Note: this post has been updated in March 2021.
Vitamins are one of the essential nutrients. The big question that we need to ask here “are you getting enough of the essential vitamins? The answer could very well be NO even if you are not vegan.
Vitamins are essential for growth and normal functioning of body processes. Vitamins regulate chemical reaction in our bodies which plays a significant role in blood clotting. Vitamins cannot be synthesized in the body, hence vitamins must be taken through dietary sources like vegetables, fruits, bread, and cereals, or supplements.
Many think there are at least thirteen vitamins that play a crucial role in the human body. They are fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. The bottom line is that every vitamin is important for the proper functioning of the human body. Did you know that a thiamine deficiency will cause Beri Beri and a deficiency of vitamin A may lead to night blindness?
What are the 13 essential vitamins your body needs?
The 13 essential vitamins your body needs are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and the B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyroxidine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12). The four fat-soluble vitamins—A, D, E, and K—are stored in the body’s fatty tissues. The other nine vitamins are water-soluble and therefore must be replenished regularly because they are removed from the body in your urine. Vitamin B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that is stored in the liver. - via 13-essential vitamins your body needs stay healthy
The Essential Vitamins for vegans
In the following section the discussion will be on the vitamins that are on a plant-based or vegan diet. However the discussion could include all individuals. If you are following a plant-based or vegan diet you may need to tweak your diet to ensure you’re getting these key vitamin.
Why is B12 important?
According to the National Institutes of Health, B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, and it helps manufacture DNA.
Vitamin B12 is found only in animal foods. Because vegans don’t eat dairy, beef or other animal-based products, they must find other ways to get B12, says Peg Haust-Arliss, a vegan lifestyle coach. She notes that B-12 actually comes from soil that animals ingest.
Mitra Shirmohammadi, a registered holistic nutritionist, says that although some forms of nutritional yeast contain B12, it’s not advisable to rely on nutritional yeast as the sole source of this vitamin.
Risks of Having Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Consequently, vegetarians and vegans run the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. The risk increases the more plant-based one eats, with long-term vegans being at the highest risk. In one study, vitamin B12 deficiency affected 86 percent of all vegans. Vitamin B12 deficiency is serious and can cause anemia, nerve damage, neurocognitive changes, and, over time, paralysis—all problems that you don’t need. via - Risks of Having Vitamin B12 Deficiency
The good news is that vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be prevented. Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified foods, like certain cereals, soy milk, and nutritional yeast. Yet, the simplest and most reliable way to ensure you get an adequate amount of B12 is to take an oral supplement. The usual dose for the average person is 250 micrograms a day or 2,500 micrograms a week. I personally take a daily supplement for consistency, but either option is OK. If you are not sure if you are getting enough or getting too much, you can always see your doctor to get your levels checked. - via - What Are the Best Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12?
Vitamin D or D3
Why is vitamin D important?
The Cleveland Clinic has valuable information on Vitamin D Deficiency and explains how vitamin D helps absorb calcium, block the release of a hormone that makes bones thin and brittle, improve muscle function and boost the immune system. An excellent chart which helps to answer the age old question of "How much vitamin D do you need?" is provided by The Cleveland Clinic.
For vegans and non meat and non-dairy eaters vitamin D deficiency can be a problem. However, reversing a vitamin D deficiency is fairly simple if you be eat a well balanced vegan meal and maybe taking a few supplements.
Health and nutrition coach Marina Yanay-Triner says the best way for a vegan to bump up vitamin D levels is to head outside and soak up some sun.
“To get vitamin D, a light-skinned person requires an average of 10 to 15 minutes of warm sunlight on the forearms and face, and darker-skinned individuals need two to six times that amount in time or skin exposure,” Yanay-Triner says. And if that does not work you can take various vitamin supplements that contain vitamin D.
Omega-3 fatty acids
For vegans, the most efficient vehicles for getting omega-3 fatty acids are sea vegetables and microalgae, such as spirulina and wakame, Shirmohammadi says. You also can take supplements loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
Should you take a vitamin supplement?
The big question that we need to ask Are You Getting Enough Vitamins? The answer could very well be no if you do not eat a balanced diet including all essential nutrients. How about your children, are they getting their vitamins, see Healthy Kids and Multivitamins Do They Go Together.
If you want to take a supplement and maybe you should but make sure that it is a “good” supplement. The problem with most traditional nutritional supplements is that their ingredients are combined with fillers, binders, and other additives, making them difficult to be recognized and absorbed by the body. They’re also likely degraded by digestive fluids and enzymes in the digestive tract. The result?
One of the best supplements that I have found and recommended by many plant-based experts is Complement. Complement, together with a whole food, plant-based diet, will provide you with the nutrients you need to thrive and live a healthy life.
A Trusted resource to join and it is FREE
Join the Physicians Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet
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