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Key Nutrients in a Vegan Diet

Friday January 10, 2020
Key Nutrients in a Vegan Diet

Photo Caption:Vitamin K is found in leafy greens and fermented soy however an additional supplement containing the nutrient can be beneficial in maintaining a balanced vegan diet.

 

With careful planning, it’s possible to make a smooth transition from non-vegan to an animal free diet. 


A vegan or plant-based diet is free from animal-derived products and by-products, this includes the avoidance of diary, eggs, and honey among others.

 

Eating a rich variety of plant-based foods is key, however you may need to consider food supplements to avoid missing out on essential nutrients - as some nutrients are harder to obtain or available in smaller amounts in plant-based foods.

 

We look at the key nutrients for a balanced vegan diet.

Vitamins
A vegan diet may, in particular, need supplementation with B12, besides B3, B6, choline, biotin, vitamin D and vitamin K. Vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause of pernicious anaemia, while low B3 and B6 can affect energy levels and disrupt hormones. Low choline status is associated with poor cognition and low biotin, poor skin health. Other considerations are the fat-soluble vitamins vitamin D and K.

Adhering to Public Health England recommendations that ALL individuals living in Northern Europe require Vitamin D3 400iu throughout the winter months will ensure a maintenance of vitamin D levels.  However, if you are diagnosed with vitamin D insufficiency larger doses of vitamin D3 may be necessary and you should consult your GP.

Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and abundant in fermented soy, such as natto. The consumption of fermented vegetables in the UK has declined in the advent of modern food preservation techniques. Subsequently, Vitamin K2 can be found easily in a non-animal tested vegan supplemental form and is often included in a multivitamin and mineral formula.


Minerals
Iodine, Calcium and Iron are the hardest to ascertain from the vegan diet. Iodine is involved in the immune function and thyroid health, so if you experience lack of energy, unexplained weight gain or you constantly feel cold, you may need to up your iodine sources. Similarly, low iron diminishes energy and immunity. This is a nutrient to monitor especially in menstruating females and endurance athletes. Calcium is probably one of the most well-known minerals for keep our bones strong. Calcium balance in the body requires the presence of magnesium, vitamin K and D. An indicator of bone mineralization and calcification is the bone mineral density assessment (BMD), its importance is highlighted by several investigations that show that those following a vegan diet have a lower BMD score.


Essential Fatty Acids
Certain fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 are termed ‘essential’, this means that the body cannot make them so you must consume them daily. Both omega-3 and 6 play important roles in brain function, cell integrity, blood clotting and inflammation. The vegan diet is rich in omega-6 and some omega-3 from nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut oil, however, the fatty acids are not balanced. 
As a result, algae has become popular for its omega-3 content and provides the only vegan source of omega-3 EFAs; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This allows the vegan diet to incorporate full spectrum omega-3 essential fatty acids and maintain an omega-6 to omega-3 balance.

Amino Acids and Proteins
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein in the body and contribute to the maintenance, repair and growth of muscle and carrier proteins. There are 22 amino acids, some can be produced in the body if sufficient protein is consumed, and others, known as ‘essential’, must be provided by the diet. Of the essential amino acids, leucine, methionine, tryptophan and lysine are frequently elusive. Often a combination of protein sources is necessary at most meals to get adequate provision such as legumes (peas, beans) with grains and seitan (wheat protein).


With all this in mind, it’s important for vegans to additionally nourish their diet with these nutrients through vegan-friendly supplements, so that the correct therapeutic levels are reached in the body for health benefits.

 

Pay close attention to the labels

Look on the label to check that a vitamin, mineral or herbal product is vegan. Some capsules are made from gelatine, some tablets are coated with a gelatine spray, beeswax or shellac to make them look shiny. The details are important!

 

About Viridian Nutrition

Ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition has a wide range of Vegan Society approved food supplements. In addition to this, Viridian goes further and ensures that ALL ingredients are traced back to the seed or manufacturing process to ascertain whether animal testing has taken place anywhere along the supply chain for each individual ingredient. It guarantees that none of its products are tested on animals.


At the heart of Viridian is a commitment and passion to ethical sourcing, 100% active ingredients, organics, palm-oil free, non-GM, non-irradiated, allergen-free. Viridian is the world’s first palm-oil free certified vitamin company.

 

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.





 

TAGS: Newsvegan diet, vegan

 

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