What supplements do we really need? Why are health shops full of plastic bottles, with gelatine supplements? Know what to eat and that empowers you to know what to say no to. If you do need supplements after that, here are some better brands. Recycle unwanted supplements at the pharmacy, don’t flush them down the loo. Also see the post on plant-based omega 3 supplements and zero waste beauty supplements.
NHS recommends folic acid, for women up to 12 weeks after conception (and when trying to conceive) to help prevent spina bifida in babies. There are many foods to avoid in pregnancy which include some fish.
They also say for pregnant women to avoid cod liver oil and vitamin-A high foods (liver sausage or pate).
If you are vegan and eat well (with a few fortified foods), you should be fine. But most likely prefer to take a multi-supplement, just to be safe. Those awful stories of parents whose vegan babies died, usually are due to feeding homemade nut milks, instead of proper formula.
Better Brands of Supplements
Vegums makes vegan fruity gummy vitamins, sold in cardboard boxes or metal tins. This brand was created by two plant-based working pharmacists, who know their vitamins and minerals, and wanted to do something to help people, animals and the planet. You can buy one-off packs or subscribe for savings, and the company also offers discounts for students.
Talk to your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding or if on medication, before use. Vegums do not recommend the Multivitamin for pregnant or nursing women. These gums are made from sweetened fruit, so keep them safely away from pets and children.
Your first order arrives in a cardboard tube, with a month’s supply of Vegums in a click-clack metal tin, that you can keep topped up for travel. The wrappers are made from biodegradable cornstarch and can go straight in the compost bin, with your potato peelings.
You can reuse the cardboard containers as pen holders, coffee pots or piggy banks. You can also reuse them as plant pots. If so, see pet-toxic houseplants to avoid (also avoid cocoa, pine or recycled rubber mulch near pets). And don’t place foliage near windows (see how to stop birds flying into windows).
The range includes:
The Multivitamin includes a wide range of everyday nutrients. Simply take 2 a day for anyone over 12 and one a day for 3 to 12-year olds. The water-soluble vitamins are flavoured with strawberries and a little cane sugar, and coloured with black carrot extract for a juicy red colour.
Iron Gummies are good for people who need extra iron, like those with anaemia. These blackberry-flavoured gummy bears give 14mg of iron, enough for a female adult’s recommendation, and again are sweetened with beet sugar and coloured with black carrot extract.
Feel makes therapeutic-dose supplements in wood capsules.
These zero waste beauty supplements offer a plastic-free alternative to the millions of people who take them. You know the type: take a pill each day for a month, for stronger hair, nails and skin. Of course, what you eat is far more important. But if you need a helping hand and take these, then here are some better choices.
Feel Beauty Probiotic offers quality vegan hair/skin/nail supplements, in compostable packaging. One pot of 60 capsules lasts a month (take with food), for a powerful formula to maintain healthy hair, skin, nails and gut. Amazing results in weeks. If you eat a few nuts, seeds or hemp, you are fine for DHA (for skin and nails). If you need EHA (for eyes, heart, brain etc), it’s better to use one of these, if safe to do so.
Designed for age 16 and over, talk to your doctor if pregnant or on medication and read their FAQ.
Raw Beauty Lab offers a wholesome collagen builder supplement, to boost elastic and even skin texture, as well as supporting healthy nails, hair and joints. Unlike bovine or marine collagen, vegan collage contains a blend of antioxidant-rich superfoods that also smooth out fine lines.
Not everyone needs omega 3 supplements. But for those who take them, know that you don’t have to get them from fish. Not only are they contributing to cruelty (and probably loading you up with mercury), but they also contribute to the fishing waste and by-catch problems. Just get your omega 3s from the same place the fish get them – algae.
If you eat a few nuts, seeds or hemp, you are fine for DHA (for skin and nails). If you need EHA (for eyes, heart, brain etc), avoid fish oil as it may have mercury and causes by-catch (other creatures caught in fishing nets). Each year, this kills 300,000 whales and dolphins, and 250,000 turtles.
Bloom makes omega 3 supplements from the same place that fish get them (algae). Sold in a zero waste jar with metal lid.
Their site has full information on administering for pregnancy and/or children. For older children, they recommend splitting the capsule and pouring oil into food or drink. Talk to your doctor if pregnant or on medication.
Vegums Fish-Free Omega 3 are packed with good fats from marine algae, for eyes, skin, heart and brain. These are orange-flavoured, and sweetened with a little beet sugar. Again take 1 or 2 a day, depending on age.
These gums are made from sweetened fruit, so keep them safely away from pets and children. You can reuse the cardboard containers as pen holders, coffee pots or piggy banks.
You can also reuse them as plant pots. If so, see pet-toxic houseplants to avoid (also avoid cocoa, pine or recycled rubber mulch near pets). And don’t place foliage near windows (see how to stop birds flying into windows).
Plastic-free prenatal supplements are few and far between. It’s worth noting that NHS says that not many are needed anyway, so think on that before you start buying up the health store (some could be dangerous).
What’s more important is simply to eat a balanced healthy diet, and get regular gentle exercise. But when you’re pregnant, or there’s a chance you might get pregnant, you should take a folic acid supplement. The only supplement it recommends is 400 micrograms of folic acid daily (2020) from before conception until you are 12 weeks pregnant, this is to reduce development problems in the early weeks. A few women with higher chance of neural tube defects may be advised to take a higher dose, if there is a family history, if you have diabetes or take certain medicines.
It also suggests taking a general prenatal supplement that’s safe. Don’t take cod liver oil, as too much vitamin A could harm. And there are many foods to avoid while you are expecting including:
- Mouldy, blue and unpasteurised cheeses
- Cold cured meats, liver, undercooked and game meats
- Raw or partially cooked eggs
- Too much oily fish or tuna steaks
- Limit caffeine & alcohol (ideally none)
- No more than 4 (safe) herb teas daily
- Liquorice root
- Fruits, veggies or salads with soil on them
- Sometimes peanuts (if advised)
The following supplement is okay for vegans, who need to ensure they get extra iron and vitamin B12 during pregnancy. Although women who qualify for Healthy Start Vouchers can use them for supplements, there is presently a campaign ongoing, as the supplements are not vegan-friendly, which does not seem fair.
Nourished Prenatal Nutrients
Nourished Prenatal Nutrients are sent in compostable packaging, unlike most. They include folic acid to help prevent spina bifida too, as should any reputable supplement for pregnancy. This nurturing blend of 7 highly researched active ingredients is available on subscription, each box contains 28 chewable vegan gummies (fruity, so keep away from pets and children) in plastic-free packaging. Compared to traditional pills, Nourished has 99% higher efficacy and 70% higher absorption. The blend includes:
- Folic acid
- Milk thistle extract
- K2 Vita Delta
- Vegan algae D3
- Ginger extract (in safe dose – pregnant women should not take excess ginger in pregnancy, as it can contract the uterus)
The supplement is designed to help foetus development, breast milk production and energy levels, and protect against nausea and headaches. It has natural sweeteners (does not mention pet-lethal xylitol so hopefully is free of it, keep supplements away from pets anyway).
The Importance of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important vitamin, but too much can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, frequent urination, bone pain and kidney stones. Most people get enough vitamin D from sunlight in summer but not in winter. And people who cover their hands and face (like some Muslims) and people who don’t go outside also need it (the millions of people who have been shielding would need it, for instance).
NHS recommends taking a supplement in these cases and during winter months. Talk to your midwife or GP, regards pregnancy, babies and children as most need supplements. Vitamin D is only found in a few (animal) foods. So choose fortified plant milks and cereals, and use a good D2 supplement (made from algae, not sheep’s wool).
Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy is by a registered dietitian/professor of nutrition, if you are raising yourself and/or your baby plant-based. Includes tips & 50 simple recipes.
These organic protein shakes from Wales are sent in compostable letter-box friendly packaging, if you need a little health boost. Everything is made with natural healthy ingredients. Keep chocolate away from pets, use a letterbox guard for home delivery. Fit Box is a protein shake selection. This is a carefully chosen selection of award-winning protein blends and powders (also sold as a gift hamper) including:
Nutrient Pure Protein Powder has over 55% protein, made with cocoa and vanilla, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar
- Super Protein Powder (contains hemp and pea protein plus maca, beetroot and lacuma that is good for building muscles
- Hemp Protein is rich in essential fatty acids and other nutrients.
- Pea Protein can help your body absorb calcium and has a lot of amino acids, to build tissue and muscle
- Rice Protein is easily digested so good on gentle stomachs, can help to speed up the metabolism.
- Organic drinking chocolate is made with quality Ecuadorian cacao and Madagascan vanilla, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar
- Smoothie recipe card & information
The organic wellbeing blend is a blend of 7 organic raw superfoods including barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, sea chlorella, hemp protein, Romanian beetroot and kelp (check with your doctor if on medication, before drinking/eating lots of greens).