5 supplements every vegan/vegetarian needs to take

Being an animal lover means not eating meat 🌿

Earlier, I was a firm believer of getting all the nutrients from foods only. As I learned nutrition in depth, I realized that sometimes food can not supply all the vital nutrition and you need a helping hand of supplements.

Vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are becoming more popular as people are becoming more compassionate and conscious about their health.

Having said that, one should understand all nutritional deficiencies and undergo health check ups annually.

Let’s look into the 5 supplements every vegan should take and understand them better.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is something, 40% people are deficient in. As vitamin B12 is generally found in animal products, vegans and vegetarian people are more prone to have this deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is responsible for helping in making the red blood cells and DNA.

If despite taking enough sleep, you always feel fatigue, your energy levels are always low, you have blurry vision, feeling depressed, having cold extremities or muscle weakness, then it’s a warning sign that you should get your B12 levels checked.

Some vitamin B12 rich sources are spirulina, chlorella and nutritional yeast. As veganism is propagating all over the world, market has come up with vitamin B12 fortified food products as well.

For getting rid of this deficiency, you need to follow a strict diet and keep your gut healthy. Because healthy gut helps in the absorption of vitamin B12. So apart from taking B12 supplements, don’t forget to take some probiotic foods too.

Calcium

Milk, cheese and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Many vegans and lactose intolerant have a hard time getting sufficient calcium.

Calcium is a vital mineral for muscles, teeth, nervous system, heart and bone. A low calcium levels can lead to impaired functions of parathyroid gland and a weak bone density.

Deprivation of calcium can lead to muscle pain and cramps, difficulty in losing weight as well as weak teeth & bone health.

Broccoli, cabbage, nuts, legumes, tofu, fortified-soybeans, juices and plant based milk are sources of calcium.

People with the lower dietary calcium intake are advised to take supplements.

Iron

Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world. Being deficient in iron will lead to anaemia and low energy levels.

Animal products contain heme iron which is easily absorbed in body so vegans and vegetarian are more concerned about their dietary intake of iron.

As plant products contain non heme iron which doesn’t get easily absorbed in the blood, vegans and vegetarians are advised to take even more iron from the food.

Some iron rich foods are green vegetables(spinach, broccoli, kale, etc), tofu, lentils, soybeans.

However, high amount of iron can lead to fatal health problems.

Nutritional tip: Iron supplements should not be taken with coffee and tea as they inhibit iron absorption in the blood. Whereas, taking vitamin C with iron rich foods can increase absorption of iron.

Essential Omega 3 fatty acids

When it comes to fats, this particular element is something you must not have to reduce in your body. It is an essential fatty acids which means body doesn’t produce it, you essentially need to take it from your diet/supplement daily.

It helps in reducing risk of cancer, controls heart disease, prevents blood clots formation and improves brain function and development.

Apart from that it is responsible in improving health of cell membrane which results in wrinkle free, soft and moist skin.

Lack of omega 3 in diet leads to dull skin, rough hair, dandruff, poor concentration and joint pain.

As rich source of omega 3 is fish, vegans and vegetarians undergo lower levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

Vegetarian sources include flax-seeds, walnuts, edamame, algae, chia seeds. However, these are not excellent sources compared to animal products. Thus, taking omega 3 supplements daily are mandatory.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin which is responsible for the absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.

Apparently, if vitamin D is insufficient in your body, whatever calcium you take is not going to get absorbed in your blood and ultimately it may lead to kidney stones and gallstones.

Weak muscles, depression, fatigue, bone ache are the general symptoms.

As rich sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs and dairy products, many vegans and lactose intolerant seem to be deficient in vitamin D.

Your body produces vitamin D by using sunlight. Taking mild sunlight during sunrise and mid morning with maximum skin exposure and without applying sunscreens can reduce risk of this deficiency.

Nevertheless, the area you live in is also important. If you’re not getting enough sun exposure for many days, taking supplements are advisable.

These days people are obsessed about getting tanned in harsh sunlight, which may cause a serious skin damage, sunburns and leads to melanoma(skin cancer).

Following a healthy diet is necessary but getting your blood tests done, checking on your deficiencies and working on them are equally important.

We often read signs and symptoms from the internet and self examine ourselves. Taking supplements on our own, without consulting our primary physician can be dangerous to our bodies. First getting your body checked before taking any supplements is sensible.

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