As we discussed on one of our latest blog posts, following a vegan diet can have great benefits for your health! But cutting out certain foods from your diet can lead to nutrient deficiencies if not done carefully, so today we’ll go over some of the best supplements for a vegan diet.
Very important note before we proceed: before making any big dietary changes, be sure to do some good research and talk to your doctor!
Top supplements for a vegan diet:
1. Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 might be the most important supplement to consider taking when following a vegan diet. It plays a huge role in the formation of red blood cells and metabolizing proteins. It is also a key player in supporting a healthy nervous system!
And unfortunately, vegans are at a higher risk of deficiency since there are not many plant-based sources of Vitamin B-12. So talking to your doctor about supplementing your plant-based diet can be a great idea to ensure a balanced nutrition.
Plant-Based Sources of Vitamin B-12
- Nutritional Yeast
- Some fortified cereals and nut milks
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another great supplement for a vegan diet since it aids the body’s absorption of other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. Not to mention that it is also a key to regulate your mood and support your immune system.
Very few foods contain Vitamin D. And most of them are from animal products like fatty fish and eggs. So it’s very common for people following a vegan diet to have some level of Vitamin D deficiency!
Sun exposure is a great way to boost our Vitamin D levels, regardless of your diet. However, especially during the winter months, relying on the sun alone can be hard. So it could be beneficial to get your blood levels tested and talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking a Vitamin D supplement.
Plant-Based Sources of Vitamin D
- Fortified cereals
- Fortified nut milks
- Fortified orange juice
- Some mushrooms grown in sunlight
Iron is a crucial nutrient to support healthy blood cells and oxygen transportation throughout the body.
There are two types of Iron: Heme and Non-heme
- Heme Iron only comes from animal sources
- Non-heme Iron comes from plant-based sources
Heme iron however, is usually easier for our body to absorb, meaning that some people following a vegan diet might need to get their blood levels tested to ensure their Iron levels are high enough.
Nonheme iron is still great for our body and vegans who eat enough of these foods might not need to supplement their diet. It is also beneficial to combine your iron-reach foods with a Vitamin C source to optimize absorption. Some great Vitamin C plant-based sources include: kale, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, raspberries and plenty of other veggies and fruits.
- Dark leafy greens
- Whole grains
- Fortified cereal
- Fortified nut milks
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a great source of healthy fats to support your immune system and gut health while also lower your risk of chronic diseases.
There are 2 types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids must come from your diet. There are both animal and plant-based sources of these.
- Long chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also be produced from your body from the consumption of Essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids. But most dietary sources come from animal products like fatty fish and other seafood.
It is important to talk to your doctor about the need to supplement your diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids if following a plant-based diet to ensure a balanced nutrition
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Oils (Olive oil, flaxseed oil, canola oil, etc.)
Bottom line: This is a basic guideline to help you understand how you can support a healthy, balanced, and nutritious vegan diet. But it’s important to talk to a professional before making any big dietary changes to ensure you are not missing out or overdoing it on any important nutrients.