Vitamin B12 Deficiency - A Concern For Vegans?

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Vitamin B12 Deficiency - A Concern For Vegans?
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Vitamin B12 Deficiency - A Concern For Vegans?

One of the most common concerns among vegans regards the necessity for vitamin B12 and the lack of this important vitamin in an animal-free diet.

Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

Whilst it is true to say that vitamin B12 is the only vitamin not readily available from vegan food sources, it is also known that this vitamin is only required by the body in very small amounts. Many foods that vegans include in their diet, such as soya milk, margarine, fortified yeast extracts (eg. Marmite) and some cereals, are nowadays fortified with vitamin B12. Eating enough of such foodstuffs with the B12 added can provide the amount that is needed.

However, many vegans do choose to take a vitamin B12 supplement (eg. Veganicity Vitamin B12) to be sure that they are obtaining enough of the vitamin.

Seaweed and fermented products, like tamari, miso and tempeh, may contain some vitamin B12 too, but they are not thought to be reliable sources of B12 that can be utilised effectively by the body.

Vegan Vitamin B12

Why is Vitamin B12 Important?

Vitamin B12 is important to maintain a healthy nervous system, properly utilise fats, protein and carbohydrates, form and regenerate red blood cells, promote growth and increase appetite in children, improve memory and concentration levels, relieve irritability and maintain energy levels.

Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that also contains essential mineral elements and a long-term deficiency of it can lead to pernicious anaemia and even brain damage. Unfortunately the symptoms of B12 deficiency may take more than five years to appear as the body is able to store the vitamin for a long period of time.

It works synergistically with almost all of the other B vitamins as well as vitamins A, C and E. When taken as a supplement it can often be very effectively combined with Folic Acid to help combat symptoms of tiredness or low energy. Alcohol and some forms of medication such as sleeping pills can inhibit the absorption of vitamin B12 and may therefore increase the need for a supplement. In extreme cases of deficiency a B12 injection may be administered to quickly increase the levels of vitamin B12 in the body.

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Vitamin B12 Deficiency - A Concern For Vegans?

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