What Supplements Do You Need To Support a Healthy Vegan Lifestyle?

Embracing a vegan lifestyle can be a rewarding and fulfilling journey toward better health. It’s an excellent way to reduce your environmental footprint, show compassion for animals, and enjoy nutrient-dense foods that fuel your body in the most effective way possible.

With this plant-based lifestyle come certain nutritional considerations that you need to keep in mind. The absence of animal products means you might miss out on some vital nutrients if you’re not careful. It’s essential to ensure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients your body requires daily.

Read on and discover what supplements are vital for a healthy vegan lifestyle.

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Key Takeaways

  • The need for supplements in a vegan diet arises due to certain vitamins and minerals being primarily found in animal-derived products.
  • Vitamin D, usually obtained from sunlight or animal-based sources, can be supplemented through vegan foods like fortified non-dairy milks, cereals, tofu, and mushrooms. A vegan-friendly vitamin D supplement can also fill any dietary gaps.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain function and reducing inflammation. These can be supplemented through chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts or, more efficiently, through algae-based supplements.
  • Iron is crucial for producing red blood cells and maintaining energy levels. Even though plant-based sources contain a less efficiently absorbed form of iron, their consumption can be increased, or an iron supplement can be taken after consulting with a healthcare professional.
  • Vitamin B12 is vital for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells. It is absent from most plant foods but can be obtained if you take supplements or consume fortified foods. You may need to supplement it to prevent serious health problems.
  • Calcium for bone health can be obtained from fortified non-dairy milk, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and various green vegetables. However, not all sources are created equal or absorbed equally well, so consulting with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen is recommended.
  • Despite zinc being more bioavailable from animal sources, it can still be obtained from seeds, legumes, nuts, and whole grains in a vegan diet.
  • Plants don’t make Iodine themselves; they absorb it from the soil. But the amount varies widely depending on where the plant was grown, so relying solely on plant-based food sources can lead to an inconsistent intake.

Why Do Vegan Diets Need Supplementation?

While animal products can have a negative impact on our health and the environment, they are undeniably rich in many nutrients that are harder to obtain from plant-based foods. Indeed, some vitamins and minerals are almost exclusively found in animal-derived products.

Since vegans don’t eat meat, eggs, dairy, or any other animal-based foods, they need to find different sources for these nutrients. This is where supplements for vegans may come into play. They can help fill any nutritional gaps that a vegan diet might leave.

Now that we’ve established why supplementation is necessary for a vegan diet, let’s discuss which vitamins and minerals are the most essential.

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Vitamin D

Although our bodies can produce vitamin D, it might be still essential to get your vitamin D from other sources. As a vegan, you may find this particularly challenging as the majority of dietary sources for Vitamin D are animal-based. However, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways for you to boost your levels.

Certain plant-based foods such as fortified non-dairy milks and cereals, mushrooms exposed to UV light, and even some varieties of tofu are enriched with vitamin D. These can help bridge the gap in your diet.

However, due to factors like geographical location and lifestyle habits that limit sun exposure, it might still be tough to avoid vitamin D deficiency through food alone. This is where supplementation comes in handy.

A daily intake of a vegan-friendly vitamin D supplement can ensure you’re getting the amount needed for overall health and well-being.

Remember that there are two types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), which is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), usually derived from animals, but many vegan versions exist (sourced from lichen or synthesized in labs). Because of that, make sure to always check labels carefully!

sources of plant based vitamin d3

Taken from: https://liquidhealth.us/blogs/article/vegan-vitamin-d3

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a crucial part of your diet, even more so when you’re avoiding fish and other animal products. These fats play an essential role in brain function, growth and development, and inflammation reduction, which can help protect against heart disease.

Unfortunately, most plant-based foods don’t provide the same types of omega-3s that fish does – they offer ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), while our bodies need DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Your body can convert some ALA into EPA and DHA, but not very efficiently.

To ensure you’re getting enough Omega-3s in every vegan meal, consider incorporating flaxseeds, chia seeds, or walnuts into your meals, as these are high in ALA. However, remember that relying solely on these might not be enough due to inefficient conversion rates.

A reliable way to get sufficient amounts of DHA and EPA is through algae-based supplements. Algae oil is a direct source of these two beneficial fats since it’s where fish get their omega-3s from!

a pile of sunflower seeds on a white surface


When switching to a plant-based diet, it’s essential to keep an eye on your iron intake, as it plays a crucial role in producing red blood cells and maintaining your energy levels.

Even though iron is present in various plant foods like lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds, the form of iron found in plants (non-heme) isn’t absorbed by our body as efficiently as the heme iron from animal products.

Hence, you may need to consume more iron-rich foods or consider taking an iron supplement.

Before jumping into supplements, try increasing your intake of vitamin C-rich foods alongside your meals – vitamin C can boost non-heme iron absorption significantly.

However, if you’re still falling short or have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, an iron supplement may be recommended. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new vegan supplement regimen.

Don’t go overboard with supplementation since too much can be harmful and lead to health complications like constipation and nausea. Remember that balance is key when maintaining healthy nutrition levels on a vegan diet.

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells, is virtually absent from most natural plant foods. This form of vitamin is primarily found in animal products such as meat, eggs, and dairy.

Fortified foods or supplements with vitamin B12 are a reliable way to get your daily dose without having to compromise your dietary beliefs. You can find vitamin B12 supplements in many forms, including pills, sprays, or even fortified foods like certain plant milks or breakfast cereals.

Just be sure to double-check the labels, as some brands may use animal-derived sources of B12.

Remember that consistent intake of this crucial nutrient is necessary as its deficiency could lead to serious health problems such as fatigue, weakness, constipation, or even nerve damage over time. So make sure you’re topped up on vitamin B12 – your body will thank you!


Don’t let the fear of brittle bones and weak teeth scare you away from your plant-based journey because getting enough calcium is absolutely doable.

Even without dairy products in your diet, there are plenty of vegan-friendly foods rich in this essential mineral.

Foods like fortified non-dairy milk, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and various green vegetables can all contribute to meeting your daily requirement. Not only will these keep your bones strong and teeth healthy, but they also support nerve function and muscle contraction.

However, it’s important to remember that not all sources of calcium are created equal or absorbed equally well by our bodies. For instance, consuming spinach or rhubarb for calcium may not be as beneficial as you’d think due to their high oxalate content, which inhibits absorption. Some types of beans and grains contain phytates that can also interfere with absorption.

Consuming enough vitamin D is crucial for optimal calcium absorption. So while adding these foods to your diet can help increase your intake, it’s essential to balance them out with other nutrient-rich foods and possibly consider a supplement if necessary.

As always, though, consult a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement regimen.

green leaves on white ceramic bowl


While it might be a little bit trickier to get your daily dose of Zinc on a plant-based diet, it’s far from impossible! After all, there are plenty of vegan-friendly foods packed with zinc.

Since zinc is more bioavailable (easily absorbed) from animal sources, vegans need significantly more than the recommended dietary allowance.

  • You can incorporate seeds like pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds into your meals or snacks – they’re great sources of zinc.
  • Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans also contain decent amounts of this essential mineral.
  • Additionally, nuts like cashews and almonds can help you meet your daily requirements.
  • Finally, whole grains, oats, and quinoa are particularly rich in zinc.

To give you an idea of how much these foods provide towards your daily needs, here’s a handy table:

Food (100 g)Average Zinc Content
Pumpkin Seeds7.8 mg
Chickpeas1.5 mg
Cashews6 mg
Quinoa1.09 mg

Variety is key once you decide to follow a vegan diet! So mix up these ingredients throughout the week for optimal nutrition.

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As a vegan, it’s crucial for you to pay attention to this often-overlooked mineral. Iodine is an essential nutrient that supports thyroid function and hormone production.

Plants don’t make it themselves; they absorb it from the soil. But the amount varies widely depending on where the plant was grown, so relying solely on plant-based food sources can lead to an inconsistent intake.

Supplementing your diet with iodine is advisable if you’re following a vegan lifestyle. You’d need about 150 micrograms per day in order to keep your thyroid humming along happily. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, causing fatigue and weight gain; too much can swing you into hyperthyroidism territory, which speeds up your metabolism excessively. So remember: maintaining balance is key!

Consider incorporating fortified foods like bread and cereals into your meals or taking an iodine supplement directly if needed – just be sure to consult with a healthcare provider first before making any changes to your regimen.

cereals in bowl with spoon

Final Thoughts

Living a vegan lifestyle is a commendable decision that can offer numerous health benefits along with promoting environmental sustainability. Yet, it’s essential to remember that this diet requires careful planning and consideration of certain nutritional needs.

The key to thriving on a vegan diet lies in variety, balance, and consistency. Regularly consuming different types of nutrient-rich foods, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, is crucial. However, even with the best dietary practices in place, there may still be a need for supplementation to ensure your body receives all the nutrients it needs.

Remember, supplementation should not replace a balanced diet but rather complement it. Before starting any new supplement regimen, always consult with a healthcare provider to ensure you’re achieving optimal nutrition safely.

With awareness and careful planning, you can maintain optimal health while enjoying the benefits of a compassionate and environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Here’s to your healthful vegan journey!

More Guides to Vegan Brands

If you’d like some food ideas to help you on your vegan journey, here are links to some of my Vegan Food Brand Guides:

Looking for a sign that it’s time to take charge of your diet? This is it. Watch the Food or Health Masterclass—completely free—and discover the 10 surprising nutrition breakthroughs everyone should know. Reserve your free spot here!