What is B12? Why is it important?
B12 is one of the 8 B vitamins that play an important part in keeping out body healthy. B12 is essential for our health because it helps make DNA and red blood cells. Without it we will end up with deficiency in it and some potentially awful medical issues. B12 deficiency can cause depression, mental processing issues and chronic fatigue to name but a few things. If left untreated it can have serious long term health effects as the neurological effects such as mental fogging can become permanent. This is why it is essential for all people to ensure they get enough of it in their diets.
Having personally suffered from a B12 deficiency (ironically before I became a vegan!) I know how important it is to ensure that you make sure you get enough of it. I was literally a zombie when I wasn’t getting enough of it. I needed to have a serious of injections to improve my levels and since then have ensured that I eat plenty of fortified foods and also take a supplement.
What foods are good sources for vegans?
It is especially important for vegans to get plenty of B12. It isn’t naturally found in any vegan foods and as a result vegans are at increased risk of deficiency. Thankfully though, there are plenty of options for vegans. A lot of foods are fortified with B12 and there is a growing market for supplements as well. To stay healthy the government recommend that all adults get at least 1.5mcg per day. This is generally absorbed in smaller amounts so having a little at a time might help prevent a deficiency.
- Fortified cereals
- Some dairy replacements
- Yeast extracts (marmite…..my favourite source!)
- Nutritional yeast flakes
- Some fruit juices (Lidl sell one that is suitable for vegans, tastes nice and has a full day’s worth in one carton!)
Can this be a problem if you are on a diet?
I personally have found it harder to get my B12 in since starting on Slimming World. Most of the foods I would use to get my allowance are limited on the plan. For example cereals are limited to 30g or 2 weetabix. Milk is limited (although the limit is more than I personally use in a normal day anyway) and so is bread. I used to have marmite on toast a lot which is obviously not going to happen as often now.
Most fortified foods are also quite carbohydrate heavy which is something that a lot of dieters seem to avoid (I chose Slimming World because they don’t limit all carbs!) and for this reason I would recommend all vegans trying to lose weight do take a supplement. In fact I recommend that all vegans take one. When it comes to B12 I genuinely think that its better to have too much than not enough. Supplement’s aren’t expensive either!