10 Health Supplements That Vegans Should Take
Eating a plant-based diet will fill your body with the goodness of nutrients like fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, there are a few things your vegan diet may be missing.
Limiting your food choices to only plant-based options means you might not meet the daily requirement for many beneficial nutrients. This includes Vitamins D and B12, zinc, iron, and omega-3 - all of which are essential for optimum body functionality.
Thankfully, you can make up for the lack of essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients by taking organic health supplements. Keep reading to find out what supplements you can take to maximise your daily nutrition as a vegan.
10 Health Supplements For Vegans
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall body functions. Even though the human body cannot produce this fatty acid, it is vital for heart and brain health. DHA and EPA are common types of Omega-3 and are obtained primarily from oily fish. But if you are a vegan, you can get it through plant-based sources like walnuts, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds, as they are good sources of ALA.
The human body can convert only 10% to 30% of ALA into DHA. This is why vegans often suffer from an Omega-3 deficiency. Adults require around 250 mg of Omega-3 fatty acid, which is difficult to take if you only eat plant-based food. To meet your body's DHA and EPA requirements, vegans should take Omega-3 supplements.
The role of protein in growth, performance, and recovery cannot be ignored. There are plenty of protein choices in an animal-based diet. However, chicken, eggs, fish, and other complete proteins are off-limits for vegans. You must therefore replenish your body with high-quality plant proteins instead.
Protein intake is an issue not to be taken lightly. Balancing your amino acids and proteins can help keep your energy levels high. It can also help your body build, repair, and grow. Worried you do not have enough protein choices? Well, you could opt for protein supplements. Vegan protein powder is an easy way to bump your daily consumption of proteins.
Not taking sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12 can impact your health. This is a vitamin that helps maintain the health of the nervous system and boosts the production of red blood cells. Furthermore, this vitamin can also reduce fatigue.
Unfortunately, vegetarians and vegans often miss out on this essential B vitamin because most of its sources are not vegan-friendly. The vitamin can be obtained from yeast flakes, yeast extracts, vegan spreads, vegan-friendly milk, etc. You can also increase your vitamin B12 intake by taking vitamin B12 supplements or Vitamin B12-infused chocolates daily.
Men and women need 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 every day. Note that individuals over the age of 50 must take the supplements because they absorb vitamin B12 less effectively.
Vitamin D deficiency is not something that only vegans struggle with. Most people have a shortfall of this nutrient in their bodies. Those who do not get sunshine are most at risk. Those with darker skin, people who cover up for cultural or religious reasons, or are above the age of 65 are more prone to vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D helps maintain muscle function, bone health, and daily immunity. Adults need 10 mcg of vitamin D daily. While sun exposure is the most obvious way to get vitamin D, you can also get it from fortified food, mushrooms exposed to light, and vegan vitamin D supplements.
Calcium's role in maintaining teeth and bone health is common knowledge. It is a nutrient that improves muscle functions and heart health. In addition, calcium helps the exchange of messages between the nervous system and the rest of the body.
Most adults need 1,000 mg of calcium per day, though those over 50 need to increase their intake to at least 1,200 mg. An easy way to get calcium is from dairy food. While this is great for vegetarians and omnivores, you need to look for other sources if you intend to follow a vegan diet. Plant-based sources of the mineral include broccoli, bok choy, kale, turnip greens, chickpeas, and fortified plant milk. Need some more calcium? You can take calcium supplements too.
Zinc plays many roles in the body. For example, this mineral aids cell division and carbohydrate metabolism and also helps to maintain normal vision. Overall, zinc is essential for the normal functioning of the immune system.
Men need 8.7mg of zinc daily, while women require 14.8 mg. Even though the best sources of zinc include shellfish, meat, and dairy food, you can find some vegan sources too. Plant-based zinc sources include soya, pulses, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole grains. If that is not enough, you can always have a zinc supplement daily to meet your body’s zinc requirements.
Vitamin K helps maintain bone health, heart health, and blood clotting, with vitamin K2 being considered more beneficial than the others. Thanks to all the leafy greens vegans consume, they get an abundance of Vitamin K1. However, they often do not get sufficient amounts of Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is primarily found in animal-derived foods like fermented nato, kimchi, and sauerkraut. You can reduce your risk of age-related bone loss by consuming the required dosage of vitamin K2 every day. All you have to do is take a vitamin K2 supplement. You can also go for supplements with high potency Vitamin D3 and K2, as these vitamins work better together. Vitamin D supports calcium absorption, while K2 supports the proper distribution of calcium to your bones.
Iron plays a crucial role in the formation of haemoglobin and red blood cells. Red blood cells are responsible for distributing oxygen throughout the body, so a lack of iron can disrupt normal body functionality. If you do not have enough iron in your body, you will feel fatigued, and that is why you should adopt an iron-rich diet.
The recommended daily iron intake for men is 8.7mg, while women should take 14.8mg of iron daily. This nutrient can be found in fish and meat in the form of haem iron. However, plant-based sources can only provide non-haem iron, absorption of which is difficult for the body.
So, besides eating iron-rich vegan food such as lentils, tofu, chickpeas, chia seeds, nuts, kale, and raisins, you should also aim to get some haem iron from vegan-friendly iron supplements.
Selenium is essential for thyroid hormone metabolism and DNA synthesis. How much selenium you will get from a food will depend on the selenium content of the soil it was grown on. In parts of the world where the selenium content in soil is low, vegans and vegetarians tend to have low selenium concentrations in their blood.
Vegans who eat a diverse selection of food, including beans and whole grains, are more likely to get enough selenium. However, you may benefit from taking a multivitamin supplement that contains a good amount of selenium to ensure sufficient intake.
The best way to maintain a healthy digestive tract is to include enough probiotics in your diet. Probiotics are good bacteria that can offer just the balance your gut needs. Including some fermented foods like kombucha, kimchi, miso, and tempeh in your vegan diet can help get you a good amount of probiotics. To increase your probiotic intake further, you can take probiotic supplements. When choosing probiotics, look for a supplement with higher CFU.
Even though a plant-based diet is generally healthier, keeping your meals diverse and balanced can be challenging when you eliminate all animal-derived food. Despite being richer in fibre, magnesium, and folate, a vegan diet can put you at risk of other nutrient deficiencies.
Don’t worry; you can offset the deficiencies and balance your nutrients with health supplements. Generally, vegan meals are low in omega-3, protein, vitamins B-12 and D, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, selenium, and probiotics.
Take time to get regular tests done to determine whether you are getting sufficient amounts of these nutrients. If not, you can easily replenish your body with the goodness of these nutrients by taking natural health supplements without any side effects.