Miscellaneous Nutrients

Some people may have specific problems absorbing or utilizing certain nutrients (regardless of their diet). Some nutrients are normally provided adequately by a varied vegan diet, but can be low in some vegans' diets. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) are two examples. While most vegans have no problem with vitamin B6, numerous members of one vegan family showed symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency (1).

Symptoms of vitamin B2 deficiency are sores outside of the lips and in the corners of the mouth, swollen tongue and mouth cavity, and dermatitis (2). Vitamin B2 is found in a wide variety of plant foods in small amounts, including avocados, mushrooms, almonds, leafy green vegetables, and soybeans (3).

Symptoms of B6 deficiency include sleepiness, fatigue, sores in the sides of the mouth, and a swollen tongue (2). Bananas, navy beans, and walnuts are all good sources of vitamin B6 (2).

Cereals fortified with iron, zinc, and B vitamins can add some insurance of getting adequate amounts.

Some researchers suggest taking a modest multivitamin supplement regardless of your diet. I recommend one that is about 25-100% of the DRIs. B vitamins can be taken in higher amounts. Tablets can be broken in half.


1. Crane MG, Register UD, Lukens RH, Gregory R. "Cobalamin (CBL) studies on two total vegetarian (vegan) families" Vegetarian Nutrition 1998; 2(3):87-92.

2. Groff J, Gropper S. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, 3rd ed. Wadsworth: 2000.

3. Messina V, Mangels AR. Considerations in planning vegan diets: children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001 Jun;101(6):661-9.