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The best vegan supplements (for people, planet & pocket)

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The best vegan supplements (for people, planet & pocket)

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Media and marketing teams like to scare us into thinking we’re so nutrient-deficient that we need every vegan supplement under the sun.

The truth is, if you’re following this certified nutritionist’s tips on how to get nutrients on a plant-based diet, you certainly won’t need to take a multivitamin each day.

So which supplements should you take and how do you ensure they’re the best choice for your health, the animals, and the planet?

Vegan nutrition is complex. But don’t worry, I’m here to help.

Over the years, I have consulted more nutritionists and tried more vegan supplements than you can shake a stick at.

Pooling together their knowledge and my experience, I’ll outline the nutrients you may be missing in a plant-based diet and my favourite eco-friendly, easily digestible, budget-friendly, and ultimately the best vegan supplements you’ll find to better support your health.

With the rise of convenience food (and the diminishing nutrient content in our intensively-farmed, soil-grown food), we’re all susceptible to nutrient deficiency – vegan or not.

Vitamin B12 and iodine are becoming increasingly difficult to find in vegan and non-vegan foods. Omega-3 is also recommended since plant-based sources tend to contain ALA rather than the more bioavailable EPA and DHA.

Vegans should also ensure that they are consuming enough of the following: zinc, iron, calcium and vitamin D.

For our health, the animals, and the planet, let’s all try to avoid doing a Miley (*facepalm*) and make sure we’re eating a balanced, healthy plant-based diet and taking the necessary vegan supplements.

Iodine, vitamin B12 and omega-3 supplements are highly recommended for vegans and extra vitamin D never goes amiss either but, if you’re following a healthy plant-based diet, it’s unlikely you’ll need a multivitamin.

In fact, consuming excessive nutrients can have detrimental effects. There is a higher risk of this if you take a multivitamin when your diet is already nutrient-dense.

If you think you’re lacking nutrients, we recommend keeping a food diary to assess your intake, before consulting a doctor.

Dr. Vegan provides vitamin B12 subscriptions that come packaged in home compostable bags. And you get a free travel pill tin!

I also love how you can 3D print customisable stacks of nutrients with Nourished’s cruelty-free supplements and get them delivered 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.

I’ve provided links to buy from these sustainable companies below each nutrient in this article but click on this link if you’d like to learn more about them and other vegan supplement brands doing amazing things for people, pockets, and the planet.

The best supplements for a vegan diet

1. Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that you need to obtain from food. It supports nerve cell function and is required for DNA and red blood cell synthesis.

Contrary to popular belief, vitamin B12 is not made by plants or animals. Instead, it is created by microbes. Many farm animals are fed supplements to ensure they are getting an adequate intake.

Vegan sources of vitamin B12

The best vegan sources are probably fortified foods, including marmite, nooch, and plant-based milks.

Should vegans take Vitamin B12 supplements?

Yes! 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.

A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to damage to the nervous system, infertility, and anaemia. It can also increase the likelihood of heart and bone disease.

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2. Omega-3

There are many types of omega-3 but the 3 most important are: ALA, EPA & DHA

Plant-based food usually only contains ALA, which needs to be converted by our bodies to EPA and DHA in order to be useful and bestow health benefits.

Vegan sources of omega-3

Algae contain both EPA and DHA forms of omega-3 – yippee! But you’ll probably want to eat this in supplement form…a mouthful of algae won’t deliver the most pleasant of flavours.

Plant-based sources of ALA include flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and Brussels sprouts.

Should vegans take omega-3 supplements?

Yes! Every cell in the body needs omega-3 fatty acids and unfortunately, the conversion of ALA to the more active and important EPA and DHA is rather inefficient.

A deficiency can lead to all sorts of problems, including but not limited to inflammation, immunity issues, and an increased risk of disease.

Algae-based omega-3 supplements are particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding vegan women.

Get 20% off with code: VEGANSISTERS20

Nourished doesn’t sell omega-3 supplements yet! But if you’re US-based, Calgee specialise in algae supplements

3. Iodine

This mineral is often forgotten about, but iodine is essential for our health and seriously lacking in most foods.

The rates of iodine deficiency got so high that many countries now have laws stating that salt must be fortified with iodine. Whilst sea salt and other natural salts may seem more healthy (and many of them do contain other great minerals), using iodised salt in your cooking will help you maintain your iodine intake.

Vegan sources of iodine

Iodised salt and seaweed but the latter contains varying amounts and studies have shown that eating too much seaweed can lead to thyroid issues.

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 is good for your health.

Dr Vegan doesn’t sell iodine supplements yet! But if you’re UK-based, Doctor Seaweed sell awesome vegan iodine supplements made from Scottish seaweed. I love their Immunity+ because it’s a blend of iodine and vitamins D3 and B12.

In fact, paired with my Dr Vegan Omega-3 supplements, this is all I take. I obtain the rest of my nutrients from my diet.

50% off at Get Nourished with code AFFILIATES50

4. Vitamin D

Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D (actually a hormone) supports our immune, brain, and nervous systems.

Vitamin D insufficiency affects approximately 50% of the world’s population!

Vegan sources of vitamin D

Sunshine is the obvious one but make sure you still protect your skin from the sun with some cruelty-free suncream! Food sources include mushrooms and fortified foods such as juice and plant milks

Should vegans take vitamin D supplements?

According to the NHS, if you have limited access to sunshine (e.g. in autumn and winter), a vitamin D supplement is recommended.

Watch out, as some fortified foods and supplements use vitamin D from sheep’s wool. Vegan vitamin D usually comes from lichen and/or mushrooms.

As I mentioned above, I love Doctor Seaweed’s Immunity+ vegan supplements because it’s a blend of iodine and vitamins D3 and B12.

50% off at Get Nourished with code AFFILIATES50

Get 20% off with code: VEGANSISTERS20

5. Iron

Iron is a mineral that is integral to the development of red blood cells, whose role is to carry oxygen around the body.

Without iron, our bodies struggle to generate energy and carbon dioxide builds up in our blood.

Vegan sources of iron

Legumes such as lentils, soybeans, chickpeas, and lima beans are rich in plant-based iron. Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts are also good to increase your intake.

Other sources of iron include nuts and seeds, whole grains, and certain varieties of mushrooms.

If you can get your hands on any, morel mushrooms contain a surprising 12.2mg of iron per 100g serving; that’s the entire daily iron requirement for men and approximately half of the women’s requirement! Keep an eye out when visiting Lidl car parks…if you know, you know 😉

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 experience heavy periods – and may need to take vegan iron supplements.

Dr Vegan pairs vitamin C with vegan iron supplements to improve the body’s absorption of this mineral.

Get 20% off with code: VEGANSISTERS20

50% off at Get Nourished with code AFFILIATES50

6. Zinc

Another mineral, zinc helps us to process macronutrients (carbs, fat & protein) and repairs body cells.

Vegan sources of zinc

Vegan sources include whole grains, tofu, legumes, nuts, and seeds. However, some of these foods contain antinutrients (e.g. phytic acid), so I recommend eating fermented foods such as sourdough, tempeh, and miso for better absorption.

Sprouting is another fantastic way of mitigating antinutrients!

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.

Dr Vegan pairs zinc with 5-HTP and magnesium in the advanced nootropic formula for a better night’s sleep.

Get 20% off with code: VEGANSISTERS20

50% off at Get Nourished with code AFFILIATES50

7. Selenium

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.

Vegan sources of selenium

Vegans can obtain enough selenium simply by eating a range of whole foods. Nuts and seeds are good sources, particularly Brazil nuts (although their iodine content is variable). Other sources include lentils, chia seeds, and beans.

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.

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8. Calcium

Calcium maintains heart and muscle health, as well as keeping our bones and teeth strong.

Vegan sources of calcium

Soy foods have naturally high levels of calcium and calcium-set tofu is particularly rich. Other calcium sources include kale and other leafy greens, lentils, beans, peas, fortified plant milks, nuts, and seeds.

Orange juice is often fortified with calcium, which is great because vitamin C enhances absorption.

Should vegans take calcium supplements?

Not necessarily.

There are a few great vegan sources of calcium and, as long as you eat a healthy, balanced plant-based diet, you should be alright!

Dr Vegan sell calcium as part of their Bone & Muscle Support supplement.

Get 20% off with code: VEGANSISTERS20

9. Protein

Ah…protein. Need I say more?

Ok fine, I’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.

Protein is one of the three macronutrients. It’s found in every part of the body and is involved in growth and repair, amongst many other functions.

Vegan sources of protein

Great sources include seitan, edamame, tofu, tempeh, lentils, beans, spelt, hemp, quinoa, amaranth, mycoprotein (Quorn), spirulina, etc. etc.

If in doubt, check out our guide to vegan protein.

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 review of the best UK vegan protein powders.

I love Form Nutrition’s vegan protein powder since it’s vegan, eco-friendly (home compostable packaging and no plastic spoon), and delicious!

Check out our full review of Form’s protein powder for more information.

Sign up for Get Nourished’s Alpha Protein pre-launch sampling phase! They’re sending out free samples to test their new protein bars.

Alice Johnson

Alice Johnson

Writer, scientist, amateur mycologist | I write stuff for a living. Mainly about vegan things, science, fungi, and travel. Find out more at Alice's Cerebrum

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