Veganism is one of the best ways to help the environment, benefit animals, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, dementia and obesity. However, one of the main worries when starting a vegan diet is whether or not your body will get all the necessary nutrients, and vegan supplements are a great way to get these things if you are struggling.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supplements are one of the most important vegan supplements for anyone on a plant-based diet, as it is naturally found in dirt and animal products – and I’m sure you’d rather not eat dirt. The reason animal products contain B12 is because they eat dirt - it isn’t actually produced by animals – meaning that this isn’t a reason not be vegan (sorry omnivores). This means that some plant foods do contain B12, unwashed organic produce, mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, and nutritional yeast, but vegans have a higher risk of B12 deficiency, making it an important vitamin to supplement. This deficiency can lead to anaemia, nervous system damage, heart disease, and infertility, as vitamin B12 prevents nerve damage, protects the heart, and supports your overall energy level and immune system.
Omega-3 is also essential, and is split into two categories: Essential omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) and Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development, preventing inflammation, depression, breast cancer and ADHD. There are plenty of plant-based foods that contain ALA, including flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, soybeans and walnuts, and getting enough ALA should maintain your EPA and DHA levels, as the latter are made in your body from ALA. However, it is often a struggle for vegans to make enough EPA and DHA, meaning that a vegan omega-3 supplement can be really beneficial. One of the best ways to naturally include more ALA in your diet is to put chia and/or flax seeds into smoothies, oats or pancakes – you will hardly notice them but your body will thank you for the additional nutrients.
3. Vitamin D
If you live somewhere cold and rainy like England then you will probably be aware that it is difficult to get enough vitamin D. The only way to naturally get vitamin D is by soaking up some sunshine, meaning that most of us are deficient. In fact, there have been worldwide reports of vitamin D deficiency, for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. Part of the problem causing such a huge deficiency is that very few foots naturally contain vitamin D. But why does vitamin D matter? It helps to absorb calcium and other minerals, is crucial in your muscles, heart, thyroid, pancreas and brain working, and it plays a role in your immune system. Studies have also found that it can regulate insulin production and protect against type 2 diabetes, and protect your body from certain types of cancer. If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels, or want to check them before you start taking vegan supplements then there is a simple test you can do right now:
- Press your thumb into your sternum (breastbone) with moderate pressure.
- If you experience discomfort then you may have a vitamin D deficiency, and you may want to get checked.
There are plenty of vegan supplements that you may need to take, but vitamin B12, omega-3 and vitamin D are three examples of some essential nutrients you may be lacking as a vegan (or in the case of vitamin D as a human in general). At Vegan Supplement Store all of our supplements are entirely vegan, and our range includes a ton of healthy vitamins and minerals to support your vegan diet.