VEG 1 nutrition FAQs

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VEG 1 was developed to provide a convenient way of avoiding the most common weak points in a varied vegan diet: vitamin B12, iodine, vitamin D and selenium. 

Vitamin B12 

Vitamin B12 is almost entirely absent from modern plant foods which are not contaminated by bacteria and insects. Even unwashed, organically grown plants do not contain a significant amount of B12. Vegans often have intakes of vitamin B12 well below recommended intakes. Low vitamin B12 intake by vegans routinely leads to reduced activity of some important enzymes and increased levels of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid (MMA). Even moderately elevated homocysteine is associated with increased risk of death, depression, stroke, dementia and birth defects, though it remains unclear how many of these associations reflect true cause and effect.  

Vegans who do not get vitamin B12 from fortified food or supplements are at increased risk of clinical deficiency symptoms such as anaemia and nervous system damage. The most common early symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are tiredness (from anaemia), numbness and tingling (from nervous system damage) and sore tongue. 

VEG 1 is designed to provide sufficient absorbed vitamin B12 to match national and international recommended intakes. It is designed to be chewed as this increases the reliability of vitamin B12 absorption by dispersing and dissolving the tablet. 

Vitamin D 

In the winter – whenever our shadows at midday are more than twice as long as we are - our skin cannot produce vitamin D effectively and even small dietary intakes may become important to avoid deficiency.  VEG 1 aims to eliminate the disadvantage to vegans from lower dietary vitamin D intakes. UK recommendations for vitamin D intakes are 8.5-10µg/day for infants less than 1 year old and 10µg/day for everyone else (µg = microgram; sometimes also written mcg). 

Iodine and Selenium 

Most plants have no requirement for iodine or selenium for their growth, so the amounts of these nutrients in plants vary widely and iodine and selenium intakes from vegan diets can be lower than from omnivorous diets. In the UK and many other countries dairy products are a major source of iodine due to the use of iodine-fortified feed concentrates. Iodine and selenium are also provided to some farmed animals as supplements. A moderate, steady iodine intake is ideal for thyroid health and low iodine intake during pregnancy impairs intelligence in children. Selenium is an important protective anti-oxidant. 

Other nutrients 

We also included small amounts of folic acid, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 in VEG 1 as they work along with vitamin B12 to reduce homocysteine levels. Folic acid is especially important for women planning to conceive. 

We did not attempt to include all nutrients as most nutrients are not an issue for vegans eating a varied and sensible diet. VEG 1 is intended to complement a healthy vegan diet and does not seek to provide a substitute for such a diet. 

We believe that VEG 1 continues to meet a need not addressed by the general supplement market for a supplement designed to meet the particular needs of vegans as a complement to a varied and healthful diet. Formulating such a supplement and ensuring that it is produced to high standards is no trivial task. We hope that our members and the many other VEG 1 users will agree that we have created a good and reasonably priced product that meets a real need. 

We test a sample of tablets from each batch of VEG 1 before it is released for sale and we also sometimes test tablets from old batches. This testing has demonstrated that the production of VEG 1 is reliable and that the ingredients are sufficiently stable over time. Iodine content in VEG 1 has been found to be much more consistent than found in published surveys of iodine supplements. 

It is important to chew VEG 1 to promote reliable absorption of its contents. The ideal way to use VEG 1 is to chew it during or immediately after a meal. The fat content of the meal may assist vitamin D absorption and the digestive process may give more consistent absorption of vitamin B12. Taking VEG 1 with a meal also minimises the effect of its sugar content on teeth. 

If you suspect you are seriously deficient in terms of any nutrient or if you are taking prescription medicines you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. 

Higher doses of vitamin B12 and vitamin D than those in VEG 1 may be necessary if you have been diagnosed as seriously deficient. Check with your health adviser. 

If you have had an inadequate supply of vitamin B12 for more than a year then taking a high dose supplement for a short time is recommended, e.g. 1,000 µg (micrograms) a day for 2 months. This will boost blood levels rapidly even if there is a temporary malabsorption due to deficiency. After this VEG 1 would generally be sufficient. 

A small minority of people have persistent severe vitamin B12 malabsorption. This is rare in young people but may affect about 2% of those over 65. In these cases much higher oral doses (at least 2,000 µg per week) are necessary to correct deficiency. 

You should not take VEG 1 if you have been told by your doctor or pharmacist to avoid supplements containing vitamin D.  

Vitamin D supplements may have an altered effect if you are taking certain prescription medicines or if you have certain medical conditions. Due to the vitamin D content, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking VEG 1 if you have problems with your kidneys or if you have sarcoidosis or if you are taking prescription medicines. 

Metformin can reduce B12 absorption. 

If you are being treated for hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), taking a supplement containing iodine such as VEG 1 may worsen the condition, and you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist for individual advice.  

None of the ingredients in VEG 1 are problematic during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Indeed, its key nutrients (vitamin B12, iodine and vitamin D) are all particularly important during pregnancy. VEG 1 also contains folic acid which is recommended during pregnancy though the amount (200 µg) is less than that recommended during early pregnancy and while trying to conceive (400 µg). 

In 2022 we launched VEG 1 Baby and Toddler, a liquid multivitamin developed for young vegans with the expert support of a paediatric dietitian. Suitable for children aged six months to four years, VEG 1 Baby and Toddler conveniently combines vitamins recommended for this age group by the UK government, with vitamins recommended for a vegan diet (Vitamins A,C,D, B12, iodine and selenium). You can read more about it and purchase it here. 

The amounts of nutrients in VEG 1 would have little effect in themselves in countries with higher background exposures. For example, in Japan average iodine intakes exceed 1,000 µg per day compared with 150 µg in VEG 1. VEG 1 would have almost no impact relative to variations in seaweed consumption. The impact of VEG 1 on vitamin D levels would be much less than the impact of sun exposure when the sun is sufficiently high in the sky. 

The nutrient contents of a VEG 1 tablet are all well below the tolerable upper limits for adults – less than 25% of the upper limits for the UK, EU and USA. 

In certain contexts particular elements of VEG 1 can become unnecessary but they should not be harmful. 

The small VEG 1 tub contains 90 tablets which is 3 months' supply for an adult. The large VEG 1 tub contains 180 tablets. For children under 12, the recommended use is half a tablet a day so VEG 1 lasts twice as long. There is a two year shelf life on VEG 1 from the date of manufacture. 


Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin), iodine, vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), selenium, folic acid, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. 

The D3 in VEG 1 is derived from naturally occurring D3 in lichen. Usually D3 in supplements comes from animals via the action of ultraviolet radiation on their skin or is derived from cholesterol obtained from lanolin (also from animals). We include the word lichen to make it more obvious that the D3 in the VEG 1 formula is suitable for vegans and does not come from animals.

We have visited the company producing the D3 from lichen and they have shown us confidential test results that confirm that the D3 in their final product has come from lichen. Their D3 carries the Vegan Society's Trademark as the producer has provided clear and satisfactory assurances on its source. 

VEG 1 contains 0.625 grams (a sixth of a teaspoon) of sugar. Sugar is used because it provides a stable, palatable and chewable base for the tablets. These properties are important as chewing improves the reliability of vitamin B12 absorption and the supplement is intended for children as well as adults. 

The only potential adverse effect of such a small amount of sugar would be to slightly increase risk of tooth decay and this can be minimised if VEG 1 is taken with or immediately after a meal.  

We have looked at alternatives – including fruit extracts, stevia and xylitol –but have not found an equally satisfactory alternative. Fruit extracts were impractical due to instability. Stevia has a distinctive taste and there is a legal limit to the amount that can be used per kilo. To match the current sweetness level of VEG 1, we would need to exceed this. If xylitol is used at levels of over 10% of the total product weight the product has to carry the warning: “excessive consumption may cause laxative effects”. 

Bone char is sometimes used in cane sugar production but is not used in producing the sugar in VEG 1 and is not used for beet sugar.

Scientific trials have directly shown clear benefits from folic acid in reducing the incidence of birth defects. An intake of 400µg/day is recommended while trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.  

Folic acid, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6 were included as they act along with vitamin B12 to reduce homocysteine. The amounts included were 100% of the recommended intake at the time and were intended to make sure there was no weak link in reducing homocysteine levels, though insufficient vitamin B12 is the reason elevated homocysteine levels are seen in vegans. 

There is a hypothesis that large doses of folic acid might promote cancer but the best evidence (combined analysis of many randomised trials) does not support this. The small amount in VEG 1 is similar to amounts obtained in some countries from fortified foods and is not expected to cause any problem. 

Cyanocobalamin is used because it is stable and it is readily converted in the body to methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin which are the two active forms of vitamin B12. For an independent commentary on the different forms of cobalamin (vitamin B12) click here

Calcium intake can easily be low in vegan diets but this can be readily addressed by dietary choices, e.g.  using fortified plant milks, calcium-set tofu and green leafy vegetables. Including calcium in VEG 1 would also conflict with palatability and chewability.

We consider that a varied mostly whole-food vegan diet provides sufficient zinc. 

Dietary changes can easily improve the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats in the diet.  For example, sunflower/corn oil can be replaced with rapeseed oil. Fatty acid supplements are normally provided as oil-filled capsules so could not easily be combined with the other ingredients of VEG 1. 

Nutrient Levels

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