Which Supplements do Vegans Need?

I love Tofu

Have you Ever Heard the Question “But Where do Vegans get Their Protein From?”

We don’t believe that vegans are in danger of protein deficiency. It is true that the plant world has few sources of complete protein, like egg white. However, by eating a balanced and varied vegan diet, we easily get all the protein we need and more. The key words are “balanced” and “varied”. There are eight essential amino acids and the reason egg white is considered a complete protein is because it contains all the eight essential amino acids. No source of plant protein can compete with egg as all plant-based protein sources lack (or have low amounts) of one or two essential amino acids. Soy, for instance, has low amounts of methionine and lysine so relying solely on soy for protein intake is not wise.  Here is where balanced and varied comes in, by eating a variety of different protein rich foods like soy, nuts, chick peas, hemp seeds etc the different foods compensate for each other’s deficiencies. Therefore we don’t need protein supplements.

Hummus Flatbread

What Vegans Really Need is Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products like meat and egg. As vegans we need to supplement our diet with this vitamin. Long term deficiency leads to tiredness, anemia and further down the road, nerve damage. We take these small 30ug B12 pills every day. It is also possible to take a large 1000 ug pill every week.

How About Cobalamin?

Some people believe that the B12 supplements are not good because they contain cyanide. Yes it is true that cyanocobalamin contains cyanide but the amount is so small that it has no impact on the body and is quickly excreted. We get small amounts of cyanide from many different foods like almonds. It is possible to buy hydroxycobalamin which does not release the cyanide. But I think that it is a waste of money.

We didn’t find a zero waste solution for our B12 supplements yet, but what you can do is buying vitamin B 12 with higher dose. So the same package actually lasts longer and you can also reuse the container. I tried to find a high dose vitamin B12 in DM and Rossmann in Germany, but only could find it on Amazon.

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Do Vegans Need to Supplement Iron?

Among female vegetarians and vegans, iron deficiency is very common. The first symptom is general tiredness and only later comes anemia. Red meat is the best source for dietary iron because animal iron comes as readily absorbable Fe3+. Plant based sources of iron provide Fe2+ which is much harder for the body to absorb.

Female Vegans/Vegetarians Need to Supplement Iron

Due to regular menstrual bleedings, women loose significant amounts of iron every month and for vegans/vegetarian women, it is advisable to supplement iron. However, we don’t need a lot of iron supplementation. The average woman looses less than 30mg iron per cycle due menstrual bleeding so only a small supplementation is needed. We are absorbing only 10% of the ingested iron, so supplementation with 300mg iron should be enough. Karo eats one small iron (80mg)  pill per week.

Male Vegans/Vegetarians don’t need Iron Supplements

As I man, I don’t supplement iron. The iron that I get from plant sources covers my needs.


Calcium and Vitamin D

The diary industry claims that we need to consume their products to get enough Calcium. However, getting enough dietary Calcium is not the issue. Without sufficient vitamin D, the calcium cannot be absorbed. So we take vitamin D supplements during the winter months when sun shine is scarce. Vitamin D supplementation is actually necessary for just about everybody who does not live in a sunny place, including meat-enthusiasts.


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