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Vegan Diet Followers Require Additional Supplements, Know Why?

Vegan diet requires supplements
Credit: healthline.com

Experts emphasize eating a balanced diet containing nutrients and vitamins as it is beneficial for health in the longer run. Individuals follow various eating habits and lifestyles to achieve fitness goals.

However, not all dietary patterns are productive in the long run, and some require additional supplements to fulfill the body’s needs of essential nutrients. Thus, it is vital to understand your body requirements and physiology before starting any dieting plan. Moreover, consulting dietitians and nutritionists will be productive as these experts can provide you with guidance to achieve your goal.

If you are following a vegan-diet then you must consume some additional supplements as vegan-dieting meals are insufficient to fulfill the nutrients’ needs of the body. Moreover, vegan dieting meals are based on vegetables, and its practitioners do not consume animal products. As a result, some nutrients that are available only in animal products are not consumed by vegan-diet practitioners. Thus, it is crucial for eating these nutrients in supplement form.

Alex Caspero is the founder of Delish Knowledge and has a specialization in a plant-based diet. According to Alex Caspero, people usually refer to a vegan-diet as unnatural as it requires supplements. But supplements are beneficial for the health of individuals in any diet plan. 

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She further adds that the majority of Americans, whether vegan-diet followers or not, are consuming the most nutrients from fortified meals. Moreover, iodine fortified salt, folate in cereal, vitamin A and Vitamin D incorporated foods are part of individuals’ daily consumption irrespective of their diet plans. 

The nutrients that vegans must eat in the form of supplements or fortified foods are vitamin B12, Omega-3 fatty Acids/DHA, vitamin D, Iodine, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc.

Vitamins To Take As Supplements If You Are A Vegetarian

Water-Soluble Vitamin B12 A Must For Vegan Diet Practitioners

Vitamin B12 is one of the various types of vitamin-B-complex. It is a water-soluble vitamin, and daily consumption within the Recommended Dietary Allowance is essential for improving health conditions. 

Moreover, vitamin B12 combines with protein in food. And few types of proteins are essential for their absorption from the intestine, plasma transportation, and cellular uptake. Without sufficient proteins, its absorption, transportation, and working hinder leading to its deficiency in the body. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and neurological alterations. Changes in neurological functions can cause depression, numbness, tingling of hands and feet, confusion, dementia, and memory issues.

It is essential for forming DNA and erythrocytes and for performing the neurological function. Vitamin B12 has animal sources. Thus, without including animal products in the diet it is not possible to get vitamin B12 naturally. 

Water-soluble fortified plant foods are available on the market including vitamin B12 fortified cereals, beverages, nutritional yeast, soy products, and meat alternatives. According to Caspero, 5-micrograms of vitamin B12 daily is sufficient for vegetarians.

Fat Soluble Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium, glucose metabolism, and strengthening of bones. It boosts the immune system, and recent research suggests its deficiency can increase the risk of developing coronavirus infection. Moreover, gym experts prefer vitamin D supplements for muscle growth. This vitamin is fat-soluble and is mostly present in animal products. 

Type D2 found in plants is not as effective in the body as the type D3 found in animals. Naturally, human skin produces vitamin D upon direct exposure to sunlight. But not everyone can get sunlight exposure daily. Thus, fortified foods, gel capsules, and injections are vital for fulfilling dietary requirements. 

Minerals And Other Nutrients For Vegan-Diet Practitioners

Iodine And Calcium

Iodine is a trace element if the body does not have a sufficient amount of it, it can cause alterations in the functioning of the immune system. It can also cause thyroid issues. 

Moreover, Caspero suggests that for fulfilling the body requirement of iodine, you need to consume it in the form of iodine-fortified salt.

Calcium works with vitamin-D in the strengthening of bones, teeth, and muscles. According to Caspero, calcium-fortified plant drinks provide calcium in the same amount as dairy milk. According to Sheth, it is appropriate to shake calcium-fortified drinks as there is a possibility that the calcium may settle at the bottom of the container. 

Vegans can consume plant-based sources of calcium. Calcium is present in leafy greens, broccoli, tempeh, tofu, tahini, almonds, black seeds, oranges, and blackstrap molasses. 

Iron- For Living And Zinc Supplements

Iron is one of the vital minerals essential for the development, growth, and functioning of the body. Moreover, iron is a must for hemoglobin formation. Hemoglobin is a pigment requisite for red blood cell production and the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. It also transfers carbon dioxide from parts of the body to the lungs, from where the gas leaves body. 

Iron is present in some plants including leafy vegetables, dried figs, raisins, tempeh, almonds, and pistachios. But plant-based iron absorption is difficult as compared to animal-based absorption. Thus, vegan-diet followers must eat its supplements to obtain sufficient iron for the body. 

Moreover, individuals need to make sure that they do not consume iron-containing supplements or foods with coffee or tea. According to Caspero, eating iron with vitamin-C rich foods can boost its absorption rate by 4-to-6 folds. She further said that individuals need to avoid consuming iron meals with calcium. Because calcium hinders the absorption of iron. 

According to Caspero, iron and zinc supplements are a must for pregnant women and possibly during postpartum. Women need a doctor’s guidance for consuming iron during pregnancy. 

Zinc absorption from a plant-based source is difficult and requires time. However, eating zinc with sprouted grains increases its absorption. Zinc is vital for protein and DNA synthesis. It is essential for the healing of wounds and cell division. Plant-sources of zinc include fortified cereals, wheat grains, corn, oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, nutritional yeast, and cashew.

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Fatty Acid Supplements A Must For Vegan Diet Followers

The three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are essential for enhancing the functioning of body systems. The three types are Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

The ALA is naturally present in flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, soy, and canola. However, EPA is present in seafood, such as salmon, sardines, trout, and herring. Similarly, DHA is present in fish and is beneficial for heart and brain functioning. 

All three omega-3 fatty acids form part of the cell membranes of various cells. Omega-3 fatty acids; improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system. 

Consuming these supplements will enable vegan-diet practitioners to fulfill body requirements and maintain health. Eating a variety of vegetables will provide you with various nutrients that can help you stay healthy by following a vegan diet. 

 

About the author

Adeena Tariq Lari

The author is a graduate of dental surgery from the Dow University Health Sciences, Karachi. She has an academic background in content writing as well as English literature, giving her an edge in the field. Adeena is always curious about physical and mental health. She is always passionate about research and delivering high-quality reliable content to users.

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