Switching from a conventional diet to veganism can feel empowering. You might be taking a stand for animal rights, putting the planet and climate activism first, or simply choosing to live a plant-based lifestyle for health reasons. All too often, the intentions for embarking on the vegan path are good. Unfortunately, many new vegans are woefully ill-prepared to meet their nutrient needs.
We all have to be on guard against nutrient deficiencies, but vegans need to be a step ahead. When vegans fail to pay attention to their mineral and vitamin needs, their newfound diet can risk having adverse effects on their well-being. Even the savviest and well-planned vegan diet may fall short from time to time – that’s where smart vegan supplements come in.
Which vitamins should you take when following a plant-based diet?
It’s important to understand which vitamins tend to be lacking in a plant-based diet. Nutrient deficiencies can impact energy levels, immunity, bone health, neurological function and more. Whether you are new to veganism or a vegan veteran – we’ve got you covered. Our Nutrition Experts have put together this definitive guide to the best vitamins and minerals for vegans.
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1. Vitamin B12
A Vitamin B12 is essential for a plant-based diet. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal foods and over 90% of vegans are deficient in this essential vitamin.
If left unchecked, a Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to permanent neurological damage and a range of other symptoms including fatigue, lightheadedness, behavioral changes and shortness of breath.
2. Vitamin D
If you get sufficient daily sun exposure, your body is likely to generate adequate levels of Vitamin D. However, it’s more likely that you don’t. Studies estimate that 77% of the US general population is deficient in Vitamin D. Research suggests that Vitamin D is important for bone health, immune system maintenance and mood.
Vegans have fewer options for Vitamin D rich foods because it’s primarily found in animal products. If you are concerned you’re not getting enough Vitamin D from the sun or your diet, supplementation might be for you.
Zinc is required for over 100 enzymes in our bodies and plays an important role in immunity, vision, cell division, DNA synthesis, wound healing and fertility. Research also suggests that Zinc may help resolve cold symptoms.
Although Zinc is found in some plant-based foods, absorption is inhibited by a molecule called phytic acid. As a result, many vegans fall short of the daily Zinc recommendations and need to rely on a supplement.
Iron is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide. It carries oxygen to tissues and cells, and Iron deficiency can lead to various symptoms such as fatigue, poor immune function, bruising and even cravings for non-food items.
Iron is found in some plant-based foods such as spinach, lentils, and beans, however, it tends to be less bioavailable than Iron found in animal products. Consequently, some vegans find themselves low or even Iron-deficient without careful meal planning. If you do decide to opt for supplementation, we suggest a vegan supplement formula enhanced with Vitamin C for improved absorption.
Consuming adequate Calcium helps protect bones as we age, ease PMS symptoms and keep blood pressure within normal limits.
Calcium is famously found in dairy products. It’s extra important for vegans who don’t consume milk and rely on less bioavailable plant-based sources of Calcium – so don’t assume you’re getting what you need through diet alone. Calcium supplementation can help vegans meet the daily calcium recommendation.
The bottom line
No two vegan diet plans or lifestyles are the same, meaning vegan vitamins need to account for these differences. We help you build a personalized plan with the right mix of essential vegan vitamins so you can thrive on your vegan diet. Start now by taking our 5 minute consultation quiz to discover your custom mix.