Whether or not you’re a vegetarian like me, you may be curious about supplements, especially the B-complex supplements out there. You may also want to know whether or not methylated vitamins are the way to go. What is a methylated B-complex vitamin in the first place? Read on to find out.
Nutrition is tricky. There’s no one size fits all, cookie-cutter answer for what you should eat and whether or not you need supplements. But there are plenty of clues to the answers in your day-to-day life. One such clue? Being a vegetarian.
Thanks to the folks at Life Extension® for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own, as always.
I’m about to tell you why I personally choose to take supplements and why I’d like all vegetarians to give some thought as to whether vitamin B capsules are something you’d like to add to your daily regimen.
Why Do Vegetarians Need Supplements?
If you’re a vegetarian, some nutrients are more difficult for you to get from food. This isn’t just a theory. It’s a fact. Because vegetarians aren’t eating meat or poultry—and many vegetarians don’t eat seafood—vegetarians take in less of certain nutrients that naturally occur in abundance in meat, poultry, and seafood. These nutrients include B vitamins (more on those in a sec), vitamin D, iron, and omega-3s.
As a vegetarian for 19-plus years (I recently started eating seafood, so I’m technically a pescatarian now), I take several supplements to fill in the gaps of what I’m missing from my diet. Many of these supplements are made by Life Extension, so when the brand approached me about working together it was such a natural fit.
Before I tell you about my supplement habits, I’m going to admit that for the first decade or so of my vegetarianism—long before I even thought about becoming a registered dietitian—I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to be eating or which supplements I should consider. I wish someone had shared a post like this one with me way back then!
If you’re curious, here’s a quick look at some of the supplements I take on a daily basis:
Life Extension BioActive Complete B-Complex: In my opinion, this is one of the best vitamin B supplements out there. More on this one in a sec!
Life Extension Vitamins D and K with Sea-Iodine™: Vitamin D doesn’t come from many food sources, and some of the best ones are animal based. Vitamin D and vitamin K work in synergy, so it’s best to take them together. And iodine is great for vegetarians because seafood is one of its top food sources (besides iodized salt).
Life Extension Iron Protein Plus: A little-known fact about vegetarianism is that vegetarians need more iron than non-meat eaters. This is because non-heme iron, which comes from plants, isn’t as well absorbed by the body as heme iron, which you get from animal products.
Life Extension Neuro-Mag® Magnesium L-Threonate: This supplement has nothing to do with being a vegetarian, but I’m kind of obsessed with it so I want to share it with you all. It’s made of a specific type of magnesium discovered by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This magnesium is ultra-absorbable to help support cognitive function. I take it right before bed, because magnesium may also help you sleep better.
Omega-3s: If you’re vegetarian or simply aren’t a fan of seafood, you may want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement, as well. Here’s a post I wrote on vegetarian sources of omega-3.
What’s in a B-Complex Supplement?
I promised you more info on the Life Extension BioActive Complete B-Complex supplement I mentioned, so here you go! Many moons ago, I started taking this supplement for healthy energy management. You might be wondering how energy and B vitamins are connected. Well, I’ll tell you.
The BioActive Complete B-Complex supplement contains the following B vitamins, all of which play important roles in energy.
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
The mineral is important for many reasons. Thiamine helps support production of both your DNA and RNA, and also helps convert the carbohydrates you eat into energy your body can use.
Top food sources: Beef, egg, fortified breakfast cereal, legumes, nuts, pork, seeds, trout, and wheat germ
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Simply put, your body uses riboflavin to produce energy.
Top food sources: broccoli, egg, fortified breakfast cereals, liver, low-fat milk, and spinach
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Also important for energy, niacin helps your body metabolize fat, glucose, and alcohol—and helps support cholesterol levels already within a healthy range.
Top food sources: chicken breast, fortified breakfast cereal, liver, marinara sauce, peanuts, salmon, and turkey breast
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
This nutrient is important for supporting many biochemical reactions within your body, including interactions with your hormones and neurotransmitters. It also plays a role in the healthy production of hemoglobin (where a lot of the iron in your body is stored).
Top food sources: chicken breast, fortified breakfast cereal, liver, shiitake mushrooms, and tuna
Within the context of energy, vitamin B6 gets a lot of attention. Why? This nutrient helps your body form glucose, a primary source of energy for your body, from non-carbohydrate sources.
Top food sources: chicken breast, chickpeas, fortified breakfast cereal, liver, potatoes, salmon, and tuna
This B vitamin is important for helping you maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails. Plus, it does a body good by helping yours function optimally.
Top food sources: almonds, egg, liver, pork chop, salmon, sunflower seeds, and sweet potato
Folate helps your body maintain healthy DNA and support healthy red cell production.
Top food sources: asparagus, black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts, fortified breakfast cereal, liver, and spinach
Another vitamin that gets a lot of attention for its role with energy, this nutrient supports your heart health by helping keep the level of homocysteine in your body within a normal range.
Top food sources: beef, clams, fortified breakfast cereal, fortified nutritional yeast, liver, milk, salmon, and trout
Last but not least is inositol, a B vitamin that helps make up your cellular membranes, and is super important for helping to support already healthy calcium and insulin levels. That means inositol indirectly helps support your bone health (by the way, World Osteoporosis Day was just a few days ago!) and helps maintain already healthy blood-sugar levels.
Top food sources: beans, fruit, grains, and nuts
Why Are Methylated Vitamins Important?
Now that you know what all is in the BioActive Complete B-Complex supplement, you have an idea of why it gets my stamp of approval. This supplement also contains scientifically studied B-vitamin dosages and contains bioactive forms of each nutrient. You might be thinking, “huh?” Well, let me back up!
For many of the vitamins out there, different types exist. And your body more easily makes use of some types over others. Enter methylated vitamins. The B-complex supplement we’ve been chatting about contains the methylated forms of folate and vitamin B12. This is huge. Your body typically absorbs methylated vitamins better.
But Wait…Do You Really Need Supplements?
As you can see, you can get many of the nutrients you need as a vegetarian from food sources. But doing so takes extremely careful planning—and getting certain nutrients, such as B vitamins and iron, is much more difficult if you don’t eat meat, poultry, or seafood.
Even though I plan out my meals, I take some supplements and don’t feel the least bit bad about it. After all, I’m giving my body what it needs. And at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important. If you’re looking for ideas on what to eat on a vegetarian diet, I suggest taking a look at my plant-based grocery list and three-day vegetarian meal plan.
How to Remember to Take Your Supplements
Before I let you go, there’s one more thing I want to chat about super quickly. It’s easy enough for me to tell you to take your supplements. But many people (myself included) have a hard time remembering to take them without some helpful prompts. With lots of trial and error with myself and my clients, here are my top recommendations:
Keep your supplement bottles in a place where you’ll see them. It’s not the prettiest, but I line up my supplements on my kitchen table. This way, I remember to take them with my meals when I sit down to eat. If you’re at work, keep them on your desk. But make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight.
Schedule a calendar reminder to take your supplements. It may sound silly. But then again, you schedule in other important health tasks such as doctor’s appointments and workouts.
Have extra supplements on hand. I finished up two bottles of supplements yesterday. But there’s no stress, since I have a multi-month supply of extras in my medicine cabinet!
And always, always check with your doctor and pharmacist before adding new supplements to your routine.
Want to try Life Extension’s BioActive Complete B-Complex supplement for yourself? Click on the link to receive $10 off of a $75 order, plus free shipping!*
I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what you think about supplements in general—as well as methylated vitamins.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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