Supplements You May Need If You Are Avoiding Animal Foods
Going vegan or following a plant-based diet can be a great health choice. However, it can also make it difficult to get the right level of nutrients. Our bodies are designed to take in vitamins and minerals from a wide variety of food sources. So, when you cut any of these food sources out, it’s going to leave a nutritional gap.
Here, you’ll discover some of the main supplements you may need if you are following a vegan or plant-based diet.
Arguably the most important vitamin supplement vegans should take is vitamin B12. Studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have the biggest risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. This can lead to anemia, infertility and nervous system damage.
In order to top up their levels, vegans are advised to consume foods with added B12. Supplements can also work well; just be sure to pay attention to the strength before trying them.
Another thing that vegans are often lacking in is omega 3s. These essential fatty acids are required by the body to keep the brain and eyes healthy. They are largely found in foods such as oily fish, which is why vegans often don’t get enough.
You can try to boost your intake naturally by consuming flax seeds, soybeans and walnuts. However, supplements are usually required to keep levels adequate.
While vitamin D deficiencies are largely caused by a lack of natural sunlight exposure, it can be related to diet too. Some foods do provide vitamin D in small quantities. However, as vegans generally have a relatively restricted diet, getting any form of vitamin D from food is a lot harder than it is for those who eat animal products.
Taking a vitamin D supplement can therefore ensure you don’t develop a deficiency.
Iron deficiency is quite common, and it occurs more frequently in vegans due to the restricted diet. This is because there are two types of iron that the body needs: heme iron and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is only found in animal products, whereas non-heme is found in plants. So, vegans will only get one source of iron, leaving them deficient in heme iron. The type of iron they do get from plants is also harder for the body to absorb. So, as a vegan you do need to consume more non-heme iron foods to make up for the deficiency. Supplements can prove invaluable at keeping iron levels topped up.
Finally, many vegans would benefit from taking calcium supplements. As most sources of calcium come from animal products, it’s easy to not get enough in a vegan diet. If you aren’t getting enough, a calcium supplement is important. It helps to protect the teeth and bones, making it crucial for our overall health.
Although vegans and those who are following a plant-based diet aren’t guaranteed to suffer with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, they are at a greater risk. The above are some of the main vitamin and mineral supplements vegans may need to take to keep their levels topped up.
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