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Making the transition to a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health, the environment, and the welfare of animals. However, a well-planned vegan diet requires some attention to ensure you are getting all the necessary nutrients your body needs to thrive. While a balanced plant-based diet can provide most of the nutrients your body needs, some supplements can help fill in the gaps and support optimal health. In this article, we’ll explore the best 5 supplements to maintain a balanced plant-based diet.
One of the most critical supplements for vegans is Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system and red blood cells, as well as the production of DNA. Since Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products, vegans must take supplements to ensure they are getting enough. The recommended daily intake for adults is 2.4 micrograms. You can find Vitamin B12 supplements in the form of tablets, sprays, or sublingual drops.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for brain health, heart health, and reducing inflammation in the body. While fish is the most common source of Omega-3s, vegans can obtain them from plant-based sources such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts. However, the body doesn’t convert plant-based Omega-3s as efficiently as those found in fish. Therefore, vegan Omega-3 supplements, derived from algae, can be an excellent addition to your diet. The recommended daily intake is 250-500 mg of combined DHA and EPA.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, healthy immune function, and mood regulation. While the body can produce Vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, it can be challenging to obtain adequate levels, especially during the winter months or if you live in an area with little sunlight. Vegans can obtain Vitamin D from fortified foods such as plant-based milk or supplements. The recommended daily intake is 600-800 IU.
Zinc is crucial for immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis. While zinc can be found in plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, and seeds, the absorption of zinc from plant sources can be limited by phytates. Therefore, vegans may want to consider taking a zinc supplement. The recommended daily intake for adults is 8-11 mg.
Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and oxygen transport in the body. While plant-based sources of iron are abundant, the absorption of iron from plant sources can be limited by the presence of other nutrients such as phytates and tannins. To ensure you’re getting enough iron, consider taking an iron supplement or consuming iron-rich foods with Vitamin C to enhance absorption. The recommended daily intake for adults is 18 mg.
A balanced plant-based diet can provide most of the nutrients your body needs to thrive. However, some supplements can help fill in the gaps and support optimal health. Vitamin B12, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin D, Zinc, and Iron are five essential supplements to maintain a balanced plant-based diet. By including these supplements in your daily routine, you can ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs and supporting your overall health and wellbeing. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.