7 best Supplements for a Vegan Diet: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re a vegan looking to optimize your nutrition and ensure that you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals, finding the right supplements is crucial.

With the ultimate guide to the best supplements for a vegan diet, you can make informed choices that will support your health and well-being while staying true to your ethical and dietary principles.

Whether you’re a long-time vegan or new to the lifestyle, this guide will provide you with the information you need to enhance your vegan nutrition.

Why do you need vitamins and supplements if you’re vegan?

Although fruits and vegetables are essential for a balanced diet, some vitamins and minerals cannot be obtained only from plants. Going vegan may cause vitamin shortages.

Plants lack some vitamins, minerals, and important fatty acids that meat contains. This implies that if you are vegan, you must regularly supplement your diet or consume fortified foods to ensure that you are obtaining enough important nutrients.

7 best Supplements for a Vegan Diet

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12

This is critical to nerve function and red blood cell formation. While it is typically found in animal sources, vegans can obtain it through fortified foods such as plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, and breakfast cereals. However, a supplement may be required to guarantee enough intake.

Food SourceVitamin B12 Content (mcg per serving)
Fortified plant-based milk (1 cup)0.5 – 3.0
Fortified breakfast cereals (varies by brand)Varies, typically 1 – 6
Nutritional yeast (1 tablespoon)0.5 – 2.4
Fortified meat substitutes (varies by brand)Varies, typically 0.5 – 2.0
Fortified tofu (varies by brand)Varies, typically 0.5 – 2.0
Fortified energy bars (varies by brand)Varies, typically 0.5 – 2.0
Fortified plant-based yogurt (varies by brand)Varies, typically 0.5 – 2.0

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Vital for bone health and immunological function. Vegans can obtain vitamin D from fortified plant-based milk, orange juice, and sun exposure. However, depending on where you live and how much time you spend outside, a supplement may be necessary.

Food SourceVitamin D Content (IU per serving)
Fortified plant-based milk (1 cup)100 – 120
Fortified orange juice (1 cup)100 – 150
Fortified breakfast cereals (varies by brand)Varies, typically 40 – 100
Fortified margarine/spread (1 tablespoon)60 – 100
Fortified plant-based yogurt (varies by brand)Varies, typically 80 – 120
Fortified tofu (varies by brand)Varies, typically 80 – 120
Mushrooms exposed to UV light (3.5 ounces)Varies, typically 100 – 400

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3

vital to both brain and cardiac health. Omega-3s are available to vegans through foods and supplements made of algae, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds.

Food SourceOmega-3 Fatty Acid Content (per serving)
FlaxseedsAbout 7.3 grams of ALA per tablespoon
Chia seedsAbout 5.1 grams of ALA per ounce
Hemp seedsAbout 2.6 grams of ALA per tablespoon
WalnutsAbout 2.5 grams of ALA per ounce
Flaxseed oilAbout 7.3 grams of ALA per tablespoon
Chia seed oilAbout 5.1 grams of ALA per tablespoon
Hemp seed oilAbout 2.6 grams of ALA per tablespoon
Soybeans (cooked)About 0.9 grams of ALA per 1/2 cup serving
Tofu (firm, made with soy)About 0.3 grams of ALA per 3-ounce serving
Brussels sproutsAbout 0.1 grams of ALA per 1/2 cup serving
SpinachAbout 0.1 grams of ALA per 1/2 cup serving

4. Calcium

essential for maintaining healthy bones and muscles. Fortified plant-based milk, tofu, kale, broccoli, almonds, and sesame seeds are all excellent vegan sources of calcium.

Food Source (1)Calcium Content (mg per serving)
Fortified plant-based milk (1 cup)300 – 500
Fortified plant-based yogurt (varies by brand)150 – 300
Fortified orange juice (1 cup)300 – 350
Fortified breakfast cereals (varies by brand)Varies, typically 100 – 1000
Fortified tofu (varies by brand)100 – 500
Collard greens (1 cup, cooked)250
Kale (1 cup, cooked)180
Bok choy (1 cup, cooked)150
Turnip greens (1 cup, cooked)200
Broccoli (1 cup, cooked)45
Almonds (1/4 cup)94
Sesame seeds (1 tablespoon)88
Tahini (2 tablespoons)130

5. Iron

vital for the blood’s oxygen transport system. Lentils, chickpeas, tofu, spinach, quinoa, fortified cereals, and pumpkin seeds are vegan sources of iron. Foods high in vitamin C should be consumed with foods high in iron to improve absorption.

Food Source (2)Iron Content (mg per serving)
Lentils (cooked, 1 cup)6.6
Chickpeas (cooked, 1 cup)4.7
Tofu (firm, ½ cup)6.6
Spinach (cooked, 1 cup)6.4
Quinoa (cooked, 1 cup)2.8
Fortified breakfast cereals (varies by brand)Varies, typically 1 – 18
Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce)4.2
Tempeh (1 cup)2.2
Blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon)3.6

6. Zinc

Important for immunological function and wound healing. Vegan sources of zinc include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, tofu, and tempeh.

Food Source (3)Zinc Content (mg per 100 grams)
Pumpkin seeds7.81
Hemp seeds7.90
Sesame seeds7.75
Cashew nuts5.78
Quinoa3.31
Lentils3.30
Chickpeas2.89
Almonds3.13
Sunflower seeds5.00
Pine nuts6.45

7. Iodine

Necessary for thyroid function and metabolism. Vegans can obtain iodine through iodized salt, seaweed, and supplements. However, you must avoid taking too much iodine, as this might be dangerous.

Food Source (4)Iodine Content (per 100g)
Seaweed (dried)16,000 – 30,000 mcg
Nori seaweed (dried)37 – 45 mcg
Wakame seaweed (dried)66 – 87 mcg
Kombu seaweed (dried)2,000 – 2,500 mcg
Arame seaweed (dried)730 – 900 mcg
Hiziki seaweed (dried)770 – 960 mcg
Spirulina (dried)0.35 – 0.55 mcg
Cranberries (dried)4 – 5 mcg
Navy beans (cooked)10 mcg
Strawberries (raw)13 mcg

FAQs

Do you need to take supplements on a vegan diet?

The body requires vitamin B12 to maintain healthy blood and nervous system function. Many people acquire vitamin B12 from animal foods such as meat, fish, and dairy products. Vegans have limited sources and may require a vitamin B12 supplement.

What supplements are vegans lacking?

Intake and status of vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and bone turnover markers were generally lower in plant-based diets than in meat-eaters. Vegans had the lowest intakes of vitamin B12, calcium, and iodine, as well as poorer iodine levels and bone mineral density.

What supplements should I take if I don’t eat meat?

“You will most likely not be getting enough of certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12, omega-3s, and vitamin D, on a vegan or vegetarian diet,” explains plant-based nutritionist Amy Gorin, MS, RDN. “So it’s a good idea to consider supplementing these nutrients.”

How do vegans get protein?

Vegans can acquire enough protein from a variety of plant-based foods. Beans, legumes, peas, soy products, grains, nuts, and seeds are among the greatest plant-protein sources. Vegan protein supplies important amino acids that help prevent muscle loss and tissue regeneration.

References

  1. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/food-sources-calcium ↩︎
  2. https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthlinkbc-files/iron-foods ↩︎
  3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ ↩︎
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iodine/ ↩︎

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