Vegan Supplements Part Two: A Breakdown of each vitamin and plant-based sources
In part one of our guide to vegan supplements and vitamins, we discussed what vitamins are, why vegans should be aware of them, and important things to bear in mind when choosing your vitamins. In this article, we will in depth on both water soluble and fat soluble vitamins, and include a breakdown of plant-based sources for each.
Vegan supplements and vitamins: Water soluble vitamins
Water soluble vitamins must be taken in with water for best absorption in the body. The following vitamins should be taken with a glass of water.
1. All B vitamins
B vitamins are a range of vitamins that help the body produce red blood cells and create energy. If you lack B vitamins you will feel fatigued, may experience memory loss or cognitive decline, and become anemic. They are commonly found in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs. However, you can also find them in leafy green vegetables, nutritional yeasts, soy, peas, legumes, spirulina, chia seeds, and more.
2. Vitamin C
Like other vitamins, the human body cannot produce vitamin C so it must be taken in through external sources such as diet. Vitamin C is very important as it helps the body produce collagen, or connective tissue, as well as neurotransmitters and antioxidants. It is also a central vitamin for immune system support. Luckily, there are many readily available plant based sources for vitamin C, primarily including citrus fruits.
Vegan supplements and vitamins: Fat soluble vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins must be taken in with fats to be absorbed by the body. Examples of healthy fats to eat alongside your vitamin or vegan supplement intake are avocado, vegetable oils, fish (if you are pescetarian), nut butters, and more.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A promotes healthy immune function, vision and eye health, and cell growth. Symptoms of deficiency include eyesight loss, night blindness, infertility, dry skin and eyes, and more. Dietary intake of vitamin A is very important but is challenging for vegans, as it is only found in animal products. However, the body can actually convert beta carotene into vitamin A. As such, beta carotene intake is important. The best plant based dietary sources for this are carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and butternut squash.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D can be tricky for vegans or those living a plant based lifestyle, because in dietary form it is most often found in animal products such as dairy. It is very important to have enough vitamin D, though, as this promotes healthy bones through assisting calcium absorption. Vitamin D also boosts mood and reduces depression. If you are pescetarian, a good option for intake is cod liver oil. For vegans, the primary natural way to get vitamin D is through sunlight. This can be difficult for those in the northern hemisphere, so we recommend supplementing with a high quality vegan supplement.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant as well as a vitamin, and supports the cardiovascular system, and is important in preventing heart disease. It also supports the nervous system, and can help prevent disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, and more. Plant based sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, almonds and other nuts, avocado, and more.
4. Vitamin K
Vitamin K is important in the process of blood clotting and wound healing. There are two types of vitamin K: K1 and K2. K2 is unfortunately most commonly found in animal products, posing a problem for vegans or plant based eaters. The best way to get K2 is through fermented sources such as natto, sauerkraut, kimchi, and more. K1 is more easily accessed for plant based eaters. It is found in leafy greens including kale and chard, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
For more information on vitamins and vegan supplements, review part one here.