A vegan diet is considered by some to be the healthiest possible diet. For those who are not sure what the term “vegan” means, it mans not eating anything that came from an animal. This includes, of course, meat, but also fish, seafood, dairy products, eggs, honey, and other animal products.
While this diet may be very healthy, it happens to everyone every once in a while to skip a healthy meal and have some fast food, and the body may lack certain important nutrients. It happens to vegans as well, and there are also vegans who do not take proper care of their diet and may need to take supplements to improve their health.
Iodine is usually added as a form of fortification in table salt in almost all countries of the world, except for few developing countries. In Britain and Ireland iodine is added in cattle feed so people get their recommended intake through milk.
When the body lacks sufficient amounts of iodine, it may result in thyroid problems, fatigue, skin problems, and high cholesterol levels. Some people, because they have certain conditions, may need more iodine and they can take in form of kelp or iodine supplements. It is always good to check if the table salt in use has been iodine-fortified.
Calcium is one of the most important nutrients, especially for children and teenagers who need it for proper teeth and bone development. Since it is usually consumed from milk, vegans, who do not eat dairy products, need to take other foods that contain calcium or to take supplements.
The best source of iron is considered to be red meat. When it comes from meat, iron is very well absorbed, much better than iron from plants. It can be found in chocolate, grains and dark green vegetables. It is recommended to do regular blood exams which show if the person is not taking enough iron. In case of iron deficiency, iron supplements are easily found in almost every drug store, and they are best if combined with vitamin C.
Vitamin B12, one of the vitamins in B group, important for neurological functions, is considered to be the only nutrient that vegans cannot take naturally through their diet. Some seaweeds are believed to contain certain amounts of this vitamin but those amounts are not sufficient for normal neurological functions. Some products, especially those designed for vegans, like soy milk, are firtofied with B12, but again it is not clear if those amounts are sufficient. This is why doctors and experts always advise vegans to take B12 supplements.