Tuesday 30 April 2019

6 Important Supplements Every Vegan Should Take

Guest article by Dr. Charles-Davies, a medical doctor who loves to share health information and runs 25doctors.com.

A vegan diet has its advantages; it can help to maintain a healthy weight, lower the risk for kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, colorectal cancer, and heart disease. Vegans rely heavily on consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains - a diet that is very beneficial in providing fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamin A, C, E, folate, and minerals like potassium and magnesium

Now, the truth is that a standard vegan diet alone does not take care of all the body’s nutritional needs. If you adopt veganism, you need nutritional supplementation to stay healthy. You also need to speak to your doctor and dietitian to properly give you all the health information you need about your dietary choice.

Supplements For Veganism

Here are some nutritional supplements that you could take as a vegan if you want to stay healthy and enjoy the benefits of your dietary choice:

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. The body can store it in the liver for up to 4 years and urinates the extra. It is structurally the most complex and largest vitamin. This is the most important supplement in the list to consider.

Vegans should take B12 fortified foods or supplements derived by bacterial fermentation-synthesis. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 2.4 mcg per day, whereas pregnant women need 2.6 mcg and lactating women 2.8 mcg.

To identify the deficiency of vitamin B12 look for signs of confusion, depression, memory problems, tingling sensation, insensitivity to pain, fatigue, constipation, and loss of appetite.

Dietary sources for vegans include fortified cereals, grains, bread, and plant-based milk. Sprinkling nutritional yeast or spirulina on popcorn, potatoes, pasta, and salads will help to provide.
Taking high potency tablets - 2000 mcg once a week or 25 to 100 mcg daily is also a reliable source.

2. Omega -3S

Omega – 3 Fatty Acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are of three types – ALA, EPA, and  DHA.
ALA can be obtained from plant oils but DHA and EPA are mostly derived by consuming marine life, eggs, and krill.

These compounds are mainly essential for proper brain functioning as DHA supports grey matter in the brain. It has its role in neurodevelopment, cognition, treating various mental illnesses like ADHD, depression and bipolar disorder. Other roles include reducing autoimmune and allergic exacerbations.

Minimum consumption of 250-350 mg combined EPA and DHA is recommended daily.
 The sources of ALA include chia seeds, hemp seeds, Brussels, soybeans, walnuts, flaxseeds, and leafy greens.

DHA and EPA are mainly supplemented by the algae that act as a source for the fishes. You can pick up on these supplements.

3. Calcium/ Vitamin D

Vitamin D and Calcium act as a unit.
Calcium is one of the top 5 minerals required by the body. About 99% of Calcium makes up the bones. The rest of it is required for muscle contraction, blood clotting, maintaining normal heart rhythm, enzymatic functions and maintaining teeth.

Vitamin D which can also be regarded as a hormone that helps to absorb Calcium. It has its role in body immunity, anti-inflammatory lung benefits, treating kidney disease, depression, and weight maintenance.

The deficiency symptoms of these two may include fatigue, catching frequent infections, pain in the lower back or legs, easy fractures, impaired wound healing, hair loss, and frequent muscle sores.

Recommended daily allowance RDA for Calcium is 1000-1200 mg and for Vitamin D is 400-800 IU (10-20 mcg).

Vitamin D can be obtained by 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure.
There are two types of supplements– D2 and D3 that provide the daily requirement (400/600/800/1000 IU tablets). You can also take 60000 IU every 6-8 months.

The vegan sources for calcium are chickpeas, spinach, cereal, figs, almonds, navy beans, soybeans, and turnip.
Calcium-fortified plant milk, tofu, white flour and orange juice can be added to reach adequate requirements. Supplements are 2 tablespoons of Blackstrap molasses and Calcium tablets ranging from 200-600 mg every day.

TIP: Drink loads of water with calcium supplementation. Get a blood test for your levels to adjust your intake since an excess of both is harmful.

3. Iodine

Iodine is a major mineral in the body with a recommended daily allowance of 150 mcg. For pregnant and lactating women, it is up to 200 mcg.  It has its role in the synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Vegan sources include potatoes, prunes, bananas, corn, sea vegetables like kelp, sea lettuce, cranberries, and strawberries.

Since more than 30% of the world is deficient in Iodine, salt fortification has been used worldwide and is highly recommended. A deficiency will lead to thyroid dysfunction that can be noticed as a neck swelling, weight gain, poor hair and skin health, cold intolerance, memory, and menstrual problems.


The normal level of iron in the body is 3-4 grams. You can check these levels by your hemoglobin level, iron profile, blood picture, and complete blood counts. It has its role in transporting oxygen throughout the body, enzymatic action, DNA synthesis, and energy metabolism.

Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anemia. You may be dizzy, fatigued, light-headed,  or have palpitations, behavioral changes, paleness, headache, brittle nails, and hair loss. These signs are easily missed out, so, it is best to get a blood test done.

The recommended daily allowance is 8 mg for adult men and old women. It is 18 mg for women and 27 mg for pregnant females.

The sources include soybeans, black beans, chickpeas, quinoa, brown rice, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, collard, green leafy vegetables. Despite this wide range of sources, vegans are more prone to develop iron deficiency. This is mainly because females lose iron with every menstruation and pregnancy.

Fortified iron cereals, grains, bread, and plant milk can help. You can supplement Iron in tablet forms and consume it 2-4 times a day depending upon the deficiency.

TIP: Have it alongside Vitamin C rich sources. They will help Iron absorb better.

5. Probiotics

Probiotics consist mainly of microorganisms that are the “good bacteria”. Vegans fear that they might be deprived of it since yogurt is the only known natural probiotic source.

Probiotics help with good digestion, prevent gastrointestinal diseases, increases immunity, improve mental health, reduce colon cancers, provide improvement in diabetics and obese individuals.
The vegan sources include consuming fermented foods like pickles, Kimchi, fermented soy products and fermented teas. You can also consume vegan probiotic capsules.
 Here’s a review of some of the best probiotics.

6. Proteins

Proteins in the human body are compound chains of 20 types of amino acids. They help in tissue growth, development, and repair. They also act as neurotransmitters, hormones, transporters, immune cells, enzymes. In fact, 16% of the body is made up of proteins.

Sources include peas, beans, cereals, grains, nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds. Certain foods like amaranth, soy and buckwheat will provide the full portion of essential protein requirement.

Protein should be consumed as much as 1 gram per kilogram body weight. So if you are 70 kgs, you consume 70 grams of protein. In case you are an athlete or are deficient in your intake, you can start supplementing with protein powder and using amino acid fortified food items.

Be careful not to overdose any of the above mentioned.


  1. Just found your blog today! Newly vegan, first as a weight loss/health tool, but I'm thinking of adopting it permanently! Thankful for you and I can't wait to try out one of your recipes :-)

  2. Great article! Very inspiring!