Many experts agree that a vegan diet can be healthy at all stages of life. Some even say that it can protect against the diseases that impede our longevity. However, it’s important to acknowledge what we need to include when switching to a new diet as opposed to just looking at what should be cut out.
The unfortunate reality is that produce grown today is not as nutrient-dense as what was on the grocery store shelves a few decades ago. Soil depletion, pesticides, and the amount of time a fruit or vegetable spends getting to your plate are to blame. Moreover, we aren’t always capable of maintaining a well-planned and complete diet every day.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to know which vitamins and minerals are necessary as a vegan. Here are some tips to help you properly supplement your diet.
Know What You Need
Start by consulting a physician. They can analyze your unique situation and help you determine what your body is in need of most. That said, you can expect some of the following key nutrients to be on the list:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Long-chain omega-3s (fatty acids)
It’s a rather extensive list, but chances are that you won’t need to consume all of these nutrients in supplement form. There are vegan-friendly foods that contain a healthy serving of said nutrients, it’s just that some tend to be uncommon. For instance, Vitamin B12 can only be obtained from fortified cereal, yeast, and a few types of mushrooms.
Read the Label
Be sure to follow the dosage guidelines recommended by your doctor or the label on the packaging. Too much of a certain nutrient can cause more harm than good. This is especially true for fat-soluble vitamins (A, E, and D) and iron, which can build up to toxic levels if taken in excessive amounts.
If you have children or pets, it’s important to keep your supplements out of their reach and sight. Another noteworthy matter related to storage is the capsules your vitamins and minerals are contained in. Sometimes, they can be difficult to swallow or come with an unpleasant taste. Having to take a handful of different pills each day can also be frustrating, not to mention the fact that some capsules are made out of animal products.
A good solution to all of these problems is to purchase your own capsules. This way, you can mix individual pills into one, whether to make it more convenient or to create your own dosage. Check out all of the various gelatin capsule sizes available online to find the right fit for your needs.
Another reason to carefully read the label of any supplement you take is to find out whether it’s known to have any adverse reactions to certain medications. Some vitamins and minerals can reduce your ability to absorb other medications, such as antacids and antibiotics.
It’s also true that some dietary supplements are better taken on an empty stomach, while others should be taken with food. You can speak to a doctor or local pharmacist about any potential interactions.
The best approach to buying off-the-shelf supplements is to avoid any that come with suspicious health claims or additional ingredients. If you need a Vitamin D supplement, get one that only contains Vitamin D. Anything on top of that is likely unnecessary and could cause harm.
Proper supplementation is a necessary aspect of vegan diets. With a bit of research and consultation, you can determine what you need and move forward in your change to healthier and more ethical eating.