Vegan Supplements That Work Amazing

08/24/2021 | 7 min. read

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

Healthy Directions Staff Editor

Vegan diets consist only of plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms, soy, legumes, nuts like walnuts, nut butter, plant-based alternatives to dairy products, sprout, or fermented plant foods, and whole grains like breakfast cereals.

Vegan diets do not include animal foods such as eggs, dairy, meat, poultry, or seafood. Some people following a vegan diet also choose to avoid animal by-products, such as honey and lesser-known animal ingredients like whey, casein, lactose, gelatin, carmine, animal-derived vitamin D3, DHA, and fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil.

When done carefully, following a vegan diet can provide you with a variety of amazing health benefits. It can also be easy to become deficient in several essential nutrients because of the many foods excluded from this type of diet.

Learning more about some of the most critical vitamins and minerals that you may not be getting enough of when following a vegan diet can help you make sure that you are supplementing as needed. It is always best to consult a doctor before you begin taking any new multivitamins or supplements.

Your doctor should be familiar with your medical history and can thus advise you on your specific needs. Not all vitamins and supplements will affect all people in the same way.

Your doctor can work with you to determine which supplements you need and how much of each supplement you should be taking on a daily basis.

When you cannot get all of your nutrients from diet alone, supplements can be a very safe and effective way to support your health as long as you use them correctly.

Essential Vitamins for Vegans

While it is critical to supply your body with sufficient levels of all of the essential vitamins and minerals, vitamins are more critical to your health than others are. Some vitamins are also more likely to be missing from a standard vegan diet.

Gaining a better understanding of these vitamins can help you realize why they are so important for your well-being.

Some of the most essential vitamins that tend to lack in vegan diets include:

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in dirt and animals, meaning that animal products are the main source of this key vitamin for humans. However, if you are following a vegan diet, animal products are not an option, and you may quickly become deficient in vitamin B12.

Animals themselves do not naturally create vitamin B12. Instead, they get it from the dirt that enters their bodies when they eat. The soil bacteria in an animal's digestive system are what creates B12.

Vitamin B12 supplements are essential for preventing nerve damage, protecting the heart, supporting your energy levels and immune response, and becoming deficient in this vitamin, leading to neurological issues or anemia.

Vegan Vitamin D

Aside from adequate sun exposure, vitamin D is sometimes also called the sunshine vitamin, and the only way your body can get this vitamin naturally is by being exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D can be found in some food sources, such as fortified foods or dairy products, but dairy is not an option for those on a vegan diet. It is important for a variety of processes and functions in the body, and this vitamin also supports your body’s absorption of calcium.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help support your brain, eyes, heart, and triglyceride regulation, and there are three main types of omega-3s that you need to incorporate into your routine.

Common food sources of omega-3s include fish and nuts, as nuts are the primary food source for vegans. However, they may not provide sufficient amounts of fatty acids, and a supplement may be necessary.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is essential because it works to support your bones and has been associated with reduced bone loss. The human body can convert vitamin K1 into K2, but different peoples’ bodies convert this vitamin to varying levels of effectiveness, and a vitamin K2 supplement may be necessary.

Making sure to supplement these vitamins can help maintain your health while you are following a vegan diet. Still, it is always best to talk to your doctor about your concerns before you begin taking supplementation.

Not all vegans will become deficient in all of these vitamins, and your doctor can perform blood work to determine which deficiencies you are experiencing.

Key Minerals to Focus On

Aside from vitamins, there are also many different minerals that are essential to human health, and certain minerals are unlikely to be included in a vegan diet at sufficient levels.

The following minerals may be especially important for vegans to focus on:

Iron

Iron plays an essential role in the production of healthy red blood cells, which work to carry oxygen throughout your body. Red meat is a main source of iron for those who consume meat, and while iron is present in certain plant foods, the iron from these sources is harder for the gut to digest. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, and this can be helpful to keep in mind.

Calcium

Iron plays an essential role in the production of healthy red blood cells, which work to carry oxygen throughout your body. Red meat is a main source of iron for those who consume meat, and while iron is present in certain plant foods, the iron from these sources is harder for the gut to digest. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron, and this can be helpful to keep in mind.

Calcium helps your body build strong bones, and it may help lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, which weakens bones and can lead to more frequent breaks. Calcium is found in dairy products as well as leafy greens, but a supplement may be recommended.

Zinc

Zinc is a key mineral when it comes to keeping your immune system healthy and strong, and it can be found in nuts, beans, and soy products. However, people who are soy-free or those who do not regularly intake adequate amounts of nuts or beans may easily become deficient in zinc.

As with essential vitamins, you should always consult your doctor if you suspect that you may have a deficiency of this critical mineral. Your doctor can perform tests to confirm this, and can recommend the appropriate supplementation.

How To Incorporate Essential Nutrients Into a Vegan Diet

In terms of making sure that you are consuming as many essential vitamins and minerals as possible while on a vegan diet, you will need to focus on incorporating a wide variety of different plant-based foods.

Nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes are all key components of a blanched and healthful vegan diet, and dark leafy greens can supply you with critical nutrients like iron and calcium.

However, even if you are consuming a variety of different foods throughout each week, you still may be at risk of developing a deficiency in certain nutrients. Symptoms of a nutrient deficiency can vary from person to person and case to case, but some general signs can be helpful to understand.

Common symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Paleness or yellowing of the skin
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Weight loss
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Weakness
  • Changes in personality
  • Mental confusion or forgetfulness

If you experience any combination of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor for professional advice. If you get diagnosed with a nutrient deficiency, your doctor will help you determine which vegan multivitamin supplements may be necessary.

You should take your supplements specifically according to your doctor’s instructions and the guidelines on the label. Your doctor may also recommend that you consume more plant-based foods to increase your diet’s nutritional value.

The Bottom Line

Vegan diets can offer plenty of health benefits, and this type of diet consists solely of plant-based foods and excludes animal products and by-products like eggs, meat, gelatin, and honey.

When done cautiously, a vegan diet may present no significant risks to your health. However, when following a plant-based diet, getting all of your essential vitamins and minerals from food alone can be challenging.

In this case, it may be important to begin taking certain supplements. Some vitamins, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and iron, are more likely to be missing from a vegan diet, and thus you may want to aim most of your focus towards these nutrients. If you suspect you may have a nutrient deficiency, you should consult your doctor for professional advice and always speak with your doctor before adding any vitamins or supplements to your daily routine.

Healthy Directions Staff Editor