Understanding Veganism And A Vegan Diet And Making The Switch
Do You Need To Supplement With Vitamin B12 On A Vegan Diet?
This is one area that can be troublesome for vegans, but it doesn’t have to be. Studies have shown that some vegans have a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency than do lacto-vegetarians and omnivores.
Getting the recommended amount of vitamin B12 in the diet is extremely important in supporting healthy blood cells, nerves, and DNA production. Vegans do need to pay special attention to their vitamin B12 levels and supplement if necessary.
Many vegans don’t like to supplement at all which is very understandable because vegans who eat a whole food plant-based diet like to get all their required nutrients from the plants foods they eat.
Getting enough vitamin B12 from a plant-based diet can be difficult but not impossible. The first thing to understand is neither animal or plants produce vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria that live in soil, on plants, and in water sources. Grazing animals feed on the plants and water and ingest the bacteria and the vitamin B12 it produces. Carnivorous animals get their vitamin B12 by eating grazing animals.
At one time vitamin B12 was abundant in the environment and the soil and was spread through water sources like mountain streams and well water. Industrialization processes like the public water system, which is treated with chlorine that kills both bad and good bacteria, reduces our access to natural sources of vitamin B12.
Our mass produced vegetation must be cleaned thoroughly to not past on harmful bacteria, which also kills good bacteria. After we purchase our vegetables and fruits we then must clean them thoroughly again, which removes more vitamin B12.
Grazing animals provide a source of vitamin B12, not because they produce the vitamin, but because they feed on vegetation before it is sanitized of its vitamin B12 producing bacteria.
Because of the needed sanitation to keep produce clean within the mass production process, unfortunately vegans who eat a plant based diet may need to supplement with vitamin B12 or consume B12 fortified foods like B12 fortified orange juice.
I have been experimenting with periodically taking B12 supplements to not taking them at all. I have found that my mostly raw vegan diet that consists largely of blended vegetable juices and fruit juices has been able to keep my vitamin B12 level high even without supplementation.
I must emphasize that being vitamin B12 deficient can cause very serious nerve related health issues, so you will want to monitor your B12 level. You will want to supplement if you are not able to keep up your B12 level naturally.
I routinely get my B12 level checked and am scheduled to get a blood test done in the immediate future. I intend to provide an update detailing if my high consumption of raw foods is keeping my B12 level stable. (I got my lab results back in January and my B12 or just dandy without taking supplements. The large amount of raw fruits and vegetables I eat are keeping my B12 in the good range.)