Important! This is a MUST READ article!
Vitamin B12 is one of the most important vitamins for the human body. It has a unique absorption mechanism and is normally required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin. Vitamin B12 main role is to speed up reactions in the body.
B12 deficiency has many symptoms and has also been linked to anaemia and nervous system damage (including dementia).
You’re not going to want to hear this next bit, but keep reading for the good news for vitamin B12 for vegans…
What makes B12 particularly significant for vegans is that, unlike most other vitamins, it cannot be obtained from a purely plant-based diet. It’s generally found in all animal foods except honey, (hang in there! The good news is coming).
What are the symptoms and who’s at risk?
There are two subgroups of vegans that are at a particular risk of B12 deficiency: long-term vegans who avoid common fortified foods (raw food vegans) and breastfed infants of vegan mothers with a low B12 intake.
Common symptoms include loss of energy, tingling and numbness, reduced sensitivity to pain or pressure, blurred vision, sore tongue, poor memory, confusion, hallucinations and personality changes.
How can I make sure I’m getting enough vitamin B12?
Here’s the good news for vegans that I promised!
Even though it’s found in animal foods, B12 is produced by bacteria which means you can still make sure you’re getting enough of it even on a vegan diet.
Currently, the only proven reliable source of vitamin B12 for vegans are fortified foods and supplements.
Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products (plant milk, for instance), vegan spreads, soy products, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals.
Alpro is of the leading brands that have added vitamin B12 accross a wide range of their products. There are many other brands as well but as usual, if in doubt, always check the label.
Marmite is another vegan-friendly product that is packed with vitamin B12 so make sure to stock up on it (it makes for fantastic savoury treats).
As a rule of thumb, try to consume vitamin B12 fortified foods at least twice a day and aim for a daily intake of 3 micrograms or more. Good luck with working that out!
to remain healthy on a vegan diet, you need to ensure you get an adequate amount of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supplements for vegans
Alternatively, you can get vitamin B12 supplements for vegans. These may be more convenient and economical than fortified foods.
Aim for at least 10 mcg per day, or 2000 mcg once a week. This may seem like a lot compared to the recommended daily intake of 1.5mcg for adults but vitamin B12 has a unique absorption mechanism: the less frequently you take it, the lesser amount your body absorbs.
Despite common misconceptions, a plant-based diet can’t provide you with ALL the nutrients you need. This means that to remain healthy on a vegan diet, you need to ensure you get an adequate amount of vitamin B12.
Luckily, today this easier than ever – stock up on vegan fortified foods such as Marmite or nutritional yeast, or go for vitamin B12 supplements.
I’m not a Doctor and this article is intended to alert you to this vital vitamin. Any suggestions in this article should be taken as a generalisation. You are recommended to consult your Doctor if you have any concerns.
So, the next time some dork says you need to eat meat to get vitamin B12 for vegans, you could politely enquire if they are getting the required vitamin B12 for themselves !!
Read related article: Can I Get All My Nutrition From A Vegan Diet?