Many people eat a vegan diet to reduce their environmental impact or because of their ethical beliefs, but many nutrients that are found in animal products are vital for health and fitness and are more difficult to find in a vegan diet. Here are some of the most beneficial supplements for vegan athletes and those participating in regular exercise.
Vitamin B12 is responsible for the healthy production of red blood cells, as well as keeping nerves healthy and helping brain functionality. Unfortunately for vegans, lots of the sources of vitamin B12 are animal products such as meat and dairy products.
Vitamin B12 deficiency anaemia can be a common problem for vegans which inhibits the function of red blood cells, causing problems such as extreme tiredness, a lack of energy and muscle weakness. For this reason, all vegans need to supplement their diets with other sources of vitamin B12.
EPA + DHA (Omega 3)
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids that are necessary for our cardiovascular and brain functionality. Omega 3 is commonly found in fish and shellfish, as well as some plant and nut oils. Vegans should look for vegetable or plant-based omega 3 supplements, such as those derived from algae.
There are a few different types of Omega 3 – we recommend vegan athletes to take EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) supplements, as these are the fatty acids that are usually found in fish.
One of the best supplements for vegan athletes is vitamin D3. Vitamin D helps keep our bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Our bodies produce vitamin D3 when exposed to the sun, but due to concerns over UV exposure and the fact sunlight is often lacking in the UK, many of us don’t get enough vitamin D3.
Vitamin D refers to a group of compounds that contains, among others, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 can be found in plant sources such as mushrooms, and can therefore be included in a vegan diet, but vitamin D3 is found mainly in animal products.
Iron is a nutrient that plays an important role in our immune system, the gastrointestinal system and body temperature regulation, as well as maintaining energy levels. Iron deficiency can result in shortness of breath, low energy, low concentration levels, and getting ill more frequently, all of which are particularly detrimental for athletes.
Iron is found in red meat, fish, and eggs, as well as nuts and seeds, so vegan athletes may want to take iron supplements if they suspect they’re not getting enough.
Another good supplement for vegan athletes is zinc. Zinc is needed for protein synthesis as well as enzymatic reactions, growth and development and accelerates the healing of wounds. All athletes should make sure they have enough zinc in their diet for these reasons, whether by food sources or supplements.
Zinc is found in red meat, poultry and oysters, but is also present in nuts and beans. It’s important to try and get enough zinc in your diet, but vegan athletes may want to take zinc supplements to keep their zinc levels healthy.
Creatine is produced naturally in the body from amino acids but is also found in meat and fish. It is common for athletes to take creatine in powder form to increase their performance because it provides an improvement to strength during resistance exercises, as well as helping to build lean muscle. As vegan athletes can’t get creatine naturally from their diets, it is recommended that they take it as a supplement.
The final supplement that vegan athletes might want to consider is taurine. Taurine is an amino acid present in the body that can also be found in some foods such as meat, fish, and dairy.
Taurine has several health benefits, such as maintaining hydration and electrolyte levels in cells and supporting the central nervous system, and it is believed that it can increase sporting performance. Taurine supplements can be made synthetically without any animal products and are therefore suitable for a vegan diet.
If you are looking for vegan supplements to help with your health and athletic performance, you can view our services.