FAQ9 With A Vegan Chef: Do I need to supplement and which ones?

For today's FAQ With a Vegan Chef we talk all about supplementing. For years I was very anti-supplement. All of my macrobiotic teachers said that if you eat a healthy diet you should be able to get everything you need from your food. Now all the plant-based doctors are saying that as well. In an ideal world this would hold true. But so many factors come into play when it concerns our diet and absorption of vitamins and minerals. And we need different things at different ages in our life. 

First, the soil that our food is grown in is not as mineral-rich as it was in previous years. If you aren't buying organic your food is heavily sprayed with pesticides and contains lower nutrient content. Secondly, many people have poor intestinal health, are lacking good intestinal flora due to poor diet and overuse of antibiotics, and do not absorb nutrients as well. This goes back to the point that every body is different. We all have different constitutions and different conditions going on inside of us. Many plant-based doctors are in super good health, eat really good diets, and absorb what they need from their food. Like Dr. Fuhrman for example. But we can't compare ourselves to him.

After being vegan for many years and never taking supplements I decided to give them a try. I'm not perfect, I don't take them everyday, but I've noticed I feel much better supplementing certain things. Keep in mind that this is working for me and maybe you don't need to take the same supplements. Every body is different. I'm just sharing what I do with you. It's always a good idea to consult your doctor and get blood tests done to see if you are missing anything in particular. 

I asked my Facebook community to give us their thoughts on supplementation and what kind they take. Most people were in the same boat in what they took, if anything. Feel free to share with us in the comments below what you do. What has been discovered is that many people, vegan or not, are vitamin D deficient. This is because we spend so much time indoors and the best way to get D is outside with the sun. It doesn't hurt to take a D3 supplement and this is a vegan brand available. Evidence shows that D3 is more absorbed than D2, which is easy to find vegan.

If you are vegan the consensus among most is it doesn't hurt to take a vitamin B-12 or B complex supplement. I didn't start taking one until I was 8+ years vegan and it does seem to help with mental clarity and fatigue for many. If you get your blood work done you may be in fact B-12 deficient, but this doesn't just apply to vegans. My father was really anemic as an omnivore and B12 deficient (who ate mostly carbs and no veggies) and he is no longer anemic after 5 months on a high-plant diet. So this is something everyone should get checked out.  I like the Garden of LIfe Vitamin Code Raw B-12.

In my opinion, if you are eating a healthy whole foods diet you should be getting all the other micronutrients (calcium, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, potassium, etc) from your food. I don't feel like I need to take a multi-vitamin. And as I said before most people do not even absorb these in pill form. Here is a video from Dr. Doug Graham about supplements that is an interesting view. As a woman, I do take iron around my cycle. 

I haven't been sick in over 10 years. Not a flu or a cold. Part of this is probably because I ate pretty well as a child, we never had sweets in the house, and I have a strong constitution. Another reason is due to my whole foods vegan diet. Also I take the supplements below on occasion for preventive measures. If I ever feel like something is coming on I boost these up and have a bowl of miso soup.

Immune Boosters

Probiotics – Many believe that immunity is linked to our gut. Poor diet and overuse of antibiotics kills the good intestinal flora in our gut, which in turn lowers immunity. So it's not only my opinion that everyone should be taking probiotics to boost immunity. I take the vegan kind in pill form that you keep in the fridge. There are many other kinds including liquids. Find what you like but make sure it is full of Lactobacillus.

Grapefruit Seed Extract – The second time I went to Asia, I took this in pill form to protect myself against bacteria in the water and food. I wish I would have done this the first time because I got the worst food poisoning. GSE is known for it's antiviral, antifungus, antibacterial, and antimicrobial. 

Oil of Oregano – This is also known for being antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic. An added bonus; it's shown to be anti-inflammatory too! It comes in pill form and liquid, though I find the liquid to be way to strong (and icky). 

I strongly encourage you to try more natural means when you get sick or feel something coming on. There is no reason to immediately resort to antibiotics before trying to let your immune system fight it off first. Antibiotics kill off good intestinal flora that is there to protect you against disease and sickness. That's not good! A healthy gut means you will be able to fight off icky stuff more affectively and efficiently. 

Tell us in the comments what is your experience with supplementing. What do you take? Do you think it's important or unnecessary? Have you noticed an improvement in your health after starting to supplement?

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