The Kind Life is a community around Alicia Silverstone and The Kind Diet where friends, doctors, experts in green living, and members share vegan tips.

Kind 101

Do Vegans Need Supplements?

A lot of you Kind Lifers write in to ask whether or not you should be taking supplements. While I don’t personally take a daily vitamin, I do take an occasional B12 supplement and, while I was pregnant with Bear, I took a vegan prenatal vitamin most of the time. And while breastfeeding, I try to remember to take the prenatal, but I still maintain that I never feel one bit better if I take vitamins than if I don’t. I only feel better from good, superhero food.

That said, daily supplements are a personal choice, and for some people they are helpful. I asked macrobiotic expert Christina Pirello to weigh in on the topic to help all of you make an informed choice next time you find yourself in the vitamins and supplements section of the grocery store:

Christina says:

I think that everyone needs some supplementing. If you had asked me this question ten years ago, I would have answered differently, but in that short time, our food has changed so much. Our soil is weaker; our water is more polluted, so the result is that food is less nutrient-dense. Unless you are eating a perfect diet of homegrown food, most of us need some supplementing – even superheroes who eat very well most of the time.

In my view, most people should take an antioxidant for immune function, and for general anti-aging. The one I like best is called astasanthin, and the brand I use is Asta Vita. They have one version of the supplement that is in a vegan gel cap, so us vegans can take it comfortably.

Vegans and non-vegans alike, but especially vegans, need to take Vitamin B12. It used to be that people who ate animal food were getting the B12 they needed, but with our food becoming more compromised, B12 is not there, and we need to get it. Small amounts to be sure, but still, it should be taken daily. If you are a vegan, I usually say 100-250 mcg daily in sublingual form. If you are not vegan, you can take as little as 50 mcg a day.

Vitamin D is controversial. Some experts say we do not need to take it, just get it from the sun – but my experience has shown me otherwise. No matter how much sun you get, unless you live in Southern California, or Florida (for example), you are not getting enough sun because of pollution. So many people, the majority in fact, are not getting enough, and are vitamin D deficient. It needs to be taken – at least 1000 iu per day. If a blood test shows your levels are low, you may need more. Keep in mind, Vitamin D2 is vegan while D3 is not. You need to take one of those so your body can use the vitamin well.

your nutrients should come from food. That said, everyone needs a little help, so I tend to steer people toward supplements that are vegan and made from food.

Lastly, if you do not eat fermented foods (like miso and sauerkraut), you may want to take a pro-biotic for digestion.

***

Thank you, Christina!

If you are looking for supplements, Kind Organics is vegan, non-GMO verified, certified organic, and free of synthetic fillers and binders! It’s NOW available!!

I hope everyone found this helpful. Do you take supplements? What do you take?

 

 

Photo source: Flickr.com / Martin CathraeFlickr.com / Bradley j 

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  • Lindsey

    I have thought about doing the B12. I seem to bruise easily lately and I think I may have an iron deficiency. With the lack of fresh foods in our area I know I’m not eating healthy like I should. Eating healthy is so much more expensive than not… it’s really a challenge when trying to feed 4 with no money.

  • H.D.

    Just wanted to let everyone know that you can now buy Vegan D3 by Nordic Naturals, I get mine at WholeFoods. It’s made using Lichen. ;)

  • Elizabeth Burns Kirschenbaum
  • taffy trenholm

    @ Lindsey: Food stamps?

  • puppies n kittens

    Right! I’m also exploring my options. What about a b complex?

  • Dr. CS

    As an expert in vegan nutrition I agree with everything that’s been said, and like to add that in general, vegan (and vegetarian) diets often need supplementing with vitamins D and B12, but also with other micronutrients such as preformed vitamin A (retinol; some people don’t absorb beta-carotene well), vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin), iron, and zinc. Vegans and vegetarians are also at risk of low sulfur intakes. Sulfur is essential for joint function and flexibility. It’s actually very interesting: I’ve seen a lot of vegans with early onset osteoarthritis, and I believe it’s because they didn’t get enough sulfur amino acids (methionine, cysteine, N-acetyl cysteine, taurine) and no glucosamine. You can now get vegan glucosamine that’s not made from crab shells or other animal byproducts. You can also get cysteine that’s not made from hair or feathers. I think with a little help from these supplements people will indeed feel a difference, but may be not overnight.

  • Karen Bump

    I found Regeneration USA this year. You can become an affiliate for nothing and get a discount on their vegan organic food-based supplements, bars, tea etc. I take the humic / fulvic minerals and the spirulina. Looks like my husband and I need more B12 though, and since we only occasionally eat fortified foods, I think we’ll be looking for another good source. I have also found VegLife’s Vegan D which I’m taking during the winter here in the Northeast.

  • lionlam132

    haven’t had a cold in 10 years, been vegan for 6 months and just now have a cold, i’m thinking my b12 stores are running low, have otherwise felt a milion times better since my veganism so must be, right, looked around (uk stores) and it seems u gotta take daily or weekly supps,(which i don’t wanna do) have heard u can get yearly shots from the doc, this true any1 (have cut out all added sugars refined carbs and non organic fod to f that makes a diffrence

  • Tasha C

    I follow a vegetarian diet, DO NOT take regular multi-vitamins, but DO take vitamin D, American Health Probiotic wafers and consume Dr.Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast that has full line up the B Vitamins.
    My question is with the need for better intestinal health and a good balance of “good” bacteria from probiotic supplements, Kefir, Yogurts, Miso or other fermented veggies VS.”Bad” bacteria that causes Candida – Is it OK to consume Dr Braggs Nutritional Yeast daily for my vitamin B supplements? Is Nutritional Yeast the same type of yeast that is the Candida Fungus?
    I love my Dr Braggs Nutritional Yeast, but will switch to another supplement for B’s if it’s counteracting my probiotics.
    Thank you to anyone who can help me answer this. Cheers-Tasha

  • Sarah V.

    I was wondering what everyone thinks of New Chapter’s women’s daily multi? I have been taking it for a month sometimes It helps sometimes it doesn’t, also what brand of Vit.B 12 should I take?

  • Mark Brown

    This article is really beneficial. I have been taking Vitamin b 12 sublingual for six months. I can feel the difference after having this. It gives good result.

  • Catherine Roccaforte-Probasco

    I take Centrum Women. I found out that my iron is low. My doctor wanted me to take Vitron C as well, with 65 mg of elemental iron, but I explained that I can’t handle all of that. She agreed to a low dose supplement, or a prenatal with extra iron and no DHA, in addition to iron fortified foods. I spoke to a registered dietician who recommended Total cereal, since it has 100% of so much, including 18 mg of iron.