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Do you eat a strict plant based diet? If so, it’s important to make sure you have your nutritional needs covered. There are specific nutrients required for good health that are found abundantly in animal products which occur less (or not at all) in plant based foods. In this case, the following supplements for vegans can be necessary to ensure you feel your best day to day.
Also known as methylcobalamin, vitamin B12 is one of the most important supplements for vegans. This is because it is found only in animal products with the exception of small amounts in fortified cereals, soy milk, nutritional yeast and energy bars. Vitamin B12 is required by the body for energy and metabolic function. With low levels of B12, it’s common to experience fatigue, depression and even numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. To prevent deficiency in a vegan diet, taking a high-quality vegan vitamin B12 supplement is necessary. Check in with a qualified healthcare practitioner to determine the proper dosage for your individual needs.
Vitamin D is best known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s synthesized from the sun and is a key nutrient for maintaining a happy mood. During the winter months in colder climates, vitamin D deficiency is a concern for everyone. For nonvegans, vitamin D is found in food sources such as egg yolks, fatty fish and some beef products. Unfortunately, there aren’t any plant based sources that contain adequate levels of vitamin D, putting vegans at a higher risk of deficiency. As you can guess, a lack of vitamin D can lead to mood disorders such as depression and may even result in a sluggish metabolism. If low levels of vitamin D are prolonged, it can lead to osteoporosis as calcium and vitamin D work together to keep bones strong and healthy.
Important note: Always read the label of your vitamin D supplement to be sure it contains no animal products as most vitamin D supplements have been sourced from sheepskin oil. If you are in search of a recommendation, AOR’s Vegan Vitamin D3 is sourced from lichen, making it one of Canada’s only vegan vitamin D supplements available.
There are two forms of iron supplements: nonheme iron and heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products such as red meat, fish and poultry. Heme iron is the most bioavailable to the body. Nonheme iron is found in plantbased foods such as dark leafy greens, seeds and legumes. If you are consuming these foods on a regular basis, you may not require an iron supplement. However, because nonheme isn’t absorbed as well as heme iron, it’s something to keep on your radar especially if you’re feeling weak and tired. Caution: Before choosing supplementation, be sure to get your iron levels checked. High levels of iron in your blood can be toxic. Our recommendation for a vegan iron supplement is Botanica’s Organic Iron.
L-carnitine is an amino acid that plays a critical role in cardiovascular health, energy levels and memory. Lcarnitine is found in large quantities in red meat, though minimal amounts are present in dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. With very few vegetarian sources of lCarnitine, this is one of the best supplements for vegans to ensure their heart health and cognitive function are not impaired. If you’re looking for a 100% vegetarian source of Lcarnitine, we recommend AOR LCarnitine Veggie Caps.
ZincThis mineral is crucial to the immune system. Zinc is found mostly in shellfish, beef and egg yolks. While zinc is present in spinach, legumes and pumpkin seeds, it doesn’t hurt to supplement with zinc as an “insurance policy” if you aren’t eating these foods each day. Zinc deficiency symptoms can manifest as hair loss, frequent illness, acne and other skin disorders. If you're looking for more vegan options, Vega has an entire line of plant-based products. Read our blog to learn more about their Vega Sport line.