Someone who has a vegan diet does not consume any animal products which include dairy, eggs and meat. It is not hard to be vegan and stay healthy by consuming whole foods, many individuals prefer supplementing their diet.
A vegan diet contains low nutrients like Vitamin B-12 that are present in all the animal products. Vegan supplements contain nutrients which makes it easier for people with a vegan diet to consume these nutrients.
In this article, we’ll know what supplements vegans should take and learn why they are beneficial to people with vegan diets.
1. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is the most important supplement that everyone with a vegan diet should consume. It is really essential to maintain many processes.
Vitamin B-12 plays a great role in forming red blood cells in your body. It helps in metabolizing proteins and also helps in supporting a healthy nervous system in your body.
Even though anyone can go through Vitamin B-12 deficiency, vegans have a higher risk of it as only some vegan sources contain this vitamin. It is also essential to note that every individual uses and absorbs Vitamin B-12 in a different way.
Even some people who consume meat can have deficiency of Vitamin B-12 if their body won’t be able to absorb Vitamin B-12 properly. The ability of our body to use Vitamin B-12 also lessens with age.
It is really essential for vegans to always stay in touch with a doctor and visit one from time to time to get your iron and vitamin B-12 levels checked out. Consulting a doctor or nutritionist can surely help you have a balanced diet plan.
The researchers have found through a study in 2014 that everyone should consume nori, a different type of seaweed, everyday as it contains a great amount of vitamin B-12 and some other nutrients as well for vegans like iron and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Another convenient way to consume vitamin B-12 while sticking to your vegan diet is by eating nutritional yeast which has a cheesy and nutty flavour. Manufacturers most of the time secure this inactive yeast with a lot of vitamins that people with vegan diets don’t consume.
Manufacturers also fortify other foods with Vitamin B-12 like tofu or some other soy products, some cereals for breakfast, rice, soy, or nut milk. As the vegan diet continues to grow globally, more sources of vitamin B-12 can be found for vegans.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a great and healthy source of fats. A vegan diet is mostly high in some kinds of omega-3 fatty acids but is low in some other kinds.
Omega-3 fatty acids have great health benefits such as:
- Reducing the risk of any heart disease.
- Averting Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Lowering the risk of getting rheumatoid arthritis.
- Promoting neurodevelopment in children and infants.
Even though more research needs to done in these areas, omega-3 fatty acids also play a great role in treatment of some conditions like
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Childhood Allergies
Some important omega-3 fatty acids like Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) should always be consumed from your diet as your body can’t make them.
Other long chain Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are not important as your body can make them itself using Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
If you’re wondering what supplements should vegans take? This is the best option for you. Iron is really important to help you build healthy blood cells and then help them carry oxygen in your whole body. It comes in two different forms known as Non Heme and Heme iron. Non Heme iron comes from plants while Heme iron is derived from animals.
Heme iron is really convenient for your body to use and absorb. The authors of a 2013 study also said that eating a vegan diet which is full of iron rich foods can provide your body with enough iron.
Vegan Foods rich in iron are:
- Dried Fruits
- Whole Grains
- Fortified cereals
- Dark and green vegetables
Also, increasing your vitamin C intake leads to consuming more iron. You can just get a blood test done to know if your body is storing and getting enough iron.
Consuming these food items regularly means that you don’t need to take any supplements. But in case your body doesn’t store enough iron, doctors will recommend you to take iron supplements.
Taking too much iron can be dangerous for your body as well so you should always consult a doctor before taking iron supplements.
Calcium is also a really important nutrient that many vegans may not be consuming properly. It plays a great role in the formation of your teeth and bones, heart health and functioning of your muscles.
A research from 2014 states that calcium levels are the lowest in you if you’re a vegan as compared to vegetarians and omnivores.
Here is the list of plant sources rich in calcium:
- Leafy vegetables like bok choy and mustard greens.
- Legumes like chickpeas.
- Fortified food items.
If you are not able to consume enough calcium from the food items mentioned above, you should consider supplementation. Calcium comes in powder and capsule form. Taking vitamin D and calcium together can help in boosting its absorption.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps in regulating your mood and improves the functioning of your immune system as well and it aids the absorption of other nutrients like phosphorus and calcium as well.
Your body can make Vitamin D when it gets sunlight properly. Most people can get a small amount of vitamin D everyday if they spend around 15-20 minutes in the sun during the afternoon.
But, this is not possible all the time. Putting on sunscreen which is important to prevent skin cancer can reduce the production of vitamin D in your body. Most of the people live in cold, cloudy areas and cover their skin most of the time.
Few food items that contain vitamin D include yoghurt and milk but they are not suitable for vegans to consume.
Vegan sources of Vitamin D include breakfast fortified cereals and some kinds of mushrooms as well. The average vitamin D intake from your diet can be lower than the recommended daily intake so both vegans and omnivores can benefit from supplementing.
Vegan diets have a lot of great health benefits but they also make it hard for you to consume enough nutrients. Consuming these nutrients will require eating some kinds of foods and supplementing as well to help you stay healthy.
Now that you know what supplements should vegans take. Don’t hurry and consult your doctor first to make sure you don’t cause any harm to your body.