Any look at the shelves of grocery stores or the menus of trendy restaurants will tell you that vegan and plant-based diets are growing in popularity. Indeed, what was once a market worth $15.4 billion in 2020 is expected to grow to $26.1 billion by 2026. Much of this growth is due to increased awareness about the health benefits associated with plant-based diets, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.
But as popular as plant-based eating is, the wellness market has yet to catch up with this trend, as vegan supplement options remain hard to find. Not only that, as The Washington Post reports, the majority of new dietary supplement ingredients are “introduced to the market without any safety evaluation by the FDA because of ‘loopholes, vague language in the law, and lack of industry compliance.’”
This leaves it up to vegan consumers to educate themselves on how to find the best vegan supplements. Check out this guide below to learn what steps you can take to make sure you’re only buying plant-based — and buying the best.
Supplements for Vegans
While it’s ideal to get most of your essential nutrients through diet, supplementation is a great way for vegans — or anyone — to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.
Vegans in particular can experience deficiencies in calcium, B vitamins such as B-12, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. With this in mind, they can benefit from adding these important supplements for vegans to their diets:
- B complex vitamin for energy
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids (as hemp seed oil)
But staying healthy isn’t just about preventing deficiencies. If you’re looking to boost your wellness, you may want to consider adding the following superfoods and supplements to your regimen as well:
- Turmeric for its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Nettle quercetin as a natural way to ease allergies and lower blood pressure and inflammation
- Probiotics to keep the gut balanced and boost immune function
- Full spectrum CBD for its therapeutic effects on sleep, pain, inflammation, anxiety, and general well-being
Steps for Finding the Best Vegan Supplements
Step #1: Avoid Animal-Based Ingredients
Obviously, the first thing you’ll want to watch for when picking out a vegan supplement is animal byproducts, which are most notably found in capsules as gelatin. Other common animal byproducts that may show up in wellness products include:
- Bee pollen
- Hyaluronic acid made from rooster combs (there are vegan sources as well)
- Vitamin D3 from animal sources such as fish oil or boiled sheep’s wool (a good vegan-friendly source is lichen)
- Chondroitin, which comes from the connective tissues of sharks or cows
- Glycerine, which can come from animal sources such as tallow (look for vegan sources like ethically sourced palm oil glycerine)
- Digestive enzymes, which may be derived from animals such as lambs and calves
- EPA and DHA omega-3 which come from fish and seafood (opt for vegan-friendly hemp seed oil instead)
Step #2: Look for Certifications
This might come as a surprise to many health-conscious consumers, but according to the FDA.gov, “The FDA does NOT have the authority to approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness, or to approve their labeling, before the supplements are sold to the public.”
Fortunately a number of third-party organizations exist in the food and supplements industry to help consumers identify trustworthy manufacturers and products. Here are some of the certifications to look for when researching vegan supplement brands:
- USDA Organic: This tells you that at least 95 percent of a product’s ingredients are organic and free of genetic engineering, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, and irradiation.
- Non-GMO Project: This means a product contains absolutely no genetically modified ingredients.
- BSCG: BSCG (Banned Substances Control Group) offers a number of certifications including BSCG Certified Quality™ which indicates that products have been tested to confirm their ingredients match what’s on the label and ensures they are free of heavy metals, microbiological agents, pesticides, and chemical solvents.
- cGMP: This stands for “current good manufacturing practices,” a set of standards created by the FDA. This designation indicates that a facility abides by these guidelines to help ensure products are made reliably and safely with regard to quality and purity.
- Detox Project: The Detox Project certifies products meet strict quality standards and are free of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the world.
- ISO: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental organization that develops standards to ensure consistency, safety, and sound business practices.
Step 3: Read the Product Label Carefully
When shopping in a hurry, it’s tempting to quickly scan packaging or online product listings, but take a moment to carefully read the label or product description. First of all, watch out for health claims such as “prevents migraines” or “builds muscle mass,” which dietary supplements are legally prohibited from making.
Generally speaking, opt for products that have ingredients you can easily pronounce or recognize as real foods or dietary ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and amino acids, rather than pharmaceutical or chemical names. Look for other words that indicate quality such as “organic,” “raw,” and “sprouted.” If you notice words such as “blend” or “complex,” exercise caution, as these signifiers mean manufacturers don’t have to specify the exact proportions of each ingredient and may potentially lead to misleading labeling.
Also, it’s best to avoid products with the following ingredients, according to Daily Burn:
- Artificial flavors or colors
- Extracts, which generally speaking, tend to be produced using chemical processing
- Carrageenan, which may be linked to inflammation and was removed from the National Organics Standards Board approved organic foods list in 2016
- Hydrogenated oils
- Magnesium stearate which may prevent nutrient absorption and inhibit immune function
- Titanium oxide, which can impair the immune system
Step #4: Conduct a Deep Dive for Unregulated Products
Some wellness categories are less regulated than others — or they may be so popular that the number of choices can be overwhelming. A great example is the CBD industry, which is currently not categorized as a dietary supplement by the FDA and is therefore totally unregulated — and it also happens to be one of the hottest markets out there. As such, it’s attracted its fair share of fly-by-night brands looking to make a quick buck. Not surprisingly, the FDA warns that many CBD products don’t even contain the amount of CBD advertised on the label.
This is where it pays to do your due diligence so you can known what constitutes high quality — whether you’re looking for CBD or any other supplement.
For example, here are some things to know about finding the highest quality vegan CBD products:
- Look for Certificates of Analyses (COAs): COAs document lab testing performed on CBD products and will be provided by any reputable manufacturer in the industry. Examining a COA is the best way for consumers to ensure they’re getting the exact amount of CBD or other cannabinoids listed on the product label. It also shows whether or not the product is free of heavy metals, mold, chemical solvents, and other unwanted contaminants.
- Opt for full spectrum products in lieu of isolate and broad spectrum CBD: Full spectrum CBD contains the full range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds, which work together synergistically in what’s known as the “entourage effect” for maximum benefits.
- Find out which extraction method is used: Choose products that utilize clean and eco-friendly extraction methods such as CO2 extraction to avoid the presence of chemical additives and to maximize potency.
- Watch out for animal byproducts: Most CBD gelcaps are made with animal byproducts such as gelatin, so check the label carefully to ensure you’re getting 100% plant-based capsules.
The Only 100% Vegan CBD Capsules on the Market
Looking for relief from pain, or anxiety, or sleep issues? Research shows CBD can help with these ailments and more. At NuLeaf Naturals, we’re proud to offer 100% plant-powered products. In fact our full spectrum CBD oil and other cannabinoid tinctures contain only two ingredients, full spectrum hemp extract and organic virgin hemp seed oil. While CBD oil is a popular choice, our CBD capsules offer easy, on-the-go access to CBD’s therapeutic powers whenever you need it. All of our products are manufactured in ISO- and cGMP-certified facilities and lab-tested to ensure there are no additives.
Do you have questions about our products?
Our Expert Team is here to help via these convenient options:
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