Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Vegans

Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Vegans

Food is how we get the nutrients our bodies need to fight illnesses, support our nervous systems, keep our brain’s alert and strong, and so much more.

However sometimes getting the essential vitamins and nutrients for vegans can be difficult. This is because a lot of those vitamins come from animal-based foods – which are eliminated in a plant-based diet.

To prevent vitamin deficiency – and keep your vegan body strong – we’ve outlined the essential vitamins and nutrients for vegans, where you can get them (through food or supplements), and how much you should intake.

Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Vegans

Vitamin B12

Studies have shown that vegans have a higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 is necessary to keep your body’s nerves and blood cells healthy. It helps make DNA, makes genetic materials in cells, and prevents the type of anemia that makes people feel weak and tired.

Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal-based foods, but vegans will need to consume B12-fortified foods like plant milks, soy products, and breakfast cereals to get this essential nutrient.

And even then, consuming those B12-fortified foods might not help you reach the recommended daily dose of 25 to 100 micrograms. That’s where supplements come in. It is highly recommended that vegans consider B12 supplements to help them receive this necessary nutrient.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is common – and not just for vegans. It’s reported that 41.6% of adults are Vitamin D deficient in the US. Vitamin D helps influence muscle recovery, memory, and mood, making it a vital nutrient for the body.

Most people receive Vitamin D through sun exposure. However, a lot of people, vegans included, don’t spend enough time outdoors – and when they do they wear sunscreen which prevents Vitamin D absorption.

And while there are some foods that contain Vitamin D, eating them would not give you the recommended daily dosage of 15 micrograms per day. That’s why vegans (and everyone else) should take Vitamin D supplements to satisfy the daily requirements.


Iodine helps keep your thyroid healthy, which in turn controls your metabolism. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, which causes low energy levels, tingling hands and feet, depression, and weight gain.

Vegans typically do not receive the daily recommended dose of Iodine. This is because Iodine is found in iodized salt, seafood, seaweed, and dairy products. So unless you’re eating seaweed several times per week, it is recommended that you take an Iodine supplement of at least 2.5ml to meet your daily requirements.


Iron is crucial for a healthy body. It is used to make new DNA and red blood cells, and carries oxygen in the blood.

Iron is found in both animal-based and plant-based foods, however it is harder for the body to absorb iron from plant-based foods. This makes it necessary for vegans to eat foods like beans, lentils, snow peas, nuts, dried fruits, and iron-fortified breakfast cereals to take in the necessary amounts of iron.

While there are iron supplements you can take, it is not recommended unless you truly need them. Taking in too much iron can actually be detrimental to the body.


Studies show that vegans do not get enough calcium. They also show that vegans who intake less than the daily recommendation of 525 mg of calcium have a higher risk of bone fractures – making calcium a truly important nutrient.

Vegans can get their daily allotment of calcium by eating foods like bok choy, turnip greens, chickpeas, broccoli, and fortified plant milks and juices. Supplements can also be considered if getting enough calcium through food is not achievable.

These essential vitamins and nutrients for vegans are important for a well-balanced diet. It you’re not sure what vitamins you need to supplement, it is recommended you speak to your health care professional.