“You can’t get B12 on a vegan diet.”
Words often uttered to us non-meat eaters as people gasp in horror at the fact that we don’t eat animal flesh. It is true that natural sources of vitamin B12 are found in animal products, but they are also found in fortified foods. This week’s Meatless Monday looks at one of the B complex vitamins: B12.
B12 or cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin in the B-complex group. It is most notable for its importance in the formation of red blood cells and proper function of the nervous system. Recommended daily requirements range from 0.4 – 2.8µg/day depending on age and gender of a person. The highest amount required (2.8µg) is for lactating females.
Vitamin B12 can be stored by the body and, as a result, deficiencies may take a long time before they become apparent. Anemia, fatigue and numbness/tingling of the appendages can develop with a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Getting enough B12 in the diet doesn’t guarantee absorption. Certain conditions (advanced age, digestive disorders and heavy drinking) can result in deficiencies even amongst meat-eaters.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians can meet daily requirements by consuming sufficient amounts of eggs, milk and cheese while vegans will have to rely on fortified foods (e.g. cereal, soy milk) and supplements. Fermented foods such as tempeh and miso may contain some B12 depending on the process of fermentation used. Some brands of nutritional yeast, a deactivated yeast cultured on a micro-organism, may also contain some B12.
There are different supplemental forms of B12:
cyanocobalamin – the cheapest and most common
methylcobalamin – the most expensive yet most effective
hydroxocobalamin – used primarily in Europe
It is also ideal to take the vitamin as part of the B-complex group. The natural synergy of complementary vitamins is usually more effective than individual vitamins in isolation.
Some B12 resources:
Medline Plus via the National Library of Medicine
B12 Deficiency via WebMD
The Right Kind of Vitamin B12 is Vital for Treating Deficiency via The Natural News