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Getting to Know Vitamin B12 as a Vegan
  Science      Health      Environment    

As a vegan, you might feel that B12 is not necessary to keep your energy levels high, especially because there is a common misconception that B12 is derived from animal products. Though the choice of consumption is totally up to you, it is wise to get to know vitamin B12 better before deciding on whether to embrace it or not. Read on to get to know various aspects and advantages of this vitamin.

1.What is B12?

Vitamin B12 is known to be the vitamin with the most complex chemical structure. Because of its unique composition that involves the cobalt ion, it is also known as Cobalamin. Like all other B vitamins, B12 also plays a part in facilitating energy metabolism and other biological processes.

2.How is it produced?

Unlike other B vitamins, B12 can only be prepared by microorganisms and one can usually consume it only through animal products. Plants are incapable of producing or storing B12. This is one reason why vegans cannot consume B12 in its natural form.

3.How does it differ from other B vitamins?

One major difference between B12 and the other B vitamins is that while it is rather easy for the human body to absorb other B vitamins, B12 have much complicated conditions for getting absorbed. Also, B12 vitamins can be retained within the human body while most other B vitamins get exhausted fast.

4.How does B12 help the human body?

B12 can affect the human body in numerous ways. Some of them include:

a.Retaining of Brain and Nervous System Health: As B12 helps in the production of hemoglobin, it also contributes to the brain health by facilitating maximum supply and transportation of oxygen.

b.Supporting the Cardiovascular System: B12 helps in keeping our cardiovascular system running and on track by producing red blood cells or hemoglobin and preventing the excessive build-up of homocysteine in our bloodstream.

c.Producing DNA: B12 is an important factor required for the production of DNA.

d.Supporting Metabolism: B12 is responsible for maintaining proper levels of succinyl-coA in the citric acid cycle to so as to facilitate energy metabolism.

5.How to detect B12 deficiency?

Some of the symptoms of B12 deficiency are:

a.       Fatigue

b.      Anemia

c.       Tingling sensation in palms and feet

6.What will happen of you become B12 deficient?

Some of the results of B12 deficiency include:

a.      Deafness

b.      Dementia

c.      Blindness

d.      Heart attack

e.      Stroke

7.Why are vegans more affected than anyone else?

As mentioned earlier, B12 can be stored in human bodies for years unlike other vitamins. This means that non-vegetarians and the ovo-lacto vegetarians (the ones who consume egg and dairy) are less at the risk of B12 levels going down in their bodies. In fact, even a person who turns into a vegetarian after he/she has been a non-vegetarian for many years is not at risk as their body would store B12 for many years in the future. But vegans on the other hand are at a great risk of B12 deficiency have very limited or no natural options to include B12 vitamin in their diet. The deficiency can especially affect the mental and physical growth of vegan children if they are not provided with proper supplements.

8.How can vegans beat B12 deficiency?

Some of the foods that vegans can consume to prevent b12 deficiency are by depending on fortified foods. These include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, nutritional yeasts and certain types of breakfast cereal. But sometimes even these cannot really make up for the required amount of B12 vitamins, on which case, B12 supplement pills can be depended upon; but only after consulting a proper nutritionist.

That brings us to the end of getting to know B12 vitamin. It is true that when it comes to B12, vegan diets are yet to reach further heights regarding the levels of supplementation it can provide to its followers. But with proper diet control and awareness vitamin B12 deficiency can certainly be kept at bay. 

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