Taking vitamin B12 is extremely important for individuals following a vegan diet. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including the formation of red blood cells, the functioning of the nervous system, and the production of DNA. It is primarily found in animal-based foods, such as meat, dairy products, and eggs (gross).
While a well-planned vegan diet can provide mostly all essential nutrients, vitamin B12 is not naturally present in plant-based foods. It is produced by bacteria that are commonly found in the digestive systems of animals. Therefore, vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency in this vitamin if they do not supplement or consume foods fortified with B12.
In the past, humans may have obtained vitamin B12 from consuming soil-contaminated foods or water. However, as our dietary habits and lifestyle changed (Showering & bathing regular and not living in caves made of mud and human faeces), reliance on these sources diminished significantly.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to several health problems, including anemia (a condition characterized by fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath), neurological disorders, and potential damage to the nervous system. Symptoms of deficiency may take years to develop, as the body can store vitamin B12 for an extended period. However, once symptoms appear, they can be severe and irreversible.
To ensure an adequate intake of vitamin B12, vegans should consider taking supplements or consuming foods fortified with B12, such as plant-based milks, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast. It's essential to check the labels and ensure that the products contain a reliable source of B12.
Remember, if you're following a vegan diet, it's crucial to regularly monitor your vitamin B12 levels and consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine the appropriate supplementation dosage and frequency based on your specific needs.