Nutrients for Vegan diet

Vegan Diet: How To Get Enough Nutrients?

Since it’s Veganuary you might on that vegan hype. However if you’re a newbie in the vegan world, you may also be wondering how to keep your nutrition tip top. It’s true, a varied vegan diet can be incredibly nutritious, offering a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, as well as reducing obesity and improving cardiovascular health. The health benefits of a vegan diet are overwhelming!

Thankfully the number of vegan options in supermarkets and independent food stores has risen dramatically in recent years. However the amount of certain vitamins and minerals in these isn’t always consistent and deficiencies can easily occur. This is particularly the case with Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, iodine and selenium, which can form a weak point in an otherwise nutritionally robust vegan diet.

When we try anything new there’s always going to be obstacles. We all lead very busy lives and occasionally pay less attention to our diet than we’d like to. This can result in key nutrients being missed. Leading to conditions such as anaemia or a weakened immune system.

Although it is entirely possible to derive all the nutrition that your body needs through eating plants alone, it is not easy for everyone. Often it involves a lot of planning and sourcing some obscure or seasonal ingredients. That’s where we come in! We have scrutinised the ‘average’ plant-based diet and compiled a list of vitamins and minerals which are most often low or absent. It is important that these are not neglected, whilst enjoying the many health advantages of the vegan diet.

Nutrient referent value found in food vs nutrient reference value found in 2 Vegums Multivitamin Gummies

Supplements

Firstly, it is recommended to obtain nutrients from food sources. Supplements should always be taken in support of a well balanced diet. However, as we mentioned earlier, some vitamin and minerals can be difficult to obtain. Sometimes is can be tricky to optimise nutrient intake through diet alone. Some argue that a plant-based diet proves insufficient if supplementing is recommended. On the contrary, as Doctor Gemma Newman explains, “But anyone who eats shop-bought bread is receiving fortification of calcium, iron, niacin and thiamine. Anyone drinking cows milk is receiving fortified iodine. Without realising it, we are technically eating supplements in our food all the time” in her book The Plant Power Doctor. This is a great way to debunk myths surrounding supplementation. Of course, we are bias, but we strongly believe supplementing is essential for any diet.

The Plant power doctor: book providing advice for following a healthy vegan diet
https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1120127/the-plant-power-doctor/9781529107746.html

Vitamin B12

If you have decided to eat plants alone it is important to supplement vitamin B12. Even people who eat meat and dairy may need to supplement B12 by the age of 50 due to a decreased absorption rate. Our bodies are typically poor at absorbing it!

The body utilises B12 to make new red blood cells, which carry oxygen in the blood. It is also essential for normal health, as well as development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. Deficiency in B12 may lead to clinical symptoms such as anaemia and nerve cell damage. Early signs of B12 deficiency include tiredness, shortness of breath, problems with concentration and numbness/tingling of the hands and feet.

Vitamin B12 is almost completely absent in plant-based foods. Even unwashed organic vegetables do not contain significant levels of B12.  This often leads vegans having B12 levels significantly lower than recommended levels.

Vegan Engevita yeast flakes: health food for vegan diet

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is especially important at the moment with us being in lockdown. It not readily available in food. The most reliable way (if we weren’t to supplement) is through sun exposure. 20% of the UK general population are clinically deficient in vitamin D, with many more falling short of the recommended intake. From late March/early April to the end of September most people should get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight. However between October and early March we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone. Since we’re indoors at lot more it’s important to be aware of this.

Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate absorbed into the body, which are vital in developing and maintaining bone, teeth and muscular health. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Although vitamin D can be found in fortified foods such as some cereals and fat spreads, it is generally only found in meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. It is therefore recommended that those following a plant-based diet should supplement it with at least 10mcg of vitamin D daily. This is particularly important for people with darker skin or those spending large amounts of time indoors.

Vegan diet: vitamin D

Iodine

Iodine is another nutrient which jumps out with importance. Consistent intake of iodine is essential for thyroid health, which controls metabolic rate. Deficiencies can easily result in fatigue, hair loss, reduced metabolic rate and weight gain.

8% of the UK general population fall short of recommended intakes of iodine. Plants do not utilise iodine for growth, and therefore these nutrients are generally only found in dairy products and fish. Although some table salt contains iodine there are risks associated with high salt content. You’d have to consume 1/4 TSP of salt for just 50% of your nutrient reference value. Whereas you could take two of our delicious strawberry flavoured multivitamin gummy bears and receive your daily dose. We know what we’d prefer!

Vegums: Vitamins created for vegan diets

Selenium

Often forgotten, selenium is a powerful antioxidant, which protects the cells in our body from damage. Usually a handful of brazil nuts will give you your daily intake. However if you’re plant-based and don’t fancy gobbling nuts (pardon the pun). Then supplements can be a great source, to make sure you’re topped up.

Selenium also plays a vital role in maintaining our immune system. Even a mild deficiency can result in muscle weakness, hair loss and a weakened immune system.  33% of the general population fall short of recommended intakes of selenium. Which is generally only found in meat, fish and Brazil nuts.

Selenium is an essential nutrient for plant-based diets
https://sixfishes.com/2020/01/03/take-2-nuts-and-call-me-in-the-morning/

Other Nutrients to Consider In Your Vegan Diet

In addition to the essential nutrients mentioned, vitamin B6 and folic acid, which are often deficient in plant-based diets and may contribute to tiredness, poor concentration and low mood.

It is also recommended to supplement omega-3 from plant sources such as algae oil. For heightened concentration and eye health. Not to mention it’ll have your hair and skin glowing.

Omega-3, vitamin B6 and folic acid are essential nutrients for plant-based diets. However, it can complicated to find them in food. Therefore, it is important to consume supplements

A diet rich in fruits and veggies with give you nothing but benefits. Whether you’re a supplement geek or not it’s safe to say it does make life a little easier. Here’s to plant power!

Sources:

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1120127/the-plant-power-doctor/9781529107746.html
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