Whether you will receive adequate minerals and vitamins for your body from a vegan diet is a common concern. People have made numerous claims that plant-based, whole food diets contain sufficient nutrients for your daily needs. Some even go as far as to suggest avoiding consuming supplements. Regardless of their good intentions, it can cause more harm than any possible good. This article lists five essential supplements vegans should be aware of.
Vegetables abundant in Vitamin B12 are mushrooms grown in B-12 rich soil, unwashed organic produce, spirulina, nori, nutritional yeast, and chlorella. Several people believe that individuals on a vegan diet who are consuming an adequate amount of food do not require any supplements, but no scientific paper supports this claim.
Various studies found that although vitamin B12 level deficiency could be found in anyone, vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk and are incredibly accurate in vegans who are not on supplements.
Vitamin B12 is vital for numerous functions of your body, such as the formation of oxygen-transporting red blood cells, the health of your nervous system, and protein metabolism.
Lack of vitamin B12 is harmful to your body as it can cause infertility, heart disease, system damage, and bone disease.
The scientifically documented method for individuals following vegans’ diet is through consumption of vitamin B12 supplements or B12 fortified foods. Common examples of B12 fortified food include soy products, plant milk, nutritional yeast, and breakfast cereals.
A few of the plant foods contain a type of B12 vitamin naturally, but it is still debatable whether this type is active in humans. There is no scientific support for unwashed organic produce is a dependable source for B12 vitamins.
It is also vital that you keep noting that a small dosage of Vitamin B12 is taken ideally.
Besides, people’s capability to absorb B12 vitamins reduces by age. Hence, the Institute of Medicine advocates the consumption of vitamin B12 supplements for those above the age of 51, regardless if you’re a vegan or not.
Vitamin D aids in strengthening the absorption of phosphorus and calcium from your gut; it also impacts other body functions such as memory, mood, muscle memory, and immune function.
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for Vitamin D for adults and children is 15 mcg (600 IU) each day. Pregnant, lactating women and the elderly should get 20 mcg (800 IU) for each day. Although some research suggests, the actual requirements are far greater than this.
Regrettably, not many foods naturally hold vitamin D, and those fortified with Vitamin D are considered insufficient for daily needs.
Vegans can check if they’re getting the required amount of Vitamin D through blood tests.
Zinc is a crucial mineral required for immune functions, metabolism, and repair of the body cells.
Lack of zinc in your body can lead to diarrhea, hair loss, as well as delay in healing from wounds. A small amount of plant foods carries a high amount of zinc, and zinc absorption from some plants is bounded due to its phytate content. Hence, vegetarians are recommended to target 1.5% times the RDA.
To maximize the amount of zinc intake per day, consume various foods rich in zinc, such as wheat germ, grains, tofu, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Vegans worried about their daily zinc intake can consider zinc citrate consumption or zinc gluconate, which offers 50-100% of the RDA.
The thyroid controls your metabolism; therefore, it is critical to have enough iodine. In most cases, irreversible intellectual disabilities occur due to iodine deficiency in early childhood or pregnancy. Simultaneously, it causes hypothyroidism in adults, leading to various symptomatic problems like feeling low in energy, depression, weight-gain, dehydrated-skin, and tingling sensation in the palms. Vegans are at a higher risk of insufficient iodine intake; studies reveal that vegans have about 50% of low blood iodine levels as opposed to vegetarians.
On average, an adult requires 150 mcg of iodine per day, pregnant women up to 220 mcg/day, while lactating mothers up to 290 mcg/per day.
Vegans feed on a plant-based diet, but the iodine levels in plants keep fluctuating as the level of iodine in plants mostly depends on the soil it was grown in. For instance, vegetations near the sea-belt are high in iodine levels. Foods with a higher amount of iodine are seaweeds, dairy products (the ones that use iodine-based solutions to clean cows and farm equipment), seafood, and sea-salt. Although many vegans avoid consuming dairy products and seafood, then they should consider consuming iodine supplements.
In a nutshell, half a tsp of iodized salt is more than enough to meet your daily requirement.
Iron is the primary nutrient that carries oxygen in your blood and is responsible for making DNA and RBCs. It is also required to maintain adequate energy levels in your body. Lack of iron leads to low immunity, anemia, insomnia, and fatigue. Adults should consume 8 mg of iron a day. It goes up to 18 mg for growing women and 27 mg a day for pregnant ladies.
Iron is usually found in two forms: heme and non-heme. Animal products consist of heme iron, while plants have non-heme iron.
Since heme iron is readily absorbed from food than non-heme, vegans should consume 1.8 times the standard RDA. However, more research is required around it to prove the case. Nonetheless, vegans should consume iron-rich foods like black beans, spinach, beetroot, pomegranate, raisins, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, and seeds. Cooking in cast-iron utensils also boosts iron levels naturally in the food. Adding iron-loaded foods with vitamin C can work wonders in absorbing iron.
The other thing you could do is get your CBC or hemoglobin and ferritin levels tested by your physician to determine whether you are required to take iron supplements or not. Restrict yourself from taking off the shelf iron supplements to do more harm than good by causing blockages in the cells. Significantly high levels of iron can cause convulsions, leading to organ failures or even coma.
Vegan diets planned carefully will help fulfill your daily nutritional requirements. However, certain nutritional requirements can be tough to achieve through diet and fortified foods alone. Supplements are a great addition to any vegan diet.