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Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscle function. When there isnt adequate sunlight or spend lots of time indoors, we need to get plenty of vitamin D from our diet. Aside from sun exposed mushrooms and fortified foods, vitamin D doesnt occur in a vegan diet. Most people benefit from a supplement in winter months and vegans should prioritize this.
Calcium occurs in plant-based foods but is usually bound to another compound that makes it difficult to absorb. People on vegan diets typically have lower bone mineral density than meat eaters which increases the risk of fractures. It is therefore vital to ensure that calcium intake is optimized either through fortified foods or a supplement.
3d rendered illustration of a jogger’s knee.
Zinc is an essential nutrient for almost all the vital functions in your body because of the key role in protein formation. This means that DNA, collagen and essential immune functions cant happen without adequate zinc. Although there is zinc in plant foods, it is much harder for our bodies to absorb. Fermented soya, whole grains and nuts are the best vegan sources.
Iodine is required to regulate our metabolic rate through thyroid function and is essential for fertility. Iodine mainly comes from dairy and fish. Some plants grown in iodine rich soil can be good sources but this is unreliable. An iodine supplement or plenty of iodine fortified foods is advisable.
Foods high in omega three, studio shot.
Do You Need To Be 100% Vegan
For the environment and for your health you do not need to be 100% vegan. For some a vegan diet is very restrictive and can lead to disordered eating. A new term has sprung up recently called flexitarian! This means some one who mainly eats a plant based diet but will have some meat occasionally and animal products. Being a flexitarian means you will be reducing the amount of meat you eat which will help the environment.
Whatever diet you decided to choose then it needs to be suitable and sustainable for you. If you choose to be vegan and manage it well then it is great for your health and the environment. If this is too difficult, but you still want to make changes for your health and the environment then make small sustainable steps:
- Start off by trying to have one vegetarian meal a week
- Cut down on your red meat and replace this with beans or lentils.
- Try more plant based protein foods in your diet
- Making plant based protein foods more normal in the familys diets
- Try some fortified soya milk if you use a lot of dairy products
- Try not to waste your food
- Only buy and cook what you think you will eat
- Try a local fruit and veg box delivery.
There are so many restaurants offering vegan / vegetarian foods and lots of cook books to get you started. So instead of making a major diet change for a month and then going back to your usual ways, how about making your sustainable diet changes for the rest of the year.
More information to read:
Do I Need A Special Diet If I Exercise
You don’t need a special diet for exercising if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. The advice about exercising is the same for vegetarians and vegans as it is for non-vegetarians who exercise regularly.
Most vegetarians have enough protein in their diet for the body to grow and repair itself. If you exercise regularly, make sure you eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, such as rice and pasta for energy, and drink enough fluids when exercising harder.
Read about food for sport and exercise.
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What Vitamins Do You Need To Supplement If You Are Vegan
All vegans should strongly consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement and most would also benefit from also taking a vitamin D, iodine and omega-3 supplement.
Iron, calcium, folate, zinc, choline and selenium are additional supplements you may want to consider taking in special circumstances.
Examples include during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, or if you specifically avoid certain types of foods due to allergies, intolerances or dietary dislikes.
Vegan Supplements: Dha And Epa
The Essential Background
Weve all heard of the importance of Omega-3s for vegans, but we dont often hear that not all Omega-3s are created equal.
Omega fatty acids from flax or chia seeds the ALA kind are an amazing addition to your plate, but vegans may not adequately consume other forms namely DHA and EPA, which are critical for cardiovascular and brain health.
Omega-3s play a key role in nearly every cell of your body. As such, a daily intake of these essential fatty acids is critical for optimal functioning from regulating your cholesterol levels to powering your nervous system.
One of the most important functions which we are just recently beginning to appreciate is controlling the low-grade, systemic inflammation that is tied to many chronic diseases, like Alzheimer disease. Some of the strongest evidence, however, relates to the benefits in preventing and treating heart disease.
Why They Matter for Vegans
Fish consume micro-algae and other marine plants, and these species of seaweed are the root source of high-quality EPA and DHA. Those compounds are then deposited in the fishs fat deposits. Thats why folks looking for a supplemental source Omega-3s take fish oil capsules. Its not that fish uniquely produce DHA or EPA its that fish eat Omega-3-rich seaweed.
How to Get Vegan Supplements: DHA & EPA on a Vegan Diet
How Much Vegan Supplements Do You Need
So how much should you consume?
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Vitamin B12 And Vegan Diets
B12 is an exceptional vitamin. It is required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin. Ten micrograms of B12 spread over a day appears to supply as much as the body can use. In the absence of any apparent dietary supply, deficiency symptoms usually take five years or more to develop in adults, though some people experience problems within a year. A very small number of individuals with no obvious reliable source appear to avoid clinical deficiency symptoms for twenty years or more. B12 is the only vitamin that is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a varied wholefood, plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, together with exposure to sun. Many herbivorous mammals, including cattle and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria in their own digestive system. B12 is found to some extent in soil and plants. These observations have led some vegans to suggest that B12 was an issue requiring no special attention, or even an elaborate hoax. Others have proposed specific foods, including spirulina, nori, tempeh, and barley grass, as suitable non-animal sources of B12. Such claims have not stood the test of time.
Why B12 Probably Isnt Enough
The fact is that not all nutrients come from plants.
Or, to be more specific, there are essential nutrients not abundantly available from plants others that may not be adequately absorbed from plant-sources , and still others that may exist as part of certain plant foods, but are not commonly consumed as part of a Western plant-based diet .
My hope is not to convince you to take a vegan supplement. Rather, its to encourage you to be thoughtful about what nutrients youre regularly consuming and which ones you might not be, and to convince you that complementing your plant-based diet with a handful of essential nutrients is critical for your health.
Why do I say complement rather than supplement?
A complement is defined as a thing that completes or brings to perfection. This is not about adding more of the nutrients that you already derive from plant-based foods .
Instead, its about complementing your intake of plants with the essential nutrients that are not found in the most commonly consumed plants .
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What About The Omega
Chia seeds and flax seeds, in particular, have abundant ALA, which the body can convert to EPA and DHA. Walnuts and hemp seeds also provide ALA.
But whether youre getting enough depends on the amount of ALA youre consuming, your conversion efficiency, and your bodys particular needs.
Considering how critically important EPA and DHA are to human health, supplementation is probably a good idea for most people and especially for those who dont eat consistent amounts of salmon, sardines, or other high-fat fish.
How much do you need? Theres no official recommendation, but most experts suggest a minimum of 250-500 mg combined EPA and DHA each day for healthy adults.
Do You Need To Take Supplements On A Vegan Diet
In the U.S, the CDC notes that nearly 10 percent of people have a nutritional deficiency. Across the pond, in the UK, the NHS has referred to malnutrition as a common problem that affects millions. If youre not eating a balanced variety of healthy foods, vitamin deficiency is a risk, whatever lifestyle you follow . Lets look at what nutrient deficiency is, whether we can get important vitamins from food, and examine: Do vegans need supplements?
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Carleigh Bodrug Plant You
The most important supplement I rely on as a vegan is Vitamin B12. This is because Vitamin B12 is not produced by plants, so the only way of getting it is through a supplement or fortified foods.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods or bacteria. Animals get this B12 by eating foods covered in bacteria, or the bacteria that lines their intestines.
Prehistoric people never got B12 deficiency because they didnt have the hygiene standards we have today. Their food had enough bacteria on its surfaces, and subsequently, B12 even if they were eating a plant-based diet.
As weve evolved to clean, wash, and cook our foods, our risk of B12 deficiency has increased.
Eating a plant-based diet without supplementing B12 poses a very serious risk of B12 deficiency and can cause anemia, nerve damage, neurocognitive changes, and even paralysis. Every single person who is vegan or vegetarian should be taking a B12 supplement.
The most reliable way to ensure you are getting adequate B12 is through a daily oral supplement. The average person needs 250 micrograms per day. Vegan foods like cereal and almond milk are often fortified with B12, but to me, the risk of deficiency is too great.
What To Check For In A Supplement For Vegans And Vegetarians
Getting the right supplements is about making sure you are getting the nutrients you need in the right form, quantity and quality. Heres a quick checklist:
- The Right Form – choose supplements that are in the most effective form of the ingredient your body needs Vitamin D3 and Omega-3 DHA and EPA are two such examples
- Quantity check the contents of the supplement how much of your daily allowance are you really getting in a supplement?
- Quality choose supplements that have been tested and thoroughly researched for the most effective way to store and combine ingredients. Some multivitamin formulas can actually cancel out the effects of each other
- Vegan Society and Vegetarian Society approved this is a badge of honour choose supplements that have been approved by these societies to ensure quality and animal free products
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Shena Jaramillo Peace And Nutrition
The most important supplement I rely on as a vegan is B12.
This is a supplement that is found naturally only in animal products. It is very difficult to get B12 the vegan diet without supplementation or fortified products.
B12 is a critical water-soluble vitamin necessary for nerve function and DNA synthesis.
What Are The Health Benefits Of A Vegetarian Diet
A vegetarian diet can be very healthy, but your diet won’t automatically be healthier if you cut out meat. Like everyone, vegetarians need to make sure they:
- eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
- base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
- include some dairy or dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts
- eat some beans, pulses, eggs and other proteins
- choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- drink plenty of fluids the government recommends 6 to 8 cups/glasses a day
If you choose foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt or sugar, have them less often and in small amounts.
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Larisha Campbell Make It Dairy Free
The most important supplement to us is b12.
There are many health benefits to making sure that your B12 levels do not fall in deficiency ranges such as energy levels, improving mood, and helping with red blood cell levels.
Since most B12 sources are not vegan, it was important to us to find a vegan b12 supplement.
I wanted to share my favorite supplement is pea protein.
I use unflavored pea protein to add not only to smoothies, but to soups, beans when I cook them, oatmeal, and even baked good recipes.
Its a wonderful way to get an extra boost of plant-based protein, and using unflavored, straight up pea protein allows it to be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
How We Get Enough Vitamin D Following A Plant
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones because it helps us absorb and retain calcium, for healthy teeth, its important for muscle function, for keeping the heart and cardiovascular systems
working, brain development, immune system, and we could go on. But and its a big but Public Health England tells us that most of us arent getting enough Vitamin D in the UK because of a lack of sunlight throughout the year. Now it is found in some food sources, but when it comes to vegetarian and vegan diets, the key thing is the type of Vitamin D in your diet. Chris explains:
We hear about Vitamin D2 and D3. Now, Vitamin D3 traditionally is an animal-source vitamin D, so thats why its not suitable for vegans or vegetarians. The problem is that Vitamin D2 is very different to Vitamin D3. The easiest way to explain it is that Vitamin D2 is an analogue of Vitamin D, which means when it goes into the body it needs to be converted to behave like Vitamin D. Some data published suggested that Vitamin D2 is nearly 90% less effective than Vitamin D3. Thankfully there is now a source of vitamin D3 that is 100% plant source.
Chris Smith – Vegetology
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Will Evaluate Whether National Dietary Guidelines Should Be Changed
But is it right for a national body to recommend a diet where supplements are essential to avoid illness? A viewer asked this question during the digital launch.
Linda Granlund, division director for public health and prevention at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, said that the directorate will look at this issue.
Weve now received this report from the Norwegian National Council for Nutrition and will assess to what extent and whether this should affect our dietary advice. We will look at this during the current reassessment of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations, she said.
The Only 2 Supplements I Take Now
1. Complement Plus Vegan Essential Nutrients
After I learned about the handful of nutrients that most vegans should supplement with , I was frustrated to find that there was no way for me to get all of these nutrients and only these nutrients from a single source.
Sure, I could take a normal multivitamin and add a DHA/EPA supplement, but I dont want any more of whats in a normal multivitamin than I get from my food! Even vitamins which were long thought to be safe in high doses have turned out not to be as an example look at vitamin A, which has been linked in large doses to cancer.
My plant-based diet provides me with plenty of most nutrients its just the ones detailed above that Im missing. Specifically:
Since a single source of all of these, and only these, didnt exist, I invented one. Its a vegan multivitamin called Complement Plus . Check it out and consider whether it could help you like it has my family, and thousands of others.
I try to get a mix between fresh and ground. So each day, Ill either eat a quarter-inch slice of fresh turmeric alongside my salad or a basic ground turmeric capsule.
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How Can I Get Enough Iron
Although meat is the best source of iron, other good sources include:
- pulses, such as beans, lentils and peas
- dried fruit, such as raisins
- dark-green vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli and spring greens
- wholegrains, such as brown rice and brown bread
- cereals fortified with iron
As long as you remember to regularly include these foods in your diet, you should be getting enough iron.
Adult men need about 8.7mg of iron a day, and women need about 14.8mg a day. Women over 50 years of age need 8.7mg of iron a day.
What Is A Nutrient Deficiency
Nutritional deficiencies occur when the body isnt getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral. Deficiencies can cause a number of health problems they can stunt growth, cause hair loss, and even contribute to serious medical conditions, like dementia.
Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting more than 25 percent of people. Severe iron deficiency can cause anemia, which can lead to heart problems, issues during pregnancy, such as premature births, and delayed growth and development in children. Vitamin D deficiency is also common, as is B12 and calcium deficiency. One study found that fewer than 15 percent of teenage girls and fewer than 22 percent of teenage boys in the U.S. have enough calcium in their diet.
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