Vegan supplements recommendations are all over the place. You need these supplements, no, you don’t need any supplements on a vegan diet. So what’s the real deal with recommendations for vegan supplements?
First, we’ll talk about protein and calcium because they’re easily met on a vegan diet. And then, we’ll discuss vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Iron.
Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are harder to find in diet – no matter what type of diet you’re on, vegan, vegetarian or meat-eating. Iron, on the other hand, is more abundant and often we consume too much of it. And this can lead to other problems we don’t think about. So without further ado, let’s dig in.
Vegan supplements recommendations #1: Protein, a vegan myth
Let’s start with protein because that’s definitely #1 myth in vegan nutrition and must-have supplements.
My mum is interested in nutrition, she knows stuff, and when I told her I went vegan, the first thing that came out of her was: “Oh my gosh, are you sure? I mean, how do you get your protein? Did you lose your muscles? How’re you feeling?”
This is the most common reply you’ll get. If you’re vegan, you probably have the knowing chuckle on your face.
Getting enough protein on vegan diet is easy.
Just to be on the same page, let’s quickly review why protein is so important for us.
Protein is required for building, maintenance and repair of our body. Protein is made of amino acids. And amino acids can be synthesized both – by the body or they can be ingested by food.
You, your body, can only make 11 of them, thus the term 9 essential amino acids. The 9 essential animo acids cannot be produced by the body. They must be obtained by the diet aka the food that you put into your mouth.
A wide spectrum of grains, legumes and vegetables can easily provide all the essential amino acids.
Another thing, you’ll often read about is intentional combining to meet you protein needs. We now know that intentional combining is not necessary to get all the amino acids. As long as your diet contains a variety of grains, legumes and vegetables you’re good to go.
At this point, we should talk about the traditional Western diet just to get the whole picture.
The average American, on a mainstream American diet, consumes about double the protein that body needs.
Double the amount! And, to be straight, animal protein is no good for your body. If you’ve read any of the previous posts, you know animal protein is high in saturated fat, really difficult on your guts.. Which is just not good for your health.
RDA, or recommended daily allowance for protein is 0.8 gram/kg of weight.
For example: if you weight 141 pounds, that is 64kg.
64kg x 0.8g/kg = 51g/day
Keep in mind that RDA are only rough recommendations. A guideline. Maybe 51g/day is too much for you. Your body is different, your lifestyle is different and you have to do your research and know your body to figure out what’s best for you.
You are one of a kind 😉 Do your research.
Vegan supplements recommendations #2: Calcium, another vegan myth
Did you know, diet high in animal protein actually pulls calcium from your bones? And so it’s actually really not that great for you. Calcium is found in dairy products, or in other words animal protein. Yes, if you eat lots of dairy products, your bones are that happy.
The China study is a great book to read, that’s showing areas in China where people who’re consuming no dairy have the lowest rates of Osteoporosis. And then, on the opposite site, people from Western countries, where they’re eating a lot of dairy, have the highest rates of Osteoporosis.
If you want to know more about connection between dairy and cancer growth – scientifically proven, stuff – watch documentaries like “Forks Over Knives” and “What the Health”.
It’s a game changes for many.
There are many good sources of calcium that can be found in a plant based diet: butternut squash, chia seeds, some seeds and nuts, soy beans and lentils, etc. Bottom line, it’s very easy to get enough calcium on a plant based diet especially if you’re eating a healthy plant based diet with limited processed foods.
Now let’s get into some things that are a little harder to get in the diet.
Not only for vegans and vegetarians, but for the general population.
Vegan supplements recommendations: Vitamin B12, the truth
Plain and simple, you cannot get enough of vitamin B12 on a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and other one-celled organisms in the small intestines of animals. When the animals eat or consume dirty food or dirty water full of bacteria their body produces vitamin B12.
Healthy, vegan diet provides an abundance of
vitamins and minerals but not vitamin B12.
Humans used to be able to do the same thing when our soil was a lot richer (some would say dirtier) and we grew our own food. From out garden to our table.
With Agricultural industry, food safety and just this entire process of getting produce from point A to point B, we started vigorously watching vegetables and making sure everything is super sterilizing, super clean and that’s how we lost the ability to produce B12 and to get it in our body.
Which brings us to why meat-eaters should pay attention to B12 as well.
As we know now, B12 is found in animals gut and that’s why meat-eaters should be OK when it comes to B12. Doing my research, I disagree with that.
Unless you have a farmer you know how he raises his livestock and all that, then the animals that were slaughtered for meat were probably treated with antibiotics their entire lives. Which means, their gut flora is dead, non-existent, fucked. Which means no B12.
So I think that we all should be taking a vitamin B12 supplement because the quality of the B12 and the amount of it is definitely reducing as time goes on.
Sources of B12 are: fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soy milk and fortified fake meats. If you don’t eat a lot of processed foods, you can definitely get enough of B12 from nutritional yeast. Most popular brand is Red Star vegetarian support formula.
If you want to get your B12 from other source, just make sure to check the ingredients list of the nutrition facts label to make sure that you’re getting an active form of the vitamin B12. The active form is called cobalamin or cyanocobalamin. So make sure you’re getting the active form so your body can absorb it.
RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micro grams per day. And again, you’re one of a kind. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding then you need to be getting a little more than that. For aging and elderly folks – you want to make sure you get enough B12 because the B12 is extremely important for your nerve health and for your blood health. All I’m saying, do your own research.
Vegan supplements recommendations: Vitamin D, needed
Vitamin D is another vitamin that everyone should take. There’re very little foods that are rich in vitamin D, so you can’t really get it with diet.
Another option is to get it from sunlight.
I believe that to get enough Vitamin D you should sunbathe for 15 minutes, each day and expose 3/4 of your body while doing so. Who does that? It’s winter and raining, and you have to work, no time to lie around exposing 75% of your body.
So yes, I think everyone should take vitamin D no matter what they eat.
RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day.
Vegan supplements recommendations: Iron, not what you’d expect
I want to talk about iron because it falls in another category – we often get too much iron than too little. And iron doesn’t wash out of your body like, for example, Vitamin C, that you just pee out.
Iron stores in your liver and can cause serious health issues if you don’t address it properly.
Iron is an important component of hemoglobin, which is the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around your body. Yes, iron is extremely important and yes, your body does need a certain amount of iron for a healthy blood cells which can be obtained from food. But beyond this rather small amount which is smaller than you probably think, it can become a really dangerous substance.
Iron overload is a lot more common in
America than iron deficiency.
Iron in excess can act as a catalyst, a helper for the formation of free radicals which can cause cancer cells in your body.
A lot of research has shown that high iron amount in your blood can increase cancer risk. So do your own research and find what feels good for you but be aware that once excess iron is absorbed by your digestive tract the body stores it.
Iron overload is a lot more common in America than iron deficiency. So I don’t think you should take iron supplements, unless something special is going on with your body and you talked it through with your doctor.
To know where you’re at with your iron, get blood work done. Simply go to your doctor, tell him you want a full blood work profile done to see what’s happening. Then you can go from there.
If you eat a varied, healthy plant based diet that include lots of whole foods and you’re not just eating the same thing every day or a bunch of junk all the time, I really don’t believe it’s necessary to keep close track of your iron intake.
Vegan supplements recommendations
My recommendation for vegan supplements is vitamin B12 supplement and Vitamin D supplement.
You’ll see that every single vitamin B12 supplement has a much higher amount of B12 than the RDA of 2.4 micro grams. As far as I know, there’s no toxicity with higher amount so you don’t need to be worried about that.
Finding vegan vitamin D can be tricky. You’ll need to read ingredients label and sometimes even contact manufacturer. Most vitamin D supplements, more specifically D3, are obtained from sheep’s wool and being vegan that’s a no – no. Sometimes D3 is obtained from lichen, which is vegan-friendly.
However, Vitamin D2 is always suitable for vegans.
You don’t need protein, calcium or iron supplements.
And please, pleeeease, don’t trust everything that you read on the web. And to be fair, don’t trust me, I’m only speaking from my experience and the research I did.
I’m not going into details on purpose, because I want you to get interested, because I’m a strong believer in doing your own research. Find information that vibe with you. Information that you believe in. You have the responsibility to your body and it’s on you to leech out the truth over bullshit.
And sometimes it’s impossible to figure it out, because you find yourself in a grey area – that’s the case with dietary supplements.
These are my 2 vegan supplements recommendations that I believe everyone should take.
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If you have any questions, want to share your experience or just chat on this topic, write a comment below. I’d love to hear your point of view!
Till next time,