Going vegan can be a great way to adopt a new healthy lifestyle. But there is more to being vegan than cutting out animal products and not wearing leather. The biggest concern with going vegan is making sure you meet your body’s nutritional demands.
There are plenty of ways to stay well-nourished on a vegan diet. But certain food sources may be unavailable, hard to eat, or expensive. That’s where supplements come in as substitutes for foods that aren’t easy to obtain. Let’s take a look at the most essential ones for vegans.
7 Supplements You Don’t Want to Miss When Going on a Vegan Diet
Going vegan can help balance your diet. But it’s easy to miss out on certain vitamins and minerals. To keep your body up and running on a vegan diet, you must supplement your diet with the following nutrients:
1. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 regulates your body’s ability to metabolize protein, form red blood cells, and maintain nervous system health. Vegans often fail to meet their needs for vitamin B-12. This is because vitamin B-12 is abundant mostly in meat products. Yet, there are plant-based sources too.
Vegan food sources include spirulina, nutritional yeast, nori, chlorella, mushrooms grown in soils enriched with vitamin B-12, and vitamin B-12 fortified foods. If these foods are unavailable, you can rely on vitamin B-12 supplements. For optimal absorption, take this vitamin in small doses.
Your body needs iron to make new red blood cells, DNA, assist with energy metabolism, and help hemoglobin transport oxygen. While the body uses both heme and non-heme iron, heme iron is easier to absorb than the plant-based version. Vegans need to combine iron foods with vitamin C for maximum absorption.
If you’re a woman or someone who suffers from anemia, you may enjoy the benefits of supplementing iron. Before you start taking iron supplements, though, have your doctor check your hemoglobin and ferritin levels.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps regulate many processes in the body, such as muscle recovery, memory, immune response, and mood. It also enhances the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorus. Most people are deficient in vitamin D, so doctors often advise people to eat foods with vitamin D, take vitamin D supplements, and get 15 minutes of sunlight daily.
Calcium is essential for heart health, healthy bones and teeth, nerve signaling, and muscle function. This mineral is abundant in many vegan food sources. Many vegans end up with calcium deficiency, though, because they don’t eat enough of these foods. To remedy this situation, you can pair your calcium supplement with your daily vitamin D supplement.
5. Vitamin K-2
Vitamin K assists with wound healing and blood clotting. Vitamin K-1 is easy to find in most leafy greens. But K-2 is only attainable by consuming dairy, eggs, and fermented foods. Your body will convert K-1 into K-2. Yet, people with liver disease or intestinal issues will need supplementation.
Zinc helps your body repair cells and aids in metabolism and immune function. Vegans can suffer from zinc deficiency because some plant-based foods contain phytates. To keep your zinc levels in check, eat zinc-rich foods throughout the day and use supplements when necessary.
Iodine is necessary for maintaining your thyroid health. Many vegans often suffer from low iodine levels. Foods such as soy, uncooked cruciferous vegetables, or cassava, can make it harder for your digestive tract to absorb iodine. A few vegan sources of iodine are seaweed, sea salt, and iodized salt.
If you aren’t fond of adding a pinch of salt into all of your meals, though, you can always try iodine supplements. Before adding any supplements to your diet, however, check with your doctor first. Your doctor will run tests and tell you which supplements you may need.
Additional Supplements to Consider
Apart from the big seven, there are a few other nutrients to consider supplementing on a vegan diet. They are omega-3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, essential amino acids, and creatine.
You can find many of these nutrients in legumes, seeds, nuts, and oils, with creatine being an exception. It appears primarily in meat products. Luckily enough for vegans, there are vegan creatine supplements available.
To ensure the quality of your supplements, make sure they are GMP certified. And with all of this in mind, we hope this supplement guide helps you achieve the best nutritional results from your vegan lifestyle.