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According to the Vegan Society, vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population by 2025. It can be a challenge to obtain enough essential nutrients when you’re following a vegan or vegetarian plant-based diet, and vegan or vegetarian athletes, in particular, can struggle. Certain vitamins or minerals are harder to get when you don’t eat meat, fish and/ or dairy, and as an athlete, your needs are higher still because you’re burning off calories and depleting vital nutrients during intense exercise. For vegan athletes or vegetarian athletes, therefore, supplementation with a quality multivitamin is often recommended.
The key, of course, is to find a multivitamin that is vegan and vegetarian-friendly. We believe we’ve found the ideal multivitamin for vegetarian and vegan athletes…
After reviewing dozens of supplements, we believe that Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi for Men or Women is the best 100% vegan multivitamin currently available on the market.
Or read on to learn why we chose this multivitamin as our #1 recommendation.
What Supplements Do Vegetarian and Vegan Athletes Need?
Committed vegans and vegetarians work hard to obtain as many essential vitamins and minerals as possible in a varied diet and deficiencies are not inevitable. However, a plant-based diet devoid of animal products does remove some of the easiest sources of certain vitamins and minerals. And when you’re an athlete using up more of the nutrients you do consume, it can be tough to replace them all. Indeed, this can be a problem for all athletes, vegan, vegetarian or meat-eaters alike. Hence, the recommendation to take a quality multivitamin.
A report published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition states that vegan diets (and to some extent vegetarian diets too) tend to be lower in:
- B12 Vitamin
- n-3 fatty acids (omega-3s)
In addition, there tend to be digestibility and absorption issues with protein, iron, zinc and calcium, meaning vegetarian and vegan athletes may need to consume more of these compared to omnivores. The same report also points out that it may be difficult to consume enough of these nutrients (and more!) in your diet because a plant-based diet promotes satiety. Simply put, you may find it hard to eat enough because you already feel full. The obvious solution, therefore, is to supplement with a vegan multivitamin that provides generous dosages of the above, plus perhaps a separate protein supplement as well.
The majority of the above are included in Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi.
Let’s discuss some of those potential vegetarian and vegan deficiencies a little more to see how important they are…
Vitamin B12 is essential for energy metabolism, red blood cell formation, and the nervous system. Energy balance is, of course, important to athletes, and a lack of vitamin B12 can hamper your performance. B12 vitamin is naturally found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk… all the food types that vegans (and to some extent, vegetarians) avoid. It can therefore be difficult to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet alone, so you should look for the best multivitamin you can find with a generous dosage. Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi for Men or Women, our recommended vegan multivitamin, contains more than 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin B12, plus all other B-vitamins.
Heme iron, most commonly found in animal products such as red meat and liver but also in beans, is vital for creating haemoglobin in red blood cells. Athletes need plentiful supplies of heme iron because of its ability to transport oxygen around the body, helping the muscles to work effectively. Given that athletes place high work demands on the muscles, their need for iron is higher. A shortage of heme iron can leave athletes struggling with iron deficiency anaemia, with symptoms ranging from fatigue and reduced exercise capacity to frequent illness. Non-heme iron is not as well absorbed or as useful.
It’s a given that vegetarian and vegan athletes need strong bones and muscles, but calcium plays a stronger role than that. It’s crucial for muscle contraction, blood clotting, hormone secretion, blood pressure, and helping the nervous system to function effectively. Athletes need to pay attention to their calcium intake, especially when following a vegan or vegetarian diet with limited calcium-rich foods. You may also need to supplement when you’re following a low-calorie diet or controlling calories for sports reasons; if you’re prone to heavy sweating, or you’re training at high intensity. Calcium is particularly important for female athletes as studies show training for more than seven hours a week puts female athletes at greater risk of developing osteoporosis due to excessive training. A vegan athlete who avoids dairy sources may need to supplement calcium, though the good news is that there are many plant sources of calcium.
Vitamin D3 is a major proven factor in supporting bone health and preventing stress factors, both of which are crucial to athletes. It also aids in regulating mood, protein synthesis, boosting the immune function, and helps regulate electrolytes, all of which is essential for athletes.
Vitamin C helps to support a healthy immune system and may be useful to help prevent the immune function dip that occurs right after exercise.
Zinc is an essential mineral for athletes and without it, your body may struggle to repair tissues and muscles after exercise. Zinc is also integral to hormone production, including testosterone, which you need healthy levels of to build lean muscle mass. Zinc is also needed for strong heart health, a healthy respiratory system, and optimal cholesterol levels, alongside brain function.
A trace mineral primarily stored in the thyroid gland, hallmarks of iodine deficiency are fatigue, low stamina, cramps and muscle aches, poor brain function, joint pain, weight gain, and a slower metabolic rate — none of which you want if you’re an athlete (and even if you’re not!). Iodine is primarily lost through sweat: some studies suggest athletes lose more iodine in an hour of intense exercise than they do throughout the entire day otherwise. It pays to pay attention to your iodine intake which can be difficult for vegan athletes since animal products, meat, fish and dairy are your best sources. Alternatively, Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi provides 100% of your daily recommended iodine intake.
Creatine is another supplement that vegetarian and vegan athletes should consider. Found mostly in red meat, studies show that athletes on a vegetarian or vegan diet don’t store as much creatine in their bodies as omnivores, and benefit from a greater uptake through supplementation.
What to Look for In The Best Vegan Multivitamin
We recommend one multivitamin for both vegans and vegetarians. Vegetarian athletes can rest assured that a quality vegan plant-based multivitamin will be suitable for them too, focusing on supplementing the vitamins and minerals that their diet may lack. A vegan athlete also needs to know that the product we recommend is 100% suitable for a vegan diet and lifestyle.
Again, we recommend Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi for Men or Women, but before we get into the details, let’s examine what you should be looking for in the best vegan multivitamin…
- 100% Vegan Suitable, including vegan-friendly capsules: It sounds simple but a lot of so-called vegetarian and vegan multivitamins use gelatine capsules for delivery. Check the small print carefully; it’s not something they tend to boast about. That’s one reason why we rate Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi so highly — it uses plant-based tapioca capsules. It also has the Vegan Approved mark from the Vegetarian Society.
- Dedicated Formulas for Men and Women: While vegetarian and vegan athletes have additional supplementary needs from meat-eaters, men and women also have different hormonal needs. A female vegan athlete, for instance, will need more of certain nutrients — such as iron and calcium — than her male counterpart. A man will also benefit from more zinc and the heart-healthy vitamin B1. The best manufacturers will address this with separate formulas for men and women.
- Contains Generous Dosages: In particular, of the specific vitamins and minerals that vegetarians and vegans struggle to get in their diet. So, we’re talking B12, iron, iodine, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin D. Sufficient levels of calcium are usually easier to achieve via dairy or several plant-based foods, and for this reason, many multivitamins on the market don’t concentrate too highly on calcium. If, however, as a vegan you feel you need further calcium supplementation, you might want to look into a standalone calcium tablet.
- They are as Close to Nature as Possible: Some multivitamins are synthetic, crammed full of artificial additives, and quite frankly manufactured in a way that harms the environment. As someone who cares about both what you’re putting into your body and the environment, you want to look for a product that is eco-conscious and all-natural. If they are made with whole food co-factors, even better.
Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi… for Men or Women
First thing’s first: let’s examine Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi’s eco-friendly credentials. This multivitamin is one of the cleanest you’ll find on the market right now, making it the best of its kind in our opinion. It is:
- 100% vegan friendly
- Free from soy, gluten and other allergens
- Free of artificial additives
- Banned substance tested
- cGMP certified (certificate of Good Manufacturing Practices)
- Made with an ultramodern manufacturing process that creates nature-identical nutrients.
Nature Identical Vitamins and Minerals
Performance Lab uses a revolutionary process called NutriGenesis to create lab-grown nutrients that come with the same whole food co-factors as you’d find in nature. We’re talking the same enzymes, probiotics, fibre, and antioxidants that the body recognises and accepts, increasing bio-availability and your body’s ability to absorb and use them effectively.
The other good news is that the NutriGenesis process is eco-friendly: all nutrients are lab-grown, and uses no herbicides or pesticides; there’s no mining or soil depletion, and it has only a small carbon footprint.
Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi offers generous dosages of all of the vitamins and minerals most useful to vegetarian and vegan athletes, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin C, iodine, zinc, calcium, and iron. It’s an excellent multivitamin for non-vegan athletes too, given that it offers 100% or more of your recommended daily intake of at least 15 vitamins or minerals — including all the important B vitamins and vitamin D3 (at 125% DV) — with generous doses of several others.
Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi’s emphasis on B vitamins such as B2, B5, B6 and B12, alongside a generous dose of vitamin C, serves to boost your energy levels and help the body deal with stress, ideal for athletes.
NutriGenesis Multi contains more than 100% Daily Value (recommended daily intake) of vitamin B1 along with generous dosages of B6 and vitamins C and E, as well as selenium… all of which are valuable for healthy hearts.
When you’re looking for a vegan or vegetarian multivitamin, it’s important to make sure you really check their credentials. Many other multivitamins on the market use gelatine capsules. Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi opts for fermented tapioca plant-based capsules to make sure the product is 100% vegan friendly, with added probiotics for digestion. Important when you’re taking a supplement every day.
In short, for all the market-leading reasons above, we believe Performance Lab NutriGenesis Multi for men or women is THE best multivitamin for vegetarian and vegan athletes.
Tips for Vegan and Vegetarian Athletes
As well as adequate supplementation when needed, we’d recommend the following tips to make you the best athlete that you can be…
Vary your Protein: As a vegetarian or vegan, it’s hard to consume enough varied protein to enjoy a complete amino acid profile. There are 20 amino acids (with nine classed as essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made by the body and must be consumed or supplemented) and all provide different benefits. Adding a quality vegan protein powder to your routine will help, but be aware of which amino acids it provides (most don’t provide all of them) and be prepared to supplement with seeds, nuts, legumes, wheat and rice to boost your intake of the rest.
Watch your Calories: A lot of vegans and vegetarian athletes struggle to consume enough food to fuel intense workouts as a vegetarian or vegan diet tends to make you feel full early. It’s also typically low in calories. If you’re looking to gain or maintain weight, look for calorie-dense versions of the food you eat. Nuts, for instance, can help, as can peanut butter.
Don’t Neglect Sleep: Sleep is crucial to help recovery after exercise, giving the muscles time to repair — simultaneously, improving your sporting performance the next day. Lower testosterone levels, however, — a risk for vegan and vegetarians — can slow down recovery. Male athletes can always supplement with an all-natural vegan T-booster such as Testo Lab Pro, but making sure you get at least seven hours a night will help.
Our recommendation for improved sleep: Performance Lab Sleep, a vegan-friendly over-the-counter sleep supplement.
Chances are you became vegan or vegetarian because of strong ethical concerns and the search for a healthier lifestyle, so it’s important to make sure you maintain that ethos with your supplementation. That’s why we recommend the Performance Lab line of supplements. They are eco-friendly, 100% vegan and ethical, and deliver all the nutrients you need, especially those you may be lacking in your diet. We’d suggest taking their excellent whole food NutriGenesis Multivitamin for a solid foundation to your diet.