Which Vegan Supplements Should You Be Taking?
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
It is safe to say that we all want to live our healthiest lives.
As more people opt for vegan lifestyles, more products have been tailored to support plant-based diets. Some of these products are helpful, needed accompaniments to eating a plant-based diet.
If you have a 100% plant-based lifestyle, it is important to know that going vegan can leave you susceptible to certain dietary deficiencies. It’s especially important for anyone on a restricted diet to make sure they’re getting enough of the vitamins and minerals their body needs to function properly.
Let’s look at common vegan diet pitfalls, what supplements can help, and how fatty acids may be the key to improving your overall health and wellness.
Why B12 Probably Isn’t Enough
Every vegan knows they probably need to take a B12 supplement.
The richest sources of vitamin B12 are found in organ meats of animals, which means vegans aren’t getting enough. While you can certainly eat foods that have been fortified with B12, you’ll need to make sure they contain enough bioavailable B12 to meet your recommended daily intake.
Seems easy enough; take a B12 supplement and you’re back on track. The problem is, taking a B12 supplement isn’t enough to help support your overall health and wellness to the extent you likely think it is.
The vegan diet can create dietary deficiencies in other areas, too.
Which Vitamins Are Important
It’s not just about B12. It’s about making sure that you’re getting enough essentials in your diet that were once provided by animal products. Vegans (especially those just starting a plant-based diet) can easily become deficient in many important vitamins and minerals. Here are just a few.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and also essential in helping your body properly absorb other vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.
Vitamin D is prevalent in many different types of fish, and in fortified food products (like vitamin D milk). However, for a vegan, these foods may either be restricted from their diet or may not contain enough vitamin D to meet the recommended daily intake.
Found mostly in red meat and seafood, iron is essential for your red blood cell health. Iron helps keep your blood oxygenated, which allows it to deliver oxygen to your organs.
Although Popeye definitely taught us that spinach is a great source of iron, the type of iron contained in animal meat is more easily absorbed than the iron found in plants. As such, many vegans find they are deficient in iron, which can lead to conditions like anemia.
The average person gets their daily dose of zinc from red meat and poultry. But wait — plenty of plants contain zinc, too, so why would a vegan become deficient in zinc?
Plant based-zinc is usually accompanied by phytic acid, which is also found abundantly in plants. Phytic acid has plenty of health benefits on its own, but it can also inhibit the body’s ability to absorb zinc.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
We know omega-3 fatty acids are important to our health. From protecting heart health to supporting brain and eye function, omega-3s are essential because our bodies must have them but cannot make them on their own.
Omega-3s are found mostly in certain types of fish and fish oils, which means vegans aren’t likely to have them in their diets.
Even though the body can convert certain omega-3 fatty acids found in nuts and seeds to DHA, an omega-3 the body needs, it’s still unlikely you’ll get enough omega-3 in your diet simply by eating those foods.
When we think of calcium, we think dairy. Cow’s milk is classically the favored source of calcium in the average American diet.
Calcium is richly available in plants, too. Bok choy, kale, dark, leafy green vegetables, and fortified tofu are excellent sources of calcium, but most vegans don’t eat enough of these foods to get their recommended daily intake of calcium.
Iodine is important for healthy thyroid function. Even though some plants contain iodine due to the soil in which they are grown, vegans tend to have 50% less circulating iodine in their blood than non-vegans.
Iodine is found mostly in fish and in some dairy products as a byproduct of farming equipment. While you can get iodine in iodized table salt, vegans who don’t wish to eat table salt can opt for an iodine supplement.
How Many Supplements Do I Actually Need?
All these potential dietary deficiencies can make you wonder how many supplements you actually need on a vegan diet. You certainly don’t want to end up taking more capsules than you need to.
The good news is, you probably don’t need as many supplements as you think. Even though the above referenced deficiencies can happen on a vegan diet, a careful vegan can avoid them by proper meal planning.
If you’re still concerned you might not be getting the essentials, a simple blood test can help you figure out what you need. A blood test can reveal any vitamin and mineral deficiencies you have and help you decide which supplements, if any, you need.
For vegans, and for anyone concerned with being more proactive in their health and wellness, taking the most beneficial supplements can be the answer.
A Sturdier Fatty Acid for Sturdier Cells
Vegan or not, your entire body is made up of cells. Your cells are the foundation of your health. If your cells aren’t healthy, you won’t be healthy.
As we get older, our cells get older, becoming fragile and weak. Compromised cells make us susceptible to age-related conditions, immune systems that are off-kilter, and feelings of lethargy and fogginess.
If we want to take better care of ourselves, we should begin by being proactive about our cellular health. Fortunately, we know just the fatty acid for the job.
Over 90 years ago, a husband and wife team discovered that the omega fatty acids were essential to our bodies. Today, a husband and wife team has discovered that another fatty acid, an odd-chain fatty acid called pentadecanoic acid, is key to promoting cellular health in a promising new way.†* In fact, a growing body of science supports that pentadecanoic acid is the first essential fatty acid to be discovered in 90 years.†
Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0 (pronounced see-fifteen), helps support your total health by diving into your cells and keeping them strong, sturdy, and working.*
C15:0 helps support your cells by fortifying cell membranes, keeping them strong and protected against external stressors.*
Aging cells are also sluggish cells. The mitochondria in our cells begin working on a skeleton crew, which decreases cellular energy and increases cellular stress.
C15:0 helps boost mitochondrial function, keeping our cells active so our bodies can stay active.*
Even though the vegan diet is typically rich with antioxidants, the metabolism and immunity of a vegan can become unbalanced just like a non-vegan’s.
C15:0 helps support healthy metabolism and immunity by interacting with receptors in the body, known as PPARs, that regulate our metabolism and immunity.*
That’s a lot of work from a simple and little fatty acid!
C15:0 is found primarily in fish and in trace amounts of whole dairy products like whole milk and full fat butter. Because dietary guidelines have been telling us to avoid fat since the 1970s, both vegans and non-vegans are at risk of not getting enough C15:0n in their diets.
C15:0 for Vegans
Because C15:0 is primarily found in whole fat dairy products, the vegan diet is deficient in this critical fatty acid. Unfortunately, plant-based milk replacements don’t serve as a solution, since oat, soy, and almond-based milks lack C15:0 altogether.
Thankfully, there is a solution.
Fatty15 is the once-a-day supplement that contains only FA15™, a pure powder, bioavailable, and vegan-friendly form of C15:0.
Fatty15 makes it easy for you to get enough C15:0 in your diet and improve your overall health.
If you’re vegan, you already know you’ve got to watch your diet closely to make sure you’re taking in everything your body needs to stay healthy.
While supplements may be necessary if you have a deficiency, you can always use a total body wellness supplement, like fatty15 to support your health at the cellular level.
Fatty15 gives you the ability to build a healthier body from the cells up. It’s the best way to stay proactive about your wellness and support any type of diet.
Sources:Iodine Status and Thyroid Function of Boston-Area Vegetarians and Vegans|PubMed
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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