Vegan diets are healthy, eco-friendly, and reduce animal exploitation. Unfortunately, many new vegan converts find it hard to get all the vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy. From fish oil to vitamin D, getting everything you need from a vegan diet is hard.
Certain vitamins and minerals are much more common in meat-based diets – this doesn’t mean you have to go without as a vegan. Whether it’s a calcium deficiency from not enough milk or a lack of fish oil in your diet, you can fix these problems with a vegan supplement.
It’s common for people to wonder when they first begin to change their diet: “What supplements do vegans need?” Generally, most vegan and vegetarian diets lack vitamin D, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, calcium, iodine, vitamin K, and long-chain omega-3s. While you can take a blood test to determine what vitamins your vegan diet lacks, these are the most common vitamins and minerals most vegans need.
Top 5 Supplements Vegans Need
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most common vitamins vegans need most in their diet. Traditionally found in animal products or produced by your skin when exposed to sunlight, even meat-eaters are often vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutritional supplements for vegans as it promotes wellness, reduces fatigue, and bone growth, and reduced back pain. It’s also known to reduce the risk of depression and reduce hair loss. Taking too much vitamin D can cause dry mouth, nausea, or vomiting. Extreme doses can cause high levels of calcium in the blood.
Vitamin D is one of the best vegan supplements, but when choosing a vitamin D supplement, you should choose D3 instead of D2. Vitamin D3 is the active form of the supplement which means your body does not have to convert the vitamin. The below products are excellent at providing the vitamin D a vegan diet lacks.
- Future Kind Vegan Vitamin D3 is a plant-based vitamin tablet that offers 30-day supplies for $16.
- Mary Ruth’s Vitamin Vitamin D3 gummies come in a 2-month supply for $27.
- MRM Vegan D3 is a high-dose option available for $12 for a one-month supply
Zinc is one of the most important supplements vegans should take. It increases metabolism, improves immunity, and improves body cell repair. A lack of zinc often leads to hair loss, diarrhea, and developmental problems. Unfortunately, few plants provide enough zinc for a healthy diet.
While shopping for a zinc supplement, you’ll find the mineral comes in 3 distinct forms, zinc sulfate, zinc gluconate, and zinc oxide. Zinc sulfate offers the best absorption rate, while zinc gluconate reduces side effects. Zinc oxide is used in skincare products, but many zinc supplement manufacturers also use it in their products.
Experts suggest adults consume 8-11 mg of zinc per day. Zinc has few side effects, but some users experience stomach pains, nausea, and diarrhea. Exceeding 40mg of zinc can cause flu-like symptoms.
Here are our picks for the best vegan zinc supplements.
- Mary Ruth offers a liquid zinc sulfate supplement for $21 for a one-month supply.
- Yuve Natural Vegan Zinc Supplement is a tablet and is $38 for 100 tablets.
- Givol Zinc Boos Mist is $20 for a 2 oz spray bottle.
Iron is a mineral found in a variety of foods. Iron is an essential component of red blood cell production.
Healthy iron levels lead to healthy hemoglobin levels and increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of red blood cells. Iron also increases DNA replication enzymes and boosts your immune system.
A healthy daily iron intake for adults ranges from 11mg to 15mg a day. Iron deficiency is extremely common. It can cause fatigue, cold hands, a rapid heart rate, palpitations, anemia, or weak nails. Exposure to excess iron can cause stomach problems, including constipation and nausea.
If your vegan or vegetarian diet is low in iron, you can add these supplements to your daily routine.
- VegLife Vegan Iron supplement comes with 100 servings for $8.
- MegaFood Blood Builder minis are $16 for a 30-day supply.
- BeLive Iron Gummies offer one month’s supply for $16.
4. Vitamin B12
A lack of B12 vitamin is common in many vegan diets. B12 is vital for maintaining the nervous system and brain function. It’s also vital for red blood cell development. Unfortunately, most vegans will need a vitamin B12 supplement without using enriched foods.
A lack of B12 often causes fatigue, impaired brain function, neurological disorders, and psychiatric disorders. There are also possible links to Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
The normal daily dose of B12 is at least 2.4 to 4 mcg per day. When taking B12 be aware that only half the dose is absorbed. It’s best to find a B1 supplement that you take several times a day.
Garden of Life, Naturelo, and Deva offers excellent vegan B12 supplements.
- Garden of Life Raw B-12 provides a one-month supply for $14.
- Naturelo offers their vegan B12 supplement for $20 a month.
- Deva Vegan B12 is a fast dissolve lozenge that comes in at $11 a month.
While most of the general population has a calcium deficiency, vegans are at an even higher risk. Calcium is vital for bone, muscle, nerve, and hormone growth. Over time, a lack of calcium can cause low bone mass, teeth problems, and osteoporosis.
Vegan calcium supplements come in 3 varieties. Algae calcium offers excellent absorption and is purely plant-based. Calcium citrate offers the best absorption of the 3 options. Finally, calcium carbonate is a less expensive option.
An adult’s normal daily calcium intake should be approximately 1,000 mg daily. Also, don’t forget that you need vitamin D to absorb calcium, and you can often find the two supplements marketed together.
Make sure you get enough calcium in your diet by adding one of these vegan calcium supplements to your day.
- Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW is available at $38 for a 2-month supply of capsules.
- Naturelo Bone Strength is 2 months of calcium supplements for $27.
- Deva Vegan Cal-Mag Plus comes as a one-month supply for $9.
Iodine is vital for thyroid health and function. Some studies suggest it improves your immune system. A lack of iodine in your diet can cause an enlarged thyroid gland called a goiter.
A diet that lacks iodine causes the thyroid not to operate properly. This can cause the hormones to be under or overactive, which can cause hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. A deficiency of iodine is also known to cause fatigue, weakness, constipation, and sensitivity to cold.
Getting the right amount of iodine is important. An overdose of the mineral can also be dangerous.
The recommended dietary allowance is 150 mcg for adults. If you lack iodine in your diet, these supplements are the best on the market.
- Futurekind Vegan Iodine Supplement is a liquid that lasts for two months for $25.
- Benevolent Nourishment offers a 1300 serving liquid dropper for $21.
- Thorne Iodine Dietary Supplement is a 2-month supply for $19.
7. Vitamin K
Essential for blood coagulation, you’ll find plenty of vitamin K1 in leafy greens and vegetables. Unfortunately, Vitamin K2 is found in animal foods. Both are essential vitamins, but K2 reduces the chance of heart disease, improves bone health, and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
A lack of vitamin K can cause excess bruising, bleeding problems, and reduced bone strength. The recommended daily intake of vitamin K is 90 mcg to 120 mcg for adults. Below are some of the best vitamin K options for vegans on the market.
- Country Life offers a vegan K2 chewable for $28 for a 2-month supply.
- Sports Research is a soft gel and comes as a 2-month supply for $14.
- Mary Ruth’s features a K2 & D3 gummy that lasts two months for $30.
8. Long-Chain Omega-3s
Fish oil is one of the best places to find omega-3s. A healthy diet containing omega-3s offers fights depression, anxiety, and inflammation. Unfortunately, fish oil isn’t an option for vegans. Luckily, there are vegan alternatives for your omega-3 needs.
While there are 11 different types of omega-3s, the most common types include ALA, EPA, and DHA.
Leafy greens have plenty of ALA, and most vegans should have no issue getting enough of this type. EPA and DHA are most commonly found in fish oil, so vegans need an alternative supplement. Algae, flax oil, hemp seeds, and chia seeds offer vegans an alternative to fish oil.
- A one-month supply of Calgee Sustainable Vegan Omega-3 costs $28.
- Sports Research Vegan Omega-3 is $20 for a monthly supply.
- Sapling Vegan Omega 3 is a soft gel capsule and costs $22 a month.
What Are Vegan Supplements?
A vegan supplement is a vitamin or mineral supplement made from no animal by-products, including milk, fish oil, meat, gelatin, honey, and eggs.
While some of the vitamins in vegan supplements come from the same source as non-vegan options, B12, omega-3s, and D3 are supplements that have unique vegan ingredients.
Why Take Vegan Supplements?
As long as the dosage and absorption rate remains the same, then taking vegan supplements has little difference from a non-vegan option. However, a vegan supplement uses no animal byproducts – this means no animal harm occurs during the production of the supplement.
Secondly, vegan diets and supplements require a much smaller carbon footprint than their meat-based counterparts. In essence, using vegan supplements is better for the environment. Finally, there are health benefits to going vegan. A vegan diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, promote weight loss, and lower the chance of cancer. It’s also known to help manage diabetes in patients.
What Are the Factors to Consider Before Taking Vegan Supplements?
While switching to a vegan diet and supplements has plenty of benefits, you need to consider a variety of factors before taking vegan supplements. Many one-a-day supplements are on the market, but most fail to deliver. For most vegans, it’s better to use only the supplements you need instead of taking a one-a-day tablet.
Too much of many vitamins or minerals do have adverse effects. Common issues from overdoing it with a supplement include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Taking a supplement may cause problems if you are on other medications. For example, vitamin K is dangerous to anyone on blood-thinning medications.
If you eat any fortified foods, you may already get enough of certain vitamins and minerals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates supplements as food instead of drugs – this means they do not verify the effectiveness of these products. When shopping for vegan supplements, it’s best to always buy from trusted manufacturers and sources.
Who Can Take Vegan Supplements?
Even nonvegans can take vegan supplements. Many vegan supplement manufacturers offer higher-end products compared to mass-marketed competitors. The supplements offer better absorption, natural ingredients, and fewer chemical components.
What Are the Effects of Vegan Supplements?
The health benefits of taking a vegan supplement are generally the same as taking a non-vegan version. As long as the dose is the same, you should see little difference between a vegan and non-vegan supplement.
However, vegan supplements do offer many benefits compared to non-vegan supplements. There are also effects of vegan supplements that many people do not mention.
When shopping for vegan supplements, you’ll find that most manufacturers take extra pride in their products compared to generic vitamins and supplements. Here are some unique benefits you’ll find when switching to vegan supplements.
- Plant-based supplements use natural ingredients.
- Reduced risk of allergic reactions to the products.
- No GMO, synthetic chemicals or artificial sugars are in the supplements.
- Ethical manufacturing practices.
What Supplement Helps Most With Vegans?
All the supplements mentioned above are important to a healthy and balanced diet. Each has its uses, and you might need one supplement more than the others based on your diet. A consultation with your doctor will determine which supplement will help you most.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone, teeth, and muscle growth.
- Zinc boosts your immune system, metabolism production, and wound healing.
- Iron is vital for red blood cell production.
- Vitamin B12 keeps your blood cells, DNA, and nerve cells healthy.
- Calcium builds and maintains strong bones.
- Iodine works with your thyroid hormones to control metabolism and other bodily functions.
- Vitamin K helps the body with blood clotting and wound healing.
- Omega-3 reduces long-term issues like cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Where to Buy Supplements for Vegans?
You can purchase vegan supplements at nearly every health food store or market. There are also plenty of specialty vegan health food stores that offer a variety of vegan supplements for sale. Popular health food shops like Whole Foods and GNC have extensive vegan supplement sections.
Of course, vegan supplements are available online, and ordering them from Amazon or any other online retailer is easy. Be aware when ordering online and always use a trusted seller to avoid counterfeit vegan vitamins and supplements. While you don’t need a prescription for these supplements, you should consult your doctor, or use a vegan supplements buying guide, before buying them. A simple blood test can determine if you need many of these supplements.
Are Supplements for Vegans Expensive?
No, Vegan supplements are not expensive when you factor in the money you save on certain foods you normally need to purchase. The price of vegan vitamins for vegetarians and vegans varies greatly depending on which supplement you need. You can find many of the above-mentioned supplements for the same price as non-vegan supplements.
While a multivitamin will be cheaper than individual supplements, they often do not work as well. They also may include vitamins for vegans and minerals you don’t need since you get enough in your daily diet. Mass-produced supplements are normally much cheaper than healthier vegan options. However, these supplements often offer limited absorption and effectiveness. Purchasing a premium supplement ensures you get the most out of the supplement.
Out of all the vegetarian supplements mentioned, vegan omega-3 supplements cost more than non-vegan options since they are derived from algae instead of fish oil.
Do Supplements for Vegans Work?
Yes, Vegan supplements work just as well as their non-vegan competitors. They offer the same benefits as non-vegan vitamins and can help you live a long and healthy life. They’re also good for the environment and help reduce animal harm around the world.
Switching to vegan supplements can improve your health and lifestyle even if you’re not a vegan. So, does a vegan need supplements? The answer depends on how well balanced of a diet is being consumed.