Vegan athletes face some unique challenges when it comes to diet based on the complete elimination of animal-based food sources. While there are certainly some benefits to this way of eating, by avoiding an entire category of food, you run the risk of becoming deficient in some key nutrients that these foods typically supply, which can put your health and wellness at risk. This is even more critical for an athlete as your body needs specific vitamins and minerals in order to support your extremely active lifestyle.
So, if you are a vegan athlete, these are some supplements you may want to consider taking as your diet may not be providing enough of them. Here are your recommended amounts based on a review of the literature conducted by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a board-certified family physician who has led research in this particular area:
- Calcium – recommended intake is 400-500 mg
- Iron – recommended intake is 8 mg for men or 18 mg for women
- Vitamin B12 – recommended intake is 6 mcg
- Vitamin D – recommended intake is 400 IU
- Zinc – recommended intake is 11 mg for men or 8 mg for women
- Iodine – recommended intake is 150 mcg
- Taurine – recommended intake is 500 mg twice daily
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (Omega-3 fatty acid) – recommended intake is 500 mg
Eating plant-based diets, it is possible that you will get adequate calcium in your diet via vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The same is true when it comes to iron as this nutrient can be found in a number of plants; however, if you have anemia or heavy menstrual bleeding, then this supplement may be more of a necessity.
The rest of the recommendations can help build your strength, strengthen your immune system, and increase your overall health. Just be sure to check with your doctor first to make sure taking these types of supplements is okay for you specifically.
If you are a vegan athlete, what supplements do you take to ensure that you are as healthy as possible?