BEFORE YOU READ – PLEASE REMEMBER, EVERY BODY HAS INDIVIDUAL NEEDS. JUST BECAUSE I TAKE SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD/NEED TO. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR NEEDS ARE. I AM A HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST, BUT I AM NOT A DOCTOR, NOR A REGISTERED DIETICIAN, SO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH + CONSULT WITH A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.
I frequently make note on my Instagram story, that vegans need to take their B12, and am always met with several questions about what vitamins I take. I’ve always been hesitant to share, because as mentioned above, every single body is different and has different needs. Everything from diet, to activity level to environment have an impact on what someone may need. That being said, there ARE definitely some vitamins that many vegans may miss out on without supplementation and that’s exactly what we’re covering today. I’ll be sharing what vitamins vegans should look into, what to look out for to make sure they are vegan, and end with a list of vitamins and supplements that I take (and why).
The single vitamin that I would encourage all vegans (and most omnivores too, more on that later) to supplement is B-12. While you can find B-12 in foods like nutritional yeast, spirulina, and fortified plant milks, it is a little more easily found in animal products. A B-12 deficiency can cause anemia, low energy, fatigue, loss of sensation and more. The recommended dosage for the average human varies by country, but I have been going by 250 micrograms/day or 2,500 micrograms/week since going vegan.
There are 2 common forms of B-12, cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin. Once again, there are advocates for each form of B-12 being “better” than the other, but cyanocobalamin tends to be more inexpensive on average, and many vegans I know favour methyl. When it comes to picking your B-12 supplement, liquid, sprays and under the tongue dissolvables are typically recommended.
My recommendations: MegaFood’s Vegan B12, MyKind’s Vitamin B12 Spray, Global Healing Center’s Under the Tongue Drops, and these gummies (good for picky people because it tastes good, and includes vitamin D3).
Vitamin D supports calcium and phosphorus absorption as well as immunity, and other essential body functions. There are not many foods that contain vitamin D naturally, and vitamin D deficiency is not specific to vegan individuals. You can make vitamin D by being under the sun, but your geographic location, the climate you live in and the time of year can impact your ability to produce it. Vitamin D3 is the D vitamin that has always been recommended to me by my doctor, and it’s common to find vegan supplements formulated with D3. The RDA tends to be about 600IU/day but I supplement about 2,000 IU/day. Consult with your doctor to find out what dosage you may need.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential for heart health, eye and brain health. This is something I recommend you include in your diet by consuming plants rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) like ground flax seeds and chia seeds. I personally supplement by consuming 1 tbsp of ground flax daily (in smoothies, oatmeals, or sprinkled on toast). You can also supplement with flax oil or flax oil capsules (that’s right, you don’t need fish oil to get omega-3s). If using ground flax or chia seeds, I recommend storing flax seeds in the freezer, and grinding fresh with a coffee or spice grinder when consuming because grinding your flax seeds may allow for better absorption.
My recommendations: Simris algae-based, vegan Omega-3 Capsules
Another easily edible supplement via delicious brazil nuts. A daily brazil nut should suffice to supplement selenium if you need it, and men are typically recommended no more than 2 a day. Be mindful when eating brazil nuts, as eating too many can cause adverse effects (I know they’re yummy, but don’t play around). I recommend taking a test with your doctor first, to see if you really even need supplementation here to begin with!
Eat your (low-oxalate-dark-leafy) greens my friends. This is an easy one to include in your diet just by eating your greens. The age old myth that you need to drink milk to get your calcium in is simply not true. In fact, most dairy milk is fortified with calcium, meaning it isn’t naturally a rich source.
There’s a common stereotype that vegans are anemic and iron deficient, and while not necessarily true, it IS important to avoid becoming iron deficient. You may feel weak and fatigued if experiencing an iron deficiency and while animal products tend to be richer sources of iron, there are plenty of plant sources too. Beans and legumes (including tofu), whole grains and dark greens like spinach all contain iron and consuming iron rich foods in combination with vitamin C sources will increase the absorption.
Found in foods like seaweed (nori), dulse flakes which you can easily shred and top your salads/savoury meals. Our bodies need iodine in order to produce thyroid hormones, which are responsible for cell growth and repair as well as a healthy metabolism.
Not a vitamin, but something people seem to be very concerned about, especially when it comes to vegans. Most people overemphasize how much protein you really need to eat. The ratio I like to go by is 0.8 grams per kg of bodyweight per day, but you may have different needs based on your lifestyle, or if you’re trying to build muscle.
You do NOT need to supplement protein with a powder if you are vegan, because there are a variety of protein rich plant foods like beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, tofu and tempeh, and even just veggies. However, while my preferred method of protein consumption is by eating protein rich plant foods, I do supplement with protein powder now and then to support my active lifestyle.
There are a variety of plant protein supplements available these days including soy protein, pea protein, rice protein and hemp protein to name a few. I typically favour the last three over soy, or simply tossing whole hemp seeds into a dish or smoothie. As with vitamins, protein powders are not all created equal. Beware of artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, fillers and ingredients that don’t necessarily belong in a protein powder. I like this guide as a reference for decoding protein powders.
The Amazing Grass Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Powder and Nuzest Chocolate Protein are my personal favourite for taste, and for unflavoured, straight protein, no added ingredients, I really like Moon Juice Adaptogen Protein Powder and Your Super Muscle Power Protein. I also really enjoy the Philosophie Love Cacao Magic Protein (can you tell I like chocolate?).
Vitamins for vegans particularly can be tricky because many vitamins are coated in, or encapsulated in gelatin, which is not vegan. Make sure you thoroughly read the ingredients, especially if looking into a tablet or capsule. Even if the bottle reads “vegetarian“, it may still contain gelatin. Another example is MegaFood’s Vitamin D3, which is specifically labelled vegetarian, not vegan, because the D3 is sourced from lanolin, which is not vegan. Other ingredients I keep in mind are collagen, a trendy ingredient that many people don’t realize is derived from bones of animals, and magnesium stearate (there is a plant derived form, but you always need to double check). Many probiotics are derived from, or contain animal products and dairy, so make sure you confirm that your probiotic is specifically vegan as well, if supplementing.
Sourcing is another very important thing to keep in mind when purchasing vitamins. Not all vitamins are created equal. In other words, a cheap supplement is generally cheaper for a reason. Pricier supplements are often pricier because more care is taken when sourcing ingredients, and they may be certified organic, glyphosate free, etc.
*See end of blogpost for a list of brands I typically trust and recommend*
Looking at dosage is particularly important if you’re purchasing a tablet form or capsule form of vitamin. Make sure you’re purchasing a dosage in line with what amount you’re looking to supplement, or something that will allow you to easily double up, or halve to reach. It is possible to take too much of a vitamin, and not all, but some, come with side effects when over-consumed. More is not always better.
Also, as fun and delicious as gummies are, it’s typically more effective to take tablets versus gummies.
It’s always best to follow directions on the vitamin label–make sure that you’re taking your vitamins/supplements as directed. Some need to be taken on an empty stomach, some are best taken in the evenings and some with meals. Some vitamins are water soluble and some are fat soluble, meaning you may also need to take specific vitamins with water (more than just water to swallow), or fats to properly absorb what you’re taking.
Figure out a “vitamin schedule” that works for you and lines up with when you typically eat your meals. Keep this in mind particularly when you’re traveling somewhere with a different time zone. I like to keep track of my vitamins in a vitamin holder, so I never lose track of the day no matter where in the world I am. It might sound silly, but I have a lot of vitamins (not to mention medications) that I would prefer not to double up on by accident due to timezone change!
Last but not least, everything I take below, and why. Again, it’s best not self prescribe what I take for yourself, I am only sharing this to give you insight into what my vitamin + supp rotation looks like. I have/have had serious health issues and therefore take a few things that are not necessary for the average healthy human. Best move is to consult with your doc!
B-12 & D3 – See above recommended products. Recently, I was taking a combined B-12 & D3 vitamin gummy from Herbaland because I was testing it out, and to be real with you, they’re just really yummy! I’ve also taken a complete round of Holier’s vegan multivitamin, as well as a round of Ritual’s daily multivitamin, both which contain B-12.
Ground Flaxseeds – Added to smoothies, oatmeals or on top of salads. I aim for about 1 tablespoon of flax seeds added to whatever I’m eating in a day to include Omega-3s into my diet. They’re really versatile and mild in flavour, so it’s easy to sprinkle on top anything, really.
Probiotics – I have been taking Seed’s daily synbiotic (meaning prebiotic + probiotic) for years now. It’s my favourite and is 100% dairy free (which can be tough to come by as most probiotic products are derived from strains of dairy). You can use code REMY15 for a discount. To further support my gut, I will sometimes take a digestive enzyme when traveling, or experiencing a reaction to something I’m intolerant to.
Zinc – I started taking zinc while working with a doctor through my hormone imbalances. It’s still part of my rotation occasionally and around specific times of my cycle. It supports immunity too, so when I’m sick I like to boost the zinc.
Magnesium – My functional medicine doctor recommended magnesium to me to support my very physically active lifestyle. Additionally, for sleep support, I was recommended to take it right before bed. I take magnesum glycinate nightly.
Turmeric – I try to consume a little turmeric daily, whether in latte form, or in a savoury soup/curry/stew. It’s a great anti-inflammatory ingredient and incredible for joint pain, and relieving symptoms of some autoimmune issues. Consume with black pepper, which helps to enhance absorption of all the goodness that turmeric has to offer your body. The best part is that it’s simply a spice so it’s very accessible, affordable and safe to consume. You can purchase dry powdered spice, or grate your own fresh root for a more potent result.
Other – A few other random things I do/consume daily are warm water + lemon in the mornings, typically matcha at some point during the day (really for taste), chlorophyll added to my morning water when I remember, triphala in my morning matcha when/if my digestion needs help and hibiscus tea or on the regular just because yum. I also love peppermint tea for digestive support and soothing, especially in the evenings after dinner.
On occasion, I’ll supplement smoothies or food with added adaptogens and herbs. A note on that–even though they are natural and plant derived, they are quite potent, and I don’t recommend consuming them just for the sake of consuming them. Approach them with the mindset of taking them medicinally, and I’d look to a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor or Functional Medicine doctor for advice.
As a certified aromatherapist, I thought I’d add that I never consume essential oils orally, and would advise against doing so. Check out this Instagram Story highlight for more details. Essential oils are extremely potent, and can be really damaging to the body when taken orally. Applying to skin (with proper dilution and safety) as well as inhaling via diffuser are the safest ways to benefit from their medicinal qualities.
So long story short, if you’re vegan, you have a higher possibility of needing to supplement B-12 & D3. The rest you can get as long as you’re eating a nutrient dense, balanced vegan diet. Consult with your doctor always to figure out what else you may or may not need, and avoid taking something just because your friend is taking it, or recommends it.
Tried & true brands
MegaFood – All their ingredients are sourced responsible and carefully, and this brand boasts glyphosate free products! MegaFood is also a BCorp, and the products are food-derived. To say quality is important to this brand is an understatement. The only thing I need to mention here is that unfortunately not all of the products are vegan. Make sure you read each product label carefully as only some are vegan.
MyKind – This line of supplements comes from the brand Garden of Life, and offers Non-GMO and USDA Organic vitamins. The line was co-created by fellow vegan Alicia Silverstone, and everything is gelatin-free and plant based. In fact, the products primarily target the needs of vegans, including D3 supplement, Vitamin B12 Spray, and vegan collagen builders to name a few.
Ritual – I recently completed a full cycle of their daily multivitamins and overall really enjoyed them. I noticed no nausea, which is something the brand boasts. The vitamins are comprised of 9 simple ingredients, each which are transparently listed on the website so you can locate the source. The vitamins are essenced with mint which adds a nice fresh scent and taste although I personally prefer vitamins without. The benefit is that it targets many of your daily needs for those looking for an all-in-one. I do prefer to take mine with food as I can sometimes notice an aftertaste from the Omega-3.
SEED – Perhaps one of my favourite probiotic brands out there, primarily because they really want to educate the consumer and they are committed to the environment and sustainability. Their packaging is compostable and recycle-able, and although it’s a subscription based model, you can skip or cancel at any time. In full transparency I have a friend who began working their and couldn’t help but gush about how committed to science the brand is. They really know their stuff (I’d even say they nerd out about it), and they want you to, too.
Hum Nutrition – I’ve taken many of their supplements, including the vegan probiotic and wingman disgestive support supplement. They are GMO-free and sustainably sourced with many vegan options, but not all products are vegan. I don’t take their supplements regularly but from time to time will target specific needs with their products.
Simris – This is an algae-based Omega-3 brand creating all vegan products. Their commitment to non-fish based omegas is part of the reason why I love them so much. They grow algae in sweden, and really champion planet friendly supplements. All vegan.
Pukka Herbs – One of my all time favourite herbal tea brands, that makes the peppermint tea I drink almost nightly. They recently launched herbal supplements, making ayurvedic natural herbs more accessible to all in a standard “vitamin” form. I really love the After Dinner supplement, which is like a potent vitamin form of their After Dinner tea to support digestion. Pukka products are organic, ayurvedic and the brand is a B Corp with a commitment to sustainability.
Herbaland – What can I say? Gummy vitamins are fun and delicious. Whether you’re looking for vitamins your kids will tolerate, or just enjoy a good gummy vitamin as an adult, Herbaland gummies are all vegan.
Global Healing Center – Where I purchased my very first vegan b-12 supplement ever! I have only tried their very basic vitamins, but what initially drew me to them when I first purchased b-12 was their commitment to high standards and affiliation with the Biodynamic Association and Organic Trade Association.
Nature’s Way Organic – I primarily purchase cold and flu natural products from this brand. I have no experience with their other products, but can recommend the Sambucus (Elderberry) throat lozenges to support allergies and cold symptoms.19
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BY Remy • February 4, 2019
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Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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