There are several key supplements worth noting for those following a strict plant-based diet as there could be deficiencies when following such a plan. Any dosage recommendations or use of supplements should first be discussed with your general practitioner.
B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production.
Dosage: It is typically found in animal-based products and supplementing with at least 100mcg B-12 per day is the ideal.
Fish oil contains the essential omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are known to provide several health and performance benefits due to their highly anti-inflammatory properties. From a health perspective these fatty acids appear to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, while from a performance aspect they can help to prevent muscle breakdown, enhance joint healing, improve brain function and achieve greater fat loss. Aside from the benefits of this alone, it is important to balance Omega 3: Omega 6 ratios within the body. A plant-based diet is lacking in O3, and many of the typical foods eaten will promote a higher state of O6, creating a higher inflammatory response in the body.
Dosage: Take a total EPA/DHA value of 1-2g per meal per day. If fish derived oil is out of the question, you can purchase an algae derived product instead.
Getting adequate protein into a plant-based diet can be difficult, so adding a plant derived powder to the diet is hugely beneficial. I suggest pea, hemp and rice-based powders. Pea protein is the most “bio-available” meaning it is the most readily absorbed and able to be utilized in the body.
Dosage: Specific to the individual and their daily needs
A diet low in dairy products can lead to calcium deficiencies. Plant based milks are great for this too, as many are fortified with added calcium e.g. coconut milk. Always pick the unsweetened options.
Dosage: 600mg a day via supplementation or plant-based products
Many animal-based foods contain the most valuable form of vitamin D, the D3 variety. Therefore, when following a plant-based diet it is even more important to supplement with vitamin D, via increased sun exposure or capsule form.
Dosage: 2500-5000IU per day of Vitamin D3 in liquid or capsule form.
While all athletes can benefit from creatine supplementation, vegans and vegetarians receive even more benefits. Creatine is a natural substance found in the muscle of animals. For those who consume meat, dietary creatine can already be helping in their athletic performance. For vegans and vegetarians, there aren’t any real sources of dietary creatine. This means that they are already running with a low supply of this important nutrient. In fact, even non-athletic vegans and vegetarians would probably benefit from adding a creatine supplement to their diet in order to maintain healthy levels. It may seem odd to suggest taking a performance supplement if you’re not an athlete, but creatine has been found to have more benefits than just making you stronger and helping you reach peak performance; aids in injury prevention, recovery, and brain health / function.
Dosage: 5g per day
Plant-based proteins are very low in essential amino acids, and without animal or dairy-based protein, it’s harder for vegetarians and vegans to get a quality supply of nutrients. Most plant-based proteins are not void of all essential amino acids, just certain ones, and which ones vary from food to food. You must combine plant proteins strategically throughout the day to provide a complete fill of all essential amino acids. As a safeguard, adding in an Essential Amino Acid drink will help bridge the gap in for missing amino acids from dietary intake.
Dosage: Specific to the individual and their daily needs. Generally recommended intra or post-workout for athletes.