Vegan nutrition is not only good for awareness and the environment. The renunciation of animal products is also healthy. Vegan people, for example, perform better on average in terms of weight or blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to absorb all the essential nutrients that our body needs to live through purely vegan products. Supplements can help you here. The question, however, is: Which dietary supplements are suitable for vegans? Which animal ingredients should you pay attention to and which nutrients should you take at all in a vegan lifestyle? What about vegetarian diets? Is a dietary supplement necessary at all?
Everything is not so easy, then just around the discussion vegan or not there are many emotional arguments. Unfortunately, this is always associated with disinformation. But don’t worry. We have researched objectively and summarized all the information here for you.
Which dietary supplements are vegan at all?
At the beginning a warning: If you decide to take capsules, tablets and Co. for a vegan lifestyle, there are a few things to consider. Because even supposedly vegan products can be buried substances from animal origin . With substances such as fish oil, it is logical that they come from an animal source, but with scientific terms this is not always so easy. To be on the safe side, keep your eyes peeled for the following substances when reading the table of contents:
Glycerin / Glycerol: Glycerin or glycerol is often buried in food or medicines as a sweetener. The substance can be obtained both vegetable and animal. Synthetic production is possible, but relatively expensive. As long as the label does not explicitly state that it is vegetable glycerol or glycerin, you can not be completely sure that a product is vegan.
Lactose: It is much easier with lactose. The lactose is found exclusively in mammalian milk and is therefore clearly not vegan.
Gelatine: In dietary supplements, gelatin is often found in capsule shells. Even if the ingredients of the supplement are vegan, an animal product can hide in the shell.
Propolis: Propolis or propolis extract is resin used by bees to build their hive. Thus, it is not vegan!
Progesterone: Although the hormone progesterone can also be found in plants, it often comes from animal sources. Again, you have to look closely and, in case of doubt, investigate the origin.
Lipases: Lipases are important enzymes that we need for fat metabolism and usually come from animal sources such as calves, pigs or lambs. In addition, however, extraction with the help of microbes is also possible. However, since animal substances are necessary in this type of production, it is questionable whether Lipaseen can be described as vegan. Rather, they would probably qualify for vegetarian diets.
Glucosamine: Glucosamine helps above all with complaints of the joints, but is traditionally obtained from the shells of marine animals. However, there are also plant-based variants that are suitable for vegans.
Unfortunately , vitamin supplements also often resort to animal sources. Pay particular attention to a vegan origin for vitamins A, B12 and D3 , as plant-based production is possible, but animal products are usually used.
No animal products at all or just meatless: The optimal dietary supplement for vegan and vegetarian diets
So, as we now know, although many ingredients are obtained from animal sources, in almost all cases there are plant-based alternatives. So you do not have to do without important nutrients in a meatless or purely plant-based diet.
In principle, a nutrient deficiency can occur with any diet, as long as it is not varied enough. Likewise, if you suspect an undersupply, you should always seek medical advice first to determine which substances you are missing.
But which dietary supplements should you take for vegan nutrition at all? And what is it like as a vegetarian?
Nutritional supplement for vegans
Nutrients such as proteins, important fatty acids,
can be problematic in vegan people. With a varied and healthy diet, however, the need for all these substances can be covered relatively well.
Above all, however, two nutrients are difficult to get with a purely plant-based diet:
The supply of iodine is often comparatively low in a vegan diet. Iodine-fortified foods such as iodized table salt can help you balance this out. In many cases, however, the intake of iodine supplements is still recommended. In case of doubt, the doctor you trust can give you information here.
Much more critical in plant-based diets is the intake of vitamin B12 or cobalamines. The vitamin in its usable form occurs only insufficiently in plant foods. The intake of dietary supplements with vitamin B12 is therefore recommended in principle for vegans.
Nutritional supplement for vegetarians
In general, the lower the intake of animal products, the lower the supply of vitamin B12. Vegetarian foods with the nutrient include dairy products or eggs, but the amount of vitamin B12 they contain is often not enough to completely rule out a deficiency.
For this reason, supplementing with vitamin B12 can also make sense for vegetarians. Ideally, with a vegetarian diet, you should have your vitamin B12 value determined by a blood test. So you can be sure that you will get enough of it. In addition, a deficiency of the vitamin only becomes noticeable with a severe undersupply. In this context, pay attention to symptoms such as: frequent fatigue, drowsiness or tingling in the hands.
Is a vegan diet also possible without supplements?
The answer to this question is not particularly satisfying: it depends.
On the one hand, with a balanced and healthy diet, you can also absorb almost all important nutrients in sufficient quantities as a vegan. On the other hand, it is only “as good as” all important nutrients. Even if you can live with vegan food without supplements, you run the risk of a chronic nutrient deficiency. The sticking point, as you might already suspect, is mainly vitamin B12.
The vitamin is by no means animal, for example in mushrooms (shiitake), but only in relatively small quantities. Algae would even have quite a lot of vitamin B12, but the also very high iodine content makes excessive consumption problematic.
, a bacterium also known as “blue-green algae” or “microalgae”, is also omitted as an alternative: it contains only pseudo-vitamin B12, which is not usable by humans.
In order not to risk an undersupply of vitamin B12, a supplementary intake is therefore almost unavoidable. This can be done, for example, by specially enriched foods or yeast added to the food. However, the most effective way is to take it as a dietary supplement in capsule form. Medical advice required. So you make sure that you get everything you need even with a plant-based diet.