7 Essential Vitamins That Every Vegan Needs for Overall Wellness

Vitamins play vital roles in one’s overall wellness. Our bodies need them to survive and stay healthy. If you get too little of them, you may face health complications. Conversely, intaking too many of them can also cause problems. Hence, the key is to get just the right amount of vitamins.

Different vitamins are usually found in different plant-based and animal-based food sources. However, if you’re vegan, you’re likely prone to vitamin deficiencies. In this article, we’ve got you covered. Listed down below are essential vitamins found in plant-based sources only.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also called retinol, plays several important functions in your body. For instance, it keeps our skin and mucous membranes (the lining of some parts of the body) healthy, supports our eye health and helps our immune system work properly.

While this preformed retinol is usually found in animal products, there are provitamin A carotenoids in some plant food sources that vegans can opt for. These carotenoid-containing foods are bell peppers, carrots, cantaloupe, kale, mangoes, oranges, papayas, spinach, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, and yams.

Vitamin B-12

The B vitamins complex is among the building blocks of a healthy body, so they directly impact our energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism, to name a few. They also help support and promote cell health and prevent infections in our bodies.

Vitamin B-12, also called Cobalamin, is one of the substances in the Vitamin B complex. We need a relatively higher amount of it for our brain function, nerve tissue health, and the production of red blood cells. If you don’t have enough vitamin B12, you’ll likely feel fatigued or, worse, have irreversible neurological issues if left untreated.

The thing is, vitamin B-12 is commonly found in animal source foods. Hence, while vegans believe they consume enough vitamin B-12 from plant foods, there’s no scientific basis for this belief. Still and all, the British Vegan Society recommends other vitamin B-12 sources for vegans, like dairy products, fortified non-dairy milk (soy milk and rice beverage), fortified nutritional yeast, seafood (clams and seaweeds), and supplements.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant, considered the most potent among other vitamins. It’s crucial in our growth, tissue repair, cell damage, wound repair, blood vessel function, and efficient immune system. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron too.

It’s typically found in citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, and grapefruits) and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli). However, remember that it’s so acidic that too much of it would result in an irritable stomach and mouth ulcers. The upper daily limit is between 1g-2g of vitamin C. Eating five daily can already meet your daily body needs.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, also called Calciferol, supports bone health. Its primary role is in calcium absorption. So even if it’s cloudy, getting outside in broad daylight allows vitamin D production in your skin.

Aside from sunlight, you can get natural sources of vitamin D from foods fortified with vitamin D (dairy products, soy milk, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, and orange juice) and mushrooms (button, maitake, morel, portobello, and shiitake mushrooms).

What’s more, vitamin D consumption is affected by one’s profile and ethnicity. Specifically, the US National Institute of Health recommends the following vitamin D dosage 600 IU or ten mcg for people aged 1-70 and 800 IU or 20 mcg for people aged 71 and older.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is another antioxidant that has functions in maintaining the cells’ growth, blood circulation, and heart health. Its deficiency rarely happens, either caused by malabsorption or genetic disorders.

You can easily get Vitamin E from fatty fish, such as mackerel and salmon. But for vegan options, you can opt for healthy cooking oils (corn oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil), whole Grain products (nuts and almonds), and fruits (avocados, mangoes, and blackberries).

Vitamin K

Vitamin K maintains healthy bones and is involved in the blood clotting process. We can produce our vitamin K through the activity of gut flora, the so-called ‘healthy bacteria.’ They’re located in our large intestine, which defends us from other harmful organisms in our gut.

Of course, we shouldn’t solely rely on these bacteria. You can get vitamin K from green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, romaine, turnip greens, and watercress) and plant oils (rapeseed oil and soya oil).

Multivitamins

If you need vitamins that are only gotten from animal products but want to stay vegan, multivitamins could be your last resort. These supplements are taken by people who need ‘extra’ micronutrients, especially women. Females and males have different nutrient needs due to hormonal and physical differences. Unfortunately, women need more attention compared to men.

For instance, women tend to be susceptible to iron deficiency due to the monthly blood loss associated with their menstruation period. Apart from it, other factors like breastfeeding, pregnancy, and menopause will increase the nutritional demand of women, too. Hence, there are a lot of multivitamins that come with a slew of top womens vitamins.

Even so, males are no exception from multivitamin supplementation. Men need multivitamins like women to prevent nutrient deficiency and improve energy and concentration, especially when physically active.

Final Thoughts

It’s always possible and even better to get essential vitamins from food sources without depending on supplements. However, always seek professional advice to see what’s right for you.