Hello Veganuary!

This month we’re celebrating Veganuary and highlighting the important nutrients needed to support a vegan diet. Oh and we’ve also just become 100% vegan-certified! Here our founder Lee explains how to support a vegan diet. 

 

Why I’m doing Veganuary 

I’ve been interested in veganism for a long time, ever since reading The China Study – the most comprehensive study undertaken to examine the link between the consumption of animal products and illnesses. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time learning about the benefits and challenges of moving to a vegan diet. Initially, I was just looking at veganism from a health perspective, but along the way, my eyes were opened to the effects of an animal-based diet on the environment and animal welfare. As more and more people became vocal about the benefits of a vegan diet, research and exposé-style documentaries began to surface, like Food Inc, Food Matters, Knives over Forks, What the Health, Veducated and more recently Game Changers – all reinforcing the benefits of switching to a vegan diet. Although some of these films were a little sensationalised, a clear picture emerged that our previous beliefs about diet, the welfare of animals and the planet may have been clouded by profit-driven industries, rather than what’s right for long-term sustainability and wellbeing. Whilst I and many of the team have been eating a high proportion of plant-based foods for some time now, this Veganuary I’ve decided to try going fully vegan having extensively researched which foods to consume on a vegan diet. 

 

Finding the right balance

I believe we can get nearly everything we need from a plant-based diet, but the limited availability of some nutrients, soil erosion, farming techniques, food storage, chemicals, extended shelf life and the pressures of a busy lifestyle make it very difficult to find the right balance. With 46% of people doing Veganuary for health reasons, Together is on a mission to make sure people’s diets are in fact ‘healthy’ through the supplements and information we provide. We’ve done all the hard work to make sure our supplements have everything a vegan diet needs so our customers can continue their journey to a life filled with health and vitality. 

 

Our 100% vegan-certified range

Being as inclusive as possible is something that’s important to us as a business and as people, so we’re thrilled to be able to make our products even more accessible by becoming a fully vegan range. We’ve always believed in the power of plants and formulated our supplements with mostly vegan ingredients due to their purity, efficacy and bioavailability. Over the last few months, we’ve worked closely with The Vegetarian Society to ensure that our entire range is 100% vegan-certified, so you can now shop every single one of our products safe in the knowledge that no animal or animal-derived products are used whatsoever - whether you’re looking for multi-vitamins or specific support for vegan or vegetarian diets. 

 

 

How to support a vegan diet

Over the past few years Together has developed a range of specific formulations to help support the estimated one in eight Britons who are now vegetarian or vegan and the fourfold increase in vegans in the past 5 years to an estimated 600,000 (1). A successful vegan diet from a long term health perspective, relies on obtaining nutrients from supplements to avoid any shortfalls in these crucial nutrients.

Here is our vegan-specific range of products and why each nutrient is important:

Vitamin B12 

What it does 

Vitamin B12 contributes to normal cell differentiation/division, normal function of the immune system, normal energy-yielding metabolism and normal red blood cell formation. 

Where it’s found

Predominantly found in meat, fish and dairy, vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient that can only be reliably obtained in fortified food and supplements if following a vegan diet.  It is possible to obtain vitamin B12 in a vegan diet by consuming certain foods such as nori seaweed but the amounts available in these foods are extremely small and unpredictable and are not considered an effective way to obtain B12.

Deficiencies

A lack of B12 can cause many health problems that may only manifest over time, it is possible that over 50% of vegans are deficient in this essential nutrient (2).

 

Calcium 

What it does 

Calcium contributes to the maintenance of bones and teeth, muscle function and neurotransmission, blood coagulation, energy-yielding metabolism, function of digestive enzymes and maintenance of normal blood pressure.

Where it’s found

The main dietary source of calcium is dairy foods, but it can also be found in vegan foods such as green, leafy vegetables and tofu.

Deficiencies

One of the most extensive studies of vegetarians and vegans in the world found that vegans had the lowest intakes of calcium as well as other nutrients (3). 

Other studies tend to agree that most vegans don't get enough calcium (4, 5).

 

Iron 

What it does

Iron contributes to the normal function of the immune system and normal cognitive function.

Where it’s found

The most reliable source of iron is found in animal-based foods, but it can also be found in plant-based foods including cruciferous vegetables, beans, peas, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Deficiencies 

A comprehensive literature review study concluded that due to deficiencies and anaemia concerns, iron is rightly considered a nutrient of concern for vegetarians (and vegans) (6).

 

Iodine

What it does 

Iodine contributes to normal thyroid function, nervous system and cognitive function, normal energy-yielding metabolism, and the maintenance of normal skin

Where it’s found

The best source of iodine is in fish and dairy foods.It is possible to obtain iodine on a vegan diet from seaweed such as nori, but nutrient levels are unpredictable. 

Deficiencies 

One study showed that 80% of the vegans suffer from iodine deficiency (7).

Together’s B12 Vegan Complex contains all the above essential nutrients and more in an easy-to-swallow capsule format.

These products are also available as single nutrients Seaweed Calcium, Gentle Iron, Seaweed Iodine, Mushroom B12.

 

Omega 3

What it does 

DHA helps to maintain normal vision and brain function.

Where it’s found 

The most reliable sources of Omega-3 are animal-based foods, but it can also be found in plant-based foods including cruciferous vegetables, beans, peas, dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Deficiencies 

Omega-3 fatty acids can be split into two categories.

  • Essential omega-3 fatty acids: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and soybeans.
  • Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in foods like fatty fish.

Vegan sources of Omega 3 (ALA) are converted to EPA & DHA to be utilised by our major organs, theoretically a vegan should be able to maintain adequate EPA and DHA levels with a high intake of ALA. However, studies estimate that the conversion of ALA to EPA may be as low as 5–10%, while its conversion to DHA may be near 2–5% (8,9) 

Additionally, research consistently shows that vegetarians and vegans have up to 50% lower blood and tissue concentrations of EPA and DHA than omnivores (10)

As well as the poor conversion from ALA to EPA & DHA, vegan diets are usually richer in Omega 6. Too few Omega 3’s and too much omega 6 has been shown to cause inflammation in the body and long term can be extremely detrimental for our health.

Interestingly, fish only contain EPA & DHA because they eat algae, so the best and most direct source of Omega 3 and 6 on a vegan diet is algae oil - also a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly source. 

Together’s Algae Omega 3 supplement is a unique plant source of both DHA and EPA, ideal for supporting a vegan diet and the perfect partner to our Vegan Multi supplement.

 

Vitamin D3

What it does 

Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system and inflammatory response, maintenance of normal muscle function and maintenance of normal cardiovascular function.

Where it’s found

Vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol) is the body’s preferred and most readily absorbed form, as opposed to the vegetarian form of D2 which is found in foods such as mushrooms but in limited supply on a vegan diet. Other than our body's conversion of sunlight into vitamin D3, the only dietary sources are animal ones such as fish and diary. Studies suggest that vitamin D3 is more effective at raising blood levels of vitamin D than vitamin D2 from vegetarian sources (11, 12).

Deficiencies 

There are worldwide reports of vitamin D deficiency among vegans and omnivores alike (13, 14) 

Our baseline recommendation for new vegans includes our Vegan Multivitamin, Algae Omega 3 and Plant-based Vitamin D3 bundle.

 

 

Whilst the above deficiency studies may suggest that a vegan diet is not complete or balanced, it is important to note that many deficiencies for these and other nutrients can also be seen in non vegan diets. The important factor here is to do the research and be conscious that you’re eating the right foods to achieve a balanced and healthy diet.

Whether you’re a seasoned vegan or simply giving up animal products for Veganuary, I hope you’ve found the information in this post helpful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at: lee@togetherhealth.co.uk

 

  1. https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20648045
  3. https://www.pkdiet.com/pdf/EPIC.pdf
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17299475
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967195/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6367879/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12748410
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12936959
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19500961
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25369925
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18089691
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22552031
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400738
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
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