3 Supplements Vegans Should Consider Using
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Individuals new to the vegan lifestyle may take a few months to adapt their eating habits to a plant-based diet. While it’s possible to consume all the required nutrients from vegan foods, some people new to the lifestyle may not have enough variation in their meals to achieve the daily requirement for minerals and vitamins that our body requires to function optimally.
New vegans should consider supplementing with a few essential nutrients to ensure their body remains in excellent health and they avoid accumulating nutrient deficiencies in critical vitamins and minerals.
Here are three supplements to add to your shopping list.
Vitamin B12 is the only nutrient not supplied in sufficient quantities through a plant-based diet. As a result, vegans may begin to experience symptoms of deficiency in B12 as soon as a year after starting a vegan diet.
B12 is essential for creating new hemoglobin in the body that transports oxygen in the bloodstream. When we don’t get enough B12, deficiency in the nutrient leads to the development of a condition known as anemia, where the blood doesn’t hold enough oxygen to maintain healthy physical and cognitive function.
Vegans should take a vitamin supplement containing at least 1,000 mcg of B12 (check the serving size), once a week to maintain healthy levels of the nutrient. If you don’t have a fear of needles, visit your doctor for a B12 injection as it’s the best way to ensure your body absorbs this essential vitamin.
Most people think calcium’s only function in the body is to maintain strong bones and teeth. However, calcium is a critical mineral responsible for managing the health of your nervous and muscular system as well. Calcium is also essential for cell communication and new cell growth, without it, your body may begin to experience seizures.
Since vegans don’t consume dairy products, it’s a prudent idea to supplement with the mineral. According to data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the daily value for calcium is 1,000-milligrams.
Our last recommendation isn’t a supplement; it’s more of a potent superfood with fantastic health benefits. Acai berries are rich in polyphenol antioxidants, called anthocyanins which clear the bloodstream of free radicals, the particles that lead to the signs of aging – such as wrinkles.
Acai is another way of detoxifying the blood and reducing blood glucose levels. Vegans tend to eat more fruit, and that comes with more natural sugar. Keep your blood sugar in check by adding acai to your meals.
Some health food retailers sell dehydrated acai berries or frozen acai puree, and you’ll struggle to find fresh sources of the superfood. However, dried acai still contains all of the beneficial compounds if you can find it. Another option is to opt for pure acai in the form of a supplement.
First and foremost, get your blood work checked! Whenever you start using supplements, it's extremely important to have a baseline report and to get the approval of a medical professional. Your physician will sit down with you and go through your results, informing you of any mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
After spending 6-months on your new plant-based diet, visit your doctor again and have them take a blood sample for nutrient analysis. Repeat this process at least once or twice a year to ensure you enjoy excellent health.