Top 6 Supplements Every Vegan Should Take

It’s without a doubt that a vegan diet can be beneficial for your health and wellbeing. 

However, a vegan diet can be low in some vital nutrients that the body needs, hence the need to supplement.

This article explains the…

Top 6 Supplements Every Vegan Should Take To Achieve Optimal Health

Vitamin B12

B12 is an essential nutrient and probably the most important supplement every vegan should be taking. 

It occurs naturally in animal products but can be found as a supplement or in foods such as nutritional yeast.

According to some studies, nori, a type of seaweed, is high in vitamin B 12 and other nutrients like polyunsaturated fatty acids and iron.

B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, anemia prevention, healthy nerve function, and protein metabolism.

It may also improve memory, brain and heart health as well as boost your energy levels, 

Calcium

Calcium is another essential yet deficient nutrient among most vegans.

It’s crucial for the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, good heart health, and better muscle function.

Although dark green vegetables are known to offer a good amount of calcium, studies show that vegans tend to have calcium levels lower than the recommended intake. 

This is because most vegetables like spinach and swiss chard are high in oxalate, a plant compound that makes it difficult for the body to absorb calcium.

Some highly absorbable sources include cruciferous vegetables like kale and broccoli, watercress, bok coy, and chickpeas.

You can also obtain calcium from fortified foods like calcium-fortified plant milk.

If you’re not getting approximately 700mg of calcium from foods on a daily basis, you may want to include a supplement.

Take note that your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium hence our next essential nutrient.


Related: Where Do Vegans Get Their Protein From?

Vitamin D

For the body to absorb calcium, it needs vitamin D, and most vegans just don’t get enough.

Vitamin D is essential for the regulation and maintenance of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It can also boost your mood and improve immune functions.

The body can make vitamin D by itself, but it needs sunlight. According to studies, 15-20 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight is enough to produce your daily vitamin D requirements.

But this may not always be the case, especially during the winter seasons or for anyone wearing sunscreen.

There are a few vegan sources of vitamin D like mushrooms and fortified cereals, but they still don’t offer enough, so taking a supplement is the only option.

Zinc

Zinc is a vital nutrient that the body needs but cannot produce. So you have to get it through food or supplements.

Although there are plant sources of zinc such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and certain vegetables, it’s not easily absorbed because of other plant compounds that inhibit its absorption.

Vegan foods such as baking flours and breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc, but they may not provide the required amounts. Besides, they may not be healthy versions since they are highly processed.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for metabolism and immune function.

They are also crucial in the prevention of cardiovascular conditions and mental problems like dementia. 

There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids namely alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Of the three, vegan foods like flaxseed and chia seeds only contain ALA, but it cannot be utilized in the body until it’s converted to the other two forms of omega-3.

Unfortunately, the body can only convert up to 5% of ALA  into  EPA and less than 0.5% of ALA to DHA. 

This predisposes vegans to deficiencies hence the need for supplementation.

Iron

Iron is an essential nutrient that helps carry oxygen throughout the body and maintain healthy blood cells.

There are two different forms of iron: heme iron, which is obtained from animals, and nonheme from plants.

While heme is easily absorbed into the body, nonheme iron can be difficult to absorb, due to high levels of phytates, a compound in plants that hinders its absorption.

However, combining vitamin C with vegan sources of iron may increase its absorption.

A vegan diet is important for many different health reasons; however, you can’t ignore the fact that it’s not a complete diet on its own. Anyone following a vegan diet should include these essential supplements to avoid running into deficiencies.  

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