If you are a Vegan, like me, it is hard to admit that we need some supplements of the stuff that is in "meat". Since Humans are originally Omnivores and not Herbivores, it is necessary to investigate this. Science is evolving, as are we!

Where is the Sunshine and Vitamin-D ?  

3 reactions

Make-believe summer lasts for a
minute or two as kindergarten
children in sunless Lovozero
bathe in ultraviolet light.
Brief exposure to UC radiation
provides the children with
vitamin D, normally supplied
by sunlight. The "sunshine
vitamin" strengthens young bones.
Difficult it can be to get through the gray and dark winter days. How we ensure we stay happy and healthy during these lazy, indoor days; at least for those people who live in Northern climates. Vitamin D is one of the vital vitamins of which we must be aware of the intake, especially during the winter when there is not much sun, when you are spending most of your time indoors due to the cold climate you're living in or maybe due to your job, age or other health reasons...

Over History humans relied on sunlight as a major source of vitamin D. Here is how:
Our body can create under influence of the UV-B part of Sunlight pre-vitamin D3 out of a compound derived from cholesterol (7-dehydrocholesterol), that is present in oil glands of our skin. In further process, this is converted to the active form of vitamin D that performs many functions in the body.

Vitamin D plays a major role in keeping blood calcium at optimal levels and it supports bone and teeth health during growth and throughout life.
Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of bone-building minerals, calcium and phosphorus from the bowel and helps regulate the amount of calcium in bone. It is important for proper functioning of cells throughout the body that depend on calcium such as nerves, muscles and glands.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in our immune system, skin, pancreas and is associated with a 17% reduction in all cancer incidences and a 29% reduction in total cancer mortality with even stronger effects for digestive-system cancers.

Vitamin D deficiency can occur for a number of reasons:

# You don't consume the recommended levels of the vitamin over time. This is likely if you follow a strict vegan or vegetarian diet; most of the natural sources are animal-based, including fish and fish oils, egg yolks, cheese, and beef liver.
# You have dark skin. The pigment melanin reduces the skin's ability to make vitamin D in response to sunlight exposure. Some studies show that older adults with darker skin are at high risk of vitamin D deficiency.
# Your kidneys cannot convert vitamin D to its active form. As people age their kidneys are less able to convert vitamin D to its active form, thus increasing their risk of vitamin D deficiency.
# Your digestive tract cannot adequately absorb vitamin D. Certain medical problems, including Crohn's disease and Celiac disease, can affect your intestine's ability to absorb vitamin D from the food you eat.
# You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells, altering its release into the circulation. People with a body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin.

Vitamin D sources:

Getting Vitamin D from Sunlight: Anything that affects the amount of UV radiation that penetrates the skin, has a tremendous effect on the production of vitamin D in the skin and thus on vitamin D status. The production of Vitamin D3 out of sunlight is influenced by a number of factors that you should take in account:
# Angle of Sunlight; Time of day, season, and latitude all influences the amount of UV-B that reaches your skin. When the Sun's rays enter the Earth's atmosphere at too much of an angle, the atmosphere diffuses (blocks) the UV-B portion of the rays. For vitamin D production, sun exposure should be midday between the hours of approximately 10am-2pm. These hours will vary slightly according to latitude. The closer to solar noon, the more vitamin D produced.
# Skin color; the darker your skin the more exposure to sunlight is required. People with white Skin, blond/red hair will need around 15 minutes of sun exposure a day whereas those with dark skin will need longer exposure times - up to 6 times longer.
# Amount of skin exposed – at least 40% of the entire skin surface should be exposed for optimal vitamin D production. The torso produces the most, legs and arms some, hands and face very little or none at all.  
# Sunscreens; Use of sunscreen or -lotions with SPF 8, decline the vitamin D3 production by 97.5% decline.Protection factor 15 inhibits the vitamin D production by 99%.                    

Artificial UV-B
With a tanning bed, many of the vitamin D-producing UV-B rays are filtered out, because that part of the UV spectrum (which is responsible for vitamin D3 production) causes also redness, burning and skin cancer. In a sun lamp or lamps used for light therapy such filtering of UV-B radiation does not occur. Nevertheless in sun bed users are found significantly improved vitamin D levels compared with people who do not use them

Two forms dietary vitamin D:
D2 originates from plants, present in a few mushrooms, certain seaweeds and yeast. Vitamin D2 as a fortified food supplement is produced from yeast by irradiation.
D3 is from animal origin, most present in oily fish (eg eel, salmon and mackerel) and as a  fortified food supplement from fish, sheep wool, hides or cattle brains.

Often milk or margarine which may be thought of as a vegetarian product will contain D3 (animal origin) Occasionally a soy milk can be found that uses D3 instead of D2 though most have chosen the plant originated D2 form. You can check the nutrition panel of such products before choosing.

Where to buy your Vitamin D2 supplement:
@ our favorite Vegan Essentials Store, either your local Organic shop or Pharmacy.

 Be aware that Vitamin D3 (animal origin) is at least 3 and most probably 10 times stronger that Vitamin D2 (plant origin), partly because a stronger binding affinity to the vitamin D receptor. Vitamin D3 in humans is therefore preferable in case of supplementation. Although vitamin D2 is used frequently, it is now by experts not considered equivalent to vitamin D3.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D 
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–12 months*400 IU
(10 mcg)
400 IU
(10 mcg)

1–13 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)

14–18 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(15 mcg)
19–50 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)
51–70 years600 IU
(15 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)

>70 years800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Deficiency of Vitamin D can lead to:

1) Rickets, misshapen of legs and other parts of body by children
2) Osteomalacia or "soft bones" the adult form of rickets.
3) Osteoporosis, brittle and porous bones due to loss of a great deal of the calcium and mineral content the   bones once had.
4) Insulin resistance and development of Diabetes Type II in Overweight children and young adults
5) Increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
6) Cancer
7) Severe asthma in children.
8) Depression
9) Dementia in older adults

Excess of Vitamin D can lead to:

1)Great calcium deposits in the kidneys and other body parts
NOTE: You will not get a vitamin D toxicity from too much sun, but be aware that overexposure to the sun at middays without protection may lead to sunburn and skin cancer!
If you are interested to read more, here some suggested links:




Sources I used for this article:



Are Vegans more intelligent? Not without dha/epa!  

23 reactions

Fish contains lots of mercury
and PCB's. Oceans are being
emptied. Human intelligence
evolved partly thanks to fish
consumption, but now we can
spare them.
Probably most people have read or heard about the vegan couple convicted of starving their child to death in Atlanta, May 2007.
I know that for vegans, certainly vegan parents like me, such tragic events do make them look irresponsible. We have to debate again about our choices and whether our diet meets the needs to stay healthy. To my opinion this debating has a good part: It is very important that vegans do keep on looking critically to their diet and they have to improve it constantly.
I want to go to a part of the article 'Death by Veganism' of the New York Times about DHA:
It is difficult to overstate the importance of DHA, vital as it is for eye and brain development.  
Why are the fatty acids DHA and EPA so important?

The human brain consists of over 60% fat of which essential fatty acids are an integral component. The essential fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the primary structural fat in both the gray matter of the brain and the retina of the eye, therefore these essential fatty acids are essential for brain and eye development and function.

DHA plus EPA are both considered to have beneficial effects in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease in particular EPA is converted into a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and is thought to possess beneficial potential in mental conditions, such as schizophrenia, depression and ADHD.

How important is it to take vegetable sources of DHA/EPA?

The most well-known direct source of Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA come from cold-water fish, particularly cod, tuna, salmon, halibut, shark and mackerel. 

Just realize that for every 1-kilo of pure fish oil produced, it takes 500 kilos of fish bodies.

Health recommendations advise increased consumption of oily fish and fish oils within limits, on the grounds that intake is generally low. People urgently need to re-consider their omega-3 resource out of fish (only).

Detailed information can be found in the website Fishing Hurts;

Yet commercial fishers kill hundreds of billions of animals every year—far more than any other industry—and they havevha decimated our ocean ecosystems. In fact, 90 percent of large fish populations have been exterminated in the past 50 years and a recent report published in the academic journal Science, estimates that by the year 2048 our oceans will have been completely over-fished.
Lifeless oceans may encourage growth in the fish-farming industry but the FAO is concerned that even fish farming will not be able to meet the demand for fish, since farmed fish need to be fed 5 pounds of commercially-caught fish for every 1 found of fish flesh they produce.

Fish do not produce omega-3, fish convert the essential fats from algae into these fats and then accumulate them up the food chain. Now we have the opportunity to cut out the middle man and just consume algae based EPA and DHA ourselves...

People also should realize that some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, PCB poly-chlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other environmental contaminants. Some species of fish may contain significant levels of methyl-mercury, considered one of the more dangerous food contaminants today. (Read more on methyl-mercury health risks)

In general, older, larger predatory fish and marine mammals, such as swordfish and seals, tend to contain the highest levels of these contaminants. PCB and methyl-mercury are believed to have long half-lives in the body and can accumulate in people who consume contaminated fish on a frequent basis.

Which are important Vegan sources of Omega-3?

DHA and EPA can be made (in small amounts) from the omega-3 oil alpha-linolenic acid (ALA or LNA) found in large quantities in seeds such as flax, hemp and pumpkin, in moderate amounts in walnuts or in small amounts in soy and green leafy vegetables.

 Only about 3-5% of the ALA consumed becomes either DHA or EPA in HEALTHY individuals. Through a series of enzyme-controlled reactions the body converts this ALA into a number of vital fatty acids including EPA and DHA.

To maximize conversion of DHA/EPA;

   1. Reduce intake of omega-6 fatty acids (mainly from processed foods and omega-6-rich oils such as sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, soy oil and grape seed oil).
   2. Limit intake which inhibit conversion; alcohol, saturated and trans fats (from animal foods and processed foods), smoking, caffeine, viral infections, stress and excess intake of vitamin A and copper.
   3. Include good sources of the nutrients which aid essential fat conversion – zinc, magnesium, calcium, biotin and vitamins B6, B3 and C.
   4. Make most of your fat intake mono unsaturated fats (olives, olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and nut oils).
   5. Include sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in the daily diet (flaxseed, flaxseed oil and hemp seed oil, canola oil, walnuts, green leafy vegetables). For most adults 3-4 grams per day is a reasonable intake.
   6. Eat a nutritious diet - poor intakes of energy, protein and certain vitamins and minerals can reduce conversion.

The process of converting ALA to either DHA or EPA is hindered in various disease states and requires that some people receive a direct source of DHA from their diet or supplementation.

Vegans and Vegetarians have lower blood levels of DHA and EPA due to its virtual absence in foods of plant origin. There are a number of sea vegetables that have some EPA and DHA, but since the amount of fat in seaweed is usually so low, they are NOT reliable sources.

Plant-based DHA/EPA supplements are available!

Vegans and Vegetarians certainly should consider them, especially pregnant women for the baby’s brain and nervous system development and for up growing children (Read more on the importance of DHA for both groups).

There is now an algae-derived oil that has both DHA and EPA, suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Fish obtain both their DHA and EPA ultimately from the consumption of algae, which is also now more widely available to the public as the only "plant"-based source of DHA and EPA. See below the follwoing links where you can order your vegan source of the essential fatty acids!

Water4life; Omega-3 DHA/EPA vegan capsules
NuTru; Omega-3 in liquid form, they state it is easy to give to children trough their food (yogurt, cereals e.a.),
although our baby didn't like it at all.
Both you can order from VeganEssentials, as where there are other brands available.

Dr. Fuhrmans DHAPurity;   This one actually tastes not bad. You can take it in as a liquid, without the fish-taste-horror (the only one our baby accepts). Fuhrman states that the other oils are "rotten". Very strong statements, to say about your concurrents product, I cannot judge about this. It does taste much much better though, the other ones are cheaper.

Some of these (non-organic) DHA oils might be extracted from the algae with the chemical hexane.
Many (mass market) oils are extracted with hexane, this because it is a very efficient process; extracting 95% of the oil present in the algae/seeds etc.
Apparently hexane is most harmfull for the environment, but consumers are concerned about potential chemical residues, so am I.
I am currently looking further into the possible health risks, if you want to be sure you get hexane-free DHA oil you can get it from;
Spectrum (on which you find more info)
Now-foods(ordered via Vegan Essentials)

If you know other suppliers or info, please link and share it  in the comment-section.

DHA/EPA omega-3 Institute
Fishing Hurts
Foods for life
Vegan Health
Vegan Society
Veg Family: Vegan Nutrition with Brenda Davis


Carnitine; essential for energy production.  

4 reactions

If you need to use strong physical
effort in your dailly life, you
might want to take in some extra
As I wrote before; searching for more information about non-protein amino-acids on vegan websites didn't give me a lot of result. I just wanted to know the importance of it, knowing direct sources of amino-acids are mainly non-vegetable foods.
I only found the few sentences on Veganhealth under non-protein amino acids; 'If you are a vegan who started getting migraines after becoming vegan, you might consider talking to your health professional about carnitine supplementation.'
 Do we want to wait for that and aren't there other reasons why we need carnitine?

Why so little information?

Carnitine is manufactured naturally in the body through the synthesis in human kidney and liver of the essential amino acids lysine, methionine, iron, and vitamins B6 and C .
Lysine can be found in cereal grains and pulses (legumes). Methionine in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and other plant seeds, also in spinach, potatoes and boiled corn.
 So again there shouldn't be a problem to get these amino acids and vitamins in a vegan diet, though I read on different pages that vegans and vegetarians most probably do need an extra source. Can our body not manufacture itself all that we need every day (1-2 grams)?

Direct sources of carnitine include beans, red meats, especially lamb and beef, chicken, dairy products, seafood, tempeh, avocados, wheat germ and whey. It might be interesting to compare the amount of carnitine that we actually find in these sources;

beef steak100gr 95mg
tempehhalf cup19,5mg
cod fish100gr5,5mg
chicken breast100gr4mg
American cheese100gr3.8mg
whole milk150ml3.4mg
avocado1medium2 mg
whole wheat bread100gr0.4mg
white bread100gr0.15mg
peanut butter100gr0.08mg

Importance of L-Carnitine

L-carnitine promotes normal growth and development, that's why we find it in fortified baby milk. It increases the use of fat as an energy source by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are ‘burned’ to release energy for body functions.

It is said that L-carnitine treats and possibly prevents some forms of cardiovascular disease. It protects against muscle disease and many bodybuilders use it to help them to build up there muscles. It also protects against liver and kidney disease and diabetes.
Further it is promoted as an aid in dieting. It may make low-calorie diets easier to tolerate by reducing feelings of hunger and weakness.


Deficiency of L-carnitine might be relatively rare, with the exception of those born with metabolic errors in which carnitine becomes deficient (through kidney failure). A lack of L-carnitine may also occur at some level in long-term vegetarians, vegans, or those on protein-restrictive diets. Deficiency may also arise from taking certain pharmaceutical drugs such as zidovudine (for treatment of HIV) and isotretinoin (for severe acne and other skin conditions).

Symptoms of L-carnitine deficiency; muscle fatigue, cramps, or low blood-sugar levels.
Other(though not fully proven); heartbeat irregularities in someone who has had a heart attack, premature aging and angina.

Additional amounts of L-carnitine is needed when protein or amino acids are short in the diet (since these are needed to be synthesized by the body). Also by premature infants, children, pregnant or breast-feeding women who are vegan or vegetarians, people with kidney failure on hemodialysis and people with recent severe burns or injuries do need a good source of L-carnitine.

Synthetic options

I am not convinced in the necessity to take an extra L-carnitine supplement, I think it is better to make sure that an every day vegan meal must contain plenty of protein and amino acids and to eat a few times a week avocado and tempeh.

If you do decide to take a carnitine supplement, here you find some vegan options;
Solgar 250mg vegicaps and 500mg tablets vegicapsules.
NOWFoods 3oz powder.
myprotein.co.uk per 100gr Acetyl L-carntine (cheapest option).

Always consult your doctor before taking supplements.
 Don't take if you; are allergic to any food protein, such as eggs, milk, wheat and if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or plan pregnancy in the near future.

Problems in breast-fed infants of lactating mothers taking small or usual amounts have not been proved. But the chance of problems does exist. Don't use unless prescribed by your doctor.

Signs and symptoms of over dosage; muscle weakness.
Side effects reported when taking L-carnitine (either orally or intravenously) include; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, heartburn, body odor, and gastrointestinal (GI)distress. 

micro magnet (picture)
Supplement News
Vegan Fitness


Taurine; important building block for the brain.  

4 reactions

Omnivores (Humans) don't make
enough taurine in their own body.
Unlike herbivores, they need
external sources... Originally
Taurine used to be derived from
the bulls testicles. Bulls make
and store a lot of taurine in it.
"Red Bull" a famous
taurinedrink uses a synthetic
source though.
I would like to highlight three non-protein amino acids; Taurine, L-Carnitine and Creatine. These amino acids are not available from direct plant sources. (Direct sources are; meat, fish, milk and eggs.) Though they should be part of a daily vegan diet, they are easily forgotten due to a lack of information.
The only small article I found on the web, from the vegan websites I know, is at VeganHealth. They are linking to an article related to Carnitine deficiency. I would like to start with an introduction about Taurine.

Why so little information?

Probably because at first there shouldn't be a problem for most vegans:
Adults can produce taurine by a combination of cysteine with the help of pyridoxine = B6, methionine and vitamin C.
Cysteine is found in red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, oats, granola and wheat germs. B6 in whole grain products, vegetables, and nuts. High levels of methionine can be found in sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and some other plant seeds. Significant amounts can be found in spinach, potatoes, and boiled corn.

Since these sources are normally without any problem part of a vegan diet, the following groups either do not produce taurine by themselves and/or need additional amounts because they do not produce enough to their needs:

    * Premature infants.
    * Children.
    * Pregnant or breast-feeding women who are vegan/vegetarian.

As an adult if;

    * Your body does not make enough due to inadequate intake of calories, protein or nutritional dietary. (Especially when cysteine, methionine or B6 is deficient).
    * You are deficient in the enzyme needed to make taurine. Found in (natural) sources such as brewer's yeast, eggs, milk, fish and red meat.
    * You have candida. Which causes you lose taurine through you urine.

Importance of Taurine

Taurine, an amino acid (in short; building blocks for protein), is not part of our muscle protein yet is important in metabolism, especially in the brain. It maintains cell membranes, regulates heart beats and protects the heart from calcium overload.

Especially mothers or future mothers should know that taurine is the highest concentrated amino acid in the brain of the fetus and newborn. The fetus must obtain it through the placenta, newborns through breast milk or infant formula fortified with taurine; however, the amount in these substances is considered inadequate for infants.

There is no Recommended Daily Allowance (yet) for taurine, to give you an idea from what I have read in several sources*: Infants and small children need about 27-58mg per kilogram of bodyweight.

Parents or future parents should be aware of the importance of taurine since (moderate) deficiencies may lead to; slowed growth and low levels of essentials proteins in blood.
Eventually severe deficiencies may lead to; apathy, depigmentation of hair, edema, lethargy, liver damage, loss of muscle and fat, skin lesions and weakness.

(Other non-proved reported symptoms; anxiety, depression, hypertension, hypothyroidism, gout, infertility, obesity, kidney failure and autism).

Synthetic options for taurine

Solgar 500mg vegicaps
Via Veganfitness we found the cheaper option for sale at myprotein.co.uk.

Always discuss with you doctor, before just taking these supplements, about your own specific needs.

There are no known toxicity levels for taurine; however, excessive levels may cause diarrhea and peptic ulcers.



B12 deficiency has serious consequences  

1 reaction

Vegans and Vegetarians should
take a (daily) B12-supplement
itamin B12 comes on top of the Vegan Supplement Checklist, this because vegetable food does NOT contain any B12 (also not in tempeh, parsley, miso, seaweed etc.)
Our body can not make any B12 out of it's own.
Adults can have a B12 reserve of about 3000 micrograms, though an amount which can last for years (we loose about 0.05-0.2% of the storage daily) we should be aware that vegans do not restock themselves and vegetarians not enough. Depending on your lifestyle (smoking, use of medicines) your stock will be depleted in a longer or shorter period.

The only vegan sources of B12 are till here B12-pills, -drops or -injections, their source is that of bacteria. B12 producing bacteria are especially selected and factory cultured in huge boilers.
I use myself the vegan Solgar B12 pills, available in 100mcg, 1000mcg.

The US Recommended Dietary Allowances for B12:

0-5 months0.4
6-11 months0.5
1-3 years0.9
4-8 years1.2
9-13 years1.8
14 years+2.4

The three most important consequences that can occur by a lack of B12 are:
1 braked cell division, which can lead to; anemia, impaired functioning of the intestines, resulting in lack of appetite and weight loss. Further, there is an increased risk of inflammation in esophagus, mouth, tongue and urine leader.
2 damage to the nervous system. This may, among other express as a tingling sensation in the ends of arms and legs. It may also lead to insensitivity to touch, temperature, pain and impaired balance and coordination, and even in severe cases paralysis. In addition vision can deteriorate.
3 mental disorders, including depression, fatigue, indifference, anxiety, reduced concentration, psychosis, forgetfulness, confusion and irritability. The voice may become confused.

If you want to read more about B12;
What every Vegan should know about B12 from VeganOutreach 

Vegetarian Society; B12 Information Sheet
For Dutch readers you can downlowd a book of Michel Post; Vitamine B12 en Veganisme, een literatuurstudie.


Introduction to the Vegan Supplement Checklist  

6 reactions

Convinced of my vegan lifestyle, out of respect of animal life, I want to promote veganism on the web.
By looking around on the internet how other people write about their vegan lives I mainly found vegan blogs about vegan cooking. Though it is always useful to expand your daily vegan meals and to try out new ingredients, I find it necessary to cover more on nutritional needs.
 There still appear cases in the news of people, mainly vegan children, that do suffer shortage of certain vitamins with all the consequences of this.

With this blog I want to develop a checklist with all the necessary supplements, easily to be followed by everyone trying to live an as healthy vegan and vegetarian life as possible.

Keep on questioning your vegan diet 

Keep on asking yourself the following questions;

Do I get all the vitamins and minerals I need through my plant based diet + supplements that I already take?

Which supplements I certainly need?
Because not all nutrients are found in plant based food or naturally manufactured in our body.
Which supplements I might need?
Because your diet might not be expanded enough, we need to eat a wide range of food to meet all our needs.
Some of use need extra; children, pregnant women and people with certain physical problems.

What are the (best) vegan supplements for those vitamins and minerals I am lacking?

I will keep on investigating all the aspects that are needed to stay healthy as a vegan adult and how to grow healthy vegan children.

I hope that vegan and vegetarian people will find the necessary information on this blog and if not point me out what is lacking in the vegan supplement checklist!