Following a vegan diet comes with a range of environmental and health benefits. However, when you exclude animal products from your diet, you may have a harder time meeting your requirements for certain vitamins. The best way to meet your vitamin needs while maintaining a vegan diet is often via supplements. Here are a few specific vitamins to consider supplementing if you're vegan or plant-based.
Vitamin B12 is predominantly found in animal products including milk and eggs. It plays a number of important roles in the body. It helps with the formation of red blood cells, assists in regulating your immune system, and is crucial for healthy nerves. Without enough B12, people often start experiencing a lack of energy, confusion, and sometimes even infertility. Long-term, a lack of vitamin B12 can contribute to heart disease. There are a few plant sources of vitamin B12, such as mushrooms and certain species of yeast. However, it's hard to get enough of this vitamin from these sources alone, so most people who eat vegan take vitamin B12 supplements. If you look for a multivitamin made for vegans, there's a good chance it will contain plenty of vitamin B12 to meet your needs.
Vitamin D is important for healthy bones and teeth. A deficiency can lead to brittle bones, and also to feelings of depression. Your body can make vitamin D when you're exposed to sunshine. So, if you live in a sunny climate and spend lots of time outside, you may not need vitamin D supplements. If you don't live in a sunny area and follow a vegan diet, on the other hand, vitamin D supplements are a good idea. Most food sources of this vitamin are animal products, such as eggs and fortified milk. Some vegan foods are also fortified with vitamin D, but supplementing is your safest bet.
Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is involved in healthy metabolism. It helps your body derive energy from your food. A lack of vitamin B6 can make you feel sluggish and under the weather. While there are good plant sources of vitamin B6, such as garlic, pistachios, and wheat germ, the vitamin B6 in these sources tends to be less bioavailable than that found in animal products. So, most vegans can benefit from taking vitamin B6 supplements.
If you supplement with the vitamins above, you can enjoy an even healthier vegan experience. For more information on vitamin supplements, contact a professional near you.