I’d like to say immediately that no one should begin a supplement regimen without consulting a physician. Furthermore, this article is not a replacement for professional medical advice. I have linked to sources where I used them.
Even though I have only been vegan for a few months, I have been a vegetarian since I was thirteen. Even at thirteen, I had to defend myself from people who insisted that I needed animal protein to survive, I must be anemic, and my parents were horrible and neglectful for letting me eschew meat. Obviously, those people were haters, my parents were awesome, and I grew up pretty much in the pink of health.
As a new vegan, I did have questions. I have genuinely never felt better, at peace with the world, and with my body (sounds kooky, but it’s totally true). I also feel pretty physically amazing; my energy level is higher, my skin is clearer, and I’ll spare you the details of the digestive perks of veganism. But I still wanted to know if my diet was missing anything.
So I approached the Internet in full-on Sunnydale Library Research mode, armed with the following questions:
Do vegans need to supplement? If a vegan diet is so great, vegans shouldn’t need to supplement, right?
The long and short of it is, there is nothing wrong with supplementing on any diet plan. If you are vegan, or paleo, or gluten-free, or whatever, it is a really good idea to make sure you are getting your vitamins. Supplements are fine, and they do not mean there is anything wrong with you or your diet. For vegans, supplementing and maintaining one’s health is particularly important, because everyone suddenly becomes a nutritionist when they find out your diet is different from theirs. If you eat McDonalds, no one asks about your health, because that’s rude. But if you’re a vegan, it’s open season. Anyway.
As I delved deeper, I discovered that there were definitely two major areas where I should begin to supplement. I have also linked to some products that I already use. My B12 and D3 supplements are in the mail!
Do vegans need B12?
Yes, yes yes! Unfortified vegan foods do not have enough naturally occurring B12 to prevent B12 deficiency, which can be extremely serious. If you take nothing else away from this post, please take away that everyone (vegan or not) needs B12.
Is B12 even vegan if I have to supplement?
Good news! B12, while not naturally present in unfortified vegan foods, is vegan! It is produced through bacterial fermentation synthesis.
Does nutritional yeast have enough B12?
Probably not, based on what I’ve read. I love nutritional yeast, especially on popcorn, or in macaroni & cheese, but vegans cannot live on nooch alone!
What is the difference between B12 from methylcobalamin and B12 from cyanocobalamin?
Methylcobalamin is a far more efficient way to get your B12. Cyanocobalamin will leave behind a pesky cyanide group after being broken down by the body (not enough to poison you, but not necessarily ideal).
In shopping for supplements, I have noticed that methylcobalamins are slightly more expensive, but I think that’s ultimately worthwhile.
What is the difference between D2 and D3?
For vegans the big difference was that D2 (ergocalciferol) was fungus-derived and D3 (cholecalciferol) was animal-derived. D3 was recommended because it was similar to what our bodies naturally produced when exposed to sunlight, and D3 the most utilized form in clinical trials (so more was known about it). But people also seemed to get along just fine with D2.
My morning ritual
I take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses every morning, stirred into my coffee or tea (it’s an acquired taste) for calcium and iron.
I also take a tablespoonful of an oil blend for my omegas (3, 6, and 9) and DHA and EPA. I haven’t had much success hiding the oil blend in my foods, so I just slurp a spoonful of it and pretend I’m Jane Banks. “Lime cordial, delicious!”
I ordered the B12 and D3 in liquid form (I can take pills, but I have a deep, burning hatred for it), so I am excited to add them to my collection of morning liquid supplements.
Obviously, there is no better way to be healthy than to have a relatively unprocessed plant-based diet, and I fully intend to eat this way for the rest of my life. As an Eco-Chick on the go, I also know that the responsible thing to do for my health is to supplement (as always, in consultation with a medical professional!)
Want some further reading material? Here are two great sources of vegan supplement information:
What are your thoughts on vitamins, Eco-Chicks? Anyone have any recommendations for good brands, or other supplements I should add? Hit up the Eco-Chick Twitter account, Facebook page, or the comments here!
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