Is Taking a Multivitamin Necessary For Vegans?

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Summary:
  • If you regularly eat vegetables and legumes, you won’t benefit from multivitamins much (if at all).
  • The 3 main nutrients that a vegan might lack that a multivitamin has are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and iron.
  • If you lack any of those, you can take specific supplements for each, or take multivitamin for convenience.
  • Here’s a collection of the best vegan multivitamins if you’re planning on getting one.

It’s common to wonder if you should take a multivitamin when going from omnivore to vegan.

A big diet change could mean that you all of a sudden lack important vitamins and minerals.

It’s even more scary when you’re not quite comfortable with eating vegan, and might end up eating a lot of processed foods or vegan “junk” foods.

So I’ve dug into the research, and we’ll figure out if and when you should take a multivitamin.

Do Omnivores Benefit from Multivitamins?

The first question that comes to mind is do multivitamins help everyone?

A meta-study or 21 research papers found that multivitamins have little to no effect on health.

So if your diet is decent even, an omnivore will get at most a small benefit from a multivitamin.

This is mainly because your body only needs so much of each nutrient, and multivitamins are often poorly absorbed.

For example, a study found that women only absorb 1.8-3.0 mg of a 60-65 mg prenatal iron supplement.

So your body can use the nutrients, but you won’t necessarily absorb too much, so it’s better to get them from your actual diet.

Don’t get me wrong, multivitamins are useful if you have significant deficiencies, but if your diet is pretty good, they don’t do much.

However, vegans are at higher risk of certain deficiencies.

So maybe multivitamins are more important for us?

Do Vegans Need Supplements or a Multivitamin To Be Healthy?

I’ll preface this by saying that not a lot of research about multivitamins has been done specifically for vegans.

So I can’t give you a specific research-backed answer at the end of this. Instead, we’ll look at related research and try to draw some common sense conclusions.

First, research shows that vegans are more likely to be deficient in:

  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Vitamin D
  3. Iron

All of these are easily found in animal products, so this makes sense.

Of these, which ones do you need to rely on supplements for?

  • Vitamin B12 – Can get from fortified vegan foods, but no plant itself. Supplementing B12 is a good idea.
  • Vitamin D – Can get from the sun, but depending on where you live and work, maybe that’s not an option. Supplementing may be useful.
  • Iron – Can easily get from legumes (soaking them helps iron absorption) and other vegan food sources of iron, but many vegans struggle with it. Supplementing may be useful.

Research does happen to show that supplementing works well if you’re deficient in a vitamin.

For example, supplementing with B12 (or getting from fortified foods) helps vegans maintain a healthy level of B12.

So…Multivitamin or No Multivitamin?

What can we say after all that?

Well, if you suspect you’re deficient in any of those 3 major nutrients, which is very possible on a vegan diet, you should take supplements for them.

If you only think you’re deficient in B12 for example, you may just want a single B12 supplement instead of a multivitamin. Here’s a post about the best vegan vitamin B12 supplements if you want to take this route.

If you think you might be low in multiple nutrients, a single multivitamin is probably more convenient and cheaper.

I’ve done a lot of research about vegan options, and here’s my take on the best vegan multivitamins. You can find one that fits your budget and covers the vitamins or minerals that you’re most concerned about.

If you have any questions about all this, just leave a comment below.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

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