Before you read any further, I would like to clarify that I am not a medical professional. This blog post has been created through my own curiosity into knowing about this subject & all information has been sourced through my own personal research.
With that being said, I hope that you find this article interesting!
If you’re a vegan, you will know the situation oh so well when your every day, omnivorous Joe Bloggs becomes a nutrition expert when they find out you’re a vegan, sparking concern for where on earth you must get your B12 in your clearly depriving lifestyle choice.
The B12 myth goes as follows:
‘you cannot get B12 on a plant-based diet. Therefore, all vegans have a B12 deficiency’.
This is simply not true.
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According to a Tufts University study, data suggests that 40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have below normal levels of B12.
In the US and UK alone, it’s approximated that around 6% of people under 60 years old and 20% of people over 60 years old have a B12 deficiency.
Hence, it turns out that B12 deficiency is pretty common in general; not strictly limited to vegans.
The reason the vegan B12 myth originally came about is that plants do not need b12, so they do not store it. Vegans can still, however, easily find B12 from multiple sources (which are listed in the end section of this piece), while maintaining a compassionate and cruelty-free lifestyle, especially in this day and age.
Fun fact: B12 can actually be found naturally as a nutrient in the soil! Although, I wouldn’t recommend eating soil for your daily B12 intake!
So, what is B12 and why is it so important?
I’m so glad you asked! I will tell you why.
B12 is an essential, water-soluble vitamin needed within the human body. It is a nutrient that creates DNA, contributes to the formation & division of red blood cells, provides energy & is essential for functioning a healthy metabolism for every cell in our bodies.
B12 protects our nervous system due to its affiliation with red blood cells. So basically, without B12, our bodies would not create enough red blood cells, meaning not enough oxygen would get around the body, causing illnesses such as anaemia.
On top of that, the nervous system will not be able to function properly. Lack of B12 causes our nervous system to weaken & become damaged, which overall makes our body so much more prone to illness & disease.
In more rare cases, the absence of B12 can damage the optic nerve system by causing flawed vision.
It’s safe to say that B12 is very important.
Luckily, you can catch the symptoms of B12 deficiency early on by noticing when you have them.
Some of the most obvious & common symptoms are:
Tingling (pins and needles) or numbness in the hands & feet
Depression & negative mood changes
- Theory now suggests that B12 deficiency interferes with signals to & from brain s well as damages brain tissue, linking it to brain disorders such as depression & dementia.
Extreme tiredness & weakness
Lack of appetite leading to weight loss
Trouble balancing, dizziness & shortness of breath
- This is due to the lack of red blood cells being able to carry oxygen around the body.
Plant-Based Sources of B12
As stated previously, it is more than possible and easier now than ever for vegans to get enough B12 in their every day lives.
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It is recommended that you eat B12 fortified foods 2-3 times a day (or in my case, putting yeast flakes on every meal when I was back in England). Some B12 booster foods are:
Yeast extract spread, such as Marmite.
Nutritional yeast (Buy online here)
- Sprinkle on pasta, salad, tofu & popcorn
- Put into cheese sauce & mashed potato
Varieties of bread
B complex supplements
- Take 10 micrograms daily supplement or 2000 micrograms weekly supplement
- To ensure that B12 supplements don’t create imbalances of other vitamins, it’s recommended that you take B complex vitamin supplements. They contain many other important B vitamins, not just B12.
I hope that you found this blog post useful! If you did, please feel free to share the love on social media and join the Hello Vegan Bee mailing list for updates on other super helpful and informative posts in the future!
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