No matter what your diet looks like, many modern eaters are lacking essential vitamins. Those who base their diet around plants may find that they are missing vital nutrients. Experts say that there are five supplements all vegetarians, vegans, and plant-based eats should consider. Here’s what they are:
Only found naturally in soil and animal products, B12 is essential for all eaters. According to Harvard Medical School, this vitamin protects the heart, prevents nerve damage, and plays an important role in supporting the immune system and energy levels. Health experts say that everyone, no matter their lifestyle, should have their B12 levels checked annually, in addition to taking B12 supplements regularly—at least 100-200 mcg daily.
Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies today, reports a study mentioned in Scientific American. It is estimated that up to 60 percent of adults around the world do not get the proper amounts of Vitamin D. Essential for good health, Vitamin D helps your body absorb minerals like calcium. It is also crucial for muscle, heart, brain, thyroid, and pancreas function and reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Crohn’s Disease. Getting the proper amount of “The Sunshine Vitamin” can even reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu.
Vitamin D is not present in many foods; however, you can find it in mushrooms, but it can be difficult to know if the mushrooms you are eating have enough of the vitamin. Since it’s hard to find naturally, opt for Vitamin D supplements sold by a reputable company such as Amway. Additionally, you may want to check out trusted resources online and over social media to learn more about the benefits of Vitamin D. Lastly, you may want to get your blood tested every so often to find out if you’re getting enough or too much Vitamin D, as too much can be harmful.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
All three Omega-3 fats — ALA, EPA, and DHA — are vital to human health. A major structural component of our cerebral cortex, DHA is responsible for language, creativity, memory, attention, and emotion. Omega-3s are found mainly in fish and some algae. Plant foods that contain ALA include chia and flax seeds, camelina oil, canola oil, as well as hemp and walnut seeds. While there is no official recommendation, health experts advise consuming a minimum of 250-500 mg of DHA and EPA combined.
Lesser known that its counterpart K1, which is found in plants, K2 is found in egg yolks, dairy items, and some types of fermented foods. This vitamin is associated with reduced bone loss as well as a reduction in the rate of osteoporosis. Naturally, our bodies convert Vitamin K1 to K2, but it is hard to say how much exactly is being converted. It is advised to take 100 mcg of K2 each day.
Nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and nutritional yeast are all sources of zinc. However, the zinc in plant foods can at times be bound to phytates, which can make it difficult for the body to absorb the zinc. Plant-based eaters have been noted to be deficient in zinc, which can lead to weak immune system function. Zinc also plays a role in cell growth, breaking down carbs, wound healing, and it can even help fight the common cold. The general recommendation is 11-12 mg daily.
Without these key vitamins and nutrients vegans and those who follow a plant-based diet could experience both short and long term health problems.