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Do vegans need supplements?

Vegans are those who avoid eating animal products for ethical, health or environmental reasons. 

Avoiding certain food groups may lead to nutrient deficiency requiring supplementation.

But, do vegans need supplements? Let’s find out.

Although limited, there are many venues that cater to vegans.

All grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and the variety of meals formed by combining them are included in a vegan diet. 

Vegans can consume vegan hot dogs, ice cream, cheese, non-dairy yogurt, and vegan mayonnaise in addition to veggie burgers and other meat substitute items like vegan chicken dishes because many vegan versions of familiar foods are accessible.

Fermented foods are common in vegan diets as well. Tempeh, a fermented soybean product that also exists in a sprouted variant, is a whole food that can be used in place of tofu. 

Other fermented foods such as miso, kimchi, and sauerkraut are also acceptable and promoted in vegan diets.

Foods that vegans avoid

Foods of animal origin are avoided by vegans. Meat, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy, honey, and any other items containing animal-derived ingredients are avoided by vegans.

Risks of veganism

Everyone, not just vegans benefit from a well-planned diet that limits processed foods and substitutes them with nutrient-dense alternatives. 

Those following poorly planned vegan diets are particularly at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies.

According to the studies vegans are more likely to have low blood levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, long-chain omega-3s, iodine, iron, calcium, and zinc.

How to overcome these risks?

Fortified foods, particularly those high in calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, should be consumed on a daily basis. Vegans who want to improve their iron and zinc absorption might try fermenting, sprouting, and boiling their diets. 

Iron absorption can be boosted even more by cooking with iron cast pots and pans, avoiding tea or coffee with meals, and mixing iron-rich foods with a source of vitamin C.

Vegans can get their necessary daily iodine intake by adding seaweed or iodized salt to their diet.

Foods strong in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) can aid the body’s production of longer-chain omega-3s like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (DHA).

Supplements for vegans

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that is required by all cells. It’s critical for the health of nerves, blood cells, and DNA. This product is naturally present in animal foods. 

While anyone can have low vitamin B12 levels, some studies demonstrate that vegans are at a higher risk of insufficiency. This appears to be especially true for vegans who do not supplement their diet. 

Meat, dairy, and eggs are all excellent sources. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause major health problems, such as pernicious anemia.

B12 can be obtained in a variety of ways by vegetarians. Eggs and dairy products such as milk and cheese are examples.

The most researched type of vitamin B12 is cyanocobalamin, which appears to function well for most people.

Vegans can only achieve normal levels by eating B12-fortified foods or taking a vitamin B12 supplement, according to scientific evidence. Plant milk, soy products, morning cereals, and nutritional yeast are all examples of B12-fortified foods.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D serves a variety of purposes. The regulation of calcium and phosphorus intake, as well as the facilitation of regular immune system function, are perhaps the most important. 

Vitamin D is necessary for regular bone and tooth growth and development, as well as better resistance to some diseases.

Vegans and omnivores alike suffer from vitamin D insufficiency. Vegans who are unable to maintain appropriate blood levels through fortified diets or sun exposure may consider supplementation.

Iron

Iron is a nutrient that is involved in many physiologic functions. It aids in the formation of new DNA and red blood cells, as well as the transport of oxygen throughout the body. It is also required for the metabolism of energy. Anemia, as well as symptoms such as weariness and a weakened immune system, can result from a lack of iron.

There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. Non-heme iron is found in plants, whereas heme iron is only found in animal products. 

Because heme iron is easier to absorb from food than non-heme iron, vegans are often advised to consume more iron than normal. More research is however needed whether this high amount is needed or not.

Iron-rich foods, such as beans, peas, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds, should be consumed by vegans who have poor iron consumption. Foods fortified with iron, such as cereals, enriched bread, and some plant milk, can aid even more.

Calcium

Calcium is an essential mineral that serves many physiological functions. Calcium is an important mineral for the health of your bones and teeth. Muscle function, neuron signaling, and heart health are all affected by this protein.

Studies suggest that most vegans don’t get enough calcium. Vegans who don’t get enough calcium from their diet might consider taking a daily supplement. This is particularly significant for people who take less than 525 mg per day.

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that is responsible for immune function, metabolism and repair of body cells. Zinc is found in only a few plant diets. Furthermore, due to their high phytate content, zinc absorption from various plant diets is reduced. As a result, vegetarians should strive for one and half times their Recommended Dietary Allowance.

According to a recent review of 26 research, vegetarians, particularly vegans, had lower zinc intakes and somewhat lower zinc blood levels than omnivores.

Vegans who aren’t getting enough zinc should start by eating more zinc-rich foods while those who have low zinc levels in their blood should take a daily supplement.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids with a long chain perform a structural role in the brain and eyes. Appropriate dietary levels appear to be vital for brain development as well as reducing the risk of inflammation, depression, and breast cancer.

According to the study vegetarians and vegans have up to 50% lower blood and tissue concentrations of EPA and DHA than omnivores.

As vegans tend to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids therefore they may benefit from supplementing with EPA and DHA.

Conclusion

Veganism is a sort of vegetarian diet that eliminates all animal-derived foods, including meat, eggs, dairy products, and other animal-derived nutrients. 

A well-planned vegan diet may prove to be beneficial however certain nutrient deficiencies are also associated with a vegan diet. 

Vegans who are unable to achieve their daily nutrient requirements solely through diet might consider taking supplements. 


“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”

— Christian Tanobey

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