Of the many essential nutrients that are in question in a vegan’s way of life, vitamin B12, also known as cobalamine, is definitely a popular topic of discussion. The fact remains that plant foods do not have B12 and that is a good reason why many people ask what possible sources of B12 for vegans are.
The Health Benefits of Vitamin B12:
For us to understand the value of vitamin B12, it is important to know about the benefits that it can bring to humans:
- Helps in the formation of red blood cells
The condition of the nervous system depends mainly on the amount of red blood cells. If the body’s supply of red blood cells falls short, it would result to anemia, neurological problems and affects the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- Promotes normal brain functions
Vitamin B12 plays a very significant role in maintaining the health of the central nervous system particularly the spinal cord and the brain.
- Facilitates the replication of DNA
Aside from its role in making red blood cells and nerve cells, vitamin B12 also has a very important function in the replication of DNA which acts as the building block for new cells in the body.
Common Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency:
If you notice or experience any of the following, there is a big chance that your body lacks vitamin B12:
- Chronic fatigue
- Memory impairment
- Jerky limbs
- Slow reflexes
- Balance problems
- Emotional disorders
- Speaking difficulty (stammering)
A person who experiences severe vitamin B12 deficiency develops a high risk for anemia, heart attacks, strokes and nerve damage. The elderly folks who lack vitamin B12 also have a higher tendency of suffering Alzheimer’s disease. Recent studies have also shown that vitamin B12 deficiency may be associated with the development of cancer cells because the body will not be able to perform its normal function of repairing and replicating DNA.
Why Vegans May Experience Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
A vegan diet only allows legumes, fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods, nuts and seeds and seaweeds to be part of meals. It is true that this type of diet provides the body with an abundant supply of vitamins and minerals but B12 is one of the exemptions. The foods that have been proven to be rich sources of vitamin B12 are eggs, dairy products, fish and meat. But all these foods are banned from a vegan diet so goes the question: Where do vegans get their vitamin B12?
Sources of vitamin B12 for Vegans:
It is important for vegans to take vitamin B12 supplements to meet the body’s requirement for this essential nutrient. B12 is the only vitamin that is not found in vegetables or fruits, but you can find in meat and dairy products. Many people are doubtful about the safety of these supplements but, the truth is, the health of vegans will be facing jeopardy if they will not take sufficient B12 required to maintain the perfect health of the cells.
Aside from B12 supplements, vegans may also choose to take B12 liquids and B12 injections to prevent any deficiencies. But it is also important to note that the right dosage is required to avoid possible side effects like toxicity. Too much of anything can be bad and that includes B12.
To be on the safe side, you can consult a health professional to get sound advice when it comes to what type of supplement and what dosage of B12 requirements. There are a lot of products out there in the market and someone who does not have enough skills and training may choose a B12 supplement that would not be able to provide what the body needs. With the help of your doctor, you will have the assurance that you are taking your B12 supplements the right way.
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