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Do I need supplements if I follow a plant-based diet?

When people hear that it would be best to cut out ALL ANIMAL PRODUCTS from their diets they sometimes freak out! They get worried and (sometimes for the first time) start asking questions about their nutrient intake and potential nutritional deficiencies.

First of all: reassurance is in order. If you switch from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a plant-based, ideally whole foods plant-based (WFPB) diet then you have already jumped FAR AHEAD in the game of health. You have cut out (or are planning to) cancer causing, disease creating substances that will only serve to make you sicker and sicker and may possibly even KILL YOU. (Heart disease is a "food-borne illness" as per Dr. Esselstyn and it is clearly related to the Standard American Diet. A WFPB diet has been shown to not only halt the progression of heart disease but EVEN REVERSE it. That is great news!)

People that cut out animal products invariably incorporate many more plant foods (duh- what else??) in their diets. Key is for those plant foods to not be overly processed but rather close to real foods, whole foods.

Supplements are just that SUPPLEMENTS; they are in addition to something that is already good. A lot of people may think they can "trick the system"... eat all the processed foods (we literally call it "junk food", we may as well call it "garbage") and then "pop a pill" and voila: better health. I have bad news for you: this is not how this works. You are missing out on hundreds if not thousands of beneficial substances (especially phytochemicals) found in actual "real foods".

The only supplement everyone should be taking on a plant based diet is Vitamin B12. Animals do not make it but they do get fed "naturally dirty" food. Soil contains bacteria that produce Vitamin B12 and since we sterilize our food we kill off the bacteria and don't get Vitamin B12 from our diet necessarily.

If you are not deficient 2500-3000 mcg per week is enough (1000mcg three times a week or 2500mcg once a week or whichever schedule works for you). If you are deficient, please ask your physician for specific recommendations.

I would also chose METHYL-cobalamine over CYANO-cobalamine. The latter has traces of cyanide which I am not very comfortable with (it is supposedly safe but why take it if there is a non-cyanide alternative?).

Here are the supplements that I buy for my family with clickable Amazon Links.

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My husband and I take this one: Doctor's Best Fully Active B12 1500 mcg

The children love these: Solgar – Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12) 1000 mcg

I used to buy these for the children when they were smaller (very tasty): Goodbloom's Vitamin B12 Sublingual Liquid Drops, Vegan, Methylcobalamin, Alcohol Free, 2500 mcg

Omega 3 is indeed important - however it is also found in plants, nuts and seeds. The plants with a lot of omega 3 are the common weed purslane. It is actually edible. On the beautiful island of Crete (where my father-in-law is from) they put it in salads and use it to cook. It is delicious!!! (People in Crete think I am a bit crazy when I ask for "extra purslane" on my salad. It is pretty cheap as it grows like weed BECAUSE IT IS weed!). I got myself some purslane seeds (David's Garden Seeds Purslane) and am hoping to grow it in my garden. I am not the best gardener but my hopes are high that I can grow weed. Fingers crossed!

The other plants with lots of omega 3 are algae. Those are eaten by fish and that is why fish have a lot of omega 3 - they don't make it. They just store it up and humans eat the fish. There are several reasons why I do not recommend to eat fish in today's day and age, here are my top reasons from the health perspective: our oceans and rivers are basically the world's sewer system, all garbage, soil, excrements, industrial waste washes into the waters. Pollution is unimaginable and this affects the sea population, the fish and other sea animals. It is basically impossible to find fish without pollutants on board and without heavy metal contamination (that is why there is a warning to pregnant women to limit fish intake). The other issue is that there are microplastics (glitter, microscopic microfiber particles that get washed out with each load of laundry of microfiber materials) that also float in the waters. These microplastics attract toxins specifically and fish ingest them. Scientists have found evidence of these toxin infested microfibers not only in fish but also in the humans consuming fish.

I like Testa's motto: "cut out the middle-fish". They make algae oil capsules. And I would recommend those for omega 3 supplementation (even over fish oil). Omega 3 is important for brain development and may protect your cognition as well.

I take these capsules (sometimes I cut them open and drip the oil on a spoon of cereal to give to my children):

Testa - Cut out the middle-fish - much Healthier than Fish Oil - plant based GMO-free Omega-3 DHA + EPA from Algae oil - Pure and Vegan

These are for my children (and since we don't have candy in the house they almost think of them as a treat):

Omega 3 Gummies Vitamins for Kids & Adults - Better than Fish Oil, Made with ALA & Flaxseed. All-Natural Supplements, Sugar-Free, Kosher & Halal Certified 40 Count BeLive

As you see they are made with flaxseed. Flaxseed is so very healthy - everybody should take at least 1 teaspoon of ground flaxseed per day (on oatmeal, toast, in salad... get creative!

Most people benefit from some Vitamin D, especially if they don't get any time in the sunlight (our bodies make Vitamin D in the sun). Ask your doctor if that would be a good idea for you.

I take these once in a while:

Doctor's Best Vitamin D3 2500IU with Vitashine D3, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free

Our pediatrician had recommended Vitamin D for breast-fed children and even after weaning I have continued to give them Vitamin D once in a while. I am not regular about it, though. This is what I bought:

Vitamin D3 Drops with K2 for Best Absorption -- Liquid Vitamin D drops for adults, children, kids and infants

As per the United States Preventative Task Force all women of childbearing age are supposed to take folate supplementation (400mcg) and even more in pregnancy (due to defects that can occur from maternal folate deficiency). Folate is present in great quantities in green, leafy vegetables (the name even derives from that fact) and if you really are eating a varied plant-based diet rich in leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard etc) you probably don't need that supplementation.

From time to time I take a folate capsule - just for a boost but I think I should be fine due to my diet.

I want to emphasize to take FOLATE not FOLIC ACID as folic acid may be associated with cancer promotion.

Here is the folate I take: Doctor's Best Fully Active Folate with Quatrefolic, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, 400 mcg

If you need higher dose:

Doctor's Best Fully Active Folate with QuatreFolic, Non-GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, 800 mcg

These are the most important supplements to consider.

And remember: Vitamin B12 is a must!

If you switch to a plant-based diet you will get so many nutrients in. Your body will thank you for it!

Stay happy and healthy!