A Supplement Guide for Vegans

May 17, 2012

I always tell people who decide to “go vegan” that they better understand what they are doing or else they will have many deficiencies later on.  Though I do not recommend a vegan diet to anyone, some people are heavily invested morally into it and these tips are simply meant to help safeguard people as much as possible.

The vegan will eat absolutely nothing that has to do with animals in any way at all. Whether they avoid certain food because it contains honey or marshmallows, or because it contains gelatin, the vegan is going to be challenged in terms of nutrition.

This brief guide is going to give the details about the essential supplements that all vegans will require in order to be sure that they get the kinds of nutrients that the standard vegan diet just cannot supply. It is important to remember that the best sources for vitamins and minerals are food sources, and that many supplements have to be consumed more than once a day because the body may not be able to absorb them at the time they were initially consumed. On top of that vitamins and minerals do not act alone. They often need other co factors in order to get absorbed and utilized.

The list below gives the names and quantities of the most significant supplements, but it is also a very good idea to sit down with an expert in nutrition to discuss any additional requirements.

Amino acids – 2-6 per day of 1g supplements – These are the essential acids for good health and they can control everything from blood pressure to the functions of certain cells. Because these are most often found in animal proteins, it is going to be vitally important for a vegan to take supplements.

Carnitine – 500-2,000 mg (1/2 -1 hour before breakfast or lunch) – Because this is synthesized from amino acids and used for cellular functions, it is important to get an appropriate amount of this acid every day.

Iodine – 150 mcg – Metabolism is controlled in part by the thyroid, and this glandular network has to have enough iodine to function properly.

Iron – 18 mg  – This is an essential element for almost all life on the planet, and a vegan is going to have to have enough to prevent anemia or other issues relating to the blood cells.

Methionine – 2,000 mg – (or plenty of brazil nuts, sesame seeds, and almonds) This is an amino acid that serves as a primary tool for synthesis, meaning it is important to the processing of almost all other amino acids and nutrients.

Selenium – 200 mcg – Incorporated into most proteins and needed in only small amounts, a vegan is unlikely to find sources of this element in their diet.

Vitamin B12 – 100 mcg – The “happiness” vitamin, it is also only found in animal food sources. Some vegetable components seem to mimic vitamin B12 but act very differently in the body. The body stores Vitamin B-12 between 2-5 years so people may not feel this deficiency for years but when it does it creates havoc on your mood and your health.

Vitamin D – 1,000 IUs or as per testing (usually ranges to 4x this amount) – Essential for processing calcium properly, Vitamin D is found in animal sources ranging from fish oils and eggs to some yeasts and mushrooms. The quantities required make supplementation essential.

Zinc – 25 mg – Inadequate zinc levels lead to a long list of health problems, but it is found mostly in animal sources. This is why supplementation is required.


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