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Vegan Supplements You Can't Live Without

Did you know that your brain is 60% fat?

(It's also 75% water, so someone needs to explain to me why the math doesn't work out.)


   I first encountered DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in the form of Neuromins™ when my body was recovering from chemo. My naturopath put me on 600 mg specifically to repair nerve damage and restore normal brain functioning.

     I noticed the difference very quickly. Residual nerve pain from chemo can last 6 months to a year, but mine disappeared very quickly. In addition, I was seeing "lights" in my peripheral vision, and that also disappeared.

     DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), an omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid, is the building block of brain tissue. It is the primary structural fatty acid in the gray matter of the brain and retina of the eye. DHA is an essential nutrient for eye development and for mental and visual function.

   DHA deficiency has also been linked with dyslexia, depression, psychiatric disorders. Evidence suggests that adequate DHA intake may help prevent age-related memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

     While most DHA is obtained from fish oils (yuk!), Neuromins™ is extracted from microalgae, the fish’s original food source, under tightly controlled food manufacturing conditions. A variety of companies manufacture and sell DHA under the Neuromins trade mark. However, some companies are now producing vegetarian DHA without the Neuromins trade mark. (Source Naturals, for one.)


   Buying DHA: First of all, it's not cheap, although the price has come down quite a bit in the last 10 years. Recommended dosages differ widely among companies and products, and although I am not qualified to make a dosing recommendation, I can say that I had results with 600 mgs. Shopping around and comparison pricing is a must with this supplement.

    And secondly, check the label to verify that the DHA is delivered in a vegetarian capsule. Some brands use gelatin capsules which, of course, makes no sense for the product. Conversely, many companies advertise "soft-gels" without specifying that they are vegetarian when, in fact, they are. So if you are looking for the words "vegetarian", "vegan", or "v-caps",  on the label, you won't always find them. You will have to read the fine print instead.

Vegetarian Glucosamine

Un-Shelfishly Good For You!


   There is hardly a person in America who has not heard of glucosamine as a treatment for joint pain, but few people know that there is a vegetarian option.

   Glucosamine is an aminosaccharide that helps create cartilage from compounds called "aggrecan" and "proteoglycans". Most glucosamine supplements are derived from shellfish. However, KAL has created a vegetarian version manufactured from a fungal fermentation process. It is available with and without MSM, a form of sulfur that is necessary for joints and tissue, and enhances the efficacy of glucosamine.

    Research on the healing powers of glucosamine is inconsistent, although most studies show some benefit. You can find claims that it will:

  • lower inflammation and help reverse autoimmune reactions
  • preserve joint health
  • reduce joint pain and tenderness
  • protect and repair gut lining
  • fight irritation to the stomach, bladder and intestines
  • treat inflammatory bowel disease and leaky gut syndrome
  • rebuild tissue and stronger bones following fractures or injuries

    Yep! All that.

    In his book, "Healthy Joints for Life," Dr. Richard Diana gives a synopsis of current research into the efficacy of supplementing glucosamine, and ultimately recommends glucosamine for his patients. He says he has witnessed the benefit in his own patients.

   Peter and I both supplement glucosamine with MSM. Neither of us experience joint pain. Peter was starting to have some discomfort in his knees before he started taking the supplements 10 years ago. He also added other anti-inflammatory supplements, so it's hard to say how much is due to the glucosamine. Thanks to my tendency to be inconsistent with supplements, I do notice that I have more energy for physical activity when I am supplementing glucosamine.

   From my limited survey of existing research, I would suggest that glucosamine can be one component of many for joint health. It's not going to heal arthritis or other issues, but it can help. Like all supplements and medications, supplementing glucosamine does not work for everyone. But many studies have found that using glucosamine daily for 6 to 8 weeks improves symptoms. It's not expensive and it won't hurt you, so it's worth a try.

Vegetarian Essential Enzymes

are an essential in my medicine cabinet!61Dny7pfg4L._SY679_

   I have great digestion as long as I stay away from fried foods, dairy, sweets, and never overeat. (Yeah, like that's going to happen.) However, I have found that on those occasions when I eat something that does not agree with me, if I take one or two of these digestive enzymes capsules by Source Naturals, I usually feel better pretty quickly.

    Although the enzymes are meant to be taken before eating, I have found that they generally work after a meal as well. I do take them as directed before a holiday meal, or when I know my digestion is going to be challenged. They work well for me. However, if I were to take them before an average meal, I would eat twice as much and still be hungry. I definitely do not need that result.


  A number of companies make a digestive enzyme complex, and a few offer vegetarian capsules, but Source Naturals is the only one that is clearly designated vegetarian and all its components are vegetarian.

     Source Naturals also makes a vegetarian pancreatin. A broad-spectrum plant-based enzyme blend that includes protease for protein breakdown, amylase for starch breakdown, and lipase for fat breakdown. Unlike pancreatin derived from animal sources, vegetarian pancreatin works at a wide range of pH levels to break down food in the acidic stomach as well as the more neutral intestines. It can help digest wheat gluten, which may increase stomach and intestinal comfort.41LGLx1MRrL


Vegetarian Glucosamine: Comparing Brands

(When buying vegetarian glucosamine, please be aware that no minimum daily requirement has been established.) 


  • Available with MSM
  • 500 mgs / 500 mgs
  • 60 tabs
  • 1 to 2 tabs daily
  • 1 or 2 month supply
  • $7.75  THDV*

Derived from a fungal fermentation process. 

Source Naturals

  • Not available with MSM
  • 750 mgs
  • 60 tabs
  • 1 tab 2x daily
  • 1 month supply
  • $8.00  THDV*

Derived from non-GMO corn. 


  • Available with MSM
  • 1000 mgs / 1000 mgs
  • caps
  • 2 v-caps daily
  • supply
  • $.00  Amazon

Derived from non-GMO corn. 


  • Available with MSM
  • 1500 mgs / 340 mgs
  • 120 v-caps
  • 1 capsule 3x daily
  • 40 day supply
  • $26.35  THDV*

Derived from non-GMO corn.