Supplements and Vegan: Why You Need It
To ensure that your body (and often your mind) remain in good health, you need to ensure that you’re consuming all of the essential nutrients needed to maintain your body’s vital systems. These include vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients like protein, carbs, and fats.
With the wide variety of vegan protein options on the market today, you shouldn’t have an issue staying on top of your macros. However, many vegans may need to supplement with various vitamins and minerals to make up for what they’re not getting from their meatless diet.
Today, I’ll show you some of the key supplements that vegans may need to consider to support a successful diet and lifestyle.
Why Vegans May Need To Supplement
As omnivores, humans have the ability to derive most of our essential nutrients from the food we eat. While vegans can get most of their nutrients from plant-based foods, plants don’t always provide everything. For instance, trace minerals supplements are often consumed by vegans to make up for certain minerals that are traditionally found in foods like red meat or eggs.
Vegetarian eaters typically don’t need to supplement quite as much as vegans, since they can get a lot of these nutrients from eggs and dairy products. However, since vegans consume neither eggs or dairy, we often need to add a few supplements to our daily routine.
Creating A Supplement Plan With Your Nutritionist
Before you go out and purchase a bunch of supplements and start taking them every day, I recommend creating a supplementation plan with your nutritionist. Everybody has a slightly different physical makeup and may require varying amounts of supplements, depending on their body. Pre-existing physical conditions can also affect how your body responds to supplements.
Working with a nutritionist who specializes in plant-based diets allows you to create a long-term plan for your vegan lifestyle. This, in turn, will keep you in top shape and will ensure that you’re not supplementing too little (or too much).
X Supplements That Vegans Should Consider
Now, let’s take a few minutes to look over some of the key supplements that vegans may need to supplement. As I mentioned, each person has a unique physical makeup, and dietary needs can differ based on factors such as:
- Body type
- Pre-existing conditions
- Your daily diet
- Your level of physical activity
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is needed to help your body create red blood cells and form DNA. Additionally, it’s a vital nutrient needed to support brain and nerve cell development. B12 is abundant in animal-derived foods, such as red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.
B12 can be found in some vegan foods, such as mushrooms, algae, and nutritional yeast. However, it’s present in far lower amounts than in animal foods.
2. Vegan Trace Minerals
There are two basic categories of minerals: essential minerals and trace minerals. The latter are minerals that your body only needs a small amount of. However, they’re still important. Some of the key trace minerals include:
Take iodine, for example. It’s a vital nutrient needed to support your metabolism and regulate your thyroid function. However, it’s mostly found in animal-derived foods. The same goes for zinc and selenium, which support healthy immune function and protect your cells from damage.
To learn more, you can check out my extensive post on the best mineral supplements on my Vegan Calm blog.
3. Vitamin D
Animal proteins, by far, have the highest concentration of vitamin D. In fact, mushrooms are one of the only plant-based foods that contain vitamin D. While our body can synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, not everybody gets enough sun to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for maintaining healthy brain function and support joint health. Nuts and seeds are great sources of omega-3’s, but not all vegans enjoy nuts and seeds, or may suffer from food allergies. In this case, you can take a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid supplement.
Calcium is essential for maintaining your bone and joint health. While non-vegans get most of their calcium from dairy products, plant-based eaters often find themselves calcium-deficient. Most of the top-selling brands of nut milk on the market are infused with plant-based calcium sources. However, you can also take a daily supplement to the same effect.
Vegans can get more iron by supplementing their food
Iron is an essential mineral that helps our body create red blood cells, and is especially important for menstruating females to consume. A lack of iron can lead to anemia and reduced red blood cell count. Non-vegans get much of the iron they need from red meat.
While iron is present in certain vegetables, consuming a vegan iron supplement is the best way to ensure that you’re getting all of the iron your body needs.
You may not need to take every supplement on this list, as some of these nutrients can be obtained from plant-based foods. Unless you’re micro-managing your diet, though, it may be hard for some vegans to get everything that their body needs. This is where vegan supplements can be really helpful.
As I mentioned, I recommend consulting a vegan nutritionist to ensure that you’re consuming the right amount of each of these vital nutrients.