Vitamins are nutrients and are essential for our bodies. We at PETA Germany have compiled the most important information about the most important vitamins in a vegan diet and explain how you can adjust your vitamin intake.

What functions do vitamins have in the body?

Vitamins are important organic substances that we need to provide our bodies with through our daily diet in order to be healthy. The right supply of vitamins ensures that we remain productive and protects our immune system.

A family sits at a colorfully set table and eats.
Vitamins are important for the body because they perform various vital functions.

What happens if you have a vitamin deficiency?

Vitamins support the body’s own development and protection of cells, bones, blood formation and regulate metabolism. Anyone who consumes too few vitamins – for example through an unbalanced diet – can suffer from deficiency symptoms. A vitamin deficiency in the body can lead to the following symptoms, for example:

  • Headache
  • Digestive problems
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Coordination disorders
  • depressions

What types of vitamins are there?

There are water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. The body can only store water-soluble vitamins in very small amounts, so they should be consumed daily.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored by the body. They are better absorbed when consumed together with healthy fats. The fat-soluble vitamins can be easily remembered using the EDEKA mnemonic: Vitamins E, D, K and A are fat-solubleall others water-soluble.

Which vitamins are important for the body?

You need the following vitamins on a vegan diet to keep your body fit and healthy. In addition to information about the vitamins, you will find out below in which vegan foods you can find the corresponding vitamins.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for the growth, function and structure of the skin. It also plays a key role in cell formation, metabolism and the vision process.

Occurrence: sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, kale, breakfast cereals and spinach.

ß-carotene (provitamin A)

Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A that is found in plant foods and is converted into active vitamin A in the body.

Occurrence: yellow to orange fruits and vegetables (e.g. carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes, nectarines, peaches, pears) as well as dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, endive, arugula).

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a key role in calcium metabolism, is important for bone health and influences the immune system. Our bodies can produce vitamin D themselves. It is formed in the skin through UV radiation – so it’s best to get plenty of exercise in the fresh air in the sunlight.

However, the sunlight on bare skin in the autumn and winter months is not enough to produce enough vitamin D. For many people, it can therefore be useful to take the vitamin as a preparation – e.g. drops – during this time.

Occurrence: Self-synthesis in the skin through UV radiation, mushrooms, chanterelles.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has an antioxidant effect and protects cells from aggressive oxygen compounds, so-called free radicals.

Occurrence: vegetable oils, nuts, oil seeds, raspberries, savoy cabbage, soy sausage, tomatoes.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting. It also prevents calcium deposits and supports cell division.

Occurrence: green leafy vegetables, cabbage, parsley, avocado, chives, grapeseed oil, chickpeas, cress, fennel, soy flour, mung beans, broccoli, rapeseed oil.

vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is involved in many metabolic processes. Like vitamin E, it has an antioxidant effect and protects the cells.

Occurrence: strawberries, oranges, lemons, rose hips, acerola, sea buckthorn, black currants, red peppers, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1, also called thiamine, is important for our nervous system and plays a significant role in energy metabolism: it helps in the production of energy from carbohydrates.

Occurrence: Brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, soybeans, sesame, whole grains, peas, macadamia nuts.

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Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is essential for our protein and energy metabolism. For example, it is involved in the production of energy from glucose and fatty acids.

Occurrence: whole grains, broccoli, kale, yeast, asparagus, spinach.

Vitamin B3

Niacin or vitamin B3 plays an important role in various metabolic processes, for example in the production of fatty acids. The B vitamin can be produced by the body itself and can also be absorbed through food.

Occurrence: coffee beans, peanuts, wheat bran, dates, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast, dried apricots, legumes.

Vitamin B5

Pantothenic acid or vitamin B5 is mainly involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. The vitamin also plays an important role in the production of cholesterol, provitamin D, bile acid and amino acids.

Occurrence: yeast, peanuts, porcini mushrooms, watermelon, whole grains, legumes.

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Biotin is also important for metabolism and has a protective function for hair and skin.

Occurrence: yeast, peanuts, soy, oatmeal, brown rice, mushrooms, cereals, spinach, tomatoes, carrots.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is involved in key metabolic processes, such as the conversion of proteins and the protection of nerve connections. Vitamin B6 also supports the immune system.

Occurrence: whole grains, potatoes, legumes, cabbage, spinach, lamb’s lettuce, tomatoes.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 fulfils important functions in metabolism. A good supply is important, for example, for the formation of red blood cells, cell division and normal nerve function. Although plant-based foods are not a reliable source of B12, the vitamin can easily be taken as a dietary supplement or through foods enriched with B12.

Folic acid

Folic acid is also one of the water-soluble B vitamins and is particularly important for growth and blood formation.

Occurrence: lettuce, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, legumes, whole grains, wheat bran

Plant sources of vitamin A.

Vitamin A is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and spinach, among others.

Plant sources of beta-carotene.

You can get beta-carotene from fruits such as mangoes, pears, peaches and vegetables such as broccoli.

Plant sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin D is found in mushrooms and chanterelles.

Plant sources of vitamin E.

Vegetable oils, raspberries, tomatoes and walnuts contain vitamin E.

Plant sources of vitamin K

Vitamin K is found in avocados, soy, cress and broccoli.

Plant sources of vitamin C.

Not only found in oranges: Vitamin C can be found in strawberries, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Plant sources of vitamin B1.

Vitamin B1 can be found in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans and peas, among others.

Plant sources of vitamin B2.

Vegetables such as asparagus, spinach, kale and broccoli contain vitamin B2.

Plant sources of vitamin B3.

Vitamin B3 is found in coffee beans, mushrooms, peanuts and legumes.

Plant sources of vitamin B5.

Peanuts, porcini mushrooms, legumes and even watermelon contain vitamin B5.

Plant sources of biotin.

Biotin is found in: peanuts, oatmeal, spinach or soy.

Plant sources of vitamin B6.

You can get vitamin B6 from foods such as potatoes, spinach, tomatoes or legumes.

Plant sources of folic acid.

Folic acid is found in legumes, asparagus, lettuce and tomatoes, among other things.

More information about nutrients

With a balanced and healthy vegan diet you can easily meet all your nutritional needs. [1] Only vitamin B12 must be supplemented in a purely plant-based diet. On our website you will find out everything you need to know about nutrients, minerals and healthy eating habits as a vegan.

  • Sources

    [1] Weikert, Trefflich, Menzel et al. (2020): Supply status with vitamins and minerals in a vegan diet. Deutsches Ärzteblatt,, (accessed on 14.12.2020)

    [2] Biesalski, HK; Grimm, P. (2004): Pocket Atlas of Nutrition, 3rd expanded and updated edition, Stuttgart: Thieme Verlag

    [3] Leitzmann, Prof. Dr. C.; Keller, Dr. M. (2010): Vegetarian Nutrition, 2nd edition, Stuttgart: Ulmer

    [4] Reference values ​​for nutrient intake, German Nutrition Society (DGE), Austrian Nutrition Society (ÖGE), Swiss Nutrition Association (SVE), 1st edition 2001, Frankfurt: Umschau-Braus Verlag