Getting adequate nutrition is very important, but when you are eating a vegan diet, sometimes you don’t consume as many vitamins and minerals as you should. While it is recommended that you take vitamins, we highly suggest speaking to a doctor first and doing research on the specific brand you chose to buy. Also, reading what the vitamins contain is very important since it may contain certain things such as gelatin, casein, or animal derivate. It is important to know how taking certain supplements could affect your health if not done correctly. Here are the Top 10 Vitamins Vegans should consider taking:
Studies show that vegetarians and vegans have a higher risk of suffering from B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is important for the metabolism, nervous system, and the formation of oxygen-transporting red blood cells. Not enough B12 can lead to anemia, nervous system damage, infertility, bone and heart disease. It is important to keep in mind that vitamin B12 is supposed to be taken in small doses. The daily recommended intake is 2.4 mcg per day for adults.
Very few foods contain this vitamin and its deficiency is found in both vegans and omnivores. If you are unable to get enough from food and the sunshine, you should consider taking a daily vitamin D2 or vitamin D3. However, Studies suggest that vitamin D3 is more effective at raising blood vessels. The best way you can ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D is to have your blood levels tested.
Calcium is important for your bones and teeth, it also plays a big role in muscle function, nerve signaling and heart health. Vegans have lower calcium needs than omnivores because they do not use this mineral to neutralize the acidity produced by a meat-rich diet. However, make sure you are at least consuming 525 mg of calcium per day.
Iron is used to make new red blood cells and carry oxygen in the blood. Too little iron can lead to anemia, fatigue and decrease the immune system’s function. Before taking this vitamin it is necessary to get your hemoglobin and ferritin levels checked! Unnecessary intakes of this vitamin can do more harm than good by damaging cells and blocking absorption of other minerals.
Vegans tend to have lower blood and tissue levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. This vitamin takes a structural role in your brain and eyes; it also helps prevent inflammation, depression, and even breast cancer! A great way to avoid needing to take this vitamin is by increasing your daily intake of corn, soy, safflower, sunflower, and sesame seeds.
This vitamin is crucial for healthy thyroid function, which helps control your metabolism. Studies show that vegans have up to 50% lower blood iodine levels. If you want to avoid taking a vitamin consider eating more seaweed or even a half a teaspoon of iodized salt.
Zinc has a very important role in your immune system by helping wounds heal. Upping intake of zinc to 12-17 mg per day can help boost immunity and keep the body healthy. Adults need 8-11mg of zinc per day, but the Institute of Medicine suggests that vegans with high intakes of unrefined grains might need 50% more zinc than recommended for other adults.
Digestive enzymes, both the ones produced naturally by our bodies and the ones in supplements, play a huge role in breaking down the food we eat to absorb better and use the nutrients. New vegans can benefit from digestive enzymes especially if they are consuming more vegetables than before. Enzymes can help prevent gas and bloating that come with an increase in fiber consumption. However, consuming too many unnecessary enzymes can end in an uncommon allergic reaction.
This mineral is only needed in small amounts; it helps prevent cell damage from infection because of its antioxidant properties. It also plays an important role in reproduction, thyroid gland function, and DNA production. Just like most vitamins make sure you talk to a doctor before considering taking it.
If you follow a well-planned vegan diet, chances are you’re getting abundant amounts of most of the nutrients that a multivitamin provides. But a few nutrients may fall through the cracks, so a vegan multivitamin can help to ensure that your vegan diet doesn’t come up short. Don’t buy a multivitamin that contains iron unless your doctor recommends it based on blood work since taking in too much iron can be as hazardous as taking too little.
Keeping your body healthy and safe is just as important as keeping animals safe. Make sure you talk to your doctor about which vitamins you need to start taking as soon as possible.