1. Vitamin B12
B12 is the most important of the b-vitamins when you’re a vegan. The vitamin is made up by bacteria, not in plants or animals themselves. Most people get it from eating meat because the animals eat the bacteria. Your well-balanced vegan diet needs to include a B complex vitamin supplement to prevent deficiency.
B2, also known as riboflavin, is a much easier vitamin to source from your vegan foods than B12. B2 is essential for cellular energy production and also plays a big role in eye and skin health. You can find it in your almonds, soybeans, broccoli, mushrooms and peas. Make sure you get enough of these as deficits in B2 can lead to mouth sores and dermatitis.
Everyone needs calcium for healthy bones. Typically, this vitamin comes into a diet through dairy products, but a vegan is likely to get the vitamin from leafy green vegetables. Calcium in the leafy greens has better bioavailability than calcium that comes from dairy, so your body will digest and process it easier.
Anemia is a dangerous iron deficiency that is all too common for vegans. Iron rich foods, nuts, seeds, and beans contain a specific kind of Nonheme iron, which isn’t absorbed as well by the body as the iron that is contained in animal flesh. Because of this, you’ll need to monitor your iron levels and intake more than non-vegans.
Vitamin C isn’t just good for your immune system. It helps your body process and absorb other vitamins, too. When your food is high in vitamin C from leafy greens and broccoli, it’s possible for your body to absorb the iron up to 6X better.
Humans are similar to plants in the sense that we get some of our essential vitamins and nutrients from the sun. One of the most prominent vitamins that we get from the sun is vitamin D. Vitamin D2 is a vegan vitamin. It’s derived from a yeast. It is essential for bones, skin, and prostate health. It is also necessary for a good immune system.
Vitamin D3 is a more effective type of vitamin D than D2, however, it isn’t vegan. It’s derived from lanolin in sheep. It only takes 15-20 minutes in the sun to get the necessary amount of this vitamin. However, in winter you may require the addition of a supplement to keep you in balance. If you think you’ve got a deficiency, see your doctor and test your levels of D2.
Zinc is an easier vitamin to get from your vegan food, but still most people, both vegan and non-vegan, are deficient. Vegan women in particular need to be aware of how much zinc rich foods they’re eating. Men require a bit more zinc.
Vitamin K isn’t really a vitamin that you have to think about often because it’s very easy to get from the foods you eat. It prevents cells from getting damaged by oxidation and protects your bones. If you’re bruising too easily, consider getting more vitamin K. Eat more kale, spinach, carrots, or asparagus.
Probiotics are necessary for a healthy and balanced diet. They’re supplements of living bacteria that aid digestion. One of the easiest ways to make sure that you are getting probiotics is to take a dairy-free supplement.
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