Health & Fitness

The docs: Vegan diet comes with deficiencies

When two-time Grammy winner Jason Mraz sings “I Won’t Give Up,” he might be crooning about his steadfast commitment to a vegan lifestyle. He grows flats of microgreens on a shelf under a window on his tour bus and lives on an avocado farm that yields 30,000 of the nutrient-packed fruit annually.

But it isn’t easy for most folks to abstain from all animal products and still get the nutrients they need. That’s the finding of a new study in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Despite the fact that a plant-based diet lowers high blood pressure, reduces LDL cholesterol and helps reverse or avoid obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney failure, heart disease and some cancers, it’s easy for some vegans to develop significant nutritional deficiencies.

As many as a half of all vegans might lack vitamin B-12 (associated with fatigue, nerve and memory problems, digestive woes and trouble metabolizing hormone/neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin); iron (leading to anemia); calcium (causing cardio and bone issues); vitamin D (implicated in immune system, digestive and bone problems, etc.); omega-3 fatty acid (triggering inflammation and fatty liver); omega-7 fatty acid (triggering inflammation and clogged arteries); and protein (causing brain, bone, heart, muscle and metabolic challenges).

But that’s no reason to abandon a vegan diet! Just make sure to take a multivitamin and supplements for nutrients mentioned above; get regular blood tests to check nutrient levels. Also make sure to avoid added sugar and syrups, and overprocessed foods that supply empty calories. Many chips, sorbets and frozen “cheese” pizzas are vegan!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit