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Recommended Supplement?
sarahkay Posted at 2011/09/30 3:55pm reply to

sarahkay
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Hello all!

I just joined yesterday, I'm newly vegan (1 week) happy
My apologies if this topic has already been beaten to death... When I searched "supplement" I came up with posts about EVERYTHING, lol. While doing my research on veganism, I noticed a few key things vegans are likely to have deficiency in without careful meal planning. They included iodine, B 12, DHA (I think) So anyway, does anyone take a multivitamin type supplement they would recommend that addresses these specifically for vegans. I'm wary of believing everything on a manufacturers site...

Thanks!
Gabriel Posted at 2011/09/30 4:12pm reply to

Gabriel
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Hello, and welcome to VRA and to the vegan world! happy

I actually wrote a blog post on this very subject that has my recommendations to vegans based on my experience and the research that is available to us now:

http://www.vegandude.com/2011/09/supplementation-in-vegan-diet.html

I recommend Dr. Fuhrman's Gentle Care Multivitamins, which would take care of B12, iodine, and most minerals/vitamins that you need if you are eating a healthy diet.  Vegan DHA/EPA are separate and may not be required by everyone, but they are a good idea.  There are many good brands available.  Extra Vitamin D is a good idea for everyone (vegan or not), and I am currently using a product called Vitashine Vegan Vitamin D3 Spray.

My girlfriend Jessica and I are going to be opening a vegan grocery store (http://www.rabbitfoodgrocery.com/) early next year, and we'll be offering an assortment of vegan supplements.  In fact, this makes me think that we should offer a vegan supplement starter kit for new vegans who need some guidance.

Please take a look at my blog post, and let me know if you have questions.

Gabriel

sarahkay Posted at 2011/09/30 4:56pm reply to

sarahkay
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Thank you so much! I'm going to check out the blog now!!!
Kate B. Posted at 2011/09/30 5:41pm reply to

Kate B.
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I'm a Certified Health Coach and counsel many vegan clients on supplements. Two of the vitamins most often missing in a vegan diet are vitamin D and B12. Many vegans don't need a multivitamin, but do need to take D and B12 supplements, and there are a couple of key things to know about each supplement:

Vitamin D - This is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it should be taken with some dietary fat (e.g. avocado, almond butter) to maximize absorption. Note that D2 is the vegan (non-animal derived) form of vitamin D.

B12 - Methylcobalamin (in a sublingual pill or a patch) is the most effective form of B12. B12 can last in the body for a long time, but since it's water-soluble, excess amounts are typically excreted.

There are a number of other vitamins that vegans may also be missing. I highly recommend having blood work done and analyzed (a CBC and tests of specific vitamin levels) to identify any deficiencies.

Feel free to contact me over my website or via email if you have any questions.

Kate
http://www.discoveroptimalhealth.com/
kate@discoveroptimalhealth.com
Gabriel Posted at 2011/09/30 5:52pm reply to

Gabriel
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>
>Vitamin D - This is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning that it should be taken with some dietary fat (e.g. avocado, almond butter) to maximize absorption. Note that D2 is the vegan (non-animal derived) form of vitamin D.
>

This is generally true, but there is now vegan Vitamin D3 available (e.g. Vitashine). It's currently groundbreaking stuff, but I imagine that we will see it more and more, just as we now see vegan DHA widely available.  Vegan Vitamin D3 is a good thing, particularly for those who have a difficult time getting their levels up, as it is more easily absorbed  than D2.

weigand Posted at 2011/09/30 5:57pm reply to

weigand
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I have excellent blood tests on my nutrient profile and other measurements. What I take:

DEVA brand Vegan 1-a-day Multi with Iron in the morning with breakfast.

In the evening with dinner: B-complex supplement. Also, a vitamin D2 supplement (VegLife Supreme Vegan D 2000IU). Also, DEVA brand DHA (or the new DHA + EPA pill that's out by another brand, I forget the name of right now).

That combination and timing is a winner.

You might also look into whether or not you need to supplement calcium. I would take it at the same time you take vitamin D, because vitamin D and calcium are needed for building bones. But don't take it with the multivitamin, as calcium can interfere with its absorption (it can mess with the absorption of certain minerals that are in your multi).

The reason why I take the B-complex pill at opposite times of the day as the 1-a-day multi is because it doubles my chance of getting B12. Taking them both at the same time would probably result in absorbing less B12.

- Steve
Kate B. Posted at 2011/09/30 6:00pm reply to

Kate B.
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>there is now vegan Vitamin D3 available (e.g. Vitashine)

I've heard good things about Vitashine - and, yes, D3 has been shown to be more effective than D2. Unfortunately, in nearly all other cases, D3 is animal-derived.
mollyjade Posted at 2011/09/30 6:31pm reply to

mollyjade
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Two or three times a week I take a sublingual b12 which dissolves in your mouth for better absorption. They're pretty easy to find at any place that has a good vitamin selection.

I usually drink a glass of fortified plant milk in the morning, but if I skip that, I take a cal-mag-zinc instead. With the rest of the food I eat, that's enough to ensure I get enough calcium.

I take DHA because I have some heart health risks, but I don't think I'd personally take it otherwise. The research on this is still fairly recent.

Oh, and I cook with iodized salt.

The really important one is that b12, which every vegan or near-vegan should take no matter what.
jacinda77 Posted at 2011/10/09 11:23pm reply to

jacinda77
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I would get the Omega Swirl for your DHA.
www.barleans.com

And for your vitamins if you want a daily, I would get RAW for Women. They are the best ever! I work at Sprouts on Great Hills and they are on sale all the time and totally worth every penny. www.thevitamincode.com
Gabriel Posted at 2011/10/09 11:56pm reply to

Gabriel
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>I would get the Omega Swirl for your DHA.
>www.barleans.com
>
>And for your vitamins if you want a daily, I would get RAW for Women. They are the best ever! I work at Sprouts on Great Hills and they are on sale all the time and totally worth every penny. www.thevitamincode.com

The Vitamin D3 in the Vitamin Code (aka Garden of Life) vitamins (including the RAW formulas) isn't vegan.  They actually were somewhat deceptive in the past about the Vitamin D3.  You can read more about it here:

http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/03/29/garden-of-life-vitamin-d3-derived-from-lanolin/

gurujesse Posted at 2011/10/26 10:08pm reply to

gurujesse
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What about the petrochemicals used in the production of the D3 mentioned in that article?  It's pick your poison when it comes down to it with some things.  I think I'll stick to D2...
weigand Posted at 2011/10/26 10:33pm reply to

weigand
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I just received a bottle of Vitamin D3 from Source of Life Garden (a division of Nature's Plus). It is 100% derived from plant sources (mushrooms). You can order it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Source-Life-Garden-Vitamin-D3/dp/B0042DDP44

It is 2500 IU vitamin D3 in one capsule.

Vitamin D2 is good enough also. You can get VegLife's Supreme Vegan D (D2 at 2000IU).

There are differences between D2 and D3. From what I gather, they perform the same functions, but D3 lingers around in your system twice as long. If you're taking a D2 supplement everyday, that's not something to worry about, I don't think.

- Steve
Gabriel Posted at 2011/10/27 11:08am reply to

Gabriel
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I have had issues maintaining adequate levels of D with just D2.  I started supplementing with Vitashine Vegan Vitamin D3 in September and plan on rechecking levels after three months.  Their process uses lichen as a source, which is a confirmed source of D3.  According to vegan RD Jack Norris, mushrooms are a source of Vitamin D2 rather than D3.  He told me in May that Source of Life has never returned his calls, so I'm skeptical about their product being D3.  He did, however, acknowledge that Vitashine's product was the first confirmed vegan D3 that he is aware of.  Here's a short blog post from August on Vitashine:

http://jacknorrisrd.com/?p=2081

Here he makes a mention of why he is skeptical of claims that mushrooms contain D3:
http://jacknorrisrd.com/?p=2059
UTexasMark Posted at 2011/10/27 5:43pm reply to

UTexasMark
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These posts make being vegan seem difficult and highly lacking in nutrients.

I don't really do supplements of any kind.  Vegan milks like Rice Milk, Almond Milk, etc. (that I don't drink that much of) tend to have vitamin D and often B12 as additives in them.  Nooch (nutritional yeast) has B12 too and I eat that a couple times a week I think.

Anyway, I don't want anyone to freak out and think you have to take a ton of pills with every meal to be vegan.  I've made it more than a decade without supplements and when I did get my blood checked a few months ago everything was great.
Ross Posted at 2011/10/27 6:38pm reply to

Ross
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We can't ignore and encourage people to ignore the potential pitfalls that may occur with the diet. The type of vitamin d in milk alternatives is just flat not as absorbable, and I as well as others have developed a lack of vitamin d whether it be from not going outside enough because of the extreme weather in austin(or using sunblock whenever we do) or not getting enough in our diet.

Again, this is an issue that many people who aren't vegan run into, but vegans aren't excluded in having to worry about it. Yes, some vegans will do just fine.

>These posts make being vegan seem difficult and highly lacking in nutrients.
>
>I don't really do supplements of any kind.  Vegan milks like Rice Milk, Almond Milk, etc. (that I don't drink that much of) tend to have vitamin D and often B12 as additives in them.  Nooch (nutritional yeast) has B12 too and I eat that a couple times a week I think.
>
>Anyway, I don't want anyone to freak out and think you have to take a ton of pills with every meal to be vegan.  I've made it more than a decade without supplements and when I did get my blood checked a few months ago everything was great.
Gabriel Posted at 2011/10/27 7:26pm reply to

Gabriel
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Holding back the truth to make veganism seem "easier" is a bad idea and is more likely to cause people to abandon veganism than being straightforward and honest.  Taking a few supplements is not that hard, and most people (vegan or non-vegan) should probably be supplementing certain nutrients.

I've been vegan for over two decades and was a non-supplementer for the first 10 years or so.  I also had "acceptable" blood levels of almost everything, but my B12 was in the low normal range and I am uncertain about whether my Vitamin D levels were adequate. D is not a standard test, and I didn't have my Vitamin D level measured until last year.  It was deficient, despite the fact that I was consuming a lot of fortified foods.  I tried raising it with D2 and was successful in getting it up but was still in the sub-optimal range.   Vitamin D deficiency is a human problem, not a vegan problem. It is linked to all kinds of serious issues, so it's not something to be taken lightly.  

Vitamin B12 is an issue specifically for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who avoids most animal products.  Like Vitamin D, fortified foods might not be enough.  Being deficient or even on the low end of normal, as I was many years ago, can lead to some serious issues.  It's easy to avoid problems, though, with a regular supplement.
karen Posted at 2011/10/27 8:11pm reply to

karen
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>Holding back the truth to make veganism seem "easier" is a bad idea and is more likely to cause people to abandon veganism than being straightforward and honest.  

I don't think Mark's intentions are to withhold any information at all.

I don't supplement and get my blood checked regularly (I've been vegan for 8 years) and my results are fine. The only problem I've had was earlier this year; I was deficient on Vitamin D but chalked up to never, ever going outside. When I spoke to my doctor about it, he didn't seem the least bit concerned... just to bring it up within "normal" range.

There are several articles that seem to claim supplementing is actually bad for you, too. I'm not saying it definitively IS bad... but since there are studies claiming both sides of the issue, I think research at this time is inconclusive. At this point, I'm not sure supplementing in the first place is really of any benefit.
weigand Posted at 2011/10/27 10:16pm reply to

weigand
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I think it's possible to go without much supplementation as a vegan, and just eat nutritional yeast and fortified cereals, rice milk, soy milk, etc. But I don't recommend it to vegans. Even if you have a blood test that says everything is fine, I don't recommend it. Instead, I say take a B12 supplement twice a day, no exceptions. Aside from that, you decide how much else you want to supplement.

It's really not that complicated, either. Me personally, I just do: 1 daily multivitamin in the morning, DHA supplement (but I think it's probably unnecessary), D supplement and a B-complex supplement in the evening. All of which taken with meals. No big deal. And you can skip the D supplement if you were out in the sun for more than 30 minutes or so that day.

As for it being "unnatural", sure it is. But then, if you look at how many vitamins and minerals the average vegan is deficient in (if they don't supplement) and compare that with meat eaters, you're going to find that meat eaters tend to be MORE deficient. Meat eaters are the ones who really need to take more supplements. Including B12, by the way, even though they don't really know it.

Are multivitamins "bad" for you? Not really. Not in the quantities we're talking about. Recently a study showed that those taking Vitamin E supplements had greater levels of cancer than those not taking them. Scary scary, right? Multivitamins have vitamin E in them, so they must be bad, right? Run away! Yeah, until you read the fine print. Turns out the levels of Vitamin E (a fat soluble vitamin, by the way) that these study participants were taking were something like 100 to 1000 times greater than would be in your multivitamin. Heh. So, no. Not a big deal.

I do think there's some cause to be concerned about people who take supplements and don't know it. They eat fortified cereal with their fortified rice milk in the morning. Then they have a fortified protein shake. Then they take a multivitamin. And later on that day, they drink a bottle of Vitamin Water to wash down their fortified protein bar. Yikes!

- Steve
weigand Posted at 2011/10/27 10:51pm reply to

weigand
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Yeah, that is interesting, Gabriel. I did a web search, and there are some papers saying that D3 can indeed be found in mushrooms like shitake mushrooms. But there are a lot of people who just claim as a matter of fact that only D2 can possibly come from mushrooms. So who's correct? Hmmm. Stay tuned!

- Steve
Ross Posted at 2012/01/01 5:01pm reply to

Ross
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Wanted to update that I'm going to be trying the Vitashine spray. I actually went down a point on my latest bloodtest after using a d2 supplement for a few months.
Gabriel Posted at 2012/01/01 5:20pm reply to

Gabriel
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That reminds me that I need to check my blood levels, since I've been on Vitashine for four months now.  I take a higher dosage than what is recommended on the bottle (I take 15 sprays or 3000 IUs rather than the 5 sprays) because that was recommended to me by a doctor to get my levels up.  Previously I'd been taking 8000 IUs a day of D2 for nearly a year, which did raise my levels but not enough. Hopefully this smaller dose of D3 will be more effective.  
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