Supplements All Vegans Should Consider Taking

Although you can meet most of your nutritional needs on a vegan diet, there are a few supplements all vegans should consider taking.

When you eat a balanced diet full of legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, there’s a good chance that you’re consuming more vitamins and nutrients than most. However, there are some nutrients you just can’t get on a vegan diet, no matter how well you plan it out. And even the most prepared and knowledgeable vegans have days when they just have trouble eating the perfect vegan diet, so it’s important to take the right supplements to fill the gaps in your nutrition on days like those. Here are a few of the supplements that all vegans should consider supplementing their diet with:

Vitamin B12

What do you need B12 for?

Vitamin B12 is key for maintaining a healthy nervous system. It’s also essential for protein metabolism, as well as the formation of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause anemia, nervous system damage, bone disease, infertility and heart disease.

Where can you find B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in a variety of meats, products derived from fish, poultry, beef, as well as dairy products.

How can vegans get B12?

There are vegan sources of vitamin B12, and they include kale, spinach, nutritional yeast and fortified foods. Keep in mind that animal sources have higher amounts of B12 than plant based sources, and taking a supplement can help to ensure that you’re getting plenty of B12 in your diet.

Vitamin D

What do you need vitamin D for?

Vitamin D is essential for your body’s absorption of calcium and, therefore, maintaining strong bones. It also plays a role in immune function, muscle recovery, mood, memory and the absorption of phosphorous.

Where can you find vitamin D?

Vitamin D is found in very few foods, but most are animals or animal derived. Good sources of vitamin D include salmon, egg yolk, shrimp, oysters, canned tuna, and sardines. Cow’s milk is also commonly fortified with vitamin D.

How can vegans get vitamin D?

The only real, naturally occurring plant based source of vitamin D is mushrooms. However, mushrooms produce vitamin D2, whereas animal-based sources produce vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is much more effective at raising vitamin D levels in the bloodstream than vitamin D2, so mushrooms aren’t an equally strong source of vitamin D. You can also commonly find plant based milks fortified with vitamin D.

Zinc

What do you need zinc for?

Zinc plays a key role in many functions in the body, including immune function, metabolism and cell repair. If you don’t get enough zinc, it can lead to hair loss, diarrhea, development problems and delayed wound healing.

Where can you find zinc?

Foods with the highest levels of zinc include pork, chicken, lamb, beef and oysters.

How can vegans get zinc?

There are plant based sources of zinc, but their phytate content prevents the body from absorbing the zinc as effectively. However, zinc can be found in spinach, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, cashews, chickpeas, and white mushrooms.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

What do you need omega 3s for?

Omega 3 fatty acids play an important structural role in your eyes and brain. They are also essential for the prevention of ADHD, depression, inflammation and breast cancer.

Where can you find omega 3s?

Omega 3s can be broken down into two categories: long chain omega 3s and essential omega 3s. Long chain omega 3s are mostly found in fatty fish, but your body can also convert essential omega 3 fatty acids into long chain omega 3 fatty acids.

How can vegans get omega 3s?

Essential omega 3s can be found in a few plant-based sources, including hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, soybeans and walnuts. And while the conversion of essential omega 3s to long chain omega 3s is theoretically sufficient to meeting your long chain omega 3 needs, the conversion rate is very low, and vegans and vegetarians have about half of these omega 3s in their blood. It’s smart to include an omega 3 supplement in your diet to ensure that you’re meeting your needs.

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