Clean, plant-based eating is one of the best things you can do for your body (and your wallet). One thing I often hear, though, is the importance of getting enough B12 if you are vegan or near-vegan.
Most vitamins are found in abundance in plants, but B12 is only in animal products. So if you eat meat, eggs, poultry, cheese, and so forth, you’re fine. If you’re a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy regularly you should get plenty of B12.
But if you’re vegan and/or have coeliac or Crohn’s disease, which prevent your body from absorbing nutrients, you need to think about how to get enough B12.
Why? According to the Harvard Health Blog a B12 deficiency has some pretty serious consequences:
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet
- difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- a swollen, inflamed tongue
- yellowed skin (jaundice)
- difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
- paranoia or hallucinations
Eventually, severe deficiencies can cause neurological damage.
It is not a chance worth taking!
Vegan food sources of B12 include fortified breads, cereals, nutritional yeast and plant-milks. If you follow a gluten free diet that eliminates most breads and cereals, which makes it tricky. Unless you’re happy to eat nutritional yeast every day, or guzzle a lot of fortified plant milk, you probably want to take a supplement. There are lots of multivitamin, B-vitamin and specific B12 options out there.
If you have a preferred brand to recommend please do so in the comments!