A lot of people I talk to are not aware of the importance of Vitamine B12 for their health. For this reason I decided to write a short introductory blogpost on the topic. Remember, I am not a professional. This information comes from research I have done through the last years. You can find it online, if you take the time to look it up. I always refer to “The Vegan Society” as trustworthy source.
Everybody needs regular, reliable sources of vitamin B12.
Most vegans are aware of this, some don’t waste their thoughts on it. But Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause nasty side effects such as anaemia, nerve damage, heart disease or pregnancy complications – so it’s not worth taking any chances!
Vitamin B12 is crucial to the human body, which needs it to produce new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats. Vitamin B12 is also key to the health of nerves. B12 deficiency is a common problem because it can be affected by factors like age and digestion. Seniors, vegans and pregnant women are especially prone to vitamin B12 deficiency. People may not realize vitamin B12 is missing from their diets because the liver can store a 3-year supply. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimize potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.
What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency? Someone with low vitamin B12 may lose their appetite, lose weight or feel tired and weak. Depression, poor memory and trouble thinking are symptoms, as well as numb or tingling feelings in the hands and feet, a loss of balance, a sore mouth or tongue and constipation. Yellowed skin, anemia, paranoia and hallucinations may also indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. So if you notice any of these symptoms on yourself, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
How much do you need? To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following: Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day OR Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms OR Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.Check food nutrition labels and supplement details to see how many micrograms (also written μg or mcg) of vitamin B12 you are receiving.
Where can you get your B12 from? There are many possibilities to meet your needs! Reliable vegan sources of B12 are supplements and foods fortified with B12 (including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals). My recommendation for you: Fortified toothpaste. I use the Vitamin B12 toothpaste from Santé. It is an easy way to increase B12 levels. B12 in the toothpaste is absorbed through the mouth mucosa. A study by the Institute for Clinical Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Magdeburg showed a 60% increase of levels after four weeks of use. Brushing twice a day can result in the absorption of the recommended dose of 300 micrograms per day – according to the researchers.
Where to get B12 supplements? Nowadays you can find it in most grocery stores, in pharmacies or speciality shops. An easy way would be to buy it on the internet.
Is B12 vegan? The vitamin B12 component in supplements and fortified foods is made by bacteria and sourced from bacteria cultures. It is not taken from animal products. But be careful, some companies might put gelatin in their B12 supplements, though this appears to be less and less common.
Source of information: The Vegan Society. Vitamin B12: Your Key Facts. 11.06.2016.