Though the vegan lifestyle is very healthy, there are still nutrients vegans may not be getting. Below are four supplements vegans should consider taking.
While Vitamin B12 is found in breakfast cereals, plant milks, soy products, and yeast, it is commonly believed that both vegans and omnivores do not take in enough Vitamin B12 on a daily basis (2.4 mcg per day for adults who are not pregnant or breastfeeding).
Vitamin B12 protects the body from anemia, nervous system damage, infertility, bone and heart disease.
Finally, do not fall for the urban legend stating that unwashed organic produce is a reliable Vitamin B12 source because those beliefs are unsubstantiated.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg per day for adults under the age of 50 and 1,200 mg per day for those over 50. Bok choy, kale, broccoli, chickpeas, select tofu, and fortified plant milks and juices are calcium sources for vegans.
It is yet to be proven if vegans require less than the RDA of calcium because calcium is not needed in their bodies to neutralize the acidity of a meat-rich diet. Therefore, vegans should consider a supplement to help them reach the RDA since it is commonly believed that many only get half of the RDA with their diets.
Vitamin D goes hand-in-hand with calcium because it enhances the absorption of calcium in the stomach. The RDA of calcium for children and adults is 15 mcg per day while the elderly should get 20 mcg per day. Few foods naturally contain Vitamin D, and it is commonly believed that vegans and omnivores do not eat enough of the fortified foods to get the RDA. As a result, supplements are recommended.
Iron intake is typically associated with consumption of meat, but there are vegan sources such as cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, dried fruit, and iron-fortified cereals and breads. Insufficient iron intake can lead to anemia, fatigue, and impaired immunity. Adult women (who are not pregnant) need 18 mg per day while adult men and postmenopausal women require 8 mg each day.
In all cases, a person adopting a vegan diet should consult with his or her doctor to determine if additional supplements may be necessary. The doctor may order blood tests to serve as a baseline of nutritional and supplemental needs. A vegan protein powder containing additional vitamins and minerals may be an alternative to consider and should also be discussed with the doctor.