Supplementing Vitamins

This is a tricky question to tackle as there is a bit of controversy with whether or not you may need to supplement. Some may say yes and some may say no, but to each their own in regards to this. With being a vegan and/or a vegetarian, you may find that a ton of vegetables, dried items, fermented, etc can contain well over the amount of vitamins, iron, protein needed daily. 

The one vitamin I’ve found while doing research that is not naturally produced through vegetables is B12. B12 is made by bacteria, therefore it is found mostly in meat products. What is the importance of B12? It helps make your DNA and red blood cells. Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause symptoms such as tiredness, pale skin, stomach upset, rapid heartbeat and breathing, etc. B12 can be preventable through eating meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Unfortunately, vegans cannot eat any of the following that is listed. If you feel as though you may be suffering from B12 deficiency, it is recommended to have your doctor check you out. 

If you are lacking in vitamin B12, you can simply supplement it with any over the counter vitamin B12 available at your local market or farmers market. Don’t want to take vitamins? Eat foods fortified with vitamin B12. There’s a good amount of foods available that contain fortified vitamin B12 such as: Soy milk, Cereals, Yeast spreads, Brewer’s yeast, Energy bars. Make sure to read the label and see if it contains “Fortified vitamin B12”. How much vitamin B12 do you need? You can decide this according to your age. The older you are, the higher the dosage you require. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the average daily U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is:

1. People age 14 and older, 2.4 mcg

2. Adult and adolescent pregnant females, 2.6 mcg

3. Adult and adolescent lactating females, 2.8mcg

4. People over 50 years of age should consume vitamin B12-fortified foods, or take a vitamin B12 supplement – 25-100 mcg per day has been used to maintain vitamin B12 levels in older people.

Another vitamin that some find is lacking in the vegan diet is Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is actual quite subtle. Some symptoms may include weakness, bone pain, muscle aches. Or you could be lacking vitamin D without any of the symptoms listed. If you’re pregnant, your baby can suffer from vitamin D deficiency as well. The only way to know if your body is lacking in vitamin D is to take a blood test. If you are vitamin D deficient, research and instincts says to bathe in the sun and get it naturally, but what if you don’t live in sunny states like California, Florida, or Hawaii? Aside from getting vitamin D in the capsules, here are other ways to get vitamin D.

1. Mushrooms

Yes, mushrooms. They can provide up to 100 grams alone! Try Dole’s Vitamin D Portobello Mushroom. One package of Dole’s contains 800 IUs of D. The secret is their flash of light generated by UV lights. 

2. Fortified products

Fortified milk, soy milk, and tofu can contains a good amount of the necessary Vitamin D intake.

What is the recommended amount of vitamin D?  According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), this is the recommended amount:

  1. Aged 0-12 mos, 10 mcg
  2. Aged 1-13 years, 15 mcg
  3. Aged 14-50, 15 mcg
  4. Pregnant woman intake should be 4,000 IU, and lactating mothers 6,000 IU daily. According to Bruce Hollis, professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina.
  5. Aged 51-70, 20 mcg
  6. Aged >70, 20 mcg

While there is still controversy with supplementing, my personal opinion is if your body requires it, there’s no harm in doing what you need to do to stay healthy. I myself take Multivitamins as I know my body does not receive the adequate amount of vitamins required daily. Living a vegan diet is hard enough, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little help when it’s readily available for you to do so. It’s your own personal choice, so don’t feel burdened if you do end up needing to supplement. Just be sure to decide what is best for you!

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