What You Need to Know About Vitamin B12

Care is important for vegetarians and vegans

If you are considering becoming a vegetarian or vegan, it's important to keep your intake of vitamin B12 in mind.

Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse and an exceptional vitamin when it comes to essential nutrients. It's needed for red blood cell production, brain function, DNA regulation, and energy levels. It also helps keep your metabolism balanced, helps you stay focused, and keeps your nervous systems healthy.

For vegans and vegetarians, it can be helpful to take a vitamin B12 supplement since this vitamin can only be found in animal products like eggs, meat, shellfish, and dairy (although some cereals, soy, and plant based products can also be fortified with vitamin B12.) But it's worth noting vegans and vegetarians might not be the only one at risk of lacking vitamin B12. Those who do eat meat, dairy, and eggs may also have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

What are the causes of vitamin B12 deficiency?

  • Being vegan/vegetarian and not consuming adequate vitamin B12 fortified foods nor taking vitamin B12 supplements
  • Those suffering from a leaky gut, food allergies, or a poor digestive system
  • Those who don’t follow a healthy balanced diet and lack pro-biotics (good bacteria) in their system. Both children and the elderly can fall into this category. Gluten-rich food has been reported to lower the absorption of vitamin B12 as well as other vitamins

Vitamin B12 is structurally the largest and most complex of all vitamins known to man.

Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid clinical deficiency, but since deficiency is quite common amongst vegetarians and especially vegans, it’s important that supplements are taken to avoid extreme deficiencies that can cause anemia or nervous system damage. The symptoms of lacking vitamin B12 are many, and they aren’t the most pleasant! It's strongly advised to check with a doctor to see if you lack vitamin B12.

Symptoms of Vitamins B12 deficiency

  • Feelings of fatigue/low energy/exhaustion
  • Lack of focus/poor memory issues
  • Anemia
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Feeling light headed/blurred vision
  • Easily emotionally stressed
  • General low morale/irritability

Obtaining vitamin B12 is not difficult!

There are plenty of well trusted brand names of vitamin supplements as well as one-a-day Vitamin B12 supplements you can take. Many different foods are also fortified with Vitamin B12 including non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast. One German company has even fortified its toothpaste with vitamin B12 and it's only a matter of time until we see more products and food on the market cater to those who prefer to follow a plant based diet. 

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