6 Health Supplements for Vegetarians
The best way to get the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs to thrive is through food, but is that possible if you follow a vegetarian diet? The UK has seen an increase in vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, according to the organisers of Vegfest UK, and they estimate that number will continue to rise.
Ideally, vegetarians eat a variety of foods just like anyone else, so it is possible to get proper nutrition – it’s just more challenging. If you don’t meet daily nutritional requirements, you might consider taking dietary supplements to compensate, but what should you look for?
These supplements for vegetarians are good options if you can’t get enough essential vitamins and minerals from your food, but not everything your body needs is available in supplement form. Before you shop, take a quick inventory of your diet to see what might be lacking.
It’s not hard to get adequate protein from food, even if you don’t eat meat. Your diet should include plenty of the following:
- Whole grains
- Leafy green vegetables
If you eat dairy, add milk, eggs and cheese to your meal plan as well. Once you know that you’re getting enough protein, you can consider getting other essential nutrients with these supplements for vegetarians.
1. B-Complex Supplements
Many vegetarian diets are deficient in vitamin B-12 because it is primarily found in meat. Vitamin B-12 is essential in the production of red blood cells. The vegetarian diet is often rich in another vitamin that will mask the signs of B-12 deficiency, too. Without enough B-12 in your system, you may become anaemic.
Some cereals and soy products are fortified with B vitamins to increase your intake, or you can take B-complex supplements that include B-12.
2. Calcium Supplements
Calcium deficiency is another common problem for vegetarians, especially those that avoid dairy products. Calcium is a key component in healthy bones and teeth, so without milk and other forms of dairy, you are at risk for osteoporosis. There are fortified foods such as soy yogurt or tofu that add calcium to your diet. You can also take calcium supplements, but be sure to follow the dosage closely to avoid complications like kidney stones.
3. Vitamin D3 Supplements
Vitamin D is also an important supplement for vegetarians because it helps your body absorb calcium. You can get vitamin D from fortified products or by spending more time in the sun. If necessary, take vitamin D3 supplements such as Flex-D3 to enrich your diet, as well. The combination should give you enough of this essential element to have healthy bones.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Active forms of omega-3 fatty acids are critical to heart health, but it’s hard to get them if you don’t eat fish or eggs. Omega-3 from plants like nuts or soybeans is not as effective, either. The best option for vegetarians are omega-3 fatty acid supplements in conjunction with fortified foods.
5. Vitamin C Supplements
Vegetarians need twice as much dietary iron as those who eat meat because the body has a hard time absorbing iron from plants. You must eat more to get the same benefit unless you take a supplement. One way to counteract that deficiency is to take vitamin C supplements, such as Flex-C. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption from foods like dark leafy vegetables and whole grains, making it one of the best supplements for vegetarians.
6. Zinc Supplements
Zinc is essential for many enzymes and helps formulate protein to build healthy cells. Like iron, the body has trouble absorbing zinc from plant foods, so zinc supplements can meet that need.
Dietary supplements are a second line of defense after diet. For vegetarians, they offer balanced nutrition that is tough to get when you avoid meat and dairy. The key is taking the right mix of these supplements for vegetarians to complement your food choices and enhance your nutrition.
Mayo Clinic, Planning a Healthy Vegetarian Diet
Rushprnews, Statistics: 55% of Population on Mainly Vegan Diet by 2020 Predict Vegfest UK, April 2013
NHS Choices, Healthy Eating for Vegetarians and Vegans, October 2015
Writer Bio: Darla F is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara