It’s time to settle the debate once and for all…
For optimal health, vegans should probably take supplements.
There, we said it.
In today’s sanitised and intensively-farmed world, the soil ain’t what it used to be!
In this post, we’ll delve into the key nutrients lacking in a vegan diet, which supplements every vegan needs, and the BEST vegan supplements available to buy in 2021.
Of course, if you follow a balanced & healthy plant-based diet, you might not need every supplement, so we’ve put together a nifty comparison table for you below.
Key Vegan Nutrients
Before we begin, Lucy and I want to make it clear that we are not certified nutritionists or medical professionals and make no claims to the contrary. Please do your own research in addition to this guide and consult your doctor if making any dietary changes, getting blood tests done, or if you’re unsure that supplements are right for you. You are responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health.
Below we have listed the key nutrients that vegans (and even non-vegans) should think about supplementing when planning their diets.
With the rise of convenience food (and the diminishing nutrient content in our soil-grown food), we’re all susceptible to nutrient deficiency.
As long as we eat a healthy, balanced plant-based diet, MOST of us are able to obtain the majority of these key nutrients. However, we are each of us unique and some of us will require different vegan supplements.
To avoid doing a Miley (*facepalm*), we seriously recommend evaluating what you choose to put on your plate and whether or not you need to be taking plant-based supplements. For example, if you’re not eating any vegan sources of omega-3 (chia seeds, Brussels sprouts, hemp seeds, walnuts, etc.), then you probably need to take algae supplements.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin B12 is not made by plants or animals. Instead, it is created by microbes.
The best vegan sources are probably fortified foods, including marmite, nooch, and plant-based milks.
Should vegans take vitamin B12 supplements?
You probably should!
You would have to eat a lot of fortified foods in order to get your RDA, so for a reliable source of B12, vegans should take supplements.
There are many types of omega-3 but the 3 most important are:
ALA, EPA & DHA
ALA is more difficult to find in vegan food but our bodies can convert EPA & DHA if we eat enough.
Should vegans take omega-3 supplements?
If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough ALA in your diet, you may want to take vegan supplements (algae or yeast-derived).
These are particularly recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
This mineral is often forgotten about, but iodine is essential for our health and seriously lacking in most plant-based foods.
Vegan sources include iodized salt and seaweed.
Should vegans take iodine supplements?
You probably should.
Although some vegans choose to regularly eat seaweed instead of taking supplements, iodine levels in seaweeds are hugely variable. There is a risk that you could consume too little or too much, neither of which are good for your health.
Should vegans take vitamin D supplements?
If you’re not eating enough mushrooms or fortified foods (e.g. plant milks, orange juice, etc.) and you have limited access to sunshine, we recommend taking a vitamin D supplement.
Watch out, as some fortified foods use vitamin D from sheep’s wool. Vegan vitamin D usually comes from lichen!
Every single cell in our body contains more than 1 million selenium atoms!
This essential trace element helps maintain a healthy reproductive system, thyroid function, and immune system.
We only need trace amounts for optimum health.
Should vegans take selenium supplements?
According to the NHS, as long as you include nuts in your vegan diet, you should be able to hit your RDA easily.
Brazil nuts are the best source, but too much selenium can be toxic, so don’t overdo it! 1 or 2 a day should do the trick.
Should vegans take calcium supplements?
There are a few great vegan sources of calcium, including kale and other leafy greens, chia and flax seeds, soy products, tahini, beans, and fortified foods.
As long as you eat a healthy, balanced plant-based diet, you should be alright!
Iron is a mineral that is integral to the development of red blood cells, whose role it is to carry oxygen around the body.
Without iron, our bodies struggle to generate energy and carbon dioxide builds up in our blood.
Should vegans take iron supplements?
Plant-based sources of iron are less readily absorbed by the body. However, as long as you are including lots of legumes, beans, nuts & seeds, and leafy green vegetables in your diet, you should be consuming sufficient amounts.
TOP TIP: Pair vitamin C with your iron!
Women between puberty and menopause should be aware that they need more iron than men – particularly if they have heavy periods – and may need to take vegan iron supplements.
Another mineral, zinc helps us to process macronutrients (carbs, fat & protein) and repairs body cells.
Vegan sources include whole grains, tofu, legumes, nuts, and seeds. However, some of these foods contain antinutrients (e.g. phytic acid), so we recommend eating fermented foods such as sourdough, tempeh, and miso for better absorption.
Should vegans take zinc supplements?
Some studies have shown that vegans have slightly lower zinc levels than non-vegans.
If you’re worried about your zinc intake, get your blood levels checked by your doctor and take a vegan supplement if you need to.
Ah…protein. Need we say more?
Ok fine, we’ll say it: vegans do get enough protein! There are so many different plant-based sources, including those with sufficient levels of ALL essential amino acids.
Great sources include seitan, edamame, tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, spelt, hemp, quinoa, amaranth, Quorn, spirulina, etc. etc.
Should vegans take protein supplements?
It’s pretty unlikely that you will need protein supplements as a vegan.
Nevertheless, if you’re into your health and fitness, you may want to take protein powder to increase your intake.
Read our guide to vegan protein powders here.
Nutrition and Supplements
What nutrients do vegans struggle to get?
That entirely depends on your diet but most of us are able to acquire the nutrients we need on a vegan diet.
However, vitamin B12 and iodine are becoming increasingly difficult to find in vegan and non-vegan foods.
Vegans should also ensure that they are consuming enough of the following: zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, selenium, and omega-3.
What supplements do vegans need?
Once again, this entirely depends on the individual. Vegans must think carefully about their diets to ensure that they are getting enough of the nutrients we mentioned above.
We recommend keeping a food diary to assess which nutrients you consume regularly and which ones you are lacking, before consulting a doctor.
Iodine and vitamin B12 supplements are highly recommended for vegans.
Can you be vegan without supplements?
According to the NHS, a healthy, balanced vegan diet should provide your body with all the nutrients it needs without the need for supplements. In fact, taking multivitamins and supplements when you don’t need them could be harmful.
However, if you don’t plan your diet properly and are missing out on nutrients, especially vitamin B12 and iodine, then you should consider taking vegan supplements.
Editors' Top Picks
Our favourite vegan supplements
Most Eco Friendly
For Fitness Fanatics
Build Your Own
Vegan Supplement Comparison
|Dr. Vegan||Multi Vitamins & More||Mid||Buy Here|
|Nourished||Build Your Own Vitamins & Nootropics||High||Buy Here|
|Future Kind||Variety of Vitamins (+ Liquid Iodine!)||Mid||Buy Here|
|Form Nutrition||Multi Vitamins & Protein||Mid||Buy Here|
|Ora Organic||Natural Vitamin Combos||Mid||Buy Here|
|MYVEGAN||Multi & Individual Vitamins||Low||Buy Here|
|Neat Nutrition||Multi Vitamins & Protein||Mid||Buy Here|
Here Are The Best Vegan Supplements
A team of nutritionists with over 30 years of experience in nutrition have joined forces to create the best ethical and sustainably-sourced supplements.
Completely plastic-free, all of their packaging is also reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable.
Dr. Vegan sells a range of supplements, including multivitamins, Vegan Nights, Brain & Memory, Bones & Muscle, Immunity, and individual nutrients such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D3.
Not sure which supplement to buy? No problem, simply take their nutritional quiz and they’ll show you the nutrients you might be lacking!
Dr. Vegan doesn’t currently sell vegan omega-3 or iodine (although the latter is present in their multivitamin) but, after speaking to their customer service team, we learnt that they are developing further supplements and are open to suggestions.
Dr. Vegan’s supplements vary in cost but start out at 19p per capsule.
Oh, and they do plenty of ongoing discounts, special offers, and give you a free travel tin with your first order!
15% discount code: DR15
What do you get when you combine the latest technology with nutrition? Stackable vegan supplements.
Nourished is pretty darn flash…they 3D print customisable stacks of nutrients to deliver unique cruelty-free supplements direct to your door. They’re sugar-free but delicious and you can even choose your flavour coating!
Like Dr. Vegan, Nourished is 100% plastic-free and their packaging is recyclable and compostable. However, each supplement comes individually wrapped, which means the packaging will probably quickly build up and take over your compost, particularly if there’s more than one of you taking these. We found this was a little unnecessary.
Each monthly pack costs £39.99 but you can save £30 if you buy a 3 month’s supply. They also offer a 30% discount if you sign up for a year’s supply of supplements. Even with the discount, these are on the pricier side of the vegan supplements on the market.
Nevertheless, we love how you can customise your stack and it’s a female-founded company!
Nutrients available include iron, vitamins A, B12, C, E, D3, & K2, zinc, folic acid, probiotics, and selenium (no iodine or omega-3 here either).
25% OFF FIRST 2 ORDERS CODE: FEB25
future kind +
Future Kind has been in the vegan supplement game for a while now and they’ve got the nutrient combinations down to a tee.
For example, they sell a vegan multivitamin that contains B12, omega-3, and vitamin D but has excluded other nutrients because most vegans get these from their diets. They also sell deep-earth sourced natural potassium iodine separately, as well as many other combinations and individual nutrients.
Whilst Future Kind uses plastic packaging, it is 100% post-consumer recycled PET, which they insist is more environmentally-friendly than using glass and paper/cardboard. They do endeavour to implement other sustainable arrangements, such as carbon offsetting and hiring many of their staff remotely.
As a one-off purchase, the multivitamin costs 72cents per capsule (roughly 52p) but Future Kind offers a discount on subscriptions and free shipping on orders over $50. You can also buy bundles to save.
10% discount code: BEKIND10
As fitness enthusiasts, Lucy and I LOVE Form! These guys specialise in vegan protein powder and nootropics (supplements for improved cognitive function) but have recently brought out a vegan multivitamin and their Superblend Protein Powder contains lots of essential nutrients, including iron, vitamins A, B6, B12, C, & D3, zinc, niacin, folic acid, and iodine.
If you’re into fitness and require higher levels of protein than most, then Form may just be the perfect vegan supplement for you!
Not only does it taste AMAZING but it also comes in completely compostable packaging (with NO plastic spoon!), has no artificial flavours or added sugar, is packed full of fibre, and is super low in calories. Unfortunately, Form’s nootropics and vitamins come in glass jars with plastic lids (suitable to repurpose though).
They don’t sell individual nutrients but their multivitamin does contain omega-3 and iodine, alongside B12 and many other important nutrients for vegans.
Form is also a B-Corp, so they meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
We really love Ora Organic’s branding and strongly agree with their values regarding ethical health and wellness. Their name is derived from ‘kia ora’, which is a Māori greeting that translates as ‘have life’ or ‘be healthy’.
All of Ora Organic’s products are vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and made with organic, plant-based whole foods.
The vegan supplements come in glass jars with a recyclable plastic lid, but they are currently working towards an even more sustainable system.
Ora Organic focus on natural ingredients to target specific areas of wellness, such as gut health and immunity. They don’t seem to have vitamin B12, iodine, or omega-3. However, they do have vitamin D capsules, plant-based protein, prebiotics and probiotics.
Our favourite thing about Ora Organic is that they 3rd party test their vegan supplements, which means that they meet high standards for quality, ethics, and purity. Their transparency and (in their own words) ‘obsession’ regarding this issue, which is so often brushed under the carpet with other supplement brands, is awesome!
The issue with buying ethical and sustainable supplements is that it can cost a lot of money. Luckily, Myvegan is cruelty-free, working on their sustainability, and relatively budget-friendly.
Whilst most of their packaging contains plastic, Myvegan has committed to improving their plastic footprint by 2023. The brand has formed a partnership with rePurpose Global, a charity helping to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the oceans and landfill. For every product Myvegan sells, they donate a percentage towards vetted programmes that will collect and recycle as much plastic waste from the environment as they use in their packaging and operations.
They sell a number of different options including a variety of plant-based protein powders, vitamins B12 and D3, omega-3, folic acid, iron, and calcium & magnesium (no iodine here either).
Their vitamin bundle contains 90 omega-3 soft gels, 60 vitamin D3 capsules, and 60 B12 tablets for £34.47 – a bargain!
Ever wondered what kinds of supplements team GB athletes take? Well, you need to check out Neat Nutrition!
The company was built by two former team GB swimmers and they are on a mission to produce high quality supplements that support our modern active lifestyles. Their current multivitamin blends include:
Focus + Energy
Sleep + Relax
We particularly love the Focus + Energy blend as it is the only vegan multivitamin that includes all of the main nutrients that we want to supplement. These include iron, B12, Iodine, as well as nootropic cordyceps!
They aren’t an 100% vegan company as they also sell whey powder, but we urge you to try their supplements if you are looking for an all round multivit to supplement your vegan diet.
What's your favourite vegan supplement?