Veganuary: What Supplements Do I Need?

vegetable box.

If you're trying Veganuary or a long-time Vegan who like me isn't strict with their supplement intake, here is a very simple list of the recommended supplements and daily doses required.

You can then either opt for a daily multi-vitamin or individual tablets/sprays/drops which have much higher dose, tending to almost reach your daily requirement when taken individually.

It goes without saying that I am not a nutritionist or health expert and you should undertake your own research, however the below requirements have been taken from the NHS website.

Recommended supplements for a vegan diet and how much you need per day (adults): 

  • Calcium - 700mg
  • Iodine - 0.14mg
  • Iron - 8.7mg men, 14.8mg women up to 50 and 8.7mg women over 50
  • Omega 3 - 500mg and ensure it contains EPA and DHA types
  • Vitamin B12 - 1.5 microgram (ug)
  • Vitamin D - 10 micrograms (ug) (Not usually required during May-September)
  • Zinc - Men 9.5mg and 7mg women

The below information has been taken The Independent.

Calcium

Usually found in high quantities in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, calcium is a key one for vegans to supplement to help maintain strong bones and prevent blood clotting.

“Sources such as kale, dried figs and almonds all count towards the 700mg/day that is required in the body, but there are many calcium fortified foods available; calcium-set tofu, calcium-fortified milk and bread.” 

Iodine

“Iodine can often be forgotten but it is key for your body,” says Lambert, “as it is used to make thyroid hormone.” As a key metabolic regulator, a deficiency in iodine can weaken the immune system and lead to an enlarged thyroid gland. It also happens to be one if the most common nutrient deficiencies in the world, affecting nearly one-third of the population, Lambert claims.

Iodine can be found naturally in cranberries, strawberries, seaweed.

Iron

As an essential central component of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, an iron deficiency can cause anemia which can lead to fatigue and poor functioning of the immune system, Lambert explains.
There are two types: heme and non-heme. “A vegan diet will only include non-heme diet as its plant-based opposed to heme iron,” she adds. “Key sources of non-heme iron are broccoli, spinach, soy beans, and tofu.”

Omega 3

There are three different types of Omega 3 fatty acids, Lambert explains: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Unlike other nutrients, these cannot be made in the body and therefore must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

Crucial to healthy brain function and nerve health, Lambert says the best vegan sources are nuts and seeds, which mostly contain ALA. However, these can take longer to be fully absorbed and therefore supplementing with a tablet is advisable to ensure you’re getting enough.

Vitamin B12

Fundamental to the functioning of a healthy nervous system, this is a crucial one for vegans as B12 is only found in animal products such as eggs, meat or fish, explains leading Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert. However, it is occasionally added to plant-based foods, such as nutritional yeast. When not supplemented properly, a deficiency can lead to heart problems and complications during pregnancy, she added.

Vitamin D

During the chilly winter months, it’s not just vegans who could do with some vitamin D, which is typically obtained via sun exposure. It’s extremely important for bone health and immune system function, says Lambert.

Zinc

Not many plant-based foods actually contain zinc (small amounts are found in chickpeas), so it’s advisable to supplement via tablets if possible as the micronutrient is crucial for boosting metabolism, hormone production and immune function. It can also help the breakdown of carbohydrates, Lambert adds.
The best plant-based sources are nuts, seeds and legumes.

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