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As noble of a cause as eating vegan is, it doesn’t give your body all the vitamins and minerals it needs. No diet or method for eating does. None is perfect.
Where does veganism fall short, and what types of supplements should you consider?
Here’s a brief list:
Many vegans mistakenly believe they can eat unwashed organic produce or mushrooms cultivated from soil rich in B12. It’s simply not true that you can get the B12 your body needs this way. There’s a few ways you can go about stabilizing your diet with more B12:
Consume the recommended dose of 25 – 100 mcg (micrograms) daily
Eat 2,000 mcg daily for several weeks if you haven’t been taking B12 for some time
Get a blood test from your doctor to see where you’re at and how much B12 you might need
The United States has vitamin D deficiency in epidemic proportions. Not drinking milk compounds the problem.
If you live in a sunny and warm area all year long, and you like to spend time outdoors without any sunscreen on, you probably have enough vitamin D. If you live a lifestyle anything short of that, you need 1,000 IUs (international units) daily to prevent the formation of weak bones and many other bone-related problems.
This one isn’t as large of a concern as the other two for vegans. Omnivores can suffer from iron deficiency at rates similar to or greater than vegans. However, it can be a problem for vegans, and a low dose of iron may not be a bad idea. Young female vegans with heavy periods are in most need of iron supplementation.
DHA is an Omega-3 fatty acid, and is the most abundant “good fat” in your brain. No person’s body makes DHA efficiently, including omnivore diets. Every person needs to consume DHA.
Healthy DHA levels promote good memory and general cognitive well-being. It can lower the risk of heart disease and age-related vision problems. Because DHA is most commonly found in cold-water fish like Salmon, it’s not eaten naturally by vegans.
Vegan diets should include DHA supplementation, with a dosage of about 200 – 300 mg a few times per week being ideal.
No diet is perfect. So, make sure you talk with your doctor about the way you eat, and what supplements might make sense so you stay healthy and function your best all the time.