First let me start off by saying that I’ve been vegan for just over 20 years and up until a couple of years ago, had minimal issues with vitamin deficiencies. I’ve struggled with iron deficiency over the years but that’s about it. But about a year ago I started noticing some changes in my body. Things like increased heart rate while at rest, brain fog along with a lot of short term memory loss, feeling run down and hair thinning–particularly of my eyebrows.
Even though I intrinsically knew that I had a deficiency, I chose to ignore it, up until I went to a nutrition workshop where the presenter was speaking about some serious issues that could occur if the body’s needs for B12 were not met. After which, I immediately started taking a supplement and now have noticed a marked difference in the problems that I had been suffering prior to taking the vitamin.
For those of you that are vegan or may be deficient in B12 here are a few facts to help you understand the importance of including this vitamin in your diet:
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. It also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.
A B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in the world.
It benefits your mood, energy level, memory, heart, skin, hair, digestion and more. Vitamin B12 is also an essential vitamin for addressing multiple metabolic functions — including enzyme production, DNA synthesis and hormonal balance — and maintaining healthy nervous and cardiovascular systems.
Because of its wide-reaching roles within the body, a vitamin B12 deficiency can show up in many different negative symptoms, many of which are very noticeable, such as potential chronic fatigue, mood disorders like depression and chronic stress or feeling run down, such as I did.
For many vegans or vegetarians, ensuring you’re getting enough B12 in your diet can be a difficult task as most of the foods that are rich in this vitamin are animal-based like liver, kidney, clams, eggs, sardines, tuna, trout or cheese. However fortified foods such as nut milks and some cereals often contain B12 and may work well for vegetarians or vegans, as they are synthetically made and not derived from animal sources.
Although not commonly recommended as part of a healthy diet, fortified cereals can be a good source of B vitamins, especially B12. Food fortification is the process of adding nutrients that are not originally in the food.
The bottom line is that vitamin B12 is a key nutrient that your body needs for many essential functions.
It can be found in large amounts in animal products, fortified foods and dietary supplements. Some of the richest sources are liver, beef, sardines, clams and dairy products.
Whether you want to increase your vitamin stores or prevent deficiency, eating these foods or taking a supplement may considerably improve your overall health as it did for me.