nutrition

Medically Reviewed

Vegans: Here's How to Get Essential Nutrients, through Supplements and Multis

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Vegan lifestyles are growing increasingly popular, but a vegan diet alone may not provide enough vitamins and minerals. Learn how vegan multivitamins can help.

Wondering if you should take a vegan multivitamin? Many people are switching to a vegan diet. Whether you’ve decided to go vegan for your own health, the environment, or ethical reasons, it’s important to understand the dietary needs that may come with such a major change.

The defining feature of a vegan diet is a total lack of animal products. That means no meat, eggs, fish, dairy, or honey. Under the umbrella of vegan diets, there are some other types of meal plans. For instance, there are “raw vegans” who only eat foods that are uncooked. Other vegan diets cut out all processed foods or only include whole foods.

While there are many health benefits to going vegan, it’s also important to remember that veganism has a few drawbacks as well. Let’s take a look at the things a vegan diet is missing and how vegans can still make sure they’re getting the proper nutrients and vitamins to stay healthy on their plant-based diet.

Nutrients That Vegan Diets May Lack

Many of the nutrients our bodies require are found in animal products, like eggs, meat, and dairy. Since these foods are excluded from a vegan diet, people who eat vegan diets should be aware of the possibility of nutrient deficiencies. To prevent deficiencies, talk to your doctor about adding vitamin supplements to your daily routine. There are many vegan vitamin options, whether you decide to go with a multivitamin or more targeted individual vitamins to support your health.

The most common deficiency experienced by vegans is vitamin B12. B12 is found in meat, dairy, and fish. It can be added to some fortified cereals and other similar foods. But if you’re also cutting processed foods from your diet, this may not be a helpful source. The recommended daily allowance of B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day and can be found in vegan sources like plant-based milks and nutritional yeast.

B12 is not the only B vitamin most vegans are lacking; B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (also called niacin) are also commonly lacking from vegan diets. Fortified foods may be an option for you, but adding a B-complex vitamin will ensure that you get an adequate amount of B2, B3, and B12 in one daily dose. Care/of’s B-complex vitamin is 100% vegan, supports the nervous system and energy metabolism, and will give you more than the recommended allowance of all three B vitamins.

Why Is A Vegan Multivitamin Supplement Important?

The thing that makes multivitamins so popular is that they’re a single serving. Pop one and you’re done! Taking a variety of different supplements is a great way to manage health, especially when targeting specific needs, but a multivitamin is quick and convenient. Many people simply add it to their morning routines, taking a multivitamin with their morning breakfast and coffee.

For vegans specifically, this issue is twofold. First, people eating a vegan diet miss out on a number of vital nutrients that keep our bodies functioning properly. Second, as more people go vegan, it’s important for them to have options in terms of supporting their health. More and more companies are working to provide vegan options for supplements, which is excellent news for the vegan community and other health-conscious people worldwide.

Are Vegan Multivitamins Effective?

The short answer is yes. Any multivitamin will give you a boost in the vitamins and nutrients you need to stay healthy and keep your body functioning at its best. However, because many of the preferred sources of vitamins are not vegan, it can be difficult to find a multivitamin that covers all areas with an adequate dosage. While a vegan multivitamin might be harder to find, it’s just as easy to take several vegan vitamin supplements at one time. In this respect, you can create your own vegan multivitamin from trusted sources that are in forms that are easy for the body to absorb.

What Nutrients To Look For In A Vegan Multivitamin Supplement?

There are some excellent ingredients to look for when trying to find a vegan multivitamin. Some of the most common nutritional deficiencies can include micronutrients, vitamins, and healthy fats. From a dietary stance, a nutrition hack can be as simple as incorporating sprouted grains into your diet. Sprouted grains may help increase the bioavailability of nutrients. Sprouted grains can also increase antioxidant activity within the body. There have been several studies relating to the sprouting of grains in cereals and the effects it has on nutrition; overall, results have been favorable.

Ingredients To Avoid When Looking For A Vegan Supplement

Sticking to a vegan diet means being constantly on the lookout for non-vegan ingredients that may surprise you. Even when looking at vitamins and supplements, it’s important to be aware of what may be in your food. Gelatin is a common ingredient in supplements (particularly gummy varieties) that is derived from animal bone. Collagen, fish oil, glucosamine, and chondroitin are also animal-derived ingredients that make a supplement unsuitable for vegans. Some forms of vitamin D are derived from lanolin, a wax secreted by sheep. Lanolin is washed from shorn wool and harvested without harming the animals, so some vegans may be comfortable with this. Make sure to check the sources on vitamin A, too, since some forms of it are taken from cod livers, which is definitely not a vegan source. Taking the time to research where ingredients come from and how they are used will help ensure that you’re sticking to your vegan diet.

Other Vitamins And Minerals Vegans Should Take

There are many other vitamins and supplements that vegans may want to add to their routine. Many of these vitamins and minerals are not made naturally in our bodies, and people who follow a vegan diet may have more difficulty getting them through food alone. Here are some essential nutrients that vegans may want to consider getting through supplements:

Selenium

Selenium, which is an essential nutrient important to thyroid health, is commonly found in fish and organ meats. Supplements are available, but there is another excellent, 100%-vegan source: Brazil nuts! An ounce of Brazil nuts (6-8 nuts) contains almost 1000% of the recommended daily allowance of selenium.

Creatine

Creatine is an important nutrient for people trying to gain muscle or people who engage in high-intensity exercise. It may help you see muscle growth faster, and it helps muscles recover between intense workouts. It’s also commonly absorbed from consuming meat, but there are vegan sources out there.

Iron

Iron helps your blood cells move oxygen throughout your body more efficiently. It’s important to remember that you should speak with your doctor and test your blood’s iron levels before supplementing. Fortunately, there are some food sources of iron for vegans. White beans, tofu, spinach, and lentils are all high in iron, and eating a decent serving of these foods each day can provide 95% of your daily RDA of iron.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Vitamin D and calcium work hand-in-hand to promote bone health, among many other things. Vitamin D is vital to the absorption of calcium, so taking them together is the most effective. Many vitamin D sources are derived from animal products, but Care/of’s Vegan D supplement is derived from algae. Many vegan calcium supplements are also derived from algae.

Zinc

Zinc is important for immune health and metabolic function. Zinc is primarily found in oysters, red meat, and poultry, but may also be sourced from beans and nuts. Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are a great source of zinc.

Iodine

Iodine levels may also be low among vegans, as iodine is most commonly taken from seafood and dairy. To raise iodine levels, try incorporating seaweed into your diet (although, if you have any thyroid issues, it’s best to consult your doctor before increasing your seaweed consumption).

Omega-3s

Similarly, Omega-3s are mostly found in fatty fish and other seafood. Omega-3s are important for cognitive health, as well as the eyes and heart. There are plant-based foods that provide the body with ALA (one type of fatty acid), but it’s uncertain if the body can properly convert ALA to EPA and DHA at a sufficient level. Consider adding a supplement like Care/of’s Veggie Omega, which is made from algae and is specifically formulated to be easily absorbable.

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