Vitamin B12 is a very controversial vitamin and there are two differing opinions on the issue of vitamin B12 for those eating a plant-based diet: to supplement or not to supplement. Vitamin B12 is needed for digestion, assimilation of nutrients, prevention of nerve damage and to synthesise protein. Also Vitamin B12 is necessary to help folic acid regulate the production of red blood cells, promote natural growth and fertility, and improves iron utilisation thus preventing anaemia. Absorption of vitamin B12 depends on a healthy pancreas and strong gastric secretions.
If you have a vitamin B12 deficiency you may suffer from fatigue, nerve degeneration, clumsiness, depression, memory loss and in severe cases death. Obviously this is a very important vitamin that must be included in the diet somehow. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, the debate rages as to for how long. Some believe that Vitamin B12 can be produced by bacteria in our bodies and that this is enough.
Some rumoured sources of Vitamin B12 include:
Products that are fortified with Vitamin B12 are reliable sources as are supplements.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, have digestive or malabsorption problems, are worried or even curious, I would suggest that you go to your local GP to get a Vitamin B12 test. Other factors that may decrease vitamin B12 levels include alcohol, oral contraception and some antibiotics. Tests can be done by taking blood or urine samples. Supplements for vitamin B12 are available as tablets or a sub lingual spray which is taken under the tongue for quick absorption.
information © Leigh-Chantelle & Viva la Vegan!
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I have included this information on Vitamin B12 as it's obviously a very serious issue and needs to be addressed. Vegans and vegetarians should make sure that they are getting the necessary Vitamin B12 that they need, as should non-vegans, as a Vitamin B12 deficiency is just as serious for people who consume animal products. This is a huge issue that causes a lot of controversy, so please use your good judgement.
This is not to be used as medical advice. Please see your doctor or health care professional.
- Published: 31 May 2010
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