When choosing to deviate from the standard American diet and instead follow a plant-based lifestyle, many assume there will be a lack of… things. In the first of our series “So… where do you get your…?”, we will discuss vitamins.
Prior to June 2016, I was not taking vitamins. I felt fine, was eating a “balanced” diet, and had a vegan chip on my shoulder that food intake would be sufficient enough to meet my vitamin and mineral needs. I was also an avid runner, just off my first marathon, my body was at its peak. Then, the unthinkable happened… I got a stress fracture in my shin.
WHY ME?! HOW!?
At this point, my running coach Rita, asked if I was getting enough calcium. UMMM OF COURSE I WAS!..nt. After reviewing my MyFitnessPal food diary, that I was keeping meticulously to make sure I was getting enough calories while training, it revealed I was getting sad amounts of calcium. What a disappointment! The vegan chip on my shoulder was quickly knocked off.
My new plan, add tons of food sourced calcium to my diet! I began consuming crazy amounts of fortified plant-based milk. Almond milk with breakfast, almond milk with lunch, almond milk with dinner… this got old… quickly. That is when I decided to buy a supplement. I searched on trusty Amazon and found that Deva has many varieties of vegan vitamins and landed on their Cal-Mag Plus tablets.
The bottle calls for 3 tablets per day, so I added this supplement to my daily routine. I took one tablet with breakfast, one with lunch, and on with dinner, sometimes. Often, per my MyFitnessPal food diary, I did not need a 3rd tablet, as I already met my calcium needs for the day. I did notice one thing, shortly after taking the supplement with breakfast and lunch, I would grow a tad sleepy. Funny thing, mag, short for magnesium can make you sleepy!! Now, I take one tablet at night before bed. Not only does it make my bones strong, it helps me get to sleep more soundly!
It was not until speaking with friends that I decided taking a multivitamin, was a good decision. Friends scared me with stories that B12, not found abundantly in a vegan diet, deficiency was silent and irreversible. Stating that once damage of deficiency is done, there is no coming back from it. NOTE: I did not look up any information or consult a doctor. I just believed them and acted.
Again, I took to Amazon and went with a Deva product, Multivitamin & Mineral Support.
I had recovered from my stress fracture in about 3-4 months. I continued to take the cal-mag tablets because I definitely did not want another one. Though things seemed to be going well, I wanted to be sure all my levels were in good standing. During my yearly physical, I had a full panel of blood work done. The results were not that bad. Turns out, I was slightly low in B12 and significantly low in vitamin D. My doctor was not worried and did not associate these almost deficiencies with my plant based diet. Turns out, most people are low in both as sun exposure, due to a million different things is not strong in the northeast, and B12 absorbancy is generally low. Back to Amazon I go….
Life went on and so did my continued education into the world of vitamins. Turn outs me and Vinny both listened to different podcasts, Rich Roll and Joe Rogan, with Dr. Rhonda Patrick and decided to add Omega-3 DHA, essentially algae, to our list of supplements. This is normally found in fish oil and has a wide list of functions in the body.
Just when I thought our supplement intake was perfect, Vinny brought Alpha Brain into the mix. Alpha Brain is a nootropic that supports memory and focus. This was not added to fulfill a lack of vitamin, just an addition to the group.
To conclude, I am no way throwing shade on the vegan diet. A lot of the time, we lean towards a junk food vegan diet and these vitamin supplements keep us meeting out dietary goals. I also forgot to mention why we order specified vegan vitamin supplements. As some people may not know, many vitamins contain gelatin, which is not vegan. Be careful when ordering your supplements.