Nourishing the Vegan Way

As more individuals embrace a plant-based lifestyle, questions about nutritional adequacy often arise. Let's explore this topic in greater detail.
By the team at Speedoc,
February 29, 2024

Driven by ethical, environmental, and health concerns, the popularity of veganism has skyrocketed in recent years. One common question revolves around the need for dietary supplements while on a vegan diet, or can a well-planned plant-based diet provide all the necessary nutrients? 

Understanding Vegan Nutrition: A Balanced Plate

Adopting a vegan lifestyle entails excluding animal products, which can raise concerns about obtaining essential nutrients typically found in meat, dairy, and other animal-derived sources. However, with careful planning and a diverse plant-based diet, many vegans can meet their nutritional needs without the necessity of supplements.

While obtaining nutrients from whole foods is the ideal approach, it is not uncommon to turn to supplements as an extra nutritional boost. As every person has different nutritional requirements, medical history, lifestyle factors and accessibility to certain foods, the use of supplements may be warranted in some instances to ensure optimal health. Listening to your body and consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine whether supplements are necessary for you.

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Common nutrition concern for vegans:

  1. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is essential for red blood cell formation, production of DNA and maintaining nerve health. As vitamin B12 can only be naturally found in animal products, vegans are said to be at risk for deficiency. Fortified plant-based foods and B12 supplements can help vegans to meet their daily requirements.

  2. Iron

    Iron’s main function is to bind and transport oxygen throughout the body. Iron deficiency can have a negative impact on brain and immune function. Plant-based iron is not as absorbable as iron found in animal sources. Therefore, people following a vegan diet may require twice as much iron as the recommended daily amounts to account for the lower absorption. 

  3. Calcium

    Dairy products are often the most calcium rich food. That being said, foods like plant milk, tofu and seaweed are all high in calcium and an alternative to non-vegan products.

  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Common misconceptions are that fish and seafood are the best way to get omega-3 fatty acids. This is, however, not true. Nuts, seeds and plant oils have high omega-3 fatty acids content too!

Navigating the supplement landscape
  1. Consult a registered dietitian: A registered dietitian can provide personalised advice and help with planning a well-balanced vegan diet. 

  2. Diverse diet: Include a variety of whole plant foods in your diet to ensure a broad spectrum of nutrients.

  3. Regular health check-ups: Monitor nutrient levels through regular health check-ups to identify potential deficiencies early.

  4. Supplement wisely: Adhere to recommended dosages to avoid excess intake.

By embracing a well-balanced approach to nutrition, vegans can thrive without compromising their health. Remember, individual nutritional needs vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional or dietitian ensures a personalised and informed approach to vegan supplement choices to ensure a safe and effective supplementation plan.

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