What Supplements do you need as a Vegan and Why?
Being vegan means being very particular about the types of food you eat so that you do not accidentally consume any animal products. Another struggle all vegans need to overcome is trying to keep a well rounded diet when one of the major food groups is missing as most people get certain vitamins from meat and animal products. Let’s discuss some of the major vitamins and nutrients that vegans should be mindful to take in whether through substitutes or supplements.
Meats provide many critical vitamins for the body so it is important that vegans are aware of various vitamins they may be lacking in because most people may get it from their common meat sources. One such vitamin is vitaminB-12 which is crucial for many body functions including: creating red blood cells, metabolizing proteins, and supporting a healthy nervous system. Generally, most people get their B-12 vitamins from meat, so vegans need to look at other sources which may provide it for them. There are also some food manufacturers which produce foods fortified with B-12 like tofu, soy products, breakfast cereal, soy, rice, or nut milk. The daily recommended intake is 2.4 mcg for adults, 2.6 mcg for pregnant women, and 2.8 mcg per day for women who breastfeed
Omega-3 fatty acids
Most of this compound tends to come from fish which is why vegans are very likely to be deficient in this. It promotes neurodevelopment of children and babies, prevents Alzheimer’s disease and dementia among other neural diseases, and lowers risk of heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis There exists some light evidence with the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids may help depression, ADHD, allergies, and cystic fibrosis among others.
There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids which are separated as essential and long chain omega-3. The essential omega-3 is something that the body cannot make itself and must be consumed. Long chain omega-3 is something that can be made by the body. The long chain wouldn’t be considered essential because it can be made by the body but also is present in flaxseed, canola oil, and soy products. However, the compounds in essential omega-3 fatty acid only come from fish, oils produced by fish, and microalgae. This means the best way for vegans to get the essential omega oil is through algae supplements and concentrates
Many vegans have been reported with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which helps the body absorb other minerals from your stomach like calcium and phosphorus in addition to influencing other body processes like the immune system, mood, memory, and muscle recovery. Adults should be taking around 600 IU (15 mcg) per day while the elderly and seniors, pregnant women, and lactating women should be taking around 800 IU (20 mcg) per day. There are some foods you can look towards for vitamin D intake like salmon and fish oil but as vegans, the sun provides plenty of vitamin D that the body can directly absorb. Spending enough time in the sun can greatly boost vitamin D intake and prevent deficiency
Iodine is vitally important for thyroid function and maintenance. Deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, which can cause low energy levels, dry skin, tingling in your hands and feet, forgetfulness, depression, and weight gain. Vegans have reported more instances of iodine deficiency and have shown in studies that they can have up to 50% less blood iodine levels than even vegetarians. Foods high in iodine include fish, seafood, seaweed, and dairy products thus severely limiting the options vegans have when choosing foods to balance their diet to increase iodine. Adults should aim for about 150 mcg of iodine per day while pregnant women should aim for 220 mcg and breastfeeding women should go for 290 mcg per day.
There are many vitamins and nutrients that vegans should be mindful to take as supplements to their diet but hopefully this list helps highlight some of the major ones.