The Truth about Vegan Supplements: What to Avoid

We are a huge proponent of eating our vitamins through dietary means--when we can. If you’re a vegan, you’ve probably done some research into what foods you should be eating as well as the foods you should be avoiding. But are you well versed in what vegan supplements you need and which ones you don’t?  

Many vegans claim you can get everything you need from plants and while that might almost be true technically speaking, unless you have an algae oil processing plant in your backyard, sunbathe daily, and eat piles of dirt, it can be difficult.

Luckily that’s where vegan supplements come along. They give us the friendly little boost we need to power through our day and ensure we’re fueling our body appropriately.

vegan supplements

When to Get Your Nutrients From Food  

When should you get your vitamins and minerals from food? Whenever you can!

We urge our vegan (and omni) friends and family to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables as well as complex grains and legumes to ensure they’re getting as many nutrients in their diets as possible.

To make it easier for you, we’ve created this little cheat sheet to guide you on your next trip to the grocery store. Try to eat a few from each row a day!


Nutrient

Where to find it

Iron

Kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, spinach, raisins, cashews, oatmeal, cabbage, and tomato juice

Zinc

Beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds, oats, wheat germ, and nutritional yeast

Calcium

Tofu, mustard and turnip greens, bok choy, and kale

Magnesium

Bananas, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, nuts and seeds, coffee, whole grains, and beans

Vitamin A

Carrots, spinach, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, kale, broccoli, turnip greens, and red bell peppers

B Vitamins

(excluding B12)

Potatoes, whole grains (like brown rice, bread, pasta, and oatmeal), nutritional yeast, beans, cereals, broccoli, watermelon, raw wheat germ, nuts, green vegetables, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and bananas

Vitamin C

Cabbage, spinach, brussels sprouts, papayas, collard greens, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, oranges/orange juice, grapefruit, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, turnip greens, potatoes, bell peppers, melon, a d watercress, and berries

Vitamin E

Leafy greens, safflower/vegetable oils, whole wheat flour, sunflower seeds, nuts, whole grains, raw wheat germ, spinach.

Vitamin K

Brussels sprouts, spinach, parsley, cabbage, cauliflower, green tea, broccoli, tomatoes, and soybeans/soybean oil

Vitamin D2

Fortified plant milk, fortified cereal

Protein

Nuts, seeds, soy products (tofu, tempeh, hummus, edamame), quinoa, beans, lentils, chia seeds, buckwheat, oats, and brown rice

 

If you love to cook or are looking for some easy meals, check out some of our favorite easy vegan recipes that will deliver your daily nutrients.

vegan supplements

When to Use Vegan Supplements

We believe in supplementing our nutrition only when we can’t get the nutrients we need through a whole food plant-based diet. We love trying new foods, and experimenting with vegan recipes, but the issue is that it’s often challenging to get all the nutrients we need in one day.

Sometimes we can’t stomach another green smoothie or another bowl of fortified cereal and plant milk. We can get most of our nutrients from food, but there are just a few that are tricky. Specifically, we’re talking about Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin B12. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is an elusive nutrient as it comes in many forms, D3 being the most beneficial. Most people think they are getting enough Vitamin D by consuming D2-fortified cereals and plant milk or enough D3 by absorbing sunlight, but the truth is that over 1 billion people worldwide suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency.

The fact is that unless you are sunbathing regularly in peak sunlight, you probably aren’t getting enough Vitamin D3 as a vegan. Get the full story on Vitamin D3 here.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential to your heart, brain, and eye health. Our bodies can convert ALA (another omega-3) to EPA and DHA but the conversion rate is very low.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for vegans to consume these fatty acids since most forms of it come from fatty fish and shellfish. Since these two nutrients are so important to our body, we suggest supplementing.

Thankfully, we can skip the sushi boat for two and head straight to the source. Where are the fish getting their EPA & DHA, you ask? Algae. And you can too. Supplement companies found ingenious ways to extract, filter, and purify the oil from algae so we can get the omega 3s we need, ethically and without the danger of contaminants

Want to know more about this nutrient? Get all the details here.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that our circulatory and nervous system rely heavily on. The only problem is we can't make it ourselves, so we need to consume it.

Unless you’re eating handfuls of dirt (which contains the powerful B-12 producing bacteria) or several portions of fortified foods on the daily, you’re probably not getting enough of the stuff.

We know nutrition can get confusing, but don’t worry; we’ve done the research and laid it out simply for you. Check out the facts here.

 


What to Avoid When Choosing Vegan Vitamins and Nutrients

Whether you’re vegan or not, there are some things to be avoided when it comes to choosing your next vitamin supplement. Remember that not all brands and ingredients are created equal.

Some supplement manufacturers will sell you a capsule that is mostly fillers, with not nearly enough of the nutrients you need. #SCAM Fillers are extra inactive ingredients (like starch, calcium salts, and sugars like lactose) used to suspend the active ingredient or bring the pill to size.

They can be important in processing the the pill or tablet but depending on the type of filler, they can also affect the absorption and cause side effects. Be sure to carefully read the supplement labels for the dosage of each nutrient and always look into where the ingredients are sourced.

Let’s jump into the top eight things you should steer clear from when supplement shopping.  

vegan supplements

Gelatin

We know to steer away from Jell-o, gummies, and marshmallows but did you know that gelatin could be hiding in your vitamins too?

Gelatin is often used to coat pills since it is easily digestible, unreactive, and provides a slick coating so that the tablet won’t stick to your throat. Since gelatin is usually made from animal remains, us vegans avoid it entirely so be sure there isn’t gelatin hiding out in your supplements.

Magnesium Stearate

Magnesium Stearate is a fatty acid usually found in pork, butter, chicken, beef, fish, and milk. It’s often found in supplements as a filler or alternatively used as a coating. If you’re eliminating animal products from your diet, then you want to ensure that none of your supplements, nutrients, or vitamins include this ingredient.

There are vegan forms of this fatty acid but make sure the label states that before using it.  

Extra Ingredients

Pop quiz! You’re in the vitamin aisle looking for Vitamin B12, and you see two bottles: Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B12 with additional antioxidants and metabolism boosting herbs. Which one do you choose?

Although your consumer mind might want the bonus vial filled with surprises, we would advise against it for that exact reason: potential surprises. You always want to go with the purest form of the nutrient you’re searching for.

New ingredient additions come with the possibility of additional side effects or the chance that they will affect the absorption of the nutrient. Unless you’re under the direction of a doctor or nutritionist, it’s best to keep it simple.

Carmine and Artificial Colors

Carmine is a food dye sourced from beetles (gross, we know) and is often used in the making of a popular food color: red #40. It’s best to avoid both carmine and any chemically formulated food colors (which are just not natural) just to be safe. Like my grandmother always said, “if you want something red, eat a beet.”

Okay, she never said that but if I told her red dye #40 was made from petroleum distillates, coal tars, and beetles she’d probably say something like that. Anyway, the takeaway is say no to bugs and yes to veggies.

Artificial Colors

Since we brought up carmine, we figured we should touch more on chemically processed colors in supplements. Why anyone would purposely put artificial color in their vitamins is beyond us, but here’s the FDA’s reasoning:

“To offset color loss due to exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture and storage conditions; correct natural variations in color; enhance colors that occur naturally; provide color to colorless and ‘fun’ foods.”

Here’s a list of the ones to avoid: FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Blue No. 2, FD&C Green No. 3, FD&C Red No. 3, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 5, FD&C Yellow No. 6.

We’ve managed to create an amazing multivitamin without any synthetic colors. Sure, it might be a boring color, but we didn’t think you’d mind.

Lanolin

Popular in non-vegan D3 supplements is something called Lanolin, a form of cholecalciferol or also known as sheep grease. We apologize for the imagery that may have given you.

We’re happy to say that greasy sheep aren’t the only way you can get D3. We prefer to give you in the form of lichen (algae) extract. The sheep can keep their wool, and you can keep your ethics!

Harmful, Non-Vegan Fillers

We’re not saying the existence of fillers in supplements is bad, in fact, quite the opposite. Fillers and binders are often needed to aid in the manufacturing process and to keep ingredients from separating.  

However, we are talking about the type and amount of fillers. Be sure when shopping for nutrients that you are getting what you pay for instead of “snake oil” and ensure there are no harmful trans fats like hydrogenated oils.

You also want to avoid Caprylic Acid which is often derived from goat, sheep, or cow’s milk and is a popular filler and coating in the supplement industry.

Lipase and Pepsin

Lipase and Pepsin are commonly found in digestive enzyme supplements. If you need these pills, we suggest you try to find the vegan version of lipase which can come from plants but be sure the label says so. If not, it’s most likely coming from the tongue of a calf or lamb (lipase) or the stomach lining of a pig (pepsin). Cue string of crying emojis.

 

vegan supplements

 

Don’t Want to Pop Three Different Supplements a Day?

We don’t either. That’s why we designed the best vegan multivitamin that is seriously changing the vegan supplements game.

We’ve combined three incredible nutrients into an easy to swallow pill. Yep, you guessed it; those nutrients are Vitamin D3, Omega 3s, and Vitamin B12. Check out our ingredients here. We’re pretty proud of them.

Take control of your health and order your Vegan multivitamin supply today.

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Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.

Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.Want the truth about vegan supplements? Us too! Health supplements are so crucial to making sure your health is looked after. Whether you’re looking for vegan supplement vitamins to put back into your diet, or you’re researching vegan supplements for women, this article breaks down the truth about the vegan supplement industry and what you should expect from your vegan multivitamins.

 

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