Continuing the journey to becoming vegan - July 20, 2015

Katharyn Brady By Katharyn Brady, 20th Jul 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Diet & Nutrition

Today, I'm exploring whether to take supplements or not take supplements when choosing a vegan diet.

Researching whether to take supplements.

If you perform a google search on whether someone who eats a vegan diet also needs to take supplements, you find inconsistent answers.

Here are just a few examples from

From Michael Roizen, MD Internal Medicine:

"If you go on a vegetarian or vegetarianesque diet, you will need to supplement your diet with vitamin B12, since it is obtained almost exclusively from animal products. If you do not eat any animal products, make sure to take a vitamin containing adequate amounts of folate, B6, and B12 daily. I suggest meeting with a nutritionist to discuss your food-choice plan to make sure you're getting everything you need."

From: Vandana R. Sheth, Nutrition and Dietetics:

"You don't necessarily need to take a vitamin supplement if you are a vegetarian. However, if you are vegan it might be a good idea to take a Vitamin B12 supplement since B12 is primarily found in animal products. As long as a vegetarian including a vegan diet is well planned and varied you can meet all of your nutritional needs through food."

From: Neil Spruce, Fitness:

"First of all everyone should take a multivitamin & mineral formula (MVM). Being a vegetarian you may have a greater need for a MVM than most non-vegetarians (omnivores) based the elimination of animal meats of all kinds. And if you are a pure vegan (absolutely no animal forms/products in the diet or supplements), you must be EXTRA careful to get all your vitamins and minerals because animal products contain nutrients often far more difficult or impossible to acquire from plant-based foods. This includes vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and marine omega-3 fatty acids."

Some subscribe to the ability to get everything you require through food. All you need to do is plan well. Others weigh in that you must supplement as it is not possible to get all of your body's nutritional requirements through food. One of their main criticisms is that unless you are growing your own food in healthy soil and cooking it at the proper temperature, you can't guarantee that the foods will contain all of the nutrients they are supposed to contain.

One suggestion that I agree with is to discuss your diet change with your doctor or a nutritionist. That is always sound advice.

Doing this research causes me to ponder on what I believe based on what I've read and my one experience with a short lived, vegan lifestyle. I do believe that unless I grow the food myself, I can't know the quality of the nutrition that I will receive.

There was one time that I did go vegan back in the late 90's for all of 6 months. I wasn't good at taking the supplements. I have a phobia of choking on capsules, tablets or any type of pill. But, that's a different story for another day.

Anyway, my lack of dedication to taking the supplements caused half of my hair to fall out. I have a lot of hair and so it wasn't as noticeable until my husband vacuumed one day and the vacuum cleaner broke. He went to investigate and found enough hair in the machine to make a wig. Yikes! There were not the many options available back then, i.e., liquids, sprays that are available now. At that time, I didn't know how to get over the phobia. So, it was after that experience that I returned to my meat eating lifestyle.

My decision: Take supplements.

While performing my research, one consistent comment was that anyone not eating meat needs to supplement with vitamin B12.

I tend to believe that the soil where we grow our plants may very well be compromised and we may not be getting all of the nutritional supplements we should. If you didn't grow the food yourself, you don't really know it's history, i.e.; When was the produce picked from the ground? How long has it been sitting in the store? Where was the produce grown, i.e, locally or from another country? How was it handled while it was shipped to the store you purchase your groceries from?

I know I won't be growing my own produce anytime soon and I don't have the equipment or ability to analyze each piece of produce that I buy.

Although there are multivitamins that may contain many of the vitamins and minerals that are required to have a successful lifestyle, I've heard from a number of doctors that a multivitamin gives you very expensive pee without any benefit. Meaning that the multivitamin goes right through you without imparting the nutritional benefit. It's been suggested that you determine which vitamins you may be lacking and take them individually. I also know that there are people who swear by their multivitamin.

So, my decision for myself; add nutritional supplements to my diet. Possibly once I become more experienced, I will feel comfortable removing supplements from my diet. But, I'm not there yet.

Vitamins and minerals - do your own research.

If you decide to pursue supplements, make sure you do your research and determine what you need. You can have a blood test to determine if you have any deficiencies. If you don't have any deficiencies, then you need to determine if you could become deficient based on your diet change.

Remember, all supplements are not created equal. In February 2015, Walgreens, Walmart, Target and GNC* were ordered to remove certain supplements because they were found to have cheap fillers like wheat and soy powder which weren't listed in the ingredients.

*FDA finds majority of herbal supplements at GNC, Walmart, Walgreens, and Target don’t contain what they claim – instead cheap fillers like wheat and soy powder

Make sure you do your homework. Read all labels. Be sure that you trust the brand you are buying. I buy products that are as pure as possible. I try to find products without additives.

The following vitamins are on my list of supplements to order:

- Vitamin D3
I've been tested and I know that I'm deficient in vitamin D3.

- Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supplements are recommended as it's difficult to obtain through plants.

- Iron
I'll take the supplement for now. I'll research further if I can keep my iron intake up without meat.

- Zinc
After my last experience of losing 1/2 of my hair, zinc is a must for me.

- Iodine
Iodine appears most prevalent in animal products and is super important for your thyroid. So adding it as a supplement seems wise.

- Vitamin B3
Although there appears to be some foods that I can eat with vitamin B3, the concern is that when you get them strictly from the plant, it's not clear whether the plant will be able to provide that nutrient for you.

- Calcium
There is concern that calcium can't be absorbed easily when ingesting it from a plant. Therefore, I will add this supplement to my diet.

What's next?

I'm waiting for my supplements to arrive. In the meantime, I've stopped eating all animal products with the exception of fish or chicken. I don't eat them every day, but every couple of days.

Although the next thing I'm going to explore isn't necessarily part of a vegan lifestyle, but it is part of a healthy lifestyle.

I have been hearing about coffee enemas for the past 3 years. I've primarily ignored the information because I was not going to put coffee up my butt. However, never say never. I now have many testimonials from other cancer survivors and non cancer survivors on the health benefits that they have experienced.

I have the equipment and the instructions on how to give yourself a coffee enema. I just have to get started. My plan is to do that either tomorrow or the next day. I will write about my experience.

Other articles related to this topic:

Sending cancer into remission using food.

Journey to a vegan lifestyle - July 18, 2015

Journey to a vegan lifestyle - July 19, 2015


Cancer, Cancer Fighting, Cancer Prevention, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Living

Meet the author

author avatar Katharyn Brady
I have survived cancer multiple times. It took 8 surgeries, 33 sessions of radiation and chemo therapy. My focus is on being healthy in mind, body and spirit and helping others do the same.

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author avatar kaylar
20th Jul 2015 (#)

I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. I eat cheese, sometimes fish, but that's it.
I once and a while remember to take a vitamin pill.
I would say that if you look in other parts of the world where most people are vegetarian, you'll get the idea that just maybe these supplements aren't all that necessary.

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
21st Jul 2015 (#)

Thank you, Kaylar. I really appreciate your feedback. I'm going to be monitoring that as I go on the journey and will be willing to let go of anything that isn't serving me.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
20th Jul 2015 (#)

I think its good for people to have a few meatless meals every week and to at least try to reduce the amount of meat they consume

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author avatar Katharyn Brady
21st Jul 2015 (#)

Mark - you are so right!

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