Below is the recommended supplements to avoid common deficiencies on a plant based diet. One should note that this is simply a guide; regular blood tests should be used as an individual marker to spot any nutrients which your body requires. Activity levels
, lifestyle factors
and genetic differences
, and even an individual’s internal bodily environment mean some may require more of a supplement than others, as nutrient absorption differs. Instruct the nurse or doctor that you are following a diet free of animal products and are taking a blood test to check nutrient levels:
Seen as meat eaters as the defect in a plant-based diet, vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products. There are 2 types, Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin is more readily absorbed, and will end up dominating the B12 market
. B12 deficiencies only appear over time (4-6 years) on a plant based diet. Supplementation and blood tests are essential for this nutrient.
Heme Iron from meat is more bio-available than non-heme iron in plants
. However, the absorption of non-heme iron increases 3 fold when consumed with vitamin C,
surpassing the absorbability of heme iron. Squeezing the juice of 1 lemon onto fresh leafy greens (for example, 50g spinach) will increase Iron absorption. Alternatively, Floradix Iron tonic
is plant based, includes vitamin C for absorption, and also includes B12.
Vitamin D is made by our skin when in contact with UVB radiation in sunlight. Deficiency is not a vegan exclusive issue, but affecting the wider population who live in climates with less sunlight or spend most time indoors
. In Ireland, for example, everyone should be supplementing with Vitamin D.
As seen in the previous post on fat
, plant based omega sources, walnuts, flax, spirulina and chlorella, should be consumed daily.
A study has shown that vegetarians have lower average zinc levels than meat eaters
, as zinc from animal products is easier absorbed vs. plants. Males are at particular risk of being lower in this trace mineral, as some is lost in semen ejaculation. The best plant sources, whole-grains, beans and nuts should be consumed daily. If a blood test indicates a deficiency, a zinc supplement should be taken.
Iodine is essential for normal thyroid function. Vegans have been found to have low levels of Iodine compared to vegetarians and meat eaters
. Salt was the world's first fortified food, and was used as a vehicle to increase iodine consumption in the US. European salt is less iodized, and European vegans are more at risk to deficiency as a result
. Kelp is a good plant source and should be consumed infrequently.
A growing body of research is repeatedly showing that dairy, the largest dietary source of calcium, is harmful to bones
. However, one should not overlook the importance of calcium in bone health. One must consume at least 500mg of calcium a day to avoid increased risk of fracture.
Spinach, kale, almonds, soy beans, and white beans are all excellent plant based calcium sources. 250g of boiled & drained spinach provides enough calcium for a day.