegan nutrition for expectant or breastfeeding mothers and children.

In addition to vitamin B12, zinc, iron and iodine are also considered critical in children, since infants and toddlers need very large amounts of these micronutrients. In fact, there are individual cases of vegan children with severe growth and development disorders; sometimes they ended fatally.