Plant-based diets are typically associated with improved health and increased disease protection. However, some researchers have uncovered nutritional deficiencies in people who regularly consume an extremely low fat vegan diet (vegans eschew any kind of animal-based product). So, when it comes to all plants all the time, can you get too much of a good thing?

Not really, says a new study published in the September 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. In observing a cohort of men who ate a strict vegan diet in which only 10% of calories were derived from fat, the researchers found that “a very low fat vegan diet with comprehensive nutrition education emphasizing nutrient-fortified plant foods is nutritionally adequate, with the exception of vitamin D.” The authors concluded that “vitamin D supplementation, especially for those with limited sun exposure, can help assure nutritional adequacy.” The authors also recommended that vegans

  • receive nutrition counseling that stresses healthy meal planning;
  • up their daily intake of fortified plant foods, especially those high in vitamins B12 and D; and
  • supplement their food intake with a soy protein supplement.