How to supplement a vegan or plant-based diets
Updated: Jan 8
Are you considering going Vegan? I went Vegan five years ago and I can say that it was possibly one of the best decisions that I have made. However recently I changed from Vegan to Plant-based and my health started to improve.
What’s the difference between Vegan and Plant based?
Plant-based is about eating the right food groups in balance so that your body can absorb the nutritional benefits of plants. Whilst I was a vegan, I still ate junk food daily and by that, I mean processed food. I was conscious that people looked at me and said things like. ‘You are always ill because you don’t eat meat.’ I’m not always ill, I have coughs and colds like everyone else they just notice more if I have a cold, an allergy or a blocked nose.
There are many health benefit to be made by going vegan/plant-based but there are also environmental and ethical benefits to be made too. However, on the downside, if you decide to go vegan or plant-based, there are many factors to consider.
Such as being the butt of the Jokes: My advice is to firmly establish your motives for becoming a vegan or plant-based and stick to them no matter what. The jokes and ridiculing that you will face will wear you down if you let them. I’ve had people say to me. ‘You always have to be different don’t you?’ My answer. ‘Only if it’s the right thing to do’ These days being vegan doesn’t make you that different, which is a good thing. I’ve found people just don’t like change and they don’t like the ‘outsiders’ telling them to change, even if it is good for them.
Take additional supplements: Many people globally take supplements, meat eaters and vegans alike so this doesn’t make you any different until the meat eaters start telling you that you can’t get the right vitamins from plants. Really? Is this still happening? Yes, it’s still happening as Big Agriculture and Big Dairy continue to market animal products as being the best for human health. Not true I’m afraid. I’ve never known anyone to die from eating a balanced plant-based diet, see there’s the answer balanced plant-based diet. I have however seen many people contract lifestyle diseases from eating animal product based diets.
This imbalance between which diet is good for you and which is not is easily corrected when you consider this. A vegan diet excludes two major food groups, meat and dairy but it doesn’t matter.
There is an abundance of micro nutrients available in all fruit and vegetables. You can take additional supplements however, they are not necessary across the board.
So which vitamins should you add to your diet?
The most important first as the body cannot produce Vitamin B12 for itself. Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system and is found in animal products such as eggs, meat or fish. I listen to the podcast by leading Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert whilst in the gym. Have you listened to her podcast, it’s fantastic? She has industry specialists on her show that cover every range of nutritional aspect known to man (and woman). In an interview with the Independent she agrees that B12 should be added to a vegan diet. I add B12 to my diet in tablet form and by using products such as nutritional yeast. You can use a supplement such as OMVITS B12 supplement which I use.
When not supplemented properly, a deficiency in B12 can lead to all sorts of issues affecting your nervous system and it’s also a risk factor good for a pregnant mother and developing child. This does not mean that you must go back to eating meat and dairy whilst pregnant it merely means that you need to substitute your diet adequately.
Next on the list Omega 3. There are three different types of Omega 3 fatty acids, Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). But you don’t need to know that, all you need to know is that the body cannot produce omega 3s itself and must be obtained through a balanced diet. FISH I hear you say? I can get them from Fish! Not on a vegan diet you can’t so watch out for those non vegan Omega 3 vitamin capsules.
Omega 3 is crucial for a healthy brain and nerves. The best vegan sources of omega 3 are nuts and seeds, which contain ALA. However, its time consuming eating all those nuts and don’t forget they are also quite high on the weight gaining side of things. Some nuts are good for you, too many nuts, not so good for you.
I eat around 12 nuts per day and substitute with a vegan nut supplement called Omega 3 vegan Algal oil by Nu U. I swear by these and I love them because I can feel the benefits of taking them.
Without iron we would all be dead. Iron is responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood. An iron deficiency causes anaemia which leads to fatigue and the poor functioning of the immune system. As someone who has been anaemic for most of my life, I was extremely impressed when the doctor told me that my anaemia was under control and I no long needed to worry about it. He asked how I’d managed it and my reply was Kale, spinach and Broccoli. He smiled? (I smell a closet vegan).
Prunes Lima Beans, cranberries, strawberries and Seaweed are all high sources of iodine. Luckily, I love all of them. I’m not so impressed with miso soup which is made from a brown seaweed called Wakame but the rest I can manage.
It’s easy to forget about Iodine or to not know about it at all. Iodine is an essential nutrient is used to make the thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can lead to the swelling of the thyroid gland, known as goitre, and hypothyroidism, which can cause fatigue, muscle weakness and weight gain. Weight gain? Now you’re listening.
Would you believe that the most common nutrient deficiency in the world is iodine deficiency which affects nearly one-third of the world’s population. If you are not sure that you are getting enough iodine in your diet you can buy decent iodine supplements from Amazon. I suggest taking Organic sea kelp capsules by Sun Farm Organics
Vitamin D is important for bone health, serotonin production and the immune system function. Without the right levels of vitamin D we can decline both physically and mentally.
In the western climate during the winter months everyone could do with some extra vitamin D, vegans and meat eaters alike. Vitamin D is normally obtained through sun exposure and as there is relatively little sun during winter we need all the help we can get.
You can obtain vitamin D from fortified food products but not being a fan of processed foods and in wanting to make sure I have enough vitamin D in my body I take
Calcium is usually found in high quantities in dairy products, such as milk, yogurts and cheese. Calcium helps to maintain strong bones and prevent blood from clotting. The dairy industry would have you believe that milk is a great source of calcium and this is true but there is no substitute for the calcium that you get from natures very own plant products.
Green vegetables are very high in calcium, take spinach, kale and broccoli for example they are really high in calcium, but you would need to eat a lot to consume your daily recommended amount. So, this is why it’s important to eat products such as tofu, soya milk, dried fruit, nuts and seeds to top up the balance. If your diet isn’t that healthy you may need to take a supplement such as Calcium Citrate by Vitamintrend.
Finally zinc. This deficiency is common among people who do not eat fruit. The daily value for zinc is 11mg per day and people on a vegan or plant-based diet should consume around 30mg daily. High zinc fruits include avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, kiwifruit, and blueberries.
My other half Dave is also a vegan and to be honest his nut consumption has tripled since he became vegan because he read somewhere that the best plant-based sources of zinc are nuts, seeds and legumes. He’s thin and can afford to eat lots of nuts, I’m not so lucky. But I don’t feel as though I’m missing out as our average intake of broccoli, green peas, asparagus and spinach is also really high. Due to the amount of zinc contained in these plants I don’t need to worry about my zinc intake however, if you feel you need to address an imbalance try Zinc and magnesium tablets by EVO
If you feel as though you’d be rattling like the pill bottle itself with all of these capsules and tablets inside you, you could opt to take a really good multivitamin such as Wild Harvested Sea Moss and Bladderwrack Capsules by Nutrify. They are Vegan Multivitamins Capsules which do not contain Binders, Fillers or Additives.
It’s very important to make sure that you look for the certified mark on the side of vitamin supplement bottles and packages to ensure the vitamins you are taking are a good source of vitamin and not packing and chalk. If there is no certified label on the bottle buy something else.
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