Are you vegan or thinking of trying it out? Are you taking vegan supplements to ensure you’re getting optimal nutrition?
No matter how healthy you think your diet is, you may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals.
People think that a healthy diet should provide all the nutrients you need for optimal health. And that’s technically true…
A whole food plant-based diet offers huge advantages. It reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and degenerative disease.
But because of modern agriculture, many products lack specific nutrients which can result in deficiencies and serious consequences.
Additionally, we don’t get enough sun exposure to produce our vitamin D or dirt exposure for our vitamin B12.
Therefore, I believe that it’s necessary for vegans (or non-vegans) to consider taking supplements to make sure you get all your vitamins and minerals.
My favorite vegan supplements
The most important supplements for vegans are B12, Vitamin D, Omega-3, vitamin K, and zinc.
Some of these supplements are usually not vegan, so it’s important that you look for a vegan brand! In this article, I will share with you my favorite vegan supplements.
Out of all the supplements for vegans, Vitamin B12 is the only one that is really necessary. This is usually the main argument of non-vegans when they say that the vegan diet is not natural…
If vegans need to supplement with B12, then this can’t be the right diet for humans, right?
Actually, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria, not animals.
B12 is only found naturally in dirt and animal products.
It’s important to understand that animals don’t make B12. They get it from the dirt they eat.
It’s the soil bacteria in the guts of animals that make B12…
Our ancestors used to eat real food they had grown. They were eating vegetables from their garden or foraging foods from the wild. No human was lacking B12.
But now, the food we buy was grown with chemicals to kill all bacteria. So it’s no longer a viable source of B12.
Why is B12 necessary?
Vegans should supplements with B12 because a deficiency can provoke anemia and neurological problems.
Vitamin B12 functions include preventing nerve damage, protecting the heart, and supporting your overall energy level and immune system.
B12 deficiency can also affect people who eat animal products.
In fact, it is estimated that between 20 to 40% of the world population suffers from a B12 deficiency. And in developing countries, the number can be as high as 80%.
So yes, even meat eaters can be deficient in B12. This is because the vitamin isn’t always absorbed efficiently by their bodies.
What B12 supplement should you take
There are certain vegan products that are fortified with B12, such as plant-based milk and nutritional yeast.
But they typically contain low doses of B12 so you may not be getting enough… I encourage you to get a B12 supplement!
It’s also important to remember that your ability to absorb B12 decreases as you get older. This is the reason why 50-year-old + people should all supplement.
The US RDI for vitamin B12 is 4 mcg per day… But medical experts such as Dr. Michael Greger recommends taking 2500 mcg per week.
My favorite vegan B12 supplement is from Garden of life, My Kind Organic. It provides 500 mcg of b12 daily as methylcobalamin.
This spray is made from real, nutritious foods and is certified organic.
My daughter, my husband and I all use it!
Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin!
The only natural way to get vitamin D is to expose your body to the sun…
Historically, were vitamin D deficiencies were almost non-existent because our ancestors used to live outdoors and didn’t wear much clothing. But in our modern days, we work indoors and we wear clothes when we go outside…
Additionally, our ancestors came from the tropics. Today, many of us live in northern climates like Canada, the UK, or Russia, where sun exposure is very limited.
Not only vegans can suffer from a vitamin D deficiency… In fact, it is the most common vitamin deficiency in the world!
Why is vitamin D necessary?
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium and other minerals like phosphorous.
It is needed for the healthy functioning of your muscles, your heart, your brain, your pancreas, and your thyroid.
Having good levels of vitamin D protects against Crohn’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other kinds of autoimmune diseases. It also protects against degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How to supplement with Vitamin D
Omnivorous get most of their vitamin D from fortified milk products. As a vegan, you will find plant-based milk fortified with vitamin D.
Some mushrooms are grown with ultraviolet light to boost their vitamin D content… but it’s difficult to know if they contain enough (and you’re probably not eating them every day).
The best is to take a vitamin D supplements to be sure!
If you don’t get a daily dose of 20-30 minutes of direct sun exposure, it’s recommended that you take 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day.
My favorite vegan D3 supplement is also from Garden of Life My Kind Organic. I really like this brand because it’s organic… but I have to confess that it’s also because it was made with Alicia Silverstone, a vegan activist and an actress that I adore.
*If your vitamin D3 supplement doesn’t specify that it’s vegan, it means that it comes from a very violent business: the wool industry.
Omega-3 Fatty acids
There are three important Omega-3 fatty acids:
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
The three types of Omega-3 are necessary for human health. They are important for:
- Brain and eyes development
- Stabilizing the rhythm of the heart
- Lowering triglycerides
- Helping prevent certain cancers
Having good levels of DHA can reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s as your age.
Can vegans get Omega-3 from food?
Some plant foods like walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseed have ALA.
But EPA and DHA are mainly found in fish products.
It’s important to specify that fish don’t make omega-3s… They get their Omega-3 from the plankton and algae they eat.
In our days, fish contain micro-plastic, mercury, and other heavy metals. And their oil can also carry all sorts of toxins. I think it’s best to get a non-toxic algae-derived Omega-3 supplement.
You may have heard that humans are able to convert ALA to EPA and DHA… It’s true. However, not everyone can produce enough, it varies from person to person.
Ground chia seeds and flaxseeds will provide you with a lot of ALA, which your body can convert to EPA and DHA. But the amount of EPA and DHA you will get will always depend on the amount of ALA you’re eating a day, and how efficient your body is at converting.
Like Dr. Michael Greger would say, better be safe than sorry and supplement!
It’s recommended to take 250-500 mg of combined EPA and DHA.
Vitamin K2 combined with good levels of vitamin D promotes strong bones and a healthy heart.
Your body is able to convert K1 to K2 but it’s difficult to know how much is actually being converted…. and additionally, your body will produce less K2 as you age.
Vitamin K1 is found in plants, especially in green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin K2 is harder to obtain for vegans because it is mainly found in dairy products and egg yolks. Although, K2 is also present in some fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and nato.
It is recommended that you take about 100 mcg of K2 per day.
I personally try to eat fermented foods on a daily basis so I don’t have a favorite K2 supplement.
Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed for your immune system, for cell growth, wound healing, and breaking down carbohydrates.
Certain plant foods are good sources of zinc. Good examples are beans, nuts, seeds, oats, and nutritional yeast.
Because zinc in plants is not absorbed as well as zinc from the flesh of animals, it’s important to eat zinc-rich foods every day.
Once again, better be safe than sorry… Supplementing with zinc may be the best option for vegans…and for older adults, since zinc absorption also decreases with age.
You should aim for 11-13 mg of zinc per day.
I don’t take a zinc supplement… but I do eat zinc-rich food daily and I take a multi-vitamin to ensure that I get the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals. I’m pregnant at the moment so I take a prenatal.
Probiotics aren’t necessary to vegans but I still recommend taking them.
Your microbiome is the home of a hundred trillion bacteria that play major roles in your immune system, your central nervous system, and your digestion.
There are many signs that tell your gut flora isn’t healthy: Anxiety, depression, mood disorders, slow digestion, bloating, gasses, constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches, skin problems, and strong body odor are all linked to the activity of your gut microbes.
Because of modern agriculture and unhealthy habits, it’s very common for people to suffer from these conditions. Taking probiotics allows you to repopulate your gut with new healthy bacteria and get rid of these nasty health problems.
To get the best results, choose a brand that contains at least 10 billion CFUs per capsule and a few different strains.
OM Detox probiotics contain 40 billion CFUs and 11 strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria (the best strains for human health).
Generally, it is not necessary for vegans to consume protein powders. You should be able to get all the protein you need from beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds…
However, if you are lifting weights and are trying to build muscles, it may be a good idea to supplement with a good vegan protein.
And in our days, there are so many vegan protein choices available…
I have been using Vega Protein powder for years and I haven’t had the chance to taste many other brands… I usually buy their “Proteins & Greens” and keep a tub of each chocolate and unflavoured version.
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