What Every Vegetarian and Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12, Part 2
Vegetarians and Vegans and Vitamin B12 - Part 2
“How do Vegans and Vegetarians Get Enough B12?”
Vitamin B12 cannot be obtained from plants because they do not use B12 or store it. It has been discovered that plants containing vitamin B12 actually have what are known as B12 analogs named cobamides. These B12 analog cobamides prohibit B12 absorption therefore increasing the need for the real vitamin B12. Consuming these foods contributes to vegans and vegetarians B12 deficiencies.
Quite a bit of research is available about plants that were thought to provide adequate B12 but then were discovered instead to contain cobamides. Fermented soy, seaweed and spirulina are examples of foods containing these cobamides.
Vegans and vegetarians have to navigate a bit more difficult road to intake the proper amount of B vitamins and vegans more so than vegetarians do. Vegans eating a raw or macrobiotic diet that neglects fortified foods are at an especially high risk.
Wait, it gets trickier. Milk is a good source for vegetarians but studies indicate that some B12 content is destroyed when exposed to high temperatures during pasteurization. Analysis of B12 in pasteurized milk revealed about a ten percent loss, but it also deforms the milk proteins that aid in B12 absorption. A 1998 study on the effects of heating meats and milk using microwaves concluded that the process renders vitamin B12 unusable.
Vegetarians can eat fortified foods, eggs, dairy such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and add B12 supplementation.
Vegans must eat fortified foods daily or supplement with B12. Set your goal to absorb at least 2.4mcg of B12 per day. This is often achieved by eating fortified foods three times per day or by taking a daily oral supplement of at least 10mcg, or a weekly supplement of 2000mcg.
As you might already know, many vegan foods are fortified with B12, including breads, cereals, non-dairy milks, and some nutritional yeasts. Read your yeast labels because not all yeast contains B12.
If you are not eating a diet rich in vitamin B12 then you must supplement orally with tablet or sublingual drops. Be forewarned that some research about multivitamin products shows some to contain fake or dangerous analogs of B12. These might be formed when crystalline B12 interacts with other nutrients such as copper, iron and vitamin C.
Additionally, approximately only 56% of a 1mcg oral dose of B12 is absorbed and has the potential to decrease if the volume of intrinsic factor is surpassed. Supplementing only with B12 instead of a multivitamin is the best choice. If supplementing with oral tablets they should be chewed and allowed to dissolve in the mouth to improve absorption.
For those requiring guaranteed absorption, either subcutaneous or intramuscular injections will guarantee the vitamin B12 is delivered into your bloodstream. Injections of vitamin B12 usually only need to be administered every couple of weeks which relieves you of the daily supplementation chore.
Cigarette smokers should consider a non-cyanocobalamin source of B12.
"It is time you started injecting Vitamin B12"
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What are the symptoms of B12 deficiency?
A short list of physical symptoms
- Constant fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Bleeding gums and or mouth sores
- Pale skin
- Heart palpitations
- Increased depression
- Diarrhea, nausea and constipation
A short list of mental symptoms
- Numbness, tingling or pain throughout the body
- Balance problems and difficulty walking
- Weakness of trunk, arms and legs
- Abnormal Reflexes
Test Your Blood
If you are a devout vegetarian or vegan, the simplest way to approach your defense of B12 deficiency is to supplement daily or weekly. If you are noticing signs and symptoms of a possible deficiency, then don’t hesitate to see a healthcare professional and have your blood and MMA tested. If your primary is suspect or unwilling to check, be firm. It is your health that is in question and not theirs.
The frequency of diseases such as Chrohn’s, celiac and other intestinal issues such as excess bacterial growth, leaky gut and surgeries has been on the rise in the past few decades. I won’t bore you with my own hypothesis, but it seems our industrial revolution has caught up to the human race and is wreaking havoc upon your bodies’ normal functioning.
It is better to play it safe than suffer from an easily treatable vitamin deficiency. If you are vegan or vegetarian then you probably are aware of the many pitfalls confronting us while living in the new millennium. Finding truly organic foods grown in good soil and conditions is not easy and often pricey. We are fortunate that B12 supplements are readily available and affordable to us all. It’s one easy win for all of us choosing to live healthy.
Cheers to healthy living!
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