March 8, 2018

Supplements You Need As A Vegan: Vitamin B12

First and foremost, all vegans need to supplement vitamin B12. Only recently I got a message from a worried mother of a vegan teenage daughter asking me why I take vitamin B12. Her daughter wasn't taking any supplements - she simply had no idea about it and apparently never discussed supplements - and this is how you jeopardize health!

Why do you have to supplement Vitamin B12?

Soils produce vitamin B12 & for hundreds of years humans have been getting their vitamins from the dirt by eating plants that still has soil on them. But nowadays even if you eat unwashed organic fruits and vegetables grown in B12-rich soil you have to supplement vitamin B12. It is mostly found in animal products (animals produce it and they also get it through their fortified fodder), including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. 

How do you get your B12?

  • Injection: A year after I went vegan I got an injection of vitamin B12 when my level was very low but not under the normal range. B12 shots are great for those who don't want to think about taking tablets every day - an injection every 4 months and you're all set. You should get a blood test after the first 4 months though to see how your body absorbs the vitamin. 

  • Tablets: At the moment I take vitamin B12 tablets (1000 microgram/tablet) by Country Life. I take 1 tablet every second day, which is an ideal dosage for me. I recommend to get a blood test to check your levels and see where you are and what dose you need. 

  • Fortified foods such as plant-based milk, cereals and nutritional yeast. Even if you eat a lot B12 fortified foods you still have to supplement B12 (tablets) but on a smaller dose. 

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that any excess that isn't used should be flushed from the body. So you usually don't need to worry when you take too much of it. BUT: a woman I know once had a B12 overdose and ended up in the hospital. These overdoses are rare but you should keep them in mind. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 doesn't get stored in our body. Here are the common B12 deficiency symptoms:

  • weakness
  • tiredness
  • pale skin
  • strange sensations in the hands feet or legs
  • changes to the way you move

Please keep in mind that I am not a health professional! All I know about vitamin B12 is what I have tested on my own body & all this may work differently on yours.

x Christina

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