Do vegetarians need multivitamins?

Do vegetarians need multivitamins?

By now, we all know that multivitamins play a vital role in different bodily functions but interestingly questions like these are quite commonly asked.

Vegetarians and a very popular coined term ‘vegans’ do not eat chicken, meat, poultry, fish, or animal by-products. Vegetarians prefer eating grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and dairy products whereas vegans do not eat eggs, dairy or any other animal products.

To gain the maximum health benefits of being a vegetarian you need to consume the following portions in a day:

  • Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Choose wholegrain options or complex carbohydrates
  • Include some dairy or dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower-fat and lower-sugar options)
  • Eat beans, pulses, nuts and other proteins
  • Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
  • Drink plenty of fluids– it is recommended to have minimum 8 glasses a day

It is very difficult to consistently match up the daily requirement unless you are very good at planning. Nevertheless, in this faced paced life to maintain a balance diet and get all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy is quite a challenge. This calls out for a need to supplement your current diet with multivitamins to fill in the daily gaps.

Vegetarians especially need to make sure they get enough iron, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin D, as these are present in vegetarian foods in lower quantities leading to a possible risk of deficiencies. Children and women are thought to be at particular risk of iron deficiency, including those on a vegetarian diet.

Certain important nutrients vegetarians should pay attention to

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is required for DNA synthesis, healthy neurological function, and the manufacturing of red blood cells that carry oxygen to our cells. It is found naturally in foods from animal sources, so sources for vegetarians are limited.

Adults need about 2.2 mg of vitamin B12 a day which becomes difficult to gain for vegetarians. Hence, a vitamin B12 supplement may be needed. One should check the labels of fortified foods to see how much vitamin B12 they contain.


Iron plays a major role in producing red blood cell particularly in the formation of haemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Iron comes in two forms: heme iron (which can be found in animal-derived foods like meat, poultry, and fish) and non-heme iron (commonly found in fortified cereals and plant-based foods like beans, legumes, and dark leafy greens). It is important to note that the amount of iron your body actually absorbs from these sources is typically low (ranging from 2 to 35%) and will depend on the type of iron consumed along with other dietary factors. 

It’s important to keep these things in mind as even mild forms of iron deficiency have implication on cognitive development, increased risk of disease, and pregnancy complications for both mom and baby. This is especially important for vegetarians, given that the low bioavailability of iron in plant-based foods generally puts them at an increased risk of iron deficiency.

Adult men need about 19 mg of iron a day and women need about 29 mg a day. Thus, a supplement for vegetarians is a great add-on to the diet of a day.

Vitamin D

The sunshine vitamin is not limited to vegetarians rather everyone should be concerned about their vitamin D intake. Among its many functions, vitamin D provides support for cardiovascular functions, immune activity, a healthy pregnancy, and bone, muscle, and brain health.

Unfortunately, recent research indicates that roughly 50% of the population worldwide are deficient in vitamin D which can lead to significant health consequences. Although this deficiency is not specific to a vegetarian diet, most individuals (including vegetarians) would benefit from supplementing their vitamin D intake regularly along with exercising regularly which makes the bone stronger


Calcium plays a crucial role in many bodily processes, including heartbeat regulation, the regulation of heart rate and rhythm, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, blood clotting, and building strong bones and teeth. Over time, a calcium deficiency can lead to low bone mineral density, an increased risk of fractures and osteopenia, and if left untreated osteoporosis.

Calcium must also come from our diet and is mainly found in dairy products, dark leafy greens, almonds, and soybeans (fortified soymilk, tofu, and tempeh). Although many of these sources are plant-based, research indicates that many vegetarians and vegans have difficulty meeting their calcium needs and may be at a greater risk of calcium deficiency than non-vegetarians.


Zinc contributes to important bodily processes such as including building up our immune system’s defenses, combating imbalance caused due to stress and aiding in whole-body stability. However, a vegetarian or plant-based diet typically contains more phytate-rich foods (grains, nuts, sesame seeds, soybeans), which are the main inhibitors of zinc absorption. Zinc absorption is generally low in humans (only 33%) and even lower for individuals who eat a diet with a high phytate to zinc ratio.

An adult male requires 17 mg and a female needs 13 mg daily to match up to the daily requirements which is a task to achieve through the diet.

A number of these factors have been well thought through in making TruVitals, which has been formulated keeping the Indian dietary requirement in mind.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: While a vegetarian or a vegan diet can provide you with higher amounts of vitamins and minerals, it also eliminates certain animal-derived foods that contain more bioavailable forms of some nutrients. So just be aware of some nutrients which you might be missing and either increase the quantities of foods rich in these or evaluate supplementation to maintain long term great health.