A record 500000 people have reportedly signed up to Veganuary this year, as the UK based campaign becomes more widespread. It marks the increasing popularity of veganism and plant based eating year-on-year. If you’re planning to continue, you may need to consider some supplements.
There are several nutrients that fall under the category of B vitamins. Plant-based sources of some of these include wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereals and certain vegetables. B12 is a little trickier, and long term deficiency can lead to serious health problems. Although breakfast cereals and plant based milks are often fortified, you might not be consuming these foods in consistently high enough amounts to get the enough B12. As such, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement. B12 stores last in the body for a period of months to year, so don’t panic if you’re not currently supplementing. But if you are keeping up with a more plant-based diet after January, a supplement may be a good idea.
Omega 3s are long-chain fatty acids, which come in three different forms: ALA, DHA and EPA. Plant based sources of omega 3s tend to contain the ALA form, which can be converted into the DHA form. DHA is associated with good brain health. Luckily, DHA can be found in algal omega 3 supplements. Although plant based omega 3 supplements aren’t considered essential in the way that vitamin B12 is, you may wish to take an algal supplement, especially if you don’t consume flaxseed or another plant based food source of ALA daily.
With the supplements for supporting a plant-based diet, UK recommendations are for everyone to consume a vitamin D supplement for the winter months (October-April). This may need to be taken year-round for certain populations. Although vitamin D can be found it food, the level isn’t high enough to compensate for lower UV radiation levels. This is especially true in many plant based sources.
As well as the nutrients above, there are others that you may need to be mindful about including on a vegan diet, without necessarily needing a supplement. You can read more about some of these here. For trying any new supplement, please speak to your GP, or a Registered Nutritionist or dietitian for guidance.