Vegan Omega 3 Without Carrageenan

Carrageenan is something that you’ll find in a lot of food products and supplements like omega 3. It’s mainly used as a food additive to thicken up the product and bind ingredients. In recent years, Carrageenan, derived from red algae, has been found to increase inflammation and even be harmful to cells in the body.

The controversy around this additive has been going on for decades. Even as far back as 1970, the FDA considered banning this substance. In late 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture will publish its research to determine whether or not it is safe and should be removed from food products.

Trying to find a good vegan omega 3 supplement which doesn’t contain this substance can be difficult. Fortunately, companies’ took notice that some vegans would like to avoid carrageenan and its potential dangers, and have since developed products to meet your needs.

Potential dangers of Carrageenan

Before I share a few omega 3 supplements that are carrageenan free, here is a short list of a few potential issues with this substance based on scientific research.

  • Causes gut inflammation and may be damaging to cells
  • May be implicated in the formation of polyps and even colorectal cancer
  • Immune system suppression and dysregulation with increased inflammatory cytokines
  • Glucose intolerance and increase cholesterol
  • Cause or worsen conditions such as ulcerative colitis

These are just a few of the concerns raised by some researchers who’ve studied the effect of Carrageenan. Later in the article, I will go into a bit more depth for each point.

Omega 3 without Carrageenan

Below are a few algal oil omega 3 supplements with no Carrageenan. It’s everywhere, and if you’re busy, reading the small print for this ingredients can really take up a lot of time!

So for your convenience, I’ve done the research for you, and came up with a list of which I think are highest quality omega 3 supplements that are also free of Carrageenan.

#1 BLOOM Algal Omega 3 – NO Carrageenan

Bloom delivers a well-balanced and simple omega 3 supplement without a trace of the potentially harmful ingredient Carrageenan.

It contains both DHA and EPA, making it a great alternative to fish oils. And perhaps an even better tasting one as well! As it comes in natural lemon and peppermint flavors.

Vegetarians already struggle to get enough omega 3 in their diet, especially DHA, so it’s great to have a supplement that has generous amounts of DHA and EPA, plus devoid of many of the harmful additives found in many supplements.

One of the drawbacks for some people might be that it contains a little bit of soy, but most vegans are fine with soy and such a small amount is not going to be of any concern.

See reviews and current price here.


#2 Nested Algal Omega 3 – NO Carrageenan

I’ve placed Nested as number 2 on the list because it contains a little less omega 3 than the previous supplement.

It still has enough omega 3 per serving to stop you from becoming deficient in these essential fatty acids, but perhaps not enough when you consider the cost and how much you get compared to Bloom Omega 3.

That being said, this brand is very popular amongst vegans and I love the fact that they’ve really cut down on the ingredients to give you the most basic algal oil supplement.

If you also want to avoid soy as well as carrageenan, then this supplement would be a great choice as it contains either.

See reviews and current price here.


#3 AMALA Algal Omega 3 – Without Carrageenan

Amala is in third place because it contains the least omega 3 compared to the others.

This omega 3 supplement would be especially more useful for vegans who are already getting omega 3 from other food supplements, perhaps a protein shake which contains it. And you just want to top up your omega 3’s.

The supplement is highly rated amongst vegetarians and vegans and contains just a few main ingredients such as Vitamin E, EPA, DHA, and DPA.

Other ingredients include Oleic acid, natural lemon flavoring, natural peppermint flavor, ascorbyl palmitate (antioxidant), mixed tocopherols (vitamin E), Rosemary extract and Soy.

See reviews and current price here.


Controversy around Carrageenan

As I’ve already mentioned, this substance is used extensively in supplements and foods. Trying to avoid yet another ingredient makes a vegans life even more difficult in finding suitable products.

But are the danger’s of carrageenan overhyped?

I’ll address just briefly address each of the bullet points at the top of the article and show a link to the relevant studies.

Causes cell damage and inflammation

NF-Kappa-B is a master regulator of key inflammatory cytokines and proteins downstream from it. Overexpression can lead to chronic inflammation and is present in many different autoimmune diseases and elevated in aging.

Evidence in animals suggests that feeding carrageenan may induce inflammation in colon cells. It has also been observed that IL-10 (potent anti-inflammatory cytokine) is unable to completely suppress the inflammation caused by carrageenan. [1]

May increase the growth of polyps

Polyps in the colon can increase the risk of colon cancer. This is why many people over 50 are advised to go for exams every few years and even have biopsies taken.

Anything which irritates or increases their growth may eventually cause cancer. Well, carrageenan has been identified from studies to not initiate the growth of polyps, but it does appear to accelerate their growth.

May exacerbate glucose intolerance and increase cholesterol

Diabetes is one of the fastest growing conditions in the world, and it appears that this food additive may have a small role to play. Of course, it’s not the only factor, but it’s really not helpful when people’s diets are already quite bad.

In mice, carrageenan has been shown to (by itself) lead to higher fasting glucose and in combination with a high-fat diet may increase glucose intolerance and worsen hyperlipidemia. [2]

Worsens ulcerative colitis

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in humans, researchers investigated to see whether the common food addictive Carrageenan was contributing to worsening of colitis symptoms.

Twelve patients in the study were either selected to receive the food supplement or a placebo. After which, the patients completed study questionnaires relating to their symptoms.

In the patients who received the carrageenan supplement, three relapsed, while none of the patients who received the placebo relapsed. There was also an increase in IL-6 (an inflammatory marker) in patients who took the food additive.

Therefore, it is advised that patients with this condition avoid this ingredient in common foods, medicines and supplements.

See what Dr. Gregor has to say about Carrageenan

In conclusion

Common food additives may worsen symptoms in susceptible people who are more sensitive than average. Although the evidence is not overwhelming that carrageenan is harmful to the average person, the results of some of these studies should at least make you cautious about limiting your intake.

Omega 3 supplements without carrageenan are few and far between, but fortunately, there are a few good options for those who wish to avoid it.

Vegan Protein Powders Without Stevia

vegan protein smoothie with protein powder
Try adding unsweetened protein powder to smoothies!

Where do you get your protein? No, just kidding…  So, there’s a big misconception out there that you cannot build and maintain muscle mass on a vegan diet. This is flat out wrong. You can easily get protein from a vegan diet and high-quality vegan protein powder supplements. which will help you achieve your protein needs.

Have you ever heard of Thor?

Chris Hemsworth is a well-known vegan who is clearly not ‘protein deficient’. But it’s not just him who has obtained an amazing physique on a vegan diet, many vegans have become successful bodybuilders and athletes on this diet.

With a bit of knowledge of which are the best foods and sources to get protein from, you can also thrive on a vegan diet!

In a rush?

Below are the best vegan protein powders without stevia

  • Vega – All in One protein powder – contains 4 types of protein, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics. This is the one I recommend to most people who are looking for a more ‘complete’ protein supplement.
  • ALOHA Organic plant-based protein powder –  contains a proprietary blend of protein, vitamins, minerals and omega 3.
  • Pure inexpensive protein powder – a very basic protein powder with one great advantage: it contains an enzyme blend to increase protein digestibility. Great for those with a more sensitive stomach.
  • Fitppl vegan protein powderA basic protein powder supplement which also combines superfoods (fruits+greens).


Sources of protein on a vegan diet

There are plenty of good sources of protein for vegans to use if they wish to supplement there diet. It’s not that vegans are suffering from protein deficiency and absolutely require protein shakes, but they can be helpful for people who are pushing themselves in sport, martial arts, bodybuilding, running etc.

If you want to increase muscle mass, it’s pretty simple: Increase your calorie intake. Increase your protein intake. Train hard.

Some of the most popular foods which provide protein on a vegan diet include:

  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Beans
  • Quinoa
  • Peas

There are a variety of sources of protein on a vegan diet, but many foods contain an incomplete amino acid profile. This is just one of the reasons why it’s important to eat a variety of foods and mix foods for a complete amino acid profile. If you already are eating many of those foods on that short list, then you’re doing alright.

Out of 21 amino acids which are used by the body, there are 9 amino acids which must be obtained from your diet.

Amino acids you need from diet

  1. Leucine
  2. Lysine
  3. Phenylalanine
  4. Valine
  5. Threonine
  6. Isoleucine
  7. Methionine
  8. Histidine
  9. Tryptophan

The amino acids that can be low on a vegan diet: Lysine, Tryptophan Methionine, Phenylalanine.

The recommended daily intake of protein is around 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.

Benefits of using vegan protein powders

There are many benefits to using protein powder to improve your performance.

  • Protein shakes are a quick supply of calories
  • Protein shakes are full of amino acids which helps rebuild and maintain muscle
  • You can carry shakes with you to training to replenish your amino acid pool right after doing your training
  • Vegan protein powders don’t contain dairy or its constituents, which can be a cause of allergies in some people

Do you need a protein powder?

Although a vegan diet generally provides adequate amounts of protein for the average person, using vegan protein powders can be more convenient, especially if you’re a busy person on the go a lot.

It’s usually physically active vegans who most often use protein powders, but they can be useful for sedentary vegans too. Many of the protein powders available have a complete amino acid profile. That means that they contain all the amino acids which you need to obtain from your diet in order to build protein and build muscle mass.

How often should you take a protein shake?

This depends entirely on your needs. A good time to use a protein shake might be breakfast and soon after you train.

If you’re not exercising all that much, then perhaps you can just consume the protein shake with your regular meal.

Tip: you can also include protein powder in your morning smoothie or cereal.

Vegan protein shakes without stevia

Many foods and drinks now contain artificial flavoring and colors to make them more palatable to the average consumer. Some brands opt for natural sweeteners like stevia instead. But some people either find it too sweet or it doesn’t agree with them.

When eating a vegan diet, we can generally taste food a lot better and enjoy the natural taste of foods, rather than trying to sweeten them up.

Why you might want to stay away from stevia

Artificial sweeteners or natural sweeteners like stevia are used in just about every sugar-free product you can think of. Many of them have been put through clinical trials to see if there are any long-term side effects and studies generally show mixed results. Some show that they are safe, but many people still remain skeptical about the long-term effects and whether or not they increase the risk of disease.

Below are a few side effects which have been reported:

  • Dizziness
  • Muscle pain
  • Numbness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Blood sugar dysregulation

So, now we know some of the potential negative side effects of stevia, let’s look at some of the most popular vegan protein powders without stevia.


#1 Vegan One All-in-One plant-based protein shake without Stevia

One of the most popular vegan protein powders available has a great nutrition profile.

It contains a complete amino acid profile from a variety of good plant-based protein sources. This protein supplement also has many vitamins, minerals and even probiotics for added benefit.

I think this is a great product because the ingredients are from natural food sources and also features a variety of added nutrients which complement it.

The product also has a large number of reviews and most of them are quite positive.

Product features:

Serving size: 1 scoop is approximately 39 grams and has 150 K/cal

Protein: 20 grams – Mainly from Pea, hemp, SaviSeed, and Flax

Fat: 5 grams

Also contains:

Vitamins – Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12 & B6, Pantothenic acid, Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Biotin, Riboflavin

Minerals – Calcium, Iron,  Magnesium, Phosphorus

Probiotics – 1 Billion Bacillus Coagulans

Fiber – 6 grams

Omega 3 – 1.5 grams

The protein also claims to be vegan certified and does not contain any genetically modified ingredients.

Flavors include Coconut Almond, French Vanilla, Mocha, Plain unsweetened, Chocolate, Berry and Vanilla Chai.

Important: Only “unsweetened” Protein powder is Stevia Free.

See more information here


2# ALOHA – Organic Based Protein Powder (No Stevia)

This protein powder by ALOHA doesn’t pack the same protein punch as others, but it really emphasizes that it’s possible to create a great tasting protein drink without the need for all the artificial ingredients that many protein powders include.

The main protein sources are from a blend of Pea protein, Pumpkin Seed protein, and Hemp Seed protein. This gives you all the amino acids that you need to build healthy cells and muscle.

Aloha protein powder also contains natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar and monk fruit extract.

Aside from the protein, it also contains magnesium, calcium, and iron, as well as omega 3.

It also comes in different flavors. I recommend checking out the chocolate. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolate?

Serving Size: 2 scoop is approximately 37 grams, which is about 150 k/cal. Each container has 15 servings

Protein: 18 grams per serving

Fat: 4.5 grams

This protein powder is also free from gluten, diary, and contains no stevia.

See more information here.


#3 Inexpensive Vegan Protein Powder, Sweetened with Monk Fruit

The last protein powder I recommend is inexpensive and the simplest one of them all.

The main protein source in this protein powder is yellow pea protein.

And with the addition of a patented plant enzyme that has been proven in studies to increase the ability of the body to digest protein, your body is able to digest and use the amino acids better than many other vegan protein powders.

Serving size:  1 scoop is approximately 39 grams, which is 180 k/cal per serving.

Protein: 23 grams

Fat: 5 grams

Also contains Calcium, Iron, and Aminogen (a proprietary plant enzyme blend for the breakdown of the protein and absorption of amino acids in the supplement). Contains 19 amino acids. The product also claims to have the highest concentration of arginine than any of commercially available proteins.

The product is also free from genetically modified ingredients, free of common allergens and has no artificial ingredients.

This protein powder is on the cheaper end but doesn’t contain the variety of protein sources as the previous two.

If you’re on a budget, this would be a good choice for a good quality protein supplement.

See more information here


#4 Fitppl Plant Based Protein Powder and Superfood (No Stevia) – Eco-Friendly

If you’re after something which combines superfoods + protein, then this is the protein powder supplement for you.

Each container of this protein powder gives you a generous 20 servings of high-quality protein and superfoods which are full of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Superfoods include spirulina, oat grass, barley.

The only downside to this protein powder is that it just has 16 grams of protein per serving. But that’s fine for most vegans. In fact, eating foods super high in protein isn’t needed for everyone. So if you’re a regular vegan, then this will be fine. But if you’re training, then maybe you’d want to opt for something with a higher amount of protein per serving.

Serving size: 3 scoops is approximately 25 grams, which gives you 90 k/cal per serving.

Protein: 16 grams

Fat: 1 gram

Also contains: Calcium, Iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Manganese.

This protein powder is quite basic and great for those who don’t want to go crazy with protein, but just want to supplement a little.

And with the addition of fruits and greens, you’re also getting some extra vitamins, minerals and phytonutrient compounds which are known to be beneficial to health.

See more information here.


#5 Vega Clean Protein Powder + Glutamine (Important: Contains a small amount of STEVIA)

Sometimes, when you’re browsing for protein powders, it’s easy to overlook ingredients.

This protein powder claims to have no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. However, on the container, it says that it does contain stevia leaf extract.

I’ve included this protein powder as the last option on this list because it’s a very high-quality protein powder which provides a large amount of protein per serving.

It’s a shame that stevia was included, but overall, it’s still a good choice for those who have no issues with stevia.

Some people say that it’s a bit too sweet, but I personally find it okay. I hope the creator of this protein powder will take the feedback from some customers and create a version which is truly “clean”.

So this is the wildcard on the list for those on the fence about stevia and those who don’t love it or hate it.

This protein powder by vega comes in fewer flavors and sizes than the previous protein supplement, but it does have many good points to it. It also has protein from several high quality, premium protein sources such as pea, hemp, pumpkin, and alfalfa.

And although this protein powder has fewer ratings, it is still rated well.

One of the downsides of this supplement over the previous is that it doesn’t contain many additional nutrients besides protein.

Serving Size: 1 scoop is approximately 37 grams, which is 130 k/cal. Each container has 45 servings

Protein: 25 grams per serving

Fat: 3 grams

Vega Clean protein powder is a simple protein supplement which gives you the protein you need without any of the fluff.

It is also gluten-free, vegan certified and has no genetically modified ingredients.

The downside: Vega clean protein powder contains a small amount of stevia leaf extract.

See more information here


Vegan protein powder side effects

The most commonly consumed protein powder is whey protein. One of the reasons for this is its high bioavailability to the body and its complete amino acid profile.

There is also the fact that when you consume whey protein, you get a much bigger increase in insulin growth factor compared to plant-based proteins.

There are two ways to look at this: IGF-1 is good for muscle growth, but too much stimulation of IGF-1 can be bad.

This is one of the reasons why it would be a very good idea to consume plant-based proteins over protein powders such as whey, even if you’re not a vegan.

Vegan protein powder ingredients

Vegan protein powder is plant-based. They typically contain ingredients and protein which are sourced from peas, hemp, pumpkin seeds. Most of the ingredients included in these protein powders do not contain ingredients which are common allergens.

These protein drinks also often have added vitamins, minerals and even omega 3 from algal oil (which vegans don’t get enough of).

On the other hand, whey protein contains ingredients which many people have problems digesting and can cause many different side effects like acne, bloating, fatigue, headaches, sinus problems etc.

Vegan protein powder is much less likely to cause any of those side effects.

Due to the fiber in some of these protein powders, you may experience some initial side effects, but these should go away once your body adjusts.

Most people who are eating a plant-based diet already typically have a high fiber intake anyway, so this won’t be an issue if you’re already eating a high fiber diet.

There are many different vegan protein powders available besides these three, so take a look and see which is most suitable for your needs! 🙂  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment!

Best Vegan Vitamin D3 Supplement

best vegan vitamin d supplementWe’re just coming out of winter here, and most people who have not been supplementing vitamin D are likely to be deficient. Supplementing during the winter is the only way to maintain good levels of vitamin D, whether you are vegan or not.

Since vegans will typically be avoiding many of the foods like yogurt, cheese, milk, and eggs, which usually contain vitamin D, it’s possible to be at greater risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

But that’s okay! I mean, no it’s not okay that you’re deficient, but there are options! Some foods contain vitamin D, and supplements are also available which are completely vegan-friendly! 🙂

Why vegans should take vitamin D

Vitamin D was making waves across the biggest health websites over 10 years ago when researchers discovered that vitamin D was more important than just simply helping us keep our bones strong.

Vitamin D is a key regulator of hundreds of genes which influences everything from bone metabolism, immune system function, cellular stress response, gene transcription regulation, DNA repair and more. It is thought that vitamin D could control up to 5% of the human genome.

Clearly then, being deficient in this important sunshine vitamin D cannot be good for health or longevity. And according to this study, vegans had the lowest intake of vitamin D and the lowest blood levels in the study.

In a rush?

If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to read this whole article, I’ve prepared a list below with 4 high-quality D3 supplements for you to check out. I’ve also put them in the order which I recommend and think are best!

  1. Garden of Life Vegan Vitamin D3  – Contains 2000 IU of D3 and a blend of organic vegetables and mushrooms. My favorite tasty D3 supplement! See the current price here.
  2. Doctor Formulated Vitamin D3 – Contains 1000 IU of D3 from lichens and is good for people with very light skin and summertime. Basic, but good.
  3. Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 – Contains 2500 IU of D3 from lichens and is great for people with dark skin and need more vitamin D.
  4. Country Life Vitamin D3 –  Contains 5000 IU of D3 from lichens. I recommend this to people who rarely get sun and people who have very dark skin. Good for winter D3 supplementation.

What is the RDA of vitamin D?

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is still fairly conservative and only takes into account preventing the most serious problems associated with inadequate vitamin D levels, such as rickets. It doesn’t give any indication of what is the optimal level for disease prevention.

Daily Allowance of Vitamin D

  • Adult Males – 600 IU
  • Adult Females – 600 IU
  • Adults above 70 – 800 IU

40 IU of vitamin D equals 1 microgram (mcg)

In recent years, many studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals suggesting that the recommended daily allowance should be increased. And in some countries, it is recommended that adults get between 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D per day.

In the summer it might be a lot easier to meet this amount, especially if you have light skin, but in the winter it’s impossible to generate enough vitamin D in your skin to stop your vitamin D levels from dropping to very low levels.

Which are the best vitamin D supplements for vegans to take?

Most vitamin D supplements on the market are non-vegan. The reason is that the vitamin D is often sourced from sheep’s wool, and therefore most vegans will not consider this a viable supplement to take.

The good thing about Lanolin is that it contains vitamin D3, which is the best form of vitamin D you can take. There are vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) supplements available, but studies have shown that this one is the least effective one to take.

So in that case, we need to find a vitamin D3 source that is vegan.

A little while back after doing some digging, it came to my attention that there is vitamin D3 supplements available which are totally fine for vegans to take: Lichen-based vitamin D3.

What are lichens?

Lichens are basically a plant species that consists of fungus and algae. They are able to survive in very extreme climates and provides a wide variety of nutrients to sustain its growth, including Vitamin D3.

#1 Garden of Life Vitamin D3 for Vegans (Organic and tasty!)

Garden of Life has quickly become one of my favorite companies for vegan products. I first heard of them from Alicia Silverstone, who is also a vegan. Since that time, I’ve been hooked on their products and often recommend them to fellow vegan friends.

This supplement is packed full of nutrients from different plant sources, with a healthy dose of vitamin D3 from Lichen (2000 IU).

And the raspberry-lemon chewable is also a really tasty way to get your D3!

Main Ingredient – lichen (vitamin D3)

Other ingredients – Unlike many other vitamin D supplements, this one contains an organic food blend which contains flax seed, organic carrot, organic broccoli, organic cauliflower, and organic spinach.

Also contains a wide range of mushrooms to help boost immune system health!

Who should take this supplement?

With a dose of 2000 IU, this vitamin D supplement would be suitable for both light and dark skin vegans in either the winter or summer.  And especially if you have an office job and work inside all day.

Certified

Garden of Life Vitamin D3 has been certified USDA organic and NON-GMO.

Hands down the best

This is probably the best vitamin D3 supplement I’ve found and I highly recommend you give it a try! It has lots of organic and pure ingredients in there, with a perfect dose of Vitamin D3 to keep you healthy.

See reviews and current price here


#2 Doctor Formulated Vegan Vitamin D3 Supplement – 1000 IU

This vitamin D supplement seems to be fairly popular with vegans and has some good reviews.

The vitamin D supplement contains 1000 IU of cholecalciferol, is 100% vegan, and is a non-genetically modified litchen source of vitamin D3.

The supplement is also gluten and soy free and each bottle contains 60 small vegetarian/vegan capsules.

Each capsule will give you 1000 IU of vitamin D3, which will be enough to prevent vitamin D deficiency, but possibly not enough to reach adequate (higher) levels of vitamin D in the blood.

Who should take this supplement? 

If you work outdoors, get a lot of sunshine, and you have light skin, then this vitamin D supplement would be a great option for you.

If you have darker skin and thus require more sun to increase vitamin D levels, a dose of about 2000 IU would be more sufficient.

Tested for quality

The company also state that their product is manufactured in the USA and is a regulated facility, which is subject to good manufacturing practices (GMP) for which it has been certified. Basically, you know you are paying for a quality vitamin D3 product.

See reviews and current price here


#3 Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 Vegan Supplement – 2500 IU

Another well-received vegan-friendly vitamin D3 supplement from Doctor’s Best, but this one contains significantly more vitamin D3 than the previous one.

The supplement contains 2500 IU of vitamin D3 sourced from lichen, but also contains small amounts of other ingredients such as maltodextrin, starch, sucrose, silicon dioxide, d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C).

Who should take this supplement?

This supplement should be suitable for most people and provide adequate vitamin D levels to prevent deficiency and may even lower the risk of certain diseases.

If you easily tan and have an olive or darker skin tone, then this vitamin D supplement would be best for you. However, if it’s summer and you’re getting lots of sunshine, then perhaps go for a lower dose of 1000 IU or take every other day.

Tested for quality

Some of the key features of this product are that it has proven potency, clinically researched, 3rd party tested and has been GMP certified.

So just as with the previous vitamin D supplement, you know that you’re getting a good quality vitamin D supplement made for vegans.

The vitamin D3 supplement is also harvested and registered with the UK vegan society.

See reviews and current price here


#4 Country Life Vegan Vitamin D3 – 5000 IU

If you’re looking for a high dose vitamin D3 supplement, then this is a good one to go for.

The product contains 5000 IU of Vitamin D3 from Vitashine (plant derived D3). Other ingredients include sunflower oil, d alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), non-GMO corn starch, carrageenan, vegetable glycerin, sorbitol and purified water.

It’s free from Yeast, Wheat, Soy, Salt, Sugar, Preservatives, and Artificial Colorings.

Who should take this supplement?

I recommend this supplement for winter use only and for people with dark skin tones, which makes it harder to produce vitamin D in the skin. Also a great choice for use in the winter when there isn’t much sunlight.

Tested for quality

The product also has other environmentally friendly attributes and certifications.

Important note: If you choose this product, I would recommend getting blood tests done if taking long term to check levels of vitamin D.

See reviews and current price here


The main benefits of Vitamin D

There are numerous benefits of taking vitamin D. Some of these benefits occur at doses above the minimum daily requirement.

Some of the latest research on vitamin D has included the following:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression and anxiety

The list of disease and conditions which is affected by vitamin D is growing every year as researchers uncover results from long-term trials using vitamin D in disease prevention and disease treatment.

Although vitamin D by itself is not a magic bullet, it is something that everyone ought to pay more attention if you want to achieve optimal health and well-being.

Vegans are especially more prone to development of vitamin D deficiency, but fortunately for those of us who live in places where it’s not sunny throughout the year, we have plant sources of vitamin D to help us along.

And finally, let’s not forget that excess sun causes skin damaage and premature aging of the skin. Therefore, it’s a lot more sensible to get vitamin D from a vegan supplement than to expose yourself to the sun constantly.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can be associated with many symptoms, many of them are not specific enough to pick up on, but if you are experiencing many of these, then it could be worth speaking to your doctor and getting a blood test done.

  • Catching colds and other bugs more frequently
  • Hair loss (not male pattern baldness)
  • Seasonal affective disorder
  • Depression
  • General aches and pains/muscle pain
  • Fatigue and tiredness

Who is at more risk of deficiency?

If you live in the northern hemisphere then you’re more likely to develop low levels of vitamin D in the winter.

If you work indoors all day and don’t get much sun, then you can be at risk.

If you frequently wear sunscreen that is SPF 30 or above. This can block your ability to synthesize vitamin D by over 95%.

Having darker skin will also mean you require longer time spent in the sun to synthesize vitamin D.

And finally… I highly recommend sensible sun exposure. Although the sun is great, it is also one of the main causes of skin aging. As a vegan, you can protect your skin from the sun, stay young-looking, and still get all the vitamin D you need from vegan vitamin D supplements.

Best Vegan Omega 3 Supplement

vegan omega 3 The amount of omega 3 that you can get from eating a vegan diet can vary significantly depending on many different factors. Omega 3 is not a vitamin, but an essential fatty acid which has to be obtained from the diet, usually from fish. One of the best sources of omega 3 for vegans is plant-based omega 3 supplements.

Since fish is typically not on the menu for vegans, it has to come from somewhere else.

So you might wonder: what are the best sources of omega 3 on a vegan diet?

  1. Flaxseeds
  2. Walnuts
  3. Pumpkin Seeds
  4. Chia seeds
  5. Hemp Seeds

If you don’t include any of these in your diet current, it might be a good idea to start adding them.

These foods contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is converted by your body into EPA and DHA. However, unfortunately, the process by which ALA is converted to these fatty acids is poor, especially in males. That’s why it’s a good idea to take an omega 3 supplement from algal oil. They are completely vegan-friendly and research suggests may even be on par or better than fish oil.

If you’re in a bit of a rush and don’t have time to read the whole article, the omega 3 supplement that I recommend most is Testa Algae oil. The others are great choices as well (see more details further down in the article).

List of omega 3 supplements which are suitable for vegans:

  • Testa Algae Oil DHA and EPA Omega 3 (link to Amazon)
  • OVEGA Omega 3 supplement containing DHA and EPA
  • Nested Vegan Omega 3 with DHA and EPA
  • BLOOM – Algae Omega 3 with DHA and EPA
  • Garden of Life Pure DHA Supplement for Vegans

It’s EPA and DHA which make up what we know as Omega 3.

EPA stands for: eicosapentaenoic acid and has numerous benefits like improving psychological well-being, joint health, skin health and more.

DHA stands for: docosahexaenoic acid is critical for proper brain development, vision, heart function and protection from cardiovascular disease.

The conversion varies from person to person. For men, the conversion of ALA to DHA is more difficult than for women. The reason for this is because men lack a certain enzyme to perform the conversion. It’s simply more important that women can convert ALA to DHA better, because of child brain development.

Why take an omega 3 supplement?

Omega 3, although crucial for our development, health, and psychological well-being, it also has many potential benefits in protecting us from a wide range of diseases and health conditions.

I’ve always taken some form of omega 3 supplements since I was a kid. My dad used to give me “cod liver oil” every day (this was before I went vegan). And it was the original seven seas cod liver oil!

Not the nicest taste in the world. But you get used to it after a while.

So, naturally, I searched out for the best omega 3 supplements for vegans and also looked into where I could get it from my diet.

I’ve noticed some subtle but important beneficial effects of taking omega 3:

  • It helped improve my concentration by a lot
  • It helped give my skin a nice glow
  • I had a dry eye problem (reaction from a medication) for a short while and omega 3 helped reverse the eye symptoms I had. As long as I was taking the supplement, the symptoms went away.
  • It made hair feel softer and look shinier

These are just some of the most obvious benefits I’ve noticed from using omega 3 supplements.

Long-term benefits of taking an omega 3 supplement

The immediate and short-term benefits of taking omega can be clear for some people. But what are the main benefits of using an omega 3 over a period of years?

There have been many different studies conducted, especially of the last 20 or so on the use of omega 3 in preventing and even treating various health issues and diseases.

Below are just a few of the ones that omega 3 could help with:

  • It can help reduce inflammation in the body
  • It can help improve depression and anxiety
  • Omega 3 may help prevent heart disease
  • Omega 3 may help reduce the development of some types of cancer
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Omega 3 can improve eye health
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes
  • Omega 3 may help prevent and even treat autoimmune diseases such as Lupus
  • May help improve allergies

That is just a very short list of the things which have been looked at by researchers in the last two decades and studies are still ongoing. The research is not conclusive on everything, but nonetheless, it’s clear that omega 3 can play a vital role in our health.


Best vegan omega 3 supplements with DHA + EPA

Below are three supplements which are all vegan and sourced from Algal oil – which is a vegan-friendly source of both EPA and DHA.

One of the great things about obtaining omega 3 from plant sources is that you avoid the fish burps and it’s more ethical.

#1 Testa GMO DHA + EPA

Testa omega 3 vegan supplement stands out as a quality product, which is created with high standards to ensure a high-quality for the consumer.

Throughout the whole process of getting the omega 3 from the plant, to putting it in a capsule, testa ensure that it goes through a strict quality control process in food and pharmaceutical facilities.

And what you’re left with is an omega 3 supplement which won’t give you fishy burps and is without any of the toxins you may get with fish such as dioxins, PCB’s and mercury.

Each testa omega 3 capsule contains these ingredients: 

Calories: 10

Algae oil: 834 mg

Omega 3: 450 mg  (250 mg DHA and 125 mg EPA)

Vitamin E: 9 IU of d-alpha tocopherol

Antioxidants / Vitamins: Rosemary extract and ascorbyl palmitate.

See more details about Testa DHA+EPA here


#2 OVEGA Omega 3 Supplement for Vegans

Second up is a product by OVEGA.

This one has a lot of great reviews and is only slightly different from the omega 3 supplement above.

It’s also sourced from Algal oil and so it’s suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

The process by which the supplement is cultivated and the processing is done in an FDA inspected facility. So you can expect a pure and safe product from OVEGA.

Each soft gel contains the following ingredients:

Calories: 10

Total fat: less than 1 gram

Omega 3: 500 mg of Algal oil (270 mg DHA and 135 mg EPA).

Antioxidants / Vitamins: Rosemary extract, tocopherols, and ascorbyl palmitate. Also contains beta-carotene.

See more details about Ovega Omega 3 here


#3 Nested Vegan Omega 3 – DHA + EPA Supplement

Nested has pride in their products because they really aim to source in the most ethical way possible and test every batch before delivered to customers.

Why I really like this product is because not only do they provide a significant amount of both EPA and DHA, but also have included green tea extract to boost the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of their supplement.

Each vegan capsule contains the following:

Serving size: 1 capsule

Omega 3: 700 mg from Algal oil (Algae). 200 mg DHA, 100 mg EPA. Other omega-3 (67 mg), and 100 mg Green Tea Extract Polyphenols.

This vegan omega 3 supplement has many great reviews, even with some people who say they have a sensitive stomach. One of the main things you need to look out for when choosing an omega 3 supplement is how it affects the stomach and how is the after-taste.

I mean the last thing you want is a bad taste in your mouth for hours after you take a supplement, right?

Again, just like the previous supplement, this one is clean and simple and perfect for those who prefer that over supplements which are really bloated with different ingredients and fillers.

See more information about Nested Omega 3 Supplement


#4 BLOOM – Algae Omega 3 – DHA + EPA Supplement

Bloom’s Omega 3 supplement was created for vegans who want a clean and simple product which tastes good and delivers a good dose of omega 3.

Compared to many other omega 3 supplements, it has a few ingredients, mainly focused around improving the taste of the product rather than extra fillers.

Each Bloom Omega 3 capsule contains the following ingredients:

Serving Size: 2 capsules – contains 30 capsules per bottle.

Omega 3: 1050 mg from Algal oil. 336 mg DHA, 158 mg EPA and  36 mg DPA

Vitamin E: 17.18 IU

Bloom Omega 3 supplement is also free from GMO, Dioxins, PCB’s, Gluten, Milk, Dairy, Sugar, Salt, and Artificial sweeteners.

Contain Soy.

For those who like simplicity, this is a great choice for getting your omega 3.

See more details about Bloom Omega here


#5 Garden of life DHA Omega 3 supplement for vegans

I’ve included this pure DHA supplement on the list because some vegans already get plenty of EPA from their diet in the food sources that I mentioned above.

So, if want a bit extra EPA from a supplement (in addition to the foods above), then the first two products are for you.

But if you think you’re getting plenty, then a better route may be to just simply go for a DHA vegan supplement and so you’ll get a higher dose of this specific fatty acid and more bang for your buck.

Garden of life has strong principles in delivering the highest quality products.

Science

They start with the science. They look at which ingredients to include in their products to have the biggest impact on health. They don’t put in extra ingredients just to make the ingredient list look more impressive. They stick with what is known to work (according to science).

Pure and clean

They go with the purest and cleanest sources to obtain their ingredients. They like to keep it simple, and not have a bunch of ingredients in the product that you can’t even pronounce or have any clue what they are. Simple is sometimes better – and safer!

The whole process monitored

They make a big deal about the fact that their products can be traced right back to their source. From where each ingredient was picked to the end of the manufacturing line. They closely monitor farming practices and even how companies treat farmers who they will get the ingredients from to create the product.

Certification

The credentials of a company are very important when picking a good company to buy products from. All their products are certified USDA organic and NON-GMO. To read more about this, you can check out their website.

On their website, they give lots of information from how they source the product, the testing performed to ensure purity, and everything in between.

Popular

Garden of life is a popular company among vegans and based on their commitment to providing only high-quality products, it’s easy to see why. If you haven’t tried out any of their products yet, including their DHA supplement, give it a try!

Serving size: 2 soft gels – contains 60 capsules, so you get 30 days of DHA.

Total Omega 3: 500 mg of DHA

Other ingredients:  Garden of life supplement also contains many other ingredients such as Astaxanthin (which is great for the brain and eye health), as well as silica, rosemary extract, mixed tocopherols, sodium carbonate and soy.

Flavor: Orange

See more details about Garden of Life DHA here.


Does Algal Oil really compare to Fish oil?

Many people will probably tell you that fish oil is the best source of omega 3 and not to waste your time with getting omega 3 from plants. However, there is research to back up the beneficial effects of omega 3 from microalgae oil. So, let’s take a look at the current evidence in humans.

Study 1

In 2006, researchers took vegetarians who showed normal cholesterol levels and gave them a new product which contained mostly DHA from algal oil, with very little EPA.

There were 87 females and 27 males in the study. They were split up into two groups, one receiving the treatment (omega 3) and one receiving olive oil for a control.

During the 8 weeks of the study, DHA managed to decrease serum triglyceride levels by 23%! from 1.08 to 0.83 mmol/l.

A lower triglyceride level may indicate a lower risk of heart disease according to some research. [1]

Study 2

To answer the question whether or not algal oil is really equivalent to omega 3 found in fish like salmon, a study was conducted to look at the nutritional availability of omega 3 from each source and then compare them.

The study involved 32 healthy men and women who were aged between 20 to 65 years.

In the 2 week study, one group received 600 mg DHA per day from algal-oil capsules and compared to that of assayed portions of cooked salmon.

In both of the groups, DHA levels had increased significantly over the period of 2 weeks. Both groups saw an increase of DHA in plasma phospholipids by 80% and an increase in DHA levels found in erythrocytes by 25%.

The conclusion of the study was that omega 3 from both sources appear to be equivalent. [2]

Conclusion

Choosing a vegan source of omega 3 is a fantastic way to support the environment and not pollute our water. So these supplements would not only be suitable for just vegans but even non-vegans also.

There are many people who would benefit from taking omega 3. This is especially true if you are at a higher risk of any of the conditions I mentioned above.

Adequate levels of omega 3 are only one aspect of nutrition for well-being. But it’s an important one which is very much overlooked, even by non-vegans.

Many people in the west today consume diets which are very low in this important fatty acid, and this could be one of the reasons why we see certain diseases in the west being so much more prevalent than in places like east-Asia where they eat a lot of fish.

Fortunately, vegans don’t have to go without omega 3, as there are plenty of high-quality vegan omega 3 supplements to choose from.

How to Start a Vegan Diet For Beginners

Most people who make the change towards a vegan diet come from a standard diet of processed foods, so there is a lot to learn. In this article, I will tell you all the things you must know if you want to be successful at starting a vegan diet as a beginner.

Nine years into eating a healthy diet I began to transition towards eating vegan from a vegetarian diet. My health journey began back in 2003, when I slowly started changing the types of foods I ate, first by throwing out the junk food.

It was in 2005 that I became more serious about it and only two years after that I became a vegetarian.

It’s really important that a vegan diet is done properly because of the various risks associated with it. Yes, a vegan diet can be very healthy and lower the risk of disease, but it can also cause deficiencies.

The main points of this article will be the following:

  1. What is a vegan diet?
  2. How to choose the right vegan diet for you and which is the best?
  3. What are the reasons why people choose to live a vegan lifestyle?
  4. The main benefits and risks of eating a vegan diet
  5. Should I take any supplements on a vegan diet?
  6. Which foods should I include in my diet and which ones should I avoid?
  7. Which blood tests should you get done to measure your progress?
  8. Which other tests are important to measure progress on a vegan diet?

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet simply means that you are to remove all animal products from your diet. Things like dairy, meat and even eggs should be avoided.

There is some debate over the latter among some vegans to whether or not it’s fine to eat eggs. I personally think it’s okay, especially if you are looking after the animals yourself and know how well they are treated.

Some people even take it a step further and only use products like clothing, bags, shoes and other household items that weren’t created with the involvement of any animals.

People eat a variety of vegan diets: which is the best one

There are many types of vegans and many types of diets who you can eat. There have been a lot of popular raw food vegan diets over the last ten years which have come and gone. These things become trendy for a while, but in the end, most people fall back to a simple whole food vegan diet.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s sustainable long term.

  • The Junk Food Vegan: Most vegans I’ve come across where I live has been your average vegan who is doing the diet for ethical reasons.  They eat vegan versions of the typical processed foods one would normally consume. They often tend to be lacking in nutritional knowledge and this is one of the reasons many studies have shown vegans to be deficient in certain vitamins – putting their health at risk and raising the risk of disease.
  • The Raw Food Diet: There are many levels of the raw food diet. Some people say that if you eat 70% raw, then you can classify yourself as being on a raw food diet. The basic premise of the diet is that you are to eat foods in its unaltered state, so you can gain the benefits of all the enzymes and nutrients in the food without them being destroyed by cooking. There are many popular advocates of the raw food diet on Youtube that have gained a massive following.
  • The Whole Food Diet: This is the diet I am most in favor of and the one that I recommend to most people. The idea is that you eat a vegan diet which includes a variety of food groups such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, soybeans, whole grains and more. It’s also the least restrictive diet and the one that is most easy to follow. That doesn’t mean it’s the least effective diet for good health either! A whole foods diet, in my opinion, is the best choice and will give the best long-term results.
  • 80/10/10 Diet: This diet was popularized by a guy named Dr. Douglas Graham. It’s essentially a very high carbohydrate diet with 80% of your calories coming from carbohydrates and the rest is protein and fat. He claims to have had success on this diet for decades and has built up a big following around the diet, which became very popular a few years back. Since that time, there has been a lot of diets created by the community revolving around this 80/10/10 principle.


 

Why do people choose to eat a vegan diet?

People choose to eat all kinds of diets for all sorts of reasons.

If you ask most vegans why they chose to eat a vegan diet, you’ll usually get the answer that it was to be compassionate and caring towards animals and the environment.

For other people, it might simply be for health reasons – and that’s perfectly fine too. The benefits you can obtain from going on a vegan diet can be amazing if it’s done correctly and with consideration to its drawbacks.

The evidence keeps piling up that a vegan diet when done properly might be able to reduce all forms of chronic disease from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more. That’s of course only true when a vegan diet is done properly. Which is exactly why you are reading this I assume.

What are the main health benefits of eating a vegan diet?

As I already mentioned, the benefits you can get from cleaning up your diet and eating a clean healthy diet can be life-changing.

There are many examples of people who go on vegan diets and recover from chronic illnesses which have stopped them from enjoying life for years.

Let’s explore some of the evidence, shall we?

A vegan diet may reduce the risk of heart disease

Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the world and much of the time it’s almost completely preventable

The average diet which is loaded with processed carbs, saturated fat, and has a high salt content can together create the perfect conditions in the body for the development of atherosclerosis.

A healthy vegan diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables will often lead to significant weight loss for those doing it long term. Vegans are in fact much lighter than other groups of people which include vegetarians and those on a standard western diet.

There is a direct correlation between BMI and being overweight with the development of heart disease.

Vegans tend to have much lower levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol than those eating an omnivores diet. In one study published in 2007, they found that on average vegans had a total cholesterol reading of 141 mg/dl compared to 208 mg/dl in for the omnivores.

With cholesterol levels this low, it is extremely unlikely that one would develop heart disease.

There is some research which suggests that vegans may be protected from heart disease, but they have a higher risk of stroke due to a reduction in IGF-1 hormone.

IGF-1 is crucial for the proper integrity of the artery walls, and so keeping blood pressure low by having a low intake of salt and high potassium intake is advised.

The risk is very small, but it’s something to consider.

A vegan diet may reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer

Cancer is a very scary thing and most of us know someone who has been affected by it. It’s often thought that there is nothing you can do about cancer, but this recent evidence suggests that this is not true,

People who are eating a vegan diet have on average much lower levels of a growth hormone called IGF-1. This hormone speeds up cell proliferation and increased levels of it raise the risk of various types of cancer in humans.

The reduction in calorie intake and reduction in animal protein is thought to be the reason for this effect. Plant protein has less effect on IGF-1 and is preferable.

A vegan diet might help you live a longer and healthier life

There have been long-term studies conducted on various groups such as the seventh-day advents in California which show that by vegetarians and vegans have a lower rate of mortality than those who eat a nonvegetarian diet.

Simply put: people who were on a vegan diet lived longer and suffered less disease.

The spontaneous reduction in caloric intake in those who eat a vegan diet is also another reason why vegans might live a longer and healthier life.

What are the biggest risks when eating a vegan diet?

When someone tells me they are going to go on a vegan diet, I’ll tell them to ease into it and learn a bit about the pitfalls of such a strict diet first.

When you eliminate various food groups from the diet, you risk running into a few problems related to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This can lead to serious and life-changing health consequences if they are not corrected in time.

Deficiencies in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids

  • Vitamin B12: Vegans are at a much higher risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency than other people. There have been multiple studies on looking at this over the past few years and the results are clear: you need to supplement vitamin B12 if you’re on a vegan diet. Fifty-two percent of vegans in one study were deficient in B12, but in another study, they had found 92% to be critically low when measuring levels of MMA. [1, 2].
  • Vitamin D: Something that might be overlooked is the fact that in a western diet, we have foods which are ‘fortified’ with vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy. Most adults (even non-vegans) are low in vitamin D, so it might be worth getting tested and taking a vitamin D3 supplement.
  • Zinc: A healthy vegan diet with lots of plant foods will typically be much higher in copper than a western diet. This might result in a secondary deficiency of zinc and manifest in various symptoms like poor appetite, acne, dry skin, slow hair growth, hair loss and frequent infections.
  • Iodine: Many vegans will be at risk of developing an iodine deficiency because of low iodine concentration in the soil that we grow our food in. One study found that 80% of vegans suffer from a deficiency in iodine. [3].
  • Iron: A plant-based diet does contain a lot of iron, but it is much less bioavailable than the iron you would get from eating meat. Twenty-five percent of vegetarians and vegans had depleted stores of iron as measured by a ferritin test. [4].
  • Calcium: Some vegan diets may be low in calcium intake. There are good sources of calcium in a vegan diet, but it can be less bioavailable. Kale is one excellent source of calcium on a vegan diet.
  • EPA & DHA: The best source of omega 3 is fish, but certain foods in a vegan diet can provide omega 3 fats by the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA. Women are able to make this conversion better than men are.

Vegans should take supplements to prevent deficiencies

Having identified which nutrients are the most difficult to get on a vegan diet, we can easily fix them by supplementing. Below are the supplements that I recommend vegans take in order to maintain good health and prevent deficiencies.

Many people don’t like taking supplements, but I don’t believe that vegans have a choice when it comes to certain nutrients. It would be irresponsible to not take certain supplements on a vegan diet.

Below I will list the vitamins and minerals you should be taking on a vegan diet and which forms of these nutrients are best.

Vitamin B12: I recommend that you either take cyanocobalamin or methylcyanocobalamin on a vegan diet. B12 is very safe to take and this will prevent you from developing a deficiency.

Vitamin D3: Most vitamin D pills that you’ll get are usually from sheep’s wool. Some vegans are fine with this as long as the sheep are looked after, but if you feel uncomfortable with using vitamin D3 supplements sourced from sheep wool, you can find vitamin D3 that is sourced from Algae.

Zinc: There are many different zinc supplements you can choose from on the market. Some zinc supplements are more bioavailable than others, but two of the best forms of zinc which are most bioavailable include zinc picolinate and zinc gluconate.

Iodine: It’s common for iodine to be included in many multivitamins, so if you’re taking one of those, have a look if it’s already included. You can either supplement it by itself or you can consume more foods like seaweed or dried kept. One sheet provides approximately 19 – 3000 mcg of iodine.

Iron: Women are at greater risk of iron deficiency. If you are male, I would recommend you get frequent blood tests after starting a vegan diet to see if iron stores deplete over time.

Calcium: Since vegans don’t have milk in their diet, getting the RDI of calcium can be a difficult task. This is easily resolved by including lots of kale in your diet or you can alternatively take a calcium supplement such as calcium citrate or calcium carbonate.

EPA / DHA: You can find many vegan sources of omega 3. If you already have a lot of ALA in your diet, then you might want to consider just taking a pure DHA supplement. Check the omega 3 supplement is sourced from Alage oil.

Some people think that a vegan diet can be incredibly restrictive, but there is honestly no shortage of different types of food you could be consuming on a vegan diet.

Many people say that the variety of foods that they eat on a vegan diet increased a lot compared to what they used to eat.

Which are the healthiest foods to eat on a vegan diet

Vegetables

To take advantage of all the beneficial nutrients and compounds found in plant foods, it’s necessary to eat a large variety of them in your diet.

Cruciferous vegetables

  1. Kale
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Broccoli
  4. Brussel Sprouts
  5. Watercress
  6. Arugula
  7. Red cabbage

These vegetables contain many cancer-fighting compounds and increased protective antioxidant enzymes within the body and increase the rate of detoxification of harmful substances that we consume and transform them into harmless substances which are excreted.

People with certain types of gene mutations that predispose them to develop breast cancer and prostate cancer have been shown to benefit from cruciferous vegetables because they are high in indole 3 carbinol and sulforaphane.

Eat these vegetables both raw and cooked.

Root Vegetables

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Carrots
  3. Ginger
  4. Radish
  5. Turmeric (high in curcumin)
  6. Beetroot
  7. Yams

Root vegetables can either be a staple of the diet (sweet potatoes and carrots) or can add flavor to dishes.

Sweet potatoes contain a high amount of beta-carotene and potassium.

Ginger and turmeric contain powerful compounds such as gingerols and curcumin which block inflammation and have anti-cancer benefits.

Leafy greens / Salad veggies (low calorie)

  1. Spinach
  2. Romaine lettuce
  3.  Celery
  4. collard greens
  5. Dill
  6. Wheatgrass
  7. Kale

Legumes / Beans

Beans are a great source of protein and calories on a vegan diet. Most people find it difficult to cut calories, but for sometimes people eating a vegan diet (due to a large amount of food) can struggle to eat enough calories every day.

There are a wide variety of beans and peas you can choose from, here are a few:

  1. Soybeans
  2. Green Peas
  3. Black beans
  4. Pinto beans (the type you normally get in baked beans)
  5. Peanuts
  6. Navy beans
  7. Kidney beans

Beans have many benefits. They provide a slow release of glucose because they have a lot of fiber.

It also has been shown that high intake of beans could be associated with longevity.

Eat up!

Fruits

I recommend that you eat fruits, but don’t make them the staple of your diet. Studies have shown that fruits can be healthy in moderation, but they still provide a lot of sugar. Eat in moderation, with the exception of berries!  Berries are low calorie and you can eat liberally.

Here are some of the healthiest fruits you can eat on a vegan diet:

  1. Avocado (my favorite!)
  2. Blueberries
  3. Apples
  4. Strawberries
  5. Oranges
  6. Durian
  7. Mangos
  8. Tomatoes

These fruits provide a good variety of vitamins and many different beneficial compounds which promote health.

Tip: make a smoothie!  One of the easiest ways to consume a large number of leafy greens is to combine them with fruit.

Try this: Two bananas, one apple, 80 g of frozen blueberries,  150 g of spinach and water,

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds provide good fats on a vegan diet which are important for absorption of nutrients in the diet. They also are a good source of healthy fats such as omega 3.

  1. Almonds
  2. Walnuts
  3. Brazil nuts (don’t consume more than 1-2 a day)
  4. Flaxseeds
  5. Pistachios
  6. Hazelnuts
  7. Macadamia nuts

Nuts have been associated with lower risk of heart disease and improved gut health. They provide monounsaturated fats and omega 3 in the form of ALA.

Which ingredients in foods and supplements should vegans avoid?

  1. Dairy – Look at labels to see if dairy, casein or whey is listed
  2. Gelatin – This is often used in supplements and is derived from the connective tissues of animals
  3.  Omega 3 – If you are eating processed foods then you should look if it contains added omega 3. This is common enough to look out for. Omega 3 is usually sourced from fish
  4. Vitamin D3 – Usually derived from sheep’s wool.  There are other sources of vitamin D3 such as lichen

Eating a vegan diet doesn’t have to be complicated.

The most important thing when creating a vegan diet plan as a beginner is that you listen to your body and understand some basics about nutrition and what you need to stay healthy.

A well-balanced vegan diet with a few supplements can provide all the vitamins, minerals, fats, and protein that you need.

Get tests done to measure your progress on a vegan diet

Before going on a vegan diet you should consider measuring your progress.

Not only will this help you stay motivated to stick to a vegan diet, but it will help ensure that you remain healthy on the diet and reinforce the benefits you can obtain from being on a vegan diet.

You’ll also be able to show other people your amazing results and it might even convince them to give the diet a shot as well!

Blood tests you should get done

  • Full blood count – This measures the levels of white blood cells and red blood cells in your body. It can determine your risk of things like anemia. It can also be good to see the effect of the diet on your immune system and inflammation. White blood count typically goes down, but this is not usually a bad sign.
  • Cholesterol – I recommend that you get a full lipid profile done:  total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and Triglycerides. You should see a dramatic improvement in these numbers of the months and even years that you’re eating a vegan diet.
  • Fasting glucose – A healthy vegan diet can have a strong protective effect when it comes to diabetes. You should notice a decrease in fasting glucose over a period of weeks to months.
  • HbA1c – A measure of your average glucose over a 3 month period.
  • C-Reactive protein – This measures inflammation in the body. When eating a clean vegan diet,  the level of inflammation should decrease significantly.
  • Thyroid – Get a TSH and T4 test done, but also measure free T3  if possible.  Sometimes thyroid will decrease if you lower calorie intake on your diet and this is perfectly normal.
  • Hormones – I recommend that both men and women get levels of testosterone and estrogen tested.
  • Liver Panel – This will measure the levels of enzymes and proteins produced by your liver. Sometimes you might see slight elevations in liver enzymes after beginning the diet, but are usually within normal limits and return to normal over time.
  • Renal function – This measures things like potassium, sodium and other electrolytes.
  • Folate and B12 – One of the most important things in a vegan diet is making sure you get adequate B12 somehow (I recommend you supplement). It would be a good idea to get this tested often, especially in the first few years of the diet. Every 6-12 months should be fine.
  • Vitamin D – Get a 25-hydroxy vitamin-D test done. You can repeat this in the summer and in the winter to see where your levels go at different times of the year and supplement when needed.

Other tests

There are also several other things you can measure when you start the diet. Some of these you can do from home, and other things you can see the doctor for.

  • Check your weight – on a weekly or bi-weekly basis you should keep track of your weight loss
  • Measure your blood pressure – I recommend you buy a blood pressure monitor and do it from home, which may be a more accurate reading than one taken in the doctor’s office for some people.
  • Check fat percentage – You’ll notice that your body composition on a vegan diet will change over time. You should lose fat and maintain muscle. Doing some exercise in addition to the diet will help you keep fit and look good.
  • Check body temperature – A slight decrease in body temperature is sometimes noticed when you go on a diet. This is perfectly normal and it’s the way the body adapts to a decrease in energy intake. A lower body temperature is also one indicator of a longer lifespan in animals and humans.

If you’re really interested in testing your biological age and your overall health, there are many health centers popping up all over the place which will do more extensive testing.

As long as you measure the basics you’re good! 🙂

Any questions about starting a vegan diet, please feel free to ask!

Growing Long Hair On A Vegan Diet

Tips For Growing Long, Thick, Shiny Hair On A Vegan Diet

For anyone that has been reading this blog for a while, you’ll have noticed that I have been letting my hair grow long for quite some time now while being on a vegan diet.

In 2012 my hair was just around my neck, but now, when straightened out, it’s much longer

That is a lot of hair growth for just over two years.

It’s easy to grow long hair on a vegan diet when you give your body what it needs. Supplements like these are also very helpful for vegans, as a vegan diet can easily be short in some nutrients.

If you’re new to a vegan diet, go here to check out my guide to starting a vegan diet.

Growing long hair on a vegetarian and vegan diet

So anyway, I’ve been experimenting with two things in the last few months: licorice root extract and spearmint tea. Both of these are able to significantly decrease the level of testosterone which is converted to DHT and causes hair to fall out.

They are pretty weak inhibitors compared to medications, but they will help slow down any hair loss at least.

For more powerful DHT blockers you would need something like Finasteride.

A low-calorie diet can reduce testosterone also, and might be one of the reasons I have kept my hair and my father and grandfather did not.

Judging by my father’s pictures, he had a significant amount of hair loss by his early 30s, but I’ve managed to maintain my hair’s thickness and I don’t seem to be following the same path as he did.

He obviously led a very different lifestyle, so perhaps that is a factor. Maybe I just don’t have the genes that predispose me to hair loss at an early age?

Either way, what I’m doing is working for me and I’m able to grow my hair super long!

Hair Growth Since Going On A Vegan Diet

Since going vegan, I had expected my hair growth to slow down. I’ve been vegetarian since 2007, but that didn’t seem to affect hair growth at all.  I’ve been anticipating the decrease in levels of growth hormone and IGF-1, and because of this, I thought my hair growth would at least slow down somewhat, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

In fact, my hair is probably thicker and healthier than before!  I’ve not been very good when it comes to trimming the ends, so I have even had some breakage. Apart from the last inch or so, my hair is pretty healthy. (I need to get a trim soon!)

I’ve heard people say that vegans tend to have “thin hair”, but this might be because of various reasons. One thing you must understand is that any significant weight loss will cause hair to fall out, but it does grow back.

For women, the main cause of hair loss is usually not related to DHT, so there are likely other factors like stress, illness, childbirth, autoimmune diseases. Increased levels of androgens can play a role, to a smaller degree, and usually later on in life.

My growth since going on a vegan diet has been great. If you do the right things, I’m sure you can grow long hair too.

Growing Long Hair On A Vegan Diet: Should Vegans Take Supplements To Grow Long Hair?

growing long hair on a vegan diet

Maintaining a good balance of minerals like copper and zinc is very important.  Zinc is important for hair growth, and this might be one reason for hair loss on a plant-based diet.

Getting an adequate amount of essential fats like omega 3 from sources like flaxseed is also important. Vegans can also be low in iron or B12 levels, so it’s worth testing those.

The more restrictive your diet becomes, the more attention you have to pay to get everything in the right amount and right balance.

Some of the best sources of biotin are from animal products, so it’s not uncommon for vegetarians or vegans to have a low intake of biotin.

Biotin is very important when it comes to growing long hair on a vegan diet. The main functions of biotin is a major co-factor in carbon dioxide metabolism. It’s important in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, and proper functioning of the nervous system.

Biotin supplements might help those of us who do not eat meat or other animal products maintain our hair growth or speed it up. Many people report that they get a boost in hair growth using biotin, but a few people report breakouts when taking high dose biotin. For some, this goes away as the body gets used to it, but you’ll have to experiment.


Vegan Hair Supplements

When going vegan, you can be at risk of being deficient in Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and Zinc. I also recommend that if you’re trying to grow out your hair, you also take a supplement which contains biotin.

Below are different supplements aimed specifically at helping hair growth on a vegan diet.

Hair Anew – Supplement for hair, skin, and nails (suitable for vegans)

Hair Anew is aimed to address the deficiencies which may cause slow hair growth. It contains a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals, making it a great supplement to take if you’re trying to improve the rate of growth and hair health while being on a vegan diet.

The main ingredients:

Biotin – The supplement contains a large dose of biotin (5000 mcg). Biotin is one of the most well-known ingredients for improving hair growth and strength.

Zinc – This mineral can be low in vegan diets, and can lead to hair loss and other health problems. If you’re eating a lot of plant-based foods, then high intakes of copper in the diet may cause secondary zinc deficiency.

I really love that they included zinc in the supplement as it can help prevent acne. Some people are prone to getting breakouts with biotin, but this can be prevented by taking zinc for some.

Vitamin C – Important for helping build and strengthen collagen and keratin in the hair.

Silica – Promotes strength of protein fibers, collagen and helps skin, nails, and hair stay youthful looking.

Ginko – Improvs blood flow to the skin and hair follicles to deliver nutrients for well-nourished hair follicles. 🙂

This has become one of my favorite hair supplements and one that I will often recommend to other vegans.

See more details here 


Deva Vitamins For Growing Hair

Deva hair supplement is a budget hair vitamin, but it does contain a lot for the price.

I would recommend this supplement only as a ‘next best option’ for vegans who want a hair supplement but are on a budget. It contains many different vitamins and minerals which are known to help support and promote hair growth.

The supplement goes for a conservatively low dose of each vitamin and mineral. It only contains about 500 mcg of Biotin, which is very low if you compare it with HairAnew which has 5000 mcg!

Deva hair vitamins also contain just 200 IU of vitamin D2, which is a very tiny amount considering it’s recommended we get at least 1000 IU a day.

On the plus side, Deva Hair Vitamins contains different plant/herb extracts such as horsetail, fenugreek and others which can help boost hair growth.

See more details here


Vitamin D3 and B12 Gummies for Vegans

One of the main risks of being vegan is the development of a B12 deficiency.

It is crucial that all vegans take a vitamin B12 supplement or risk serious health consequences. B12 is cheap and easily available and comes in different forms.

Several studies have now shown that the majority of vegans who do not supplement are either deficient or critically low in B12.

Two findings from recent studies looking at levels of B12 in vegans:

  • 52% of vegans were deficient in vitamin B12 when measuring levels of B12 in the blood.
  • In another study where they measured levels of MMA (a better measurement of B12 status), they found 92% of vegans had very low levels of B12!

Therefore, it is extremely important that all vegans get vitamin B12 somehow. Supplementing them is perfectly fine and is very safe.

Vitamin D3 is also very important for good hair growth. Low levels of 25(OH)D3 can lead to many health issues, including hair thinning.

See more details here.


Tips On How To Grow Long Hair 

I don’t really use anything special on my hair, just normal products from the store that I mentioned in an earlier post. I make sure that I eat an extremely healthy diet and try to look after my hair the best that I can.

Much of it may come down to genetics, but there are some things which will help you achieve your terminal length more quickly. For what it’s worth, here are some basic tips for growing long hair on a vegan diet:

  • Train yourself to wash less frequently. At first this might be difficult because of the oil build up, but eventually, the scalp adapts and starts producing less oil. The more you wash out the natural oils, the more the scalp will respond by secreting more oils. Also, frequent washing can cause your hair to break and become brittle.
  • Don’t always tie your hair back or have hairstyles that will pull the hair too much. I tend to wear my hair loose.
  • Never brush your hair when it’s wet! I see people do this all the time and it’s one of the worst things you can do. Wait until the hair has dried a bit first before you brush it.
  • When brushing, start from the bottom. Hold the hair above the point where you’re brushing. Keep doing this until you make your way up to the top. Brushing from the top to the ends of the hair can pull hair out. Brush gently and take your time.
  • Try to let your hair dry naturally without heat. If you have to use a hairdryer, then use a low heat setting. If you use any sort of heat styling, then use heat protection sprays. (it’s preferable to just avoid heating styling altogether or do it less often if you can).
  • Take a multivitamin to make sure you’re getting all of the essential nutrients. Experiment to see if it makes any difference to your hair growth. If you notice things improve when you take a supplement, then go and look at your diet to see what is missing or out of balance.
  • Use a clarifying shampoo or anti-residue shampoo. Every week or two I recommend that you use a mild anti-residue shampoo. This will take away all the product build up that is making the hair seem more dull and limp than usual. If you’ve ever noticed that after a while your shampoo doesn’t seem to work as well, then it’s worth trying something like this to get the best results.
  • Don’t bleach your hair. This is one of the worst things you can do.
  • Use sulfate-free shampoos for your regular use shampoo
  • Use a decent quality hair brush 

Vegan Foods To Grow Long Hair

avocado for shiny hairIt is the nutrients we get from the food that we eat which helps support the body for optimal hair growth. Below is a list of vegan foods to grow healthy thick hair.

Before taking vegan supplements to support hair growth, it’s always best to get quality nutrition from your diet first.

Growing long hair on a vegan diet is only difficult when you fail get the essential nutrients in your diet.

You can easily supplement anything that you fall short on, but you shouldn’t really on supplements entirely either.

Growing long hair when you’re vegan is sometimes harder because it’s easier to fall short on calories and essential nutrients. Many of the foods that are eaten by the average non-vegan have been fortified with nutrients.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with minerals that help support hair growth. They provide minerals like copper, potassium, magnesium, and iron. They are also loaded with vitamin A and vitamin C. It’s easy to consume lots of leafy greens every day by using them in a green smoothie!

Beans  

Beans are a great source of protein for a vegan. There are many different varieties to choose from and go well with many different dishes. Beans also help you control blood sugar because of their fiber. The hair is made up of protein, and beans are a great way to get what you need.

Oatmeal 

Oatmeal is one of the best ways to start the day. 100 grams of Oatmeal contains up to 500 mg of silica. These minerals will help improve the quality and strength of your hair. Eating fruits and nuts with your oatmeal is also a great idea to pack in some extra nutrition.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta-carotene. Some of this beta-carotene will get converted to vitamin A. A lack of vitamin A in the diet can cause poor skin (scalp and face) and poor hair quality. Vitamin A is essential for cell growth and differentiation.

Avocado

Avocado is high in fat, but the good kind. Eating an Avocado every day or even just a few times a week will make your hair appear shinier because it contains fatty acids such as ALA which can be converted to EPA and DHA.

Green Tea

Green tea is very high in antioxidants like EGCG. Green tea also helps block DHT which is a hormone that can attack hair follicles and cause hair loss – especially in men.

Green Tea is thought to inhibit 5 alpha-reductase type 1, and so improve hair and skin health. Green tea also contains l-theanine which helps relax you by increasing alpha waves in the brain. Add ginger to increase the anti-inflammatory power of the drink.

 

My hair in 2014 – 2 years of hair growth on a Vegan diet

I hope these tips allow you to keep growing long hair on a vegan diet.  Growing long hair can be fun, but it’s not easy to keep up with the maintenance sometimes. Many people just resort to cutting their hair before they ever get to their desired length because of the damage that occurs over time. Many of the tips I’ve shared he will help ensure that you can maintain healthy hair on a vegan diet (or any diet for that matter).

As you can tell from my pictures, it is possible to have quite thick hair on a vegan diet. It’s not true that you are doomed to have your hair fall out because of lack of protein or essential nutrients. Although my protein intake is quite low as a vegan, you can see that I’ve managed to maintain healthy and thick hair even after seasonal hair fall (which is normal).

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