January is synonymous with new goals and fresh starts. Case in point: It’s “Veganuary”—a movement where people go vegan for the month of January (and possibly beyond).
Maybe you’ve decided to give Veganuary a shot. Or maybe you’re focused on managing symptoms of a digestive disorder.
Here’s the science behind important supplements for anyone on a plant-based diet, as well as new research on digestive health products for those with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Nutrients for vegans
A carefully planned vegan diet that includes supplementation can supply all necessary nutrients for people to thrive. It’s important to be mindful of several key nutrients. According to a 2017 study, “With a purely plant-based (vegan) diet, intake of vitamin B12, DHA, zinc, protein, iron, calcium, and iodine is critical.”
The surest way to get vitamin B12
Supplementation is needed to ensure vegans get enough B12. Several options are available. In a 2019 study, researchers compared vegans who supplemented with a high weekly sublingual dose of 2,000 mcg of vitamin B12 versus a low daily sublingual dose of 50 mcg (lower doses tend to be easier to absorb). The researchers found that both methods increased B12 levels in the body in those with a marginal deficiency.
The trouble with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
In a 2019 study, scientists found that although vegans and vegetarians tend to consume healthy fats such as flaxseeds, they tend to have low levels of DHA—a type of healthy fat found in fatty fish. Unfortunately, the conversion of other fats to DHA is very low. Thankfully, there appears to be promise in supplementation with algal forms of DHA for vegans.
Hope for digestive disorders
Prebiotics for IBD
Often referred to as “food” for beneficial bacteria, prebiotic fiber is showing promise for those suffering from IBD. Inulin, a type of soluble prebiotic fiber found in many plants, was highlighted in a new study. Researchers concluded, “Preclinical and clinical data revealed that the gut mucosal barrier would be improved by the use of prebiotics in IBD.”
Probiotics and vitamin D for IBS
Probiotics are often recommended for IBS, and research is ongoing. A 2019 study highlighted Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains as a superstar combination to team up against IBS.
Vitamin D is also in the spotlight for its hard work against IBS. There are many potential mechanisms for vitamin D’s effects, including regulating the microbiome, releasing antimicrobial peptides, and modulating the immune system and inflammation processes. Research is being done to uncover more details.
A nutritionally complete diet—whether you’re trying out veganism or managing digestive challenges—can be yours. It starts with a trip to your natural health retailer.