You are certainly aware that vitamin B12 is immensely important for every vegan Earthling, as you’ve probably already heard! But if someone would ask you why this is so, could you explain to him exactly what this mysterious B12 is all about?
Well, I could not really do that as I am not a doctor or nutritionist and that’s why I made myself smart and put together eight things in this article that you as vegans should know about B12.
And I am sure that there is also something that you did not know so far.
So, what do you say? Are you in?
Cool, because then I explain to you first what it is, this ominous B12.
Now what exactly is B12?
Okay, do not let me make it too complicated, but you should already know a few things about B12.
Vitamin B12 is one of the chemical compounds of Cobalamine.
However, you can forget the term after the next sentence – I just wanted to pose a bit and state that I’ve looked it up on Wikipedia.
These cobalamins are found in all living things and are important for cell division, blood formation and functions of the nervous system.
As you can see, vitamin B12 plays an immensely important role in your metabolism!
Where is B12 included?
Since the human body can’t provide itself with B12, it must be supplied through the diet.
However, vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal foods, like meat, fish and dairy products.
It is produced by microorganisms in the digestive organs of animals or it is mixed into the feed. Via the animal’s digestive organs, it then reaches the other organs as well as the muscles and the milk.
In plant foods, vitamin B12 is found in very small amounts that are far from enough to meet all the needs of your body.
And even if you have ever heard that B12 should also be sufficient in sauerkraut or algae: forget it!
Many nutritional experts express this very clearly:
“There is very low occurrence in root and tuber vegetables and fermented foods such as beer, sauerkraut and fermented soy products is not sufficient to make a significant contribution to the vitamin B12 supply.”
Got it? Got it!
What are your daily needs?
You might ask yourself but how high is your need for vitamin B12?
The Vegan Nutrition Society has an answer to that and recommends an amount of 3.0 μg / day for adults.
For children and adolescents, the values are a bit lower. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have a higher need.
What happens with a B12 deficiency?
In no case should you take a lack of vitamin B12 lightly, because the consequences can be drastic.
Although a healthy body has a B12 memory in the liver, which can be quite a few years, but this is also the biggest danger factor, as this memory too low a supply can be detected late.
The potential health effects of B12 deficiency range from a reduction in red blood cells and a decrease in hemoglobin in the blood, which is responsible for oxygen transport, heart disease and nervous system disorders ranging from dementia to depression.
This is really no joke!
And one more thing for the omnivore smarties in your environment: a possible B12 deficiency is not only a topic for vegans – even infants and older people are among the risk groups and are indeed completely independent of their diet.
Good to know, right?
How to recognize a B12 deficiency (or not)?
Now you are certainly wondering how to spot a possible B12 deficiency, right?
If you google a bit, you may also find some info about it with lists that show things like lack of concentration, tiredness, paleness and so on.
If it works that way, I would have a B12 deficiency at least every winter and after every glass of red wine.
You realize what I’m getting at: I think it’s nonsense to conclude that there are B12 deficiencies based on these symptoms, which can also be caused by a thousand other things.
So please don’t let that make you crazy!
How to determine your B12 needs?
But what can you do to seriously identify your vitamin B12 needs and potential deficiencies?
There is only one solution: Just have your vitamin B12 supply regularly examined, preferably once a year, giving a blood sample at the doctor of your confidence.
The B12 concentration in the blood can be measured directly.
However, this method is not without controversy, because if the value is in the normal range (between 200-400 ng / l), there may still be a defect.
This is because the B12 concentration measurement in the blood not only measures B12, but also molecules that are similarly constructed.
These are so-called analogs that the body can’t use. This can lead to a falsification of the measurement results.
A much safer diagnosis therefore makes it possible to additionally determine a second value, that of the holo-TC (holotranscobalamin).
This is considered a reliable indicator for the detection of B12.
A deficiency is said to be when the determined value falls below 35 pmol / l. 35 to 160 pmol / l are considered normal range, from 50 pmol / l a B12 deficiency is unlikely.
In individual cases, further specific tests may be required, which can provide you with more competent information.
Here are some plant-based foods that include vitamin B12!
You can find the following plant-based foods that are supposed to be able to provide vegan Earthlings with vitamin B12:
- Algae (Spirulina, Chlorella, Kelp and Afa-algae as well as sea algae like Nori)
- Unpeeled and unwashed root vegetables (carrots, beetroot)
- Wild plants
- Wheatgrass and barleygrass
- Fermented soy products such as miso, shoyu and tempeh
- Milky acid vegetables like sauerkraut
- Black tea
- Sweet lupine
- Comfrey and sea buckthorn
- Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast flakes
- Palm sugar
This is what you can do about B12 deficiency!
But what can you do, so that it does not even come to a B12 deficiency?
Today, there are a variety of products, such as. Vegetable milk, juices or toothpaste, which are enriched with vitamin B12 and thus help to meet your daily needs.
Honestly, I don’t think much about it.
First of all, I am not a friend of the fact that (in particular) at some foods B12 is added to foods that do not belong there. After all, as a vegan, I want to eat as naturally and as healthy as possible.
Secondly, in this way, the amount of B12 you consume daily is difficult to detect and highly variable.
So, you can never be sure that you really cover your entire needs.
And finally, you can’t usually tell from the packaging information which form of vitamin B12 is used, because that makes a difference in terms of interaction with other ingredients and the usability in your body.
So what alternatives are there for you?
This is actually quite easy, because vitamin B12 is extremely easy to supplement as a dietary supplement in the form of tablets, drops or spray.
However, you should be careful to use as pure as possible a preparation that contains no dyes and additives and gelatin or lactose, as it can be the case with capsules.
The active substances used for these supplements are the B12 forms methylcobalamin, adenoslycobalamin or hydroxocobalamin.
Which drug with which active ingredient you take and how high it should be dosed, you should, however, always clarify the related situation individually with your doctor.
Only this way the supplementation is really useful.
Here are all facts in a nutshell
Well, that was a lot of stuff right now, so I’ll summarize it for you:
- Vitamin B12 is important for cell division, blood formation and nervous system functions
- Usable for humans Vitamin B12 is contained in sufficient form mostly in animal foods
- According to the Vegan Society for Nutrition, adults require 3.0 μg vitamin B12 per day
- The symptoms of a possible B12 deficiency are not clear
- Vitamin B12 deficiency can be highly dangerous and cause irreversible damage
- Once a year, have your doctor determine your B12 levels and needs
- Supplement Vitamin B12 according to instructions of your doctor
I hope this article was useful for you? Leave me a comment below!