Whether you have tried and tested nearly all of the latest vegan products in your local grocery store or you have a new found love for plant-based recipes - you’re definitely not alone! In fact, vegan diets are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, with a recent study showing that over 9.6 million people now follow a plant-based diet in the United States alone [1].

Although it is possible to get the majority of nutrients you need from a balanced and varied vegan diet, it’s important to keep in mind the essential nutrients that you may miss out on, these include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Vitamin B12

See also: What Are The Functions of Vitamins?


What essential nutrients do vegans need to supplement?


Essential-vitamins-and-minerals-for-vegans

Having a good idea of what makes up a healthy and balanced diet is one of the most important steps to ensure you’re getting the required nutrients when following a vegan diet. If your diet isn’t planned properly, it is possible to miss out on some key nutrients.


Vitamin D


Vitamin D is renowned for playing a crucial role in the growth and development of strong, healthy bones. And while it is possible to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure alone during the brighter months - it can be difficult to get the right amount during the Wintertime, and there are very few plant-based foods that provide a natural source of vitamin D [2].

One of the most reliable ways to know whether you are getting enough vitamin D is by taking a test. If you aren’t getting enough, your healthcare provider may suggest supplements.

See also: What Foods Are High in Vitamin D?


Iron


Iron is an essential mineral that plays some crucial roles including making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body.

While iron is typically known to be found in animal products, there are a handful of plant-based sources of iron that both vegans and vegetarians can aim to incorporate into their diet, these include:

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Tofu
  • Quinoa
  • Dried fruits
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

Vitamin B12


Whether you are following a vegan or a vegetarian diet, vitamin B12 is probably a vitamin that you have heard a lot about - simply because it’s known to be pretty difficult to find plant-based foods that contain it!

Vitamin B12 plays a number of important roles in the body, including supporting the normal functioning of nerve cells. It’s typically found naturally in animal products and while vegetarians can find it in eggs, cheese or milk - there are only a handful of plant-based vegan sources, these include:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Fortified plant milk
  • Tempeh
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified breakfast cereals

One of the best ways to know your vitamin B12 levels is by taking a test.

See also: Do You Have Vitamin B12 Deficiency?


How do vegans get essential nutrients?


Vegans who follow a healthy, balanced diet are able to get the most of the nutrients needed to keep the body, and mind, happy and healthy.

While supplements may sometimes be recommended by a healthcare professional, there are a number of vegan sources of essential nutrients that can be included in a vegan diet - not including what we discussed above! These include:


Calcium sources


  • Leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Sesame seeds
  • Seaweed
  • Beans

Omega-3 fatty acids


  • Tofu
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Edamame

Is there a multivitamin for vegans?


While there are a number of multivitamins currently available on the market aimed towards vegans, it’s important to only incoportate a daily supplement into your diet if your vitamin levels are particularly low and it has been recommended by a medical professional.

If you want to know more about your vitamin levels, you can choose from a range of at-home vitamin tests here.

See also: Can You Strengthen Your Immune System?


What are the benefits of a vegan diet?


According to the University of Oxford, choosing to follow a vegan diet is one of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment [3]. As well as other ethical benefits, another reason people choose to follow a vegan diet is the potential health benefits.

Although more research is needed, there are some noteworthy advantages of a well-balanced vegan diet [3]. A study published in The Lancet Planetary Health highlights these benefits, they include:

  • Improved nutrient levels
  • Reduce premature deaths
  • Lower risk of chronic diseases

It’s important to remember - a lot more research is needed and the potential benefits of a vegan diet can differ depending on the foods you decide to include in your plant-based diet.


One of the best ways to keep an eye on your vitamin levels is through a blood test - this can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s range of at-home Vitamin and Mineral Tests give you the power to know more about your vitamin and mineral levels - Including vitamin D, iron and vitamin B12. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to offer any advice throughout the process.


References


  1. Ipsos Retail Performance. Exploring the explosion of veganism in the United States. Online: Ipsos-retailperformance.com
  2. NHS. Vitamin D. Online: NHS.uk
  3. University of Oxford. Balanced plant-based diets improve our health and the health of the planet. Online: Ox.ac.uk