What do you need to supplement on a vegan diet?
This is probably the most asked question I get via social media so today I am going to answer this question in detail by providing you the reasons why I supplement the following nutrients.
First of all, be aware that a diet high in whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains provides maximum nutrition compared to other diets such as the SAD (Standard American Diet). It is recommended to get as many nutrients from your diet as possible and to supplement only as little as necessary. Supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet but rather a completion.
In the following, I will present 3 supplements I take regularly.
Let’s start with a few facts about vitamin B12.
- B12 is made by microbes that cover the planet.
- Nowadays, we chlorinate our water supply killing nearly all of those microbes.
- Even farmed animals are fed B12 supplements.
- B12 is stored for several years.
- A B12 deficiency can be lethal.
- You can’t overdose B12.
- As you age, your ability to absorb B12 declines.
As a vegan, it is therefore recommended to supplement B12, either 250mcg per day or 2,500mcg a week.
It provides you with 500mcg per dose so you would technically only have to take it every other day but as already mentioned it’s impossible to overdose so I use it every morning after I have brushed my teeth.
This is the sunshine vitamin. It’s best to get by exposing yourself to the sun every day. In the northern hemisphere (Middle Europe, Chicago, New York City and farther north) the sun’s rays are at such an angle during the winter months that vitamin D may not be produced at all. In some cities (London, Berlin, Moscow, Stockholm) the period when you can’t produce any vitamin D may extend for as long as six months. Further to that, smog contributes to blocking sun rays.
Sunbeds are not recommended as they emit mostly UVA, which can cause skin cancer.
Sunbathing through glass (sitting behind a window) is not effective either as it filters out the UBV beams required for forming vitamin D.
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, you should calculate your own vitamin D requirement, as it depends on several factors such as weight and current vitamin D levels.
Find out how to calculate it by yourself in a few simple steps with this video tutorial:
I read a whole book about vitamin D so I could go on for hours but let me just tell you my personal experience with vitamin D:
My vitamin D value was low when I got it tested (below the recommended minimum) DESPITE TAKING SUPPLEMENTS once a week. The supplement I took before I informed myself properly was low-dosed and therefore could not help me raise my vitamin D level to a healthy value. I started taking a highly-dosed supplement (this is the best I could find on Amazon) once a week and my Vitamin D value was in the middle optimum range after a few weeks.
I take 30,000 I.E. once a month in summer and about once a week in winter. Unfortunately, the one I take is not available for purchase anymore, so looked for another vegan product for you. This is the highest dosed vitamin D supplement I could find:
You can overdose vitamin D but it in order to develop toxicity you would have to take extremely high doses regularly for several months. There has never been a case where somebody developed toxicity from natural vitamin D intake (sun exposure). Vitamin D is fat soluble so you should always take the supplement together with a meal.
The reason why I supplement iron is simply that I’ve been tested several times and always had a low iron level, even when I used to eat meat. This is a personal issue I have with iron and does not conclude everybody should supplement iron. I supplement it about twice a week and get my iron level checked regularly. If you tell the doctor you suffered from anemia in the past, they will always do the blood test for free. Some doctors even do the full blood test for free so it’s best to ask several doctors until you find one. 🙂
Vitamin C improves iron absorption so you should always take this supplement together with a fruit or vegetable meal. Iron is toxic in excess amounts so make sure you only take as much as you really need. Caffeine and calcium-rich foods inhibit iron absorption so avoid tea, coffee, and dairy products when taking this supplement.
Good luck on your personal health journey!