Learning about Vitamins for Vegans
Vegans practice veganism (an act of complete or partial abstinence from the consumption and other use of animal products). A common concern within the minds of vegans and health care professionals is whether the diet provides the body with all the needed vitamins and minerals.
There is no consensus on the concern. While some people feel that vegan diets cannot meet the daily required nutrients—especially vitamins and minerals, others think the opposite and argue that a vegan diet can quickly reach the requirement for nutrients and standard for a balanced diet.
For some reason, vegans are also advised—by pro-vegan supporters, to avoid intake of all supplements. While this advice comes from a logical philosophical standpoint, it may be harmful to one’s health—in the long run.
Here are five vitamins important for vegans.
Vitamin D has been reported, over the years, to be insufficiently present in the body systems of both omnivores and vegans. The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin D for children and adults is 15mcg per day. The elderly and lactating women need a higher 20mcg per day.
Do foods have Vitamin D?
The reported worldwide Vitamin D deficiency is because very few foods naturally have it. The foods with concentrated amounts of Vitamin D are not only a few; the nutrient concentration still is not enough to provide the recommended daily allowances.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that guides in the absorption of Phosphorus and Calcium in your gut. Other than these, they also help in metabolic processes, including muscle recovery, and memory recall.
The sun provides a sufficient source of Vitamin D, especially in young adults and children. If you spend 15 minutes under the sun, you will most likely have the required level for Vitamin D for proper body function.
The elderly and those who live in colder climatic regions may not have access to sunrays needed for Vitamin D production in the body.
While sun rays provide right amount of Vitamin D, it is limited. If you wear sunscreen out, your body will not absorb the sufficient amount. Sunrays also contain UVA and UVB rays that cause medical issues such as melanoma (skin cancer).
This leaves supplements as the safest option to get the required level of Vitamin D in the body. However, before you take Vitamin D2 or vegan Vitamin D3 supplement, you should have your blood level tested for sufficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a nervous breakdown, infertility, heart disease, bone disease and anemia. The recommended daily allowance for adults, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers, are 2.4mcg, 2.6mcg, and 2.8mcg, respectively.
Some foods are said to be rich in Vitamin B12, and can, in fact, give adequate levels of the nutrient. Some vegans believe that consumption of these so-called Vitamin B12 enriched foods will protect them from its deficiencies. This claim has not been substantiated with any scientific backing.
Low levels of Vitamin B12 for Vegans
Studies show that while just any person can have low levels of Vitamin B12, vegans are usually at more risk of suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency (and its negative health consequences). If you are a vegan and blood tests reveal that your Vitamin B12 levels are low, you should seek B12 supplements or consume foods with high B12 components, to help you kick those levels back up.
Vegan Foods with B12
Foods that contain B12 include nutritional yeast; however, nutritional yeast gives a reasonable level of B12 only when it is fortified. There are claims that unwashed organic produce is sources of B12. These claims are not scientifically proved; hence, they should be taken lightly.
Vitamin B12 is usually absorbed in doses. Each dose should be small, but the frequency of administration of the nutrient has to be regular.
If you cannot sustain the required vitamin B12 levels through the consumption of fortified foods, then, as a vegan, you have to take B12 supplements frequently.
If you are bothered about taking supplements, a test will allay your worries. Take a blood test to know if you have B12 deficiency before you take any supplements.
Lastly, as you grow, your ability to absorb Vitamin B12 reduces. If you are over 51 years, then your body will only efficiently absorb B12 in fortified foods or supplements.
There are two variants of vitamin K. They include K-1 and K-2. Generally, Vitamin K helps in blood clotting and wound healing.
Vitamin K-1 naturally occurs in many plants, especially dark leafy ones, while Vitamin K2 is present in egg yolk and other dairy products. Vegans can source K-2 from fermented foods including, fermented soybean dish, vegan kimchi, unpasteurized kombucha, raw sauerkraut, and plant-based kefir.
Vitamin K Deficiency in Vegans
Vitamin K deficiencies can lead to a series of medical conditions including the inability of a person’s blood to clot and wounds taking too long to heal. Vitamin K-2 is an essential nutrient. Mostly, a person suffering from its deficiency may not notice until procedures like surgery are performed, and the patient will suffer from partial healing or zero healing.
It is unlikely that a vegan will suffer from Vitamin K deficiency, given that gut bacteria have the ability to turn Vitamin K-1 into vitamin K-2. If you insist yet on taking vitamin K-2 supplements, using a probiotic supplement will assist with the gut process of vitamin K.
In conclusion, some vegans stand against the use of supplements to balance nutrients which are somewhat unavailable in their systems. This group of people prefers to live by a strict code of diet that inhibits them from consuming a lot of stuff. Scientifically, supplements are quickly absorbed by the body system. In contrast to using organic foods, supplements offer quick and efficient means to correct any deficiency that occurs in a person.
It should be noted that, while the vegan diet is commendable, it should be supported with appropriate supplements, in order to correct any deficiencies that may arise from the diet option. We hope you now know more about the vitamins important for vegans.
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