Hi everyone, I know this is quite controversial. A lot of people see taking supplements on a certain diet as a sign it isn’t healthy or can’t be healthy without assistance. Other vegans sometimes don’t like posts like this because they say you don’t need to take anything to be healthy following a vegan diet.
I’m going to start by saying you don’t need to take anything and I’m going to go through a few foods I eat that include vitamins and minerals that people assume a vegan diet will be lacking.
Now, vitamins and minerals are usually better absorbed if you take small amounts in many doses rather than one pill that contains everything once a day. If you take a multivitamin (like I do), I find it’s best to think of that vitamin as a back-up. If I don’t eat great today, I’ve got my pill, but it’s better to try and get as many nutrients as possible directly from your diet.
I opt for Alpro milks and yogurts etc because they all contain vitamin D and calcium, as well as some B12. They have a good range and it’s easily available everywhere unlike a lot of ‘free from’ brands.
I didn’t know whether to include this as it’s technically still a supplement, and this isn’t something I use daily. But I figured lots of people use protein powder, so I may as well explain why I use mine. My preference is for the MyProtein Active Women Vegan range for two reasons. Firstly, the regular vegan protein is chocolate and this one comes in vanilla; I don’t think chocolate tastes so great in a blueberry smoothie. Secondly, the active women range has added vitamins and minerals. So, not only are you getting extra protein, you’re getting all of this…
I only use this about once a month but again, it’s worth a mention. Many vegans use this in sauces as it has a cheesy flavour, but it’s packed with vitamins and minerals. This is the vitamin profile per serving.
Mushrooms seem to be a very popular food in a vegan or vegetarian diet, opting for chestnut over regular mushrooms gives you 100% of your RDA Vitamin D.
Foods High in Calcium
As well as dairy free milks, a lot of cereals are also fortified with minerals like calcium and iron. Foods naturally containing calcium include kale, collard greens, soy (including tofu) and almonds.
Fun fact: vegetarians are more likely to have lower iron levels than vegans. Where vegans are more likely to struggle with calcium and vitamin D, as they’re commonly in dairy, many veggie dishes are cheese heavy, which doesn’t contain iron. Where a vegan meal is likely to substitute beans and lentils as a main ingredient, a veggie dish may have cheese, meaning the vegan is getting the iron and the veggie is getting the calcium.
A diet containing a good amount of black beans/ kidney beans or lentils is likely to be getting a good amount of iron. Even dark chocolate contains a little bit of iron. But if you’re struggling, try something like bean or lentil noodles/ pasta. They’re simply made from lentil or bean flour, nothing else, therefore are high in plant-based iron and protein.
I’m guessing this is why you clicked in the first place. To be honest it’s quite boring. I take the Holland & Barrett vegan multivitamin once a day and that’s pretty much it. When I first went vegan, I knew the only thing I had to take was B12, so I started taking a B complex vitamin. Your body can’t store most B vitamins. As I was getting enough from my diet, I switched to the multivitamin I take now. The B complex contains a higher amount of B12 than the multivitamin, so to use up the ones I have left I take one of those once week or so (whenever I remember) to boost my B12 intake.
Before I started eating a vegan diet I used to take a zinc tablet for my skin (zinc helps skin heal faster). I also took a healthy bone vitamin (calcium, vitamin D); I had a bone density problem in my hips when I was in my early- mid teens. For the record, I was about 13 when this started and started eating a vegan diet at 20, the issue was nothing to do with a lack of dairy. I was told to take something for my bones basically forever at that point. So, I still do take a separate ‘bone’ vitamin although the ones I take vary. I also took a standard multivitamin on and off.
That’s it for how I supplement my diet, do you take any added vitamins in your diet? I’ll see you tomorrow with my Pancake Day inspired recipe post. Until then,
To see some of my vegan recipes, click here.