How to avoid deficiencies on a plant-based diet

This World Vegan Month, BetterYou expains how to maintain energy levels on a plant-based diet 

According to The Vegan Society, there are currently 600,000 vegans in the UK – equating to 1.16% of the population – with a further 28% identifying as ‘meat reducers’.

As admirable as that may be, following a vegan or plant-based diet can have a significant impact on nutrient levels within the body and increase the likelihood of deficiencies.

More specifically, those following a plant-based diet are more at risk of reduced B12 levels and iron deficiency, says natural health company BetterYou.

Iron is a vital component of haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to transport it throughout the body. A lack of iron within the body can cause tiredness and fatigue, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

The most absorbable form of iron, heme iron, is primarily derived from meat products – meaning vegetarians and vegans must find iron from other sources.

Another form of iron, known as nonheme iron, can be found in cereals, beans and some vegetables but, according to BetterYou, this has notoriously poor absorption levels.


“The soaring rise in popularity of vegan and plant-based diets is one of the key factors behind why more and more people are finding themselves nutrient deficient,” says Greg Weatherhead, who is a nutritional expert at BetterYou.

“While it does have its advantages such as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, removing food groups from your diet can also remove essential nutrients.”

As with iron, meaningful levels of vitamin B12 are largely found in meat products.

Vitamin B12 helps the body’s ability to reduce the onset of fatigue and increases concentration levels as well as contributing to normal homocysteine metabolism.

B12 is generally not present in plant foods, there are fortified breakfast cereals available, however this vitamin is notoriously difficult to absorb in the gut. At most, only 1 per cent of our dietary intake will be absorbed by the body.

“It can be difficult for those on vegan diets to obtain adequate levels of essential nutrients from natural sources alone, so supplementing is the best way to ensure good health,” says Greg.

To support World Vegan Month, natural health company BetterYou has launched a brand-new Vegan Energy Bundle to help maintain health and contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

The bundle, which is Vegetarian Society and Vegan Approved, contains Iron and Boost B12 Oral Sprays.

Containing 100% vegan friendly formulations, the sprays are specially designed to be absorbed into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system.

An oral spray is an effective and convenient method of supplementation compared to traditional tablets and capsules by elevating nutrient levels and delivering nutrients into the bloodstream via the soft tissue within the mouth avoiding the digestive system.

The Vegan Energy Bundle, including Iron Oral Spray and Boost B12 Oral Spray, is available online at BetterYou.


Could taking vitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of autism?

New research has found that women who took multivitamins and folic acid either before or during pregnancy were significantly less likely to have a child who went on to develop autism spectrum disorder.
The study (featured in JAMA Psychiatry) followed 45,300 Israeli children (of which around half were girls) born in 2003-2007 and checked for a diagnosis of autism up until January 2015. During this time, 572 (1.3%) children received a diagnosis of autism.
Dietitian Dr Carrie Ruxton of the Health and Food Supplements Information Service said: “The results showed a 61% reduced risk of autism when mothers had taken either a multivitamin and/or folic acid supplement prior to becoming pregnant. It was also found that mothers who took these vitamin supplements during pregnancy were 73% less likely to have a child who went on to be diagnosed as autistic.
“While this is an observational study and we need to be cautious, it is an important finding which contributes to our body of knowledge on factors linked with autism.
“Around 75% of women of childbearing age in the UK have an inadequate folate status putting their children at risk of neural tube disorders, such as spina bifida. Only a quarter of women take the recommended folic acid supplements before conception and in the first trimester of pregnancy. It is possible, given these new findings, that a lack of key nutrients may also be an issue for autism risk”.
“According to autism charities, over 695,000 people in the UK may be autistic, with a prevalence rate of 1.1% in children. Taking a daily multivitamin is a useful way of ensuring that women have the nutrients they require. If planning a pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms should be added to this.”

Are you getting enough Vitamin D?

Nearly two thirds (64%) of Brits have dangerously low Vitamin D levels – partly because it’s impossible to get the required amount of sunshine in autumn and winter in the UK.
That’s according to research by VEGA Nutritionals, whose recent survey found that, after being tested, 53% of people in Scotland were Vitamin D deficient.
The study also found that while 19% of Scots are aware of the government’s recommendation that everyone in Scotland should take Vitamin D supplements, only 17% actually do.
Why everyone needs their Vitamin D 
“Vitamin D has many health benefits; it supports healthy bones, teeth, muscle growth and the immune system, all helping to keep you going through cold and flu season,” says VEGA Nutritionals.
“Sunshine is the best natural source of Vitamin D, but from now through to spring, we’re not going to get enough of it. In fact, it’s impossible to get the required amount of ultraviolet (UVB) sunshine to enable the skin to make adequate Vitamin D levels during the British autumn and winter.
“That’s why in 2016, the Department of Health (DoH) issued an official recommendation that every single person in the UK should supplement their diet with 10μg (micrograms) of Vitamin D every day throughout autumn and winter.”
Why Scotland needs the ‘D’ factor 
“Numerous studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone diseases, such as rickets, osteoporosis, factures and falls.  Vitamin D absorbs and regulates calcium and phosphate in the body.  Both are needed for healthy bones, teeth and muscle growth.  They also support our immune system to fight illnesses such as cancer and heart disease, as well as depression and obesity. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D protects against colds. So, it is vital for us to get our required daily amount.
“Large numbers of the UK population are at particular risk.  These include some ethnic groups with dark skin who may not get enough Vitamin D from natural sunlight year-round. Also vulnerable are people with little exposure to sun, such as those who cover most of their skin whilst they are outdoors or people who do not spend much time outside. This can include the elderly or people living in institutions such as care homes, as well as babies and small children.”
Why city living compounds the issue
“Sixty per cent of people living and working in urban areas are at a greater risk of Vitamin D deficiency in winter, with 16% of Londoners at risk all year round.  The new survey found that the UK’s northernmost cities, at highest risk of all, are also the worst for taking Vitamin D.  Almost three quarters of Scots living in Edinburgh (74%) and Glasgow (72%) don’t use supplements and citizens of Liverpool and Newcastle at 76% are even worse, with only 3% of children receiving their recommended dose.
“Office workers and most indoor occupations reduce your time to be outdoors.  A recent survey found that 15% of workers spend no time in a nature-like environment outside during the working week. In addition, only 30% take a proper lunch-break. Finally, workers on nightshifts are often asleep at the key time of day when the sun can help your Vitamin D levels.”
To help answer this deficiency, VEGA Vitamins (part of VEGA Nutritionals) has launched a new range of Vitamin D3 supplements – available for all members of the family and as a spray, chewable tablets and infant drops for babies.
Vega EveryDay-DInfant-D and Urgent-D products are available in pharmacies and health food stores nationwide and to buy online.