Four ‘Essential’ Supplements to Prevent Dangerous Deficiency – Vegans in Danger
A vegan diet is the elimination of all animal products, including meat, fish, cheese, and milk. There are known benefits of this diet, such as weight loss and reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. However, this can lead to certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies depending on the foods you eat instead.
With that in mind, experts at Purolabs spoke to Express.co.uk about how to stay healthy while following a vegan diet. They shared four of the most important supplements to consider if you’re following a plant-based lifestyle.
“Vitamin B12 creates DNA,” they said. “This means it is essential for maintaining the health of blood cells, nerves, brain, skin and nails.
“Vitamin B12 also prevents anemia, birth defects, vision problems, osteoporosis, and symptoms of depression.
“Unfortunately, it is difficult for vegans to get enough of it from their diet as it is found mainly in animal products such as meat, eggs and yogurt.
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“Insufficient levels of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, weakness and constipation. According to the NHS, adults should get 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 every day.
“Or you can include more foods high in vitamin B12 in your diet, such as legumes, leafy greens, nutritional yeast, and sunflower seeds.”
They explained: “Vitamin D3 works in conjunction with calcium to keep our bones, teeth and muscles strong.
“While we get most of our vitamin D3 by soaking up the sun, spending time indoors, and applying sunscreen regularly, we rely on foods like fish and egg yolks to help us meet our daily intake of this important nutrient.
“Low levels of vitamin D3 can make you susceptible to a painful bone condition called osteomalacia.”
People are advised to consume 10 mcg of vitamin D3 each day, which is possible with supplements or foods such as wild mushrooms and fortified soy milk, orange juice, cereal or oatmeal.
“Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, which helps red blood cells carry oxygen from our lungs to all parts of our body,” they said.
Iron is found in food in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found in animal meats, while non-heme iron is found in plant foods.
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“However, non-heme iron is much more difficult to absorb, so we need to consume more of it to get adequate iron levels. An iron deficiency can lead to anemia, which is the absence of healthy red blood cells that distribute oxygen throughout the body.
“You may experience fatigue, weakness, dizziness, pale skin, or cold hands and feet.”
The NHS suggests that men get 8.7mg per day and women get a little more than 14.8mg to make up for blood loss during menstruation.
“Vegan sources of iron consist of boiled spinach, pumpkin seeds, tofu, beans, dried fruits, nuts, and fortified breakfast cereals,” they added.
They said: “Calcium, commonly found in dairy products, is essential for building and maintaining strong bones, proper muscle function, and the release of hormones. Without enough calcium, our bones can weaken, making us prone to osteoporosis and fractures.
“Because the most common sources of calcium are not compatible with a vegan diet, we must find other ways to get the recommended 700 mg of calcium.
“Calcium is commonly found in multivitamins, and taking them every day can help fill in numerous nutritional gaps.
“Fortunately, there are also plenty of vegan, calcium-rich foods you can include in your diet, such as soybeans, tofu, tempeh, broad beans, chickpeas, seaweed, oranges, and blackberries.”
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