Let's talk about Vits and Mins and Veganism.
One of the biggest things that people worry about when they're going vegan is vits and mins.
Which is a totally valid fear. We're told from such a young age that we need meat and eggs for magnesium and iron and that we need dairy for calcium and vitamin D and fish provides us with Omega-3s. So, it's only natural that a lot of people are skeptical that you can live a healthy lifestyle without those things.
The good news is that you can get an abundance of vitamins and minerals from plant-based foods. Also, most plant-based foods are fortified with vits/mins, not unlike animal-based products. Almond milk comes up with nearly 45% of your daily Vitamin D needs with just one glass.
The bad news is that sometimes it's harder to access these vits/mins from plant-based foods. And yes, I'm saying that as a staunch vegan. I don't think it does anyone any good to pretend that we can get all our vits/mins from our foods. To be fair, I also don't think we can get all of the vits/mins that we need from animal products either. In fact, a lot of the vitamins and minerals I now supplement, I also supplemented when I ate meat. In general, I think for people to want to continue this lifestyle, they need to go into it with the tools to succeed - and that means knowing what they need to supplement and why.
So I'm going to list out the vitamins and minerals I take every day. I'll also link to the brands so you can order some on-line if you feel so inclined.
So, let's jump right into it.
I live in Vancouver. I deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Even if I drank 1000 cups of almond milk, I would need to supplement with Vit D. I take about 4000 UI (4 drops) of Vit D in the fall/winter/spring because it helps keep me energized, awake, and not depressed. In the summer, I usually taper that down to 1 or 2, if I remember. I find the liquid form kicks some serious ass.
Woo, boy, This is a big one for me - mostly because I'm female. I have struggled with anemia and iron-deficiency since I first got my period. My anemia has actually improved because I don't bleed as much now that I'm not ingesting animal products but that still doesn't mean I can slack on my liquid iron. I try to take this at night, through a straw (it can stain your teeth). The stuff doesn't taste great, but it helps so much and I would strongly suggest buying some if you're female. Iron deficiency can make you extremely tired, forgetful, and groggy. It will also cause you to become extremely pale, lose your hair, and create brittle nails. If you have any of those issues, please take a blood test to check your iron levels and then get thee to the nearest health food store to grab some liquid iron.
I usually take this in the morning, before work. It doesn't taste great (yet again!), but I find it helps with my mental-health and clarity. Before I went vegan, I used to take a lot of fish oil and I was worried about how I could supplement that. Well, who knew that sunflower seeds had a ton of Omega 3's? Not this girl! This brand has added a little bit of flavouring, which you get used to. This is a little more pricey, but it's well-worth it for your mental health.
You're not vegan until you start taking B-12 religiously. B-12 helps with the creation of blood cells and it's a very important vitamin that you need to be taking. If you take the liquid iron supplement I've linked above, it also includes B-12. On top of that, I usually take a sublingual B-12 - one that you place under your tongue and it "melts" - once or twice a week. If you can only afford to take one supplement on this list, take this one. Humans need B-12 to function and you can do yourself harm if you don't make this one a priority.
Those are the main supplements that I focus on. Sometimes if I'm feeling fairly low energy, I'll pop a magnesium to get me going...but other than that, those are the only really supplements that I take religiously. I don't feel like there is any shame in admitting my diet can't provide these for me. Veganism is about lessening cruelty in this world, and I'm fully prepared to pay a few dollars to get supplements to help me do that. Hell, you could eat the most nutritionally dense diet of all time and if you have absorption issues, you may need to supplement also. Supplementing doesn't prove or disprove the health portion of veganism, just as supplementing doesn't prove or disprove the health portion of carnism. As I said above, supplementation is just a way to help make veganism more enjoyable and better for you. So supplement away!