I’m ve­gan, do I need to take sup­ple­ments?

Rotorua Review - - MOTORING -

Q: I turned ve­gan three months ago and I’m re­ally en­joy­ing it but should I be wor­ried about nu­tri­tional de­fi­cien­cies? Should I be tak­ing any sup­ple­ments? – Belinda

If you eat a ve­gan diet, you need to en­sure you ob­tain op­ti­mal lev­els of spe­cific nu­tri­ents that can be too low when you eat this way. With any par­tic­u­lar diet or way of eat­ing, it is the food choices that are made within the context of that diet that will de­ter­mine whether it is nu­tri­tion­ally ad­e­quate, not the la­bel.

The nu­tri­ents that you need to be par­tic­u­larly mind­ful of as a ve­gan in­clude vi­ta­min B12, iron (par­tic­u­larly for men­stru­at­ing women), zinc, calcium and omega3 fatty acids.


vi­ta­min B12 stores will gen­er­ally last a cou­ple of years, how­ever a de­fi­ciency can cause ir­re­versible dam­age so it’s vi­tal that you don’t let your­self get de­pleted. im­por­tant to avoid drink­ing tea, cof­fee and wine with meals, as tan­nins in these can bind the iron, which in­hibits ab­sorp­tion.

It’s im­por­tant to have your iron lev­els checked be­fore sup­ple­ment­ing, as an ex­cess of iron in the body is also prob­lem­atic, and some of the symp­toms of iron over­load are ac­tu­ally sim­i­lar to those of de­fi­ciency. Nuts and legumes also con­tain small amounts of zinc. Women re­quire 8mg of zinc per day and men re­quire 14mg per day to pre­vent de­fi­ciency. la­bel to see if it has calcium added.


There are calcium-for­ti­fied al­mond milk op­tions for those who go ve­gan.

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