The Best Vegan Supplements Every Vegan Needs to Have

The Best Vegan Supplements Every Vegan Needs to Have

A recent study performed by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in 2020 found that at least 5% of consumers follow a vegan diet. With all indications showing that this change away from the traditional diet is growing rather than slowing, there are some important aspects of the vegan diet that newcomers to the eating choices need to understand.

While some people choose the vegan diet because they are health-conscious or animal-friendly, others have turned to the lifestyle for medical reasons. Many doctors have been alarmed by the rise in heart and cardiovascular issues of late, and some have attributed it to the meat-heavy western diet. Many were turned on to the potential health benefits of a vegan diet by the highly popular documentary Forks Over Knives, which features doctors, pro athletes, organic farmers, and others who practice the vegan lifestyle. 


No matter what reason people choose to change to a vegan diet, there is no getting around that there are certain vitamins and minerals that are extremely difficult to get without animal products or meats, and some are downright impossible. Thankfully there are vegan supplements available that can help ensure that people who choose to eat vegan can utilize them to keep their health and not encounter complications that may arise due to a lack of some essential vitamins and minerals. 

What Vegans Typically Need to Supplement

The vegan diet can do wonders for your health, which is one reason that it has become so popular. A vegan diet is far higher in fiber than the traditional western diet and offers plenty of other health benefits.


A vegan diet has been shown to offer advantages to people who have the following health issues:

  • Obesity or overweight
  • Heart or cardiovascular disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Colon cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Osteoporosis

Cutting down or eliminating meat and animal products reduces the intake of saturated fats significantly, which has been shown to be directly linked to weight loss, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and can reduce one’s risk of heart disease overall.


There are some elements that are required by the human body, however, that are often plentiful or only available in animal products, such as Vitamin B12. Unfortunately, there are many out there who tell would-be vegan practitioners that a vegan, whole-food diet will easily provide everything that the body needs and will try to steer people away from supplementation, but they are doing them a disservice. 


Science has shown that several of the essential nutrients that are often touted as plentiful in the vegan diet are in a form of nutrients that are not absorbed by the human body, even though the plant versions may seem the same to those who don’t know any better. 


Let’s go through some of the essential nutrients that those who follow the vegan diet need to ensure they are getting enough of, as they can cause serious health implications if they are lacking:


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is absolutely integral to certain processes of the human body, and it is not available through plants alone. This puts vegetarians and vegans at a higher risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency. Some believe that vegan-friendly foods such as unwashed organic produce, mushrooms grown in B12-rich soil, nori, spirulina, chlorella, and nutritional yeast are rich in Vitamin B12, but science does not support that belief.


Vitamin B12 is essential to the human body for protein metabolism, the formation of new red blood cells, the health of your nervous system, and DNA synthesis. Not having enough B12 in your diet can lead to anemia (which means you don’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen in your body) or irreversible nerve damage. 


If you are vegan, you can add Vitamin B12 to your diet through the following methods:

  • Supplements
  • Fortified plant-based milk
  • Fortified meat substitutes
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
    • Nutritional yeast only contains B12 when fortified. It is also light-sensitive and may degrade if bought or stored in clear plastic containers

How much B12 do you need:

  • 2.4mcg per day for adults
  • 2.6mcg per day during pregnancy
  • 2.8mcg per day when breastfeeding

Vitamin D

Experts have warned that both omnivores and vegetarians or vegans around the world are deficient in Vitamin D, and this may be the result of a host of factors. For one, very few foods naturally contain Vitamin D, and even foods fortified with Vitamin D are often lacking in their amounts. Some experts even believe that even the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin D is severely lacking.


Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps enhance the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from your gut, and also influences your immune system, memory, mood, and muscle recovery. It is believed that humans can receive all of the daily Vitamin D that they need by spending 15 minutes in the mid-day sun, but this effect does not work if they are wearing sunscreen. This probably wasn’t an issue when our ancestors spent all of their time outside, but the office and inside culture of our present society does not often grant us as much time in the sun as we are built to receive. 


Some vegan-friendly sources for Vitamin D are:

  • Vitamin D-rich supplements 
  • Fortified plant-based milk (oat, almond, or soy)
  • Mushrooms that are grown in sunlight, or under a UV lamp
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Fortified cereals

How much Vitamin D do you need?

  • 600 IU daily for adults aged 19-70
  • 800 IU daily for adults 71 and older

*keep in mind that some Vitamin D3 supplements are made from animal products. Ensure that they are verified as vegan before you buy them.


Iron

Have you ever noticed how much blood smells like iron? That’s because it’s a significant component of it. Since your blood carries Red Blood Cells (RBCs) around your body, and it is those very RBCs that carry oxygen to the various parts of your body that need it, it is extremely important. 


While many vegan foods do contain iron, the type of iron that is contained in plants is not absorbed very well by the human body. This is another one of those vitamins & nutrients that people see are available in plants but don’t drill down enough to understand that there is a difference between plant-based and animal-based.


Plants contain non-heme iron, while animal products contain heme iron. If you are on a vegan diet, as long as you like oxygen moving through your body, it is imperative that you either get enough daily iron through supplementation or eat more plant-based iron than an omnivore would.


Some vegan-friendly sources of Iron are:

  • Beans & lentils
  • Tofu
  • Fortified bread
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Spinach & cruciferous veggies
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes

How much Iron do you need (for those following a vegan diet)?

  • Adult men aged 19-50: 16mg daily
  • Adult women aged 19-50: 36mg daily
  • All adults 51 and older: 16mg daily

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Omega-3 fatty acids are often seen as fish oil because that is typically where those who follow a non-vegan diet will ensure they are getting enough. There is one Omega-3 fatty acid called Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) that is found in some vegan foods, but like other plant-based vitamins, it is not the type that is efficiently converted by the human body. 


    Omega-3 acids are well known to provide HDLs (High-Density Lipoproteins), the “good” fats that can help keep your arteries clear and lower cholesterol, but they do more than that. Omega-3s are also used to make cell membranes, control inflammation, and play a role in the brain, eye, heart, and immune health. 


    There are two types of Omega-3 acids: essential and long-chain. ALA is the only “essential” Omega-3 because you can only get it through your diet (we have to consume it). The “long-chain” Omega-3s are Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). They are not considered essential because your body can produce these two through ALA, but it has been found that vegetarians & vegans have as little as 50% lower blood and tissue concentrations of EPA and DHA than omnivores. 


    Some vegan-friendly sources of Omega-3 are:

    • Fortified packaged foods
    • Walnuts
    • Flaxseed
    • Some plant oils
    • Chia seeds

    How much Omega-3 do you need?

    It is generally recommended by most health professionals that adults consume 2-300mg of Omega-3 fatty acids per day. Because of the growing popularity of vegetarian & vegan diets, some supplement companies will offer vegan Omega-3s that contain ALA, EPA, and DHA sourced from algae. If you are following the vegan diet, pay attention to ensure any supplements you purchase for Omega-3s are this type, and not derived from fish oil.


    Calcium

    Most people believe that calcium is only needed for the bones, and most people on a diet including dairy products believe that they get enough calcium from eating. Both are incorrect. Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for strong bones and teeth but also provides support to your body for heart health, muscle functions, and nerve signals.


    Calcium is available in plants such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, mustard greens, chickpeas, and fortified drinks, but most studies show that vegans don’t get enough calcium. Research has shown that anyone consuming less than 525mg of calcium per day is at a greater risk of bone fractures than others, and the recommended daily allowance of calcium is 1,000mg for younger adults but grows to 1,200mg per day for adults over the age of 50.


    Zinc

    Zinc is one of those minerals that is not often considered when choosing a diet and supplements, but as it affects your metabolism, repair of body cells, and immune system, it is a crucial one. People who don’t take in enough zinc through diet or supplementation can find themselves with developmental issues, diarrhea, delayed wound healing, and hair loss.


    Zinc is another mineral that, while present in some plants that could provide it through a vegan diet, the phylate content within those plants will limit its absorption. Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have lower daily zinc intake than those who eat an animal products-based diet, so it is important for vegans to ensure they are taking enough in through eating or supplementation. 


    Some vegan-friendly sources of Zinc are:

    • Nuts that have been soaked overnight
    • Whole grains
    • Wheat germ
    • Tofu
    • Sprouted breads
    • Legumes, nuts & seeds

    How much Zinc do you need?

    Adults: 8-11mg per day

    Pregnant women: 11-12mg per day

    Lactating women: 12-13mg per day


    Iodine

    Whether you eat a vegan or animal-based diet, iodine is another mineral that is not often considered when planning their meals, and most people are mistaken to believe that they get enough of it through iodized salt. Having enough iodine in your diet is important for your thyroid to function properly, which controls your metabolism and can lead to some serious diseases if it becomes undernourished. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early pregnancy can cause serious, irreversible intellectual disabilities, so it is especially important for pregnant women to pay attention to it.


    Not getting enough iodine on a daily basis can lead to hypothyroidism, which may result in low energy levels, dry skin, tingling in your hands, brittle hair, depression, and weight gain. Vegans are seen as at greater risk than others for iodine deficiency, with some studies showing that vegans may have up to 50% less iodine in their blood levels than even vegetarians.


    Some vegan-friendly sources of Iodine are:

    • Iodized salt
    • Seaweed

    How much Iodine do you need?

    Adults: 150mcg of iodine daily

    Pregnant women: 220mcg of iodine daily

    Breastfeeding women: 290mcg of iodine daily


    Creatine

    Creatine is another nutrient that is only found in animal-based foods in the human diet. While most creatine is found in the muscles, some can also be stored in the brain. Creatine gives the muscles greater strength and endurance by providing an easily accessible store of energy, but can also help to greatly increase brain function. 


    Interestingly enough, it seems that creatine supplements may have more profound effects on vegans and vegetarians than they do on meat eaters since meat eaters typically take in as much creatine as they need by having animal products in their diets. 


    Vegan-friendly creatine supplements can be found at most stores where you find supplements or online and may provide excellent benefits for both brain and muscle performance when taken in addition to a vegan diet.


    Carnosine

    Carnosine is an antioxidant that is only found naturally in animal products but plays an important role in muscle function. High levels of carnosine found in the muscles are linked to reduced muscle fatigue and increased performance, but because it’s only naturally found in animal products, vegans are likely to have deficient levels.


    Supplementation of beta-alanine can help increase the levels of carnosine found in the muscles, as your body can use this in conjunction with amino acids to produce it. By adding this to the vegan diet, you can increase your muscle mass and improve your endurance by increasing the levels of carnosine present in your muscles.


    DHA

    Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that is typically found in fatty fish, fish oil, and certain types of algae. DHA is essential for normal brain development and function, but again is not often found within the standard vegan diet. 


    A DHA deficiency can have adverse effects on mental health and brain function, especially in children, and can also cause inadequate fetal brain development in pregnant women. The human body can produce DHA from another omega-3 fatty acid ALA (which is found in flax seed, chia seeds, and walnuts), but because the process is inefficient, vegans typically have far lower levels of DHA than meat eaters.


    To ensure adequate levels of this essential omega-3 fatty acid, vegans can either supplement levels by taking algal oil supplements, or through green powders or shakes that provide the benefits derived from omega-3 sources such as spirulina.

    Picking the Right one for You

    Each of the vitamins & minerals listed above is crucial for humans to ensure they are consuming on a daily basis, but many are quite difficult to keep up with while on a vegan diet. Additionally, many supplements that may be utilized to make up the difference are also made with animal products, so even finding a proper supplement can be tricky. If you are worried about getting any of these vitamins and minerals through your diet, take care to check any supplements that you are looking at to ensure that they are vegan-friendly.

    What are the Best Vegan Supplements?

    Green Vibrance by Vibrant Health

    Rather than taking a different supplement for each of the vitamins and minerals listed above, wouldn’t it be far easier to pick up a single drink mix that contains all of them in one sitting, plus much more? 


    Green Vibrance from Vibrant Health is a fast, simple, and affordable way to get everything that your body needs in a single sitting, every day. With 2730mg of plant-based micro-nutrition, 6 different cereal grass varieties (including wheatgrass), 25 billion CFUs of probiotics from 12 different strains, 14 powerful antioxidants, and plenty of every vitamin & mineral listed above to ensure that you are getting enough every day, Green Vibrance is hard to beat.


    On top of all of that, it is gluten-free, plant-based, soy-free, Non-GMO certified, dairy free, and, of course, vegan friendly! Pick up a bottle of Green Vibrance today to ensure that you are getting everything that your body needs in one simple mix!


    Closing

    The percentage of people moving to the vegan diet in western society is steadily increasing and is already up to at least 5% of the population. This can be for a multitude of reasons, whether it be people who are forward-looking in terms of their health, those who can’t stand the idea of harming animals, or others whose doctors suggested the change for medical reasons. 


    While there are growing signs to show that greatly reducing meat consumption can do wonders for your cardiovascular health, there are certain aspects of the vegan diet that newbies need to be aware of. There are certain vitamins and minerals that are essential to the human body that cannot be found directly in the vegan diet or may be found in ways that the human body cannot properly utilize.


    For this reason, it is imperative for anyone transitioning to or just trying out a vegan diet to take these vitamins and minerals in mind when creating their diets, meal plans, and supplementation regimens. Whether it’s finding each vegan-friendly supplement listed above or getting them all in one place through a product such as Green Vibrance (listed above), practitioners of the vegan diet must find a way to get these essential nutrients into their diet.


    You wouldn’t want to switch to an entirely new diet and lifestyle for health reasons only to find that it caused you to become deficient in things that are essential to your daily life and proper body & brain functioning. We find that it’s far easier to use a single product like Green Vibrance rather than taking a dozen different pills throughout the day. The taste is great, it is far more efficient, and it provides even more benefits than those needed to be supplemented in the vegan diet.


    Whatever your choice, we salute your move to a new diet & lifestyle and hope that it finds you in excellent health and happiness!