If you’re a vegan or vegetarian I bet you get asked “so, how are you getting your B12”? The truth is, we should all be worried because hardly anyone absorbs enough B12!
What is vitamin B12?
B12 is a group of vitamins called Cobalamins that are basically formed in soil by bacteria. There are eight types but the ones we’re interested in are methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin and cyanocobalamin. The best forms of cobalamins for human health are methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. These are already broken down and can be absorbed almost instantly. Hydroxocobalamin are mainly used by pharmaceuticals for injections and cyanocobalamin, which, by the way, should be avoided at all costs, it is cobalamin bonded with cyanide which is then fermented for cheap commercial use by the food industry to fortify food. It is not good for you! Please avoid.
Why do we need vitamin B12 in our diet?
B12 is essential for the healthy function of the brain, heart,nervous system (protects myelin sheaths surrounding the nerves), supports cellular function, thyroid, helps to form red blood cells, DNA to name just a few health benefits.
How to get enough vitamin B12 as a vegan
Most humans and domestic animals don’t absorb B12 well at all. There are many reasons for this, but the biggest reason is digestion and absorption.
Our body does not make B12, we only get it through diet. Digestion, absorption and utilisation of B12 requires a healthy digestive system, which most of us don’t have. The whole process begins in the mouth. What happens is chewing creates saliva which protects the B12 until it gets into our stomach. A protein called Intrinsic Factor is then released into the stomach. This protein carries the B12 to the ileum to be released for absorption. If we don’t have enough Intrinsic Factor, we may not be able to absorb the B12 we need.
There are many reasons for low Intrinsic Factor such as, low stomach acid production due to some medication (including proton pump inhibitors, anti-acids), leaky gut, IBS and other stomach disease, food additives, mercury, gluten or dairy intolerance. GMO’s can also affect the production of Intrinsic Factor which in turn causes B12 deficiency. Harmful organisms like parasites in your stomach, can steal B12 from you before you get it also leading to deficiency.
B12 deficiency only affects vegans and vegetarians. Fact! B12 deficiency affects EVERYONE! Meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians will be deficient in B12 for the same reasons: digestion, absorption and utilisation. It’s a human problem.
B12 Deficiency – Symptoms
Mental and physical fatigue, shortness of breath, anaemia, anxiety and depression, pins and needles, numbness of hands and feet, sore mouth and tongue, irritability and muscle weakness to name a few.
Remedies for B12 deficiency
Whether you are having symptoms or not, start supplementing now with B12 containing Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin, it’s that simple. BioCare, which can be purchased here in our Plant Apostle shop, is the best one we have found.
The next thing you would need to do to ensure proper absorption and utilisation, is to fix any stomach issues you may have.
- Change diet to plant based, include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you eat meat, limit your consumption and choose grass fed organic but, best to cut out animal foods altogether until you feel better.
- If you suffer from bloating, follow a good food combining diet or the FODMAP diet. I will write about this in another blog, but in the meantime, you can find lots of information online.
- Cut out alcohol, limit coffee to one a day (organic only), avoid processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, bread, pasta, ready meals, GMO’s and beverages containing high fructose corn syrup, just assume it’s in any soft drink unless stated otherwise.
- Drink plenty of water, preferably infused with lemons and limes.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Sleep, exercise, get plenty of fresh air and relax!