Veganism focuses on gaining nutrition through whole foods while eliminating all meats and animal byproducts from the everyday diet. Despite being considered a bit of a novelty in the past, veganism has been gaining major traction in recent years and has been proven to be a very healthy and effective lifestyle for many individuals. Veganism can be great for health and wellness if carried out properly, but nobody’s perfect. Sometimes, eliminating meat, dairy and other animal products can lead to slight vitamin deficiencies that require a little extra boost. Here are supplements most beneficial for those looking to live la vida vegan.
Often the most common deficiencies associated with veganism is a lack of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is crucial for a number of bodily functions including DNA synthesis, healthy blood cells, reproductive health and overall energy and vitality. Vitamin B12 is only present in its natural form in animal products, so taking a supplement is crucial for healthy vegans.
Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth, and also plays a role in muscle function. Consuming a healthy amount of calcium can help decrease bone fractures and overall weakening of bones over time, but can sometimes be difficult to come across in a vegan diet. Since calcium is most abundant in dairy products like milk and cheese, vegans often need to find an alternate way to consume calcium since animal byproducts are strictly off limits.
Much like vitamin B12, iron deficiencies are also quite common among vegans. Iron is used to produce red blood cells and DNA, and too little can result in fatigue, weakened immune system and anemia. It comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme is only found in animal products, while non-heme can be found in plants. Although it is possible to consume iron without eating animal products, heme iron is much easier to absorb than non-heme. For this reason, it is recommended that vegans aim to consume more iron than the traditional recommended daily amount. Taking an iron supplement allows for an extra boost in non-heme iron for vegans looking to reach their daily nutritional goals.
Zinc is crucial for the metabolism, immune system, and repair of body cells. Over time, zinc deficiencies can manifest in weak immunity, poor brain function and fatigue, among other symptoms. Few plant-based foods contain adequate amounts of zinc, and those that do are often more difficult to absorb due to their higher levels of phytate content. A zinc supplement on top of zinc rich foods such as whole grains, legumes, tofu, and nuts and seeds will help achieve healthy levels of zinc without the consumption of animal products.
Iodine is heavily involved in thyroid function, which ultimately controls the metabolism. A severe iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, which causes symptoms such as dry skin, low energy levels and weight gain. The only foods considered to have a significant amount of iodine are iodized salt, seaweed dairy products. Since dairy products are out of the question in a vegan lifestyle, it’s virtually impossible to acquire enough iodine with salt and seaweed alone. An iodine supplement will help fill the gaps and keep your metabolism healthy.
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