what vitamins are not vegan

What Vitamins Are Not Vegan: A friendly guide for curious minds.

If you’re new to the world of veganism, you may be wondering what vitamins are not vegan. It’s important to understand that while many vitamins are derived from plants, some are sourced from animal products. If you’re following a vegan lifestyle, it’s essential to look out for vegan-friendly vitamins to ensure you’re not consuming any animal-derived ingredients.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at the vitamins you should watch out for if you’re following a vegan diet, and provide you with some tips to choose vegan-friendly alternatives.

Understanding Essential Nutrients

Before delving into the world of vegan-friendly vitamins, it is important to understand what essential nutrients are and why they are important for our health. Essential nutrients are substances that our bodies need to function properly, but cannot produce on their own. Therefore, we must obtain them through our diet or supplements.

Essential nutrients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids. These substances play a crucial role in many bodily functions, such as energy production, immune system support, and maintenance of healthy bones and tissues.

Many of these nutrients are found in animal products, making it challenging for those following a vegan diet to get sufficient amounts. However, there are plant-based sources of essential nutrients that can fulfil the daily requirements.

What Vitamins Are Non-Vegan?

When it comes to vitamins, not all are suitable for vegans since some are derived from animal sources. Here are some of the vitamins that are commonly not vegan:

VitaminCommon Source
Vitamin ARetinol (from liver), retinoids (from animal-based products)
Vitamin D3Lanolin (from sheep’s wool)
Vitamin B12Found only in animal-based products
Omega-3 fatty acidsFound mainly in fish oil
CollagenDerived from animal connective tissues

It’s important to check the source of the vitamins before purchasing and consuming them if you follow a vegan lifestyle. You can always opt for vegan alternatives to non-vegan vitamins to ensure that you are not consuming any animal-derived products.

The Role of Animal Ingredients in Vitamins

Animal-derived ingredients have been a common and traditional source for many vitamins. For example, vitamin A is often derived from fish liver oil, while vitamin D3 is derived from lanolin, a waxy substance extracted from sheep’s wool. Other vitamins that frequently use animal-derived sources include vitamin B12, vitamin K2, and CoQ10.

Despite the prevalence of animal-derived ingredients in vitamins, it is important to note that there are vegan-friendly alternatives available for all of these vitamins.

VitaminAnimal-Derived SourceVegan-Friendly Alternative
Vitamin AFish liver oilBeta-carotene, which is found in many plant-based foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin D3Lanolin (from sheep’s wool)Vitamin D2, which is derived from mushrooms or produced in a lab via exposure to UV light.
Vitamin B12Found naturally in animal productsFortified foods such as plant-based milks, cereals, and nutritional yeast, or B12 supplements.
Vitamin K2Derived from animal products like liverDerived from fermented soybeans or natto, or produced through bacterial fermentation in a lab.
CoQ10Commonly derived from beef and porkFound in small amounts in plant-based foods such as whole grains, nuts, and spinach, or produced in a lab via microbial fermentation.

It is important to note that some vitamins may also contain other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin capsules. Be sure to read the label carefully and look for vegan-friendly alternatives such as vegetable capsules.

By choosing vegan-friendly alternatives to non-vegan vitamins, you can still ensure that you are getting all the essential nutrients your body needs without compromising your ethical beliefs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Vegan-Friendly Vitamins

As a vegan, it’s important to ensure that the vitamins you rely on to maintain overall health and well-being are free from animal products. Here are some factors to consider when choosing vegan-friendly vitamins:


One of the most important factors to consider when choosing vegan-friendly vitamins is the ingredients. Make sure to read the label carefully to ensure that the vitamin supplement is free from animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin, lanolin, and animal-derived oils.

Source of Vitamins

Another factor to consider is the source of the vitamins. Some vitamins can be derived from either plant or animal sources, so it’s essential to choose those derived from plant-based sources.


Opting for vegan-friendly vitamins that have been certified by reputable organizations such as The Vegan Society, PETA, or the Vegetarian Resource Group can give you added peace of mind that the vitamins you are consuming are 100% vegan.


While choosing vegan-friendly vitamins is essential, it’s also important to consider affordability. With many vegan-friendly options available in the market, it’s possible to find vitamins that fit your budget.

By considering these factors, you can make informed choices when it comes to selecting vegan-friendly vitamins that will help meet your nutritional requirements.

Vitamin D2 vs Vitamin D3

Vitamin D is essential for bone health, but the two primary forms of vitamin D are not equal when it comes to veganism. Vitamin D2 can be derived from plant sources, while vitamin D3 is typically derived from animal sources such as lanolin in sheep’s wool. However, vitamin D3 can also be sourced from lichen, a vegan alternative.

Most commercial vitamin D supplements contain vitamin D3, so it’s important for vegans to check the label and look for supplements derived from lichen or D2. It’s worth noting that some studies suggest vitamin D3 may be more effective in raising vitamin D levels in the body, but a well-planned vegan diet can also provide adequate amounts of vitamin D through fortified foods and exposure to sunlight.

What are Lichens?

Lichens are a type of plant-like organism that grow on rocks, trees, and other surfaces. They are actually a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an algae or cyanobacteria. Lichens have been found to contain significant amounts of vitamin D3 and are now being used as a plant-based source of this vital nutrient.

A number of vegan vitamin D supplements are now available that are derived from lichen. These supplements are a great option for vegans who want to ensure they are getting enough vitamin D without consuming animal-derived products. Some vegan vitamin D supplements also contain vitamin K2, which works alongside vitamin D to support bone health.

In conclusion, vitamin D is an important nutrient for everybody, but for vegans, it’s important to choose vitamin D supplements that are derived from plant sources or lichen. Vitamin D supplements derived from animal sources should be avoided and a well-planned vegan diet can also provide adequate amounts of vitamin D through fortified foods and sunlight exposure.

Vitamin B12 and Veganism

Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for vegans to consider, as it is mostly found in animal products. It plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy nerve cells and DNA production. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including anaemia and neurological disorders.

While some plant-based foods like grains, plant-based milks and nutritional yeast may be fortified with vitamin B12, it’s important for vegans to supplement their diet with a reliable source of this nutrient. Vegan-friendly vitamin B12 supplements are widely available in stores and online. It’s best to look for supplements that contain at least 25-100 mcg of vitamin B12 and take them as directed.

Some common types of vitamin B12 supplements include:

Type of SupplementDescription
CyanocobalaminThe most commonly used form of vitamin B12 supplement, often used in fortified foods and supplements. It’s a synthetic version of vitamin B12 that’s well-absorbed by the body.
MethylcobalaminA natural form of vitamin B12 that’s also well-absorbed by the body. It’s often used in sublingual (under-the-tongue) supplements.
HydroxocobalaminAnother natural form of vitamin B12 that’s often used in injectable supplements. It’s slowly absorbed by the body, providing long-lasting benefits.

It’s important to talk to a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements, especially if you have underlying health conditions or take medication regularly.

How Much Vitamin B12 Do Vegans Need?

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 mcg, but vegans may need more to meet their daily requirements. The Vegan Society recommends taking a supplement of at least 10 mcg per day or a weekly supplement of at least 2000 mcg to ensure adequate intake.

It’s also important to note that vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based whole foods, so relying on a vegan diet alone may not provide enough of this nutrient.

By supplementing with vegan-friendly vitamin B12 and being mindful of their intake, vegans can easily meet their nutritional needs and maintain optimal health.

Vegan Sources of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for maintaining healthy eyesight, skin, and immune function. However, many sources of Vitamin A come from animal products, making it a challenge for vegans to get enough of this vital nutrient.

Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources of Vitamin A. Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, can be converted into Vitamin A by the body. Dark leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are excellent sources of carotenoids. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, like carrots, sweet potatoes, and apricots, are also rich in carotenoids. Additionally, some fortified vegan milks and cereals can provide a good source of Vitamin A.

Vegan Sources of Vitamin AVitamin A Content (per serving)
Kale (1 cup, chopped)206% of DV
Carrots (1 medium)147% of DV
Sweet Potato (1 medium)438% of DV
Apricots (3 whole)94% of DV

Note: The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin A is 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. It is important to stay within the recommended limits, as too much Vitamin A can be toxic.


Getting enough Vitamin A on a vegan diet is possible with the right food choices. Including a variety of dark leafy greens, bright fruits and vegetables, and fortified vegan products can help ensure you are meeting your daily Vitamin A requirements. It’s always a good idea to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive plan for meeting all of your nutrient needs on a vegan diet.

Vegan-Friendly Multivitamins and Supplements

There is no denying that vitamins and supplements provide a convenient way to ensure that you are getting all of the vital nutrients your body needs to function at its best. For vegans, finding suitable options can be challenging as many vitamins and supplements contain non-vegan ingredients. However, there are plenty of vegan-friendly options available on the market.

When shopping for vegan-friendly multivitamins and supplements, it is important to check the label carefully to ensure that they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. Some common non-vegan ingredients used in vitamins include gelatin, which is derived from animal bones and tissues, and vitamin D3, which is typically made from lanolin, a substance extracted from sheep’s wool.

Vegan-Friendly Vitamins and SupplementsNon-Vegan Vitamins and Supplements
Vitamin B12B-complex vitamins containing animal-derived ingredients
Vitamin D2Vitamin D3
IronIron supplements made with animal-derived heme
ZincZinc supplements containing animal-derived ingredients

Some popular vegan-friendly supplement brands include Garden of Life, Deva, and Solgar. These brands offer a wide range of products, including multivitamins, protein powders, and omega-3 supplements, all made with vegan-friendly ingredients.

Vegan-Friendly Multivitamins and Supplements

  • Deva Vegan Multivitamin
  • Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw One for Women
  • MegaFood Vegan Multivitamin
  • Nature’s Plus Source of Life Gold Liquid
  • Solgar Vegan Digestive Enzymes

It is important to note that while a well-planned vegan diet can provide all of the essential nutrients your body needs, some individuals may require additional supplements to meet their nutritional needs. Consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine which supplements are necessary for you.

Other Nutrients to Consider in a Vegan Diet

While vitamins are essential nutrients that are necessary for the body’s proper functioning, there are other nutrients that must be considered in a vegan diet. These include:

  • Protein: Vegans can get protein from sources such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
  • Calcium: Non-dairy sources of calcium include leafy greens, fortified plant milks, and tofu.
  • Iron: Iron can be found in leafy greens, fortified cereals, beans, and dried fruits.
  • Zinc: Zinc is found in legumes, nuts, seeds, and fortified cereals.
  • Iodine: Vegans can get iodine from iodized salt or sea vegetables such as nori.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

It is important for vegans to ensure they are getting adequate amounts of these nutrients through their diet, and supplementation may be necessary. Consulting with a registered dietitian can help create a well-rounded and balanced diet plan.

FAQs about Vegan Vitamins

As a vegan, ensuring that you are getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients can be a little more challenging than for non-vegans. Below are some frequently asked questions about vegan vitamins to help guide your choices.

Can I get all my necessary vitamins from a vegan diet?

Yes, it is possible to get all your necessary vitamins from a balanced vegan diet. However, it can be more difficult to get enough vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D. It is important to be aware of your nutrient intake and consider taking supplements if necessary.

What should I look for in vegan-friendly vitamins?

When choosing vegan-friendly vitamins, look for options that are labelled as “vegan” or “plant-based”. Additionally, check the ingredients list to ensure there are no animal-derived products included.

Are there vegan alternatives to non-vegan vitamins?

Yes, there are many vegan alternatives to non-vegan vitamins. For example, vitamin D2 can be sourced from mushrooms and vitamin B12 can be found in fortified plant-based milks and supplements.

What are some vegan sources of vitamin A?

Some vegan sources of vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and kale.

Do I need to take a multivitamin as a vegan?

It is not necessary to take a multivitamin as a vegan if you are getting all your necessary vitamins and nutrients from your diet. However, if you are having difficulty getting enough of certain vitamins, a vegan-friendly multivitamin can be a helpful supplement.

Is vitamin D2 or D3 better for vegans?

Vitamin D2 is the most common plant-based source of vitamin D, but vitamin D3 can be derived from lichen. However, vitamin D3 is often sourced from lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool, making it non-vegan. Therefore, it is important for vegans to choose vitamin D2 or lichen-derived vitamin D3.

Are there any vegan supplements to help with iron intake?

Yes, there are many vegan supplements to help with iron intake, such as iron-rich plant-based protein powders or iron supplements made from ferrous fumarate or ferrous sulphate. However, it is important to speak to a healthcare professional before starting any new supplements.

By understanding what vitamins are non-vegan and considering vegan-friendly alternatives, you can ensure that you are getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients for a healthy plant-based diet.

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