Many people fear of not getting enough of a specific nutrient, while not realizing, that they should also look at which nutrients they may get way too much from. Relatives may be concerned about you not getting enough protein, while they nonchalantly consume ten times the RDA of sugar, salt, and trans fats. Nevertheless, there are some vitamins and minerals, which you may want to consider supplementing. Let's look at why and how you may want to supplement Vitamin B12, D, K2, iodine, and Omega-3s (namely DHA and EPA)
As we all know, life relies on fertile soil; however, we often overlook the fact that we also rely on our soil's life. The need for Vitamin B12 (1) is a prime example of that. Soil bacteria actually produce B12. By eating vegetables straight from your own garden or wild mushrooms with soil particles, we can replenish our B12. However, there's a catch, due to modern agriculture. Commercially grown crops are grown in soil that has been severely damaged due to industry standards, such as chemical fertilization, use of pesticides, etc.
Vegan or not. Getting adequate B12 is critical (2), even though you only need minuscule amounts of the substance to maintain ideal levels. Feel free to check out our article on B12 supplementation here. Supplementing B12 through fortified vegan foods, such as plant-milks or yeast, is incredibly easy and reliable.
Everyone knows vitamin D (3) as the sunshine vitamin, as it is synthesized by our body when exposed to sunlight. If you love nature and spend most of the day outdoors, you are less at risk of developing Vitamin D deficiency than most people. Just like with Vitamin B12, the risk of developing vitamin D deficiency is elevated due to our modern lifestyle. We wear many layers of clothing, spend more time in the office than outside, and some of us live in megacities where skyscrapers block the little light that manages to penetrate the smog.
Getting sufficient Vitamin D is crucial (4); research suggests that a deficiency increases one's risk of developing osteoporosis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and various cancer types. Of course getting Vitamin D the natural way, from sunlight is ideal, but if you feel like your everyday life doesn't allow for that.
Consider supplementing your Vitamin D intake. There are many plant-based vitamin D supplements out there, where vitamin D is isolated from mushrooms or algae. Most doctors agree that a supplemental dose of 2,000IU of vitamin D3 is ideal.
DHA and EPA ("The Other Omega-3s")
Everyone has heard about Omega-3'sOmega-3's before. However, not everyone knows that not all Omegas are created equal. For instance, we cherish chia or flax seeds for their Omega fatty acids. However, while they are an incredible addition to one's diet, they are the ALA kind of Omegas.
There are also other forms, such as DHA and EPA, which are said to be critical to cardiovascular and brain health. Daily intake of these fatty acids is crucial to optimal health; they regulate one's cholesterol and fuel the nervous system. The good news is that our bodies can produce all essential omega fatty acids, besides ALA and LA, which we can get from flax seeds and chia seeds. Our body uses these to synthesize EPA and DHA.
The bad news is that our body is relatively inefficient at synthesizing EPA and DHA. Clinical findings (5) suggest that not even 1% of ALA gets converted to EPA or DHA. A simple blood test can reveal this. So you're likely not getting enough of the right kinds, the natural way. While seaweed contains DHA and EPA, it is also very low in fat, so on a per gram basis, the amount of EPA and DHA fatty acids is very low. One would need to copious amounts of seaweed each day (6). Practically speaking, this is not feasible for most people who should consider supplementing DHA and EPA.
The problem with a DHA and EPA deficiency is that there are no immediate symptoms. It may manifest later in life in the form of chronic disease. While the recommended daily dose of DHA and EPA supplements is much-debated in the scientific community (7), some investigations concluded that a combined daily dose of 300-650g of EPA and DHA might be ideal.
Our bodies need iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Without these hormones, we would not be able to regulate our metabolism properly. Iodine is especially important for children and pregnant women as thyroid hormones are also crucial for skeletal growth and brain development. While iodine is found in several plant sources, such as potatoes, cranberries, and seaweeds, the iodine content in produce strongly depends on the soil quality and cultivation practices. So it is always a bit of a gamble to rely on these.
A lot of salt sold in grocery stores is labeled as "iodized" this means it has been fortified with iodine. However, most people already consume excess amounts of sodium each day and try to cut their salt intake. If you're one of them, consider eating kelp or seaweed every day or supplement it in the form of a capsule.
Many people don't know that Vitamin K comes in many different forms, just like Omega-3'sOmega-3's. K2 fulfills many vital roles in our body; the most critical is that it enables our body to manage our calcium household. It moves calcium from soft tissues, into our bones and teeth. While K1 is easily consumed through a vegan diet, K2 isn't, so we need to pay extra attention to our vitamin k2 intake since it's only found in a few plant-based foods.
K2 is especially abundant in fermented foods. So while tempeh and miso paste may have K2, they may not be high in K2. There is no real way of knowing how much K2 you may get from any bite. The problem with K2 is that it is not well-researched yet, but you may want to consider supplementing it. While the recommended daily intake is 90-120mcg, some experts suggest 10-25mcg is adequate.