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I read (e.g. in this vitamin B12 question) that it is important for a vegan to monitor some nutrient levels by taking blood tests periodically.

Excluding exceptional situations, how often a vegan should have those tests?

For example, what is the minimum number of times per year a vegan should seek a blood test to ensure they are obtaining correct nutrition?

I have heard that it is advised to see a doctor at least once a year to make sure everything is okay, even if I feel good. Is this accurate?

  • Can you include a link to where you read this? (Not mandatory, just may be useful as background) – Erica Feb 6 '17 at 15:27
  • @Erica I added one. There is another question about vitamin B12 that talks about it too (bloodwork). – Niitaku Feb 6 '17 at 15:40
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I agree with GabrielF in that there is no reason to needlessly complicate veganism.

When you start a new diet, it is definitely good idea to monitor the changes this may induce in your body and so if you just became vegan, I would say a blood test after few months and then one after a year since becoming vegan (for example because of the B12 and other fat-stored nutrients whose deficiency takes a longer time to kick in) is a good idea, but if you are vegan for quite some time, yearly blood tests are not that much useful. This may be less true for elderly people, due to the absorption of some nutrients decreasing with age.

If you are really worried about veganism related deficiencies, I find blood donation to be a great way of helping others while checking whether everything is okay with your body - at least in the countries where CBC (complete blood count) is part of the donation process.

  • Blood banks take anemia and coagulation tests before blood donations, and will blacklist candidates that fail. It's better to order a blood panel at a clinic. – Ramon Melo Feb 6 '17 at 22:59
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Don't take this as a medical advice, I'm not a doctor. But personally, I don't like the idea of problematizing the vegan diet that much. Either you go all the way and say that everyone should take a blood test once a year, or you just drop the paranoia altogether and take your blood tests when you actually need them. I'm for the latter one.

So, my opinion is: follow a good diet to be healthy (and that doesn't apply exclusively to vegans, of course), take the supplements your diet needs (for vegans, it seems to be just B12, and maybe vitamin D + iodine, depending on where you live - have a doctor and/or nutritionist help you with that), and you're done. If you want to be extra careful, have a full medical check up every now and then, after all, it's not just your diet that might kill you. But once a year seems too much for me, at least at my age (28).

  • 1
    Agree! Too many vegetarian/vegan questions and concerns start with an assumption that there is no risk of nutrient deficiency in diets that include meat and dairy. – Ed W Feb 7 '17 at 2:19

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