Supplements You Need On A Vegan Diet - Or Really Any Diet.

There is a great push from celebrities, doctors, and other major health influencers to increase consumption of plant-based foods. The vegan sector has been rapidly increasing, growing by an impressive 92% in Australia alone (source 1).
Many believe that being on a vegan diet (or any other diet) automatically means healthy. But the reality is that diets, including vegan, often still include highly processed foods that have been shown to negatively affect the entire body. According to one study it was found out that adults consuming more than four servings per day of processed foods increase their chances of stroke, diabetes, cancer, and other health hazards by over 60% (source 2). Studies also show processed foods have a negative impact on concentration, decision making, focus, and energy levels.

hidden nasties within
hidden nasties in processed food

While ‘processed foods’ category includes the usual suspects such as crisps, confectionary (chocolates, lollies, jellies, etc), and soft drinks, you may be surprised to know that it also includes fruit snacks, granola bars, bliss balls, protein bars/shakes/powders, other supplements. Researchers have found many of these may contain added sugar, calories, and toxic chemicals (source 3). 

But at the same time, as people alter their diets and lifestyles there can sometimes be some gaps in nutritional needs. The general movement towards consumption of plant-based foods extends to supplements. The natural-based ones may be gentler and may seem to take a little longer to show there effects, but rest assured they DO work, being better absorbed into the body, with longer lasting effects that welcome mental clarity, improved mood, sustained release of energy, and overall health benefits.Natural SupplementsSo which supplements do you need the most?

It all depends on your current lifestyle and diet. The best option is to check with your physician or dietician. However, generally the most essential natural supplements that your body needs are (source 4) :

Iron for a healthy immune system

Many people who start a new diet experience a lack of energy and constant fatigue. There could be a myriad of reasons for this. One of the most common is iron deficiency. While this can be found various animal meats/products such as liver, it also occurs naturally in lentils, kale, red kidney beans, edamame, chickpeas, other legumes, and nuts. Including these foods in your daily diet can assist in keeping up your iron levels. However, if your levels are particularly low you may need to consult with your physician who will probably run tests (which should be done regularly anyway) and may recommend a suitable iron supplement.

Calcium For Strong Bones

Calcium is an essential nutrient your body needs to build and maintain strong bones, as well as to support heart, muscles, and nerve function. Most people know that calcium is found in animal products such as dairy milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, salmon with bones, and fortified foods.
There is also an abundance of plant-based sources, including dark leafy greens (such as bok choy, kale, spinach, broccoli, etc), sesame seeds, tahini, soy beans (especially edamame), pulses, beans, various unroasted nuts (especially Brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts), seaweeds (kelp, wakame). It is important to note though, that our bodies have difficulty in absorbing calcium without Vitamin D.

Vitamin D For A Better Mood

Vitamin D is one of the feel-good vitamins that regulate mood and improve immune system function. It can also help in absorbing other vital nutrients such as Calcium. Vitamin D is readily found in mushrooms and is naturally produced by our bodies through exposure to sunshine!
Having your sources of calcium with healthy fats found in avocados, nuts, and seeds is particularly helpful in absorption of Vitamin D (and calcium) into your bloodstream.

Vitamin B12 For Healthy Blood Cells

Vitamin B12 is one of the most vitamins to source naturally, but it’s a vital component of the healthy body. Vitamin B12 is responsible for the creation of red blood cells, DNA, and RNA – all important for maintaining essential bodily functions. Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, however there are great alternatives for plant-based diets, such as mushrooms, nori seaweed, tempeh, and in particular raw-fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kim chi, kombucha, tapai (fermented rice), fermented pickles (cucumbers, tomatoes, vegetables, etc) (source 5) .

Zinc For Healthy Metabolism

Zinc is important for maintaining a healthy immune system, metabolism and repairing cells, as well as for sense of taste and smell. Once again, as with other nutrients mentioned above, this can be found in many animal products. The animals’ bodies contain these nutrients because they process plants which naturally contain this. A common misconception is that zinc is difficult to find in plants, however there is an abundance in pepitas (raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds), other raw seeds, whole grains, tofu, tempeh, legumes (beans, lentils, etc). Soaking the seeds, grains and legumes prior to consuming/cooking them (especially if they sprout) aids in zinc absorption when you eat them (source 6).

Best Bits

The Best Bits

In short, you can find pretty much all the nutrients you need through eating the right foods to feel your best self. The ones you need to look out for the most include iron, calcium, vitamin d, vitamin b12, and zinc.

Avoid processed foods as much as possible, as these have hidden nasties and will not only fail in delivering the nutrients you need, but also may have unwanted side-effects.

Enjoy wholefoods, including plenty of natural vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, pulses, which are as minimally processed as possible, as well as fermented foods, and a touch of natural sunlight.

We should re-iterate though that if in doubt or if you have symptoms that are troubling to you (fatigue, difficulty concentrating, poor sleep, digestive issues, or anything else), please see your physician/doctor/specialist. There are numerous underlying causes (some may be serious) for a variety of symptoms. Your best way to find out is for your trusted medical professional(s) to run the relevant tests, find out the cause and provide you with an effective path to treating the symptoms and also reducing the likelihood of re-occurrence.

Feel good! Look after yourself and those around you.

It is always a pleasure to hear about other’s experiences, and sharing is caring, so please leave a comment. 😊








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