There are tons of supplements available to those who have chosen a whole-food, plant-based diet. But which are really necessary?
No matter how or why you decide to go vegetarian or vegan – for health benefits, ethical reasons, or environmental concerns – it’s important to look into ways to make sure you’re getting everything you need. Sure, it’s super annoying when meat eaters ask you every week how you’re getting enough protein, but there are a few things to look out for. Though you can still definitely assure people that you’re getting most of what you need through a natural whole, unrefined, plant-based diet.
While it’s always best to do your own research and ultimately decide what’s best for your own body and diet, we have three main recommendations for making sure your body is getting everything it needs.
1. Vitamin B-12
B-12 is a widely-agreed upon awesome vitamin that helps with tons of bodily functions including cell production, nervous system maintenance, red blood cell synthesis and DNA formation. Without it, you can end up with anaemia, neurological degeneration and gastrointestinal problems. And that doesn’t just apply to those who eat a whole food diet. Results from a study in 2000 showed that meat eaters still had a 1/6 chance of being B-12 deficient, and those with the highest B-12 levels in the study were actually those eating fortified foods or taking B-12 supplements.
So why is this especially important for us veggie-heads? For the most part, B-12 is only found in animal products, though (as is usually the case with these touchy subjects) there are arguments against this. According to Natural News, “B-12 used to be abundant in our soils, but over farming and modern agriculture has stripped the ground of its nutrients. Others say we would still absorb B-12 from microbes in the dirt if we weren’t so fussy about washing our produce.”
So what would be the argument against taking the vitamin? Some think supplementation goes against the whole-istic view of nutrition and that you must consider the entirety of the whole food, not just focus on one part of it.
The good news is that there isn’t really a downside to eating an entirely plant food diet and then supplementing with B-12. It’s likely even beneficial to your health. You can take it as a sub-lingual spray (thought to allow the most effective absorption), shot or in pill form and it will come either as cyanocobalamin (a synthetic version of B-12) or methylcobalamin (natural version of B-12 that is easier for your body to store and utilize). It’s good to take about 1000 mcg a day.
2. Vitamin D-3
Vitamin D is a micro-nutrient important in bone formation, calcium and phosphorus absorption. A deficiency in this area can render skeletal problems. While we can get Vitamin D from some animal and plant foods, we most naturally get it from spending time in the sun. Twenty minutes a day outside should give you your daily requirement, but if you’re never out in the sun or if the winter months in your neck of the woods leads to few bright rays, you’ll need to turn to something else to get your dosage.
It’s good to remember that, like most supplements, not all Vitamin D supplements are the same or good for all people. You can go for a sublingual D-3 spray, or the less potent, fungus derived D-2. You might want to take around 750 mcg every other day during the winter, with little or no vitamins during the warmer months. It’s important not to “OD” on Vitamin D, so do your research and see what’s best for people with your diet, in your area of the world.
According to Natural News, “Iodine is a trace mineral required to regulate the thyroid gland and synthesize thyroid hormones. A deficiency can cause goitres on the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, and even mental retardation. However, excess iodine can also cause thyroid problems too.”
While you can find iodine in sea vegetables, the actual amounts can vary significantly. The largest dietary source of iodine is from dairy products, which weirdly/interestingly absorb the mineral from cleaning solutions used on farms. Fish also contain iodine, if that’s something you eat.
You can easily get an iodine loading test done to measure your normal levels and see what you really need before considering any supplementation. It’s a delicate balance and you won’t want to get too much, so testing is really helpful for this mineral. You’ll likely want around 100 micrograms a day to fall in the safe zone of 100-300 mcg.
Source: Natural News
What vitamins and supplements do you take? Which do you think are most important? Tell us in the comments below!