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Micronutrients for vegan athletes

Vegan diets have health benefits such as reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, lower saturated fat and cholesterol, reduced risk of obesity, and more dietary fibre.

However, eliminating animal products and meat from your diet can also expose vegans and vegetarians to nutritional deficiencies if not properly regimented and managed.

Meeting these recommendations is important for all-round health, but in particular for vegan athletes who will be looking to optimise their performance or results in a competitive setting.

Omega 3

Except pescatarian diets, most vegans or vegetarians won’t consume sufficient omega 3 EPA and DHA fats, which are found in fatty fish and seafood, to meet their recommended intake.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for the general omnivorous population to not meet their recommended intake of omega 3s as well.

Omega-3s play an important role in recovery which is vital for athletes across all spectrums of sport.

Supplementing with a combined EPA and DHA algae oil supplement (250-500mg combined DHA/EPA per day) would be beneficial for anyone looking to optimise their recovery from training.

green nutritionals omega 3 vegan capsules


Green Nutritionals Omega 3 Vegan Capsules

Support your plant-based lifestyle with omega-3 DHA/EPA for health, recovery and performance improvements. All the benefits, without the fish.


Vitamin B12 plays an important role in neurological health and a deficiency in B12 can affect exercise performance through fatigue, lethargy and exhaustion.

B12 is present in seafood, red meat, white meat, eggs and dairy. Vegetarians and pescatarians therefore have an array of dietary options to consume B12. But this is not necessarily the case for vegans.

Consuming fortified cereals, and nutritional yeast can help provide vegans with B12. But absorption of Vitamin B12 is notoriously low, so a high-potency supplement regularly can help offset the likelihood of B12 deficiency.


Plant based diets can contain plenty of iron but the absorption of iron from plants is not great. Iron deficiency can reduce exercise capacity, cause fatigue and impair desired training response. This can result in anaemia which would leave anyone tired and short of breath.

The Heme iron found in meat and animal products is generally more easily absorbed by the human body than the non-heme iron found in plants. Therefore vegans are at greater risk of iron deficiency.  

For this reason, the recommended daily intake of iron is 1.8 times higher for vegetarians and vegans than for those who eat meat.

Supplementing iron, and combining iron-containing and fortified foods every day with foods containing vitamin C can help increase the absorption of iron. 


Zinc plays a vital role in immunity, affecting risk of illness as well as testosterone – and therefore potentially athletic performance. Zinc is abundantly present in a well-rounded whole food focused vegan/vegetarian diet rich in nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains.

However, similar to iron, absorption of plant derived sources is often limited. Vegans and vegetarians should aim to consume an additional 50% total zinc each day which is 12 mg/day for women and 21 mg/day for men.  


Calcium is an important mineral involved in bone integrity, vitamin D absorption and muscle contraction. It’s important for reducing risk of injury, as well as muscular performance.

Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach provide a high proportion of calcium intake for vegans. However these vegetables often contain oxalate which can bind to minerals in the gut and limit the body absorbing them. So it is recommended that vegans consume calcium fortified foods such as calcium set tofu, calcium fortified milk alternatives and if needed, rely on supplementation through a medical professional.


Green Nutritionals Calcium Vegan Capsules


Promote strong bones and healthy muscles with plant-derived calcium. Support your plant-based diet and vegan health naturally
green nutritionals calcium vegan capsules


Iodine is a mineral that plays an important role in thyroid function, which in term helps regulate our metabolism. Iodine is most abundant in seafood and dairy so vegetarians and pescatarians are not at notable risk of deficiency.

However, for vegans it would be worthwhile consuming iodine through seaweed, iodine fortified whole grains, and switching their salt to iodised salt.

So, what’s next?

As plant based diets increase in the athlete and general population, it’s important to make sure that vegans are meeting their nutritional needs to maintain all round health and to get the most from their performance.

A vegan diet can absolutely meet all recommendations for key nutrients if planned correctly. But it’s worth noting that some additional effort, expertise, supplementation and know-how is needed.

Athletes considering partially or completely eliminating animal food groups should consult a sports nutritionist or dietitian.

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