B12 is a recurring topic when talking about veganism. The only vitamin necessary to take in the form of a supplement is often used as an anti-vegan argument with the you have to supplement yourself, so it’s not natural. It’s time to deconstruct the myth around the B12 and understand what we’re talking about.
What is Vitamin B12?
B12 is called cobalamin, is one of the eight vitamins of the B group. Discovered in 1948, it was completely synthesized in the laboratory in 1972.
If B12 synthesis occurs before the absorption zone, as in ruminants, these are self-sufficient in vitamin B12. However, suppose the synthesis occurs after the absorption zone. In that case, they must ingest it later. This explains why rabbits eat their droppings.
It is produced exclusively by micro-organisms present in certain animals’ soil and the digestive tract, such as herbivorous mammals.
Why is vitamin B12 necessary?
Vitamin B12 is essential for the functioning of our body. It plays a role in maintaining the blood, production of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, the maintenance of the brain, and the maintenance of the nervous system.
False sources of vitamin B12
Many foods market themselves as natural sources of B12 and make supplementation seem unnecessary. this includes spirulina, chlorella, and nori seaweed. They cannot, therefore, be considered reliable sources. The studies carried out deny the effectiveness of these products concerning B12, mainly due to the presence of vitamin B12, which is not guaranteed according to the samples.
How to add Vitamin B12 vegan diet?
Doctors, specialists, and lamb meat-eaters like to use B12 to discredit the vegan diet, arguing that it’s not entirely human-friendly if supplementation is necessary.
This is however a misunderstanding around this question, farm animals being themselves supplemented with B12. Vegans are just applying the short circuit principle for their B12 consumption!
Where can I find vitamin B12?
It is possible to find B12 supplements in specialized organic stores, although I rarely see them in the shops I frequent. I, therefore, supply myself on the vegan shop online sales site. They are frequently offered in the form of capsules or ampoules.
Not all B12 supplements are vegan and may contain animal products such as lactose and animal gelatin. I, therefore, recommend that you order your products on sites specializing in vegan products to avoid any confusion when purchasing B12!
If you are not keen on ingesting tablets, there are products on the market enriched with B12, such as certain plant milks. It will be up to you, in this case, to check the dose ingested through these foods.
How much B12 should I take?
The official recommendations for vitamin B12 supplementation are as follows: either one µg (microgram) three times a day; or ten µg once a day; or 2,000 µg once a week; or 5000 µg once every two weeks.
Suspected or proven deficiency
These recommendations are to be respected in the absence of B12 deficiency. In case of suspected or proven deficiency, the following doses are recommended:
1000 mcg per day for two months
2000 mcg per day for one month
5000 mcg per day for 12 days
Babies 6 to 24 months: 2.5 mcg daily or 500 mcg once a week
2 to 12 years: 5 mcg per day, or 1000 mcg once a week
From 12 years old: the adult dose
I opted for the daily dose, which seems less restrictive to me than if I had to count the number of days between each dose! So I take one pill of Veg1 every day, which is 25 mcg.
What happens if you take more doses than necessary?
Unlike other nutrients, excessive intake of vitamin B12 is not a problem since the body will eject it naturally. Better to take too much than not enough!
What should supplement with vitamin B12?
Unlike meat eaters whose B12 supplementation is done through the consumption of animal products, vegans must ensure their supplementation.
As far as vegetarians are concerned, this is not mandatory but recommended depending on their consumption of dairy products. A study has shown that 10% of vegetarians are deficient in vitamin B12 due to limited consumption of dairy products. Supplementation is therefore recommended.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Symptoms of a B12 deficiency can develop after five years, so just because everything is fine today doesn’t mean you have to stop supplementing. This development is much faster in infants.
A mild deficiency increases the homocysteine level in the blood, which ultimately increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer of the cervix, and bone weakening.
Symptoms of deficiency include:
numbness of limbs
loss of sensitivity to pain
a failing memory
These effects are severe enough not to be taken lightly. Therefore, I can only stress once again the importance of good supplementation!
If B12 deficiency is not treated early enough, some side effects can worsen serious problems.