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Vegan Health and Nutrient deficiencies

Nutrient and vitamin deficiencies with a vegan diet include:


  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Calcium
  3. Iodine
  4. Vitamin D
  5. Protein and amino acids
#1 Vitamin B12

Normally, vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria found in our intestines. Lactic-acid bacteria - Lactobacillus spp.(species), Propionibacterium spp. or Bifidobacterium spp. can produce B12 and other B-vitamins.


Lactobacillus reuteri is the bacteria that is typically found in humans that produce B12.


Propionibacterium freudenreichii is a genetically engineered bacteria that is used is laboratories to produce B12 for the vitamin & supplement industry.

The huge amount of antibiotics and pesticides we are exposed to have destroyed much of our natural gut flora, and have contributed to many people being unable to produce their own B12.

For people that are B12 deficient, supplements will be necessary. The best whole food vegan source of vitamin B12 is found in spirulina.


This blue-green algae is packed full of vitamins. Below are the nutritional info from two different brands.

Sprouts 500mg spirulina (6 tablets)


calories 10

protein 2g

sodium 30mg

potassium 42mg


vitamin A 2250mg RAE (Beta-Carotene)

vitamin K 27mcg

Thiamin 4.5 mcg

Riboflavin 0.12mg

Niacin 0.3mg

Vitamin B12 3mcg

Phosphorus 21mg

Magnesium 6mg

Zinc 30mcg

Copper 6mcg


Chromium 3mcg


C-Phycocyanin 450mg

Chlorophyll 39mg

Xanthophylis 7.5mg (50% as xeanthin)

GLA 30mg

Nutrex Hawaii powder 1tsp (3g)


Calories 10

Protein 2g

Sodium 50mg 2%



Vitamin A (as Beta Carotene) 2,715mcg 4%

Vitamin K (K1, K2) 40mcg

Vitamin B12 7mcg 290%

Iron 5mg 30%

Magnesium 15mg 4%

Manganese 0.2mg 10%


Phycocyanin 270mg

GLA 32mg

Chlorophyll a 19mg

Total Carotenoids 13mg

Zeaxanthin 3mg

After opening a jar of spirulina, store them in the refrigerator. They can smell a little off if they are kept at room temperature too long.

Fermented foods, such as sourdough whole wheat bread, kimchi, fermented soy bean products, etc; using the right type of bacteria will produce small amounts of B12 in our foods. Be sure to do some research of what bacteria strains are found in sourdough cultures, or even store bough live food (kombucha, non-dairy yogurt, etc). You can make your own fermented foods with those probiotics.

Some sources say only 2.4mcg of B12 is needed per day, while others recommend 4-7mcg per day.


We do need to take into consideration of everyones bacteria balance in their gut. It may not be necessary for every person to need supplements!

#2 Calcium

Many of us a brought up to believe that we get most of our calcium from dairy and seafood.

The following calcium requirements were taken from:



Age Range (Years)                    Calcium (mg/Day)


9-18                                                   1,300



51-70 (Men)                                       1,000


51-70 (Women)                                 1,200


Over 70                                              1,200


Here is a comparison of some animal products vs vegan food

Sardines, canned with bones 3 oz 325 mg

Salmon, canned with bones 3 oz 180 mg

Shrimp, canned 3 oz 125 mg

Ricotta, part-skim 4 oz 335 mg

Yogurt, plain, low-fat 6 oz 310 mg

Milk, skim, low-fat, whole 8 oz 300 mg

Yogurt with fruit, low-fat 6 oz 260 mg

Mozzarella, part-skim 1 oz 210 mg

Cheddar 1 oz 205 mg

Yogurt, Greek 6 oz 200 mg

Collard greens, frozen 8 oz 360 mg

Broccoli rabe 8 oz 200 mg

Kale, cooked 8 oz 180 mg

Soy Beans, green, boiled 8 oz 175 mg

Bok Choy, cooked, boiled 8 oz 160 mg

Figs, dried 2 figs 65 mg

Broccoli, fresh, cooked 8 oz 60 mg

Oranges 1 whole 55 mg

almonds 1 cup Calcium  367mg

silk almond milk  1 cup 450mg

molasses 1 TBS 41mg

There are many more vegan options for getting calcium. I will eventually update this website to include meal plans that will provide a lot more information on how to get enough calcium in our diets.

#3 Iodine

Iodine deficiency has been a problem world wide, and some problems include: goiters, thyroid problems, and mental retardation> The government's strategy is Universal salt iodization. This calls for all salt used in agriculture, food processing, catering and household to be iodized.


Many of us do not use iodized salt, some of us will need to get some food sources of iodine.

Below are some vegan sources of iodine.

Seaweed, whole or sheet (1g) 16mcg to 2,984mcg

Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon) 71mcg

Bread, white, enriched, 2 slices 45mcg

Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup, canned, 1/2 cup 42mcg

Prunes, dried, 5 prunes 13mcg

Lima beans, mature, boiled, 1/2 cup 8mcg

Green peas, frozen, boiled, 1/2 cup 3mcg

Banana, 1 medium 3mcg

1 oz dried cranberries (1/4 cup)  100 mcg

More detail about iodine rich foods will eventually be uploaded to this website under the meal plan section (under development)

#4 Vitamin D

Most of us get enough Vitamin D from sun light. The exact amount of sunlight that we require is not known. Some sources state that 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposed to our face, arms, and hands 2-3 times per week should be enough for most of the population.

Non-fortified food sources have small amounts of vitamin D.

Vegans that are truly vitamin D deficient should consult a Doctor about supplements

#5 Protein

Vegans have many sources of protein, but many people argue that vegans do not get a complete protein. That can be true for many foods that vegans eat for protein.

Be sure to visit https://nutritiondata.self.com (shown in video) to help find out more on combining foods to make a complete protein.


When the meal plans section of this website is complete, many complete protein recipes will be uploaded as well.

Amino Acids are categorized into essential, non-essential, and conditional.


Essential amino acids are a requirement for health, and they are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.


Non-essential amino acids are produced in our own body (the liver) and are: alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid.


Conditional amino acids are needed based on our own health, or we may need more of them when we are sick. They are: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.

For example, Lentils have a huge amount of protein, but are low on the amino acids: Methionine, Cystine, Isoleucine


We can add 1 other ingredient that have a lot of the missing amino acids to make a complete protein. Lentils combined with any of these will make a complete protein: Barley, Cassava, Cashews, Coconut, Coffee, Corn or Cornmeal (cornbread with lentil chili, grits, Masa), Couscous, Dates, Kamut, Kiwi fruit, Nectarines, Oats (cookies, oatmeal), Popcorn, Rice, white or brown, Sesame seeds (tahini), Shtitaki mushrooms, Spelt, Sunflower seeds, Teff, Walnuts, Wheat Germ. White flour, Whole wheat flour, Wild rice.


If you want to make things very easy. Use soy sauce or liquid aminos on your food.

Liquid aminos have 16 amino acids:



Aspartic Acid

Glutamic Acid













Liquid aminos taste a lot like unsalted soy sauce. Adding some to any vegan dish will help make sure that we get a complete protein in almost any vegan dish!



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Degnan PH1, Barry NA1, Mok KC2, Taga ME2, Goodman AL3. Human gut microbes use multiple transporters to distinguish vitamin B₁₂ analogs and compete in the gut. Cell Host Microbe. 2014 Jan 15;15(1):47-57. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2013.12.007.


Delange F1, de Benoist B, Pretell E, Dunn JT. Iodine deficiency in the world: where do we stand at the turn of the century? Thyroid. 2001 May;11(5):437-47.

International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, Brussels, Belgium. fdelange@ulb.ac.be


Driver, Catherine Burt MD;  Shiel, William C. Jr., MD, Osteoporosis and Calcium. https://www.emedicinehealth.com/osteoporosis_and_calcium/article_em.htm#osteoporosis_and_calcium_facts


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Teas J1, Pino S, Critchley A, Braverman LE. Variability of iodine content in common commercially available edible seaweeds. Thyroid. 2004 Oct;14(10):836-41. PMID: 15588380 DOI: 10.1089/thy.2004.14.836


Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Bito T, Teng F. Vitamin B₁₂-containing plant food sources for vegetarians. Nutrients. 2014;6(5):1861-73. Published 2014 May 5. doi:10.3390/nu6051861


Website no author, https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/


Website no author, https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/10-calcium-rich-foods


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Website no author, https://thyroidresearchjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-6614-4-14