Vegans - Nutritional Support
Vegan diets are great for the environment and animals. Plus, low red and processed meat consumption appears to bestow health benefits including the prevention of chronic diseases (like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer). However, restrictive and monotonous plant-based diets can easily result in nutrient deficiencies with serious deleterious health effects, including suppressed immune function and frequent illness, anaemia, fatigue and impaired cognition. A vegan who supplements with the nutrients their diet lacks will reap the health benefits of their chosen diet without the adverse effects.
Vegans often eat too few omega-3 fats due to lack of fish in the diet (fish is often the primary dietary source of omega-3 fats). Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for life and also protect the heart, brain and immune system. Inadequate omega-3 intake can contribute to multiple ailments, including chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, arthritis) and altered immune and mental states. Flaxseed oil contains the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids of all plants, and its 100% vegan.
Vitamins B2 and B12, from meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs, are essentially absent from vegan diets. Low vitamin B2 and B12 levels can result in anaemia, eye problems and burning skin, amongst other adverse effects. So, vitamin B2 and B12 supplementation is a must for vegans.
Vegan diets are low in certain minerals, specifically zinc, selenium, iodine and iron. A deficit in zinc, selenium and iodine can result in an impaired immune system, poor wound healing, skin lesions, inflammatory disorders and can even aggravate hypothyroidism.
Vegans may eat a lot of plant foods that are rich in iron (e.g. green leafy vegetables, legumes and dried fruit) and iron fortified foods. However, the iron in plants and fortified foods tends to be poorly absorbed, unlike the iron found in meat. Unfortunately many iron supplements often contain animal-derived ingredients. Vegans, ensure you eat sufficient amounts of iron-rich plant foods. These foods must not be eaten at the same time as foods or beverages that can inhibit iron absorption, like tea, coffee, calcium and phytates (found in grains, legumes, nuts and seeds). Also ensure iron-rich food sources are consumed together with vitamin C-rich foods or supplements to improve iron absorption.
It’s often difficult for vegans to fulfil protein requirements necessary for strong muscles and immune systems and overall optimal health. Taking whey protein isn’t an option for vegans, as whey is extracted from milk. Vegans, ensure you get sufficient complete protein from soya, tofu, quinoa, legumes and whole grains. Calcium and vitamin D3 are also particularly important for vegans due to lack of dairy in the diet.
PLEASE NOTE: Products are ranked in decreasing order of potency. Products listed nearer the top of any particular health need are the most effective and have the most scientific research to support their use in respect of such health need. Multiple products, one from each bullet (•) can be combined with products from other bullets for added effectiveness, if needed, since products from different bulleted lines have different mechanisms of action. However, where more than one product is listed within a particular bullet (•), then only one of these products should be used, since all products listed within the same bullet share an identical or similar pharmacology (mechanism of action) for that condition. This is because whenever a particular condition is treated via multiple different mechanisms of action, the result is generally improved effectiveness. However, when products are combined that work via exactly the same mechanism of action, then no extra benefit is obtained.