- Posted September 13, 2013 by
How Vegan Can Get Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential part of the human diet; without it, your mind doesn't function as clearly as it should and your memory can start to fail. Low vitamin B12 is even thought to be responsible for depressive states and reduced mental functioning.
See your doctor. It can be a good idea to get a blood test to see what levels of B12 you have before trying supplements. Depending on the results, you may need shots, tablets or capsules, or fortified foods to change your levels, or you may be just fine but need to keep an eye on your future health and B12 levels to ensure that they don't fall.
Talk to your doctor about possible options but recognise that unless your doctor is sympathetic to your choice of diet, you may be given information that doesn't suit your dietary choices or that even suggests you are not healthy. If that's the case, look for a new doctor who will take your veganism into account objectively and work with you, not against you.
Decide how much you need according to age. Vitamin B12 is considered to require a higher dosage for older persons than for younger persons:
- 2 micrograms a day for young people
- 25 micrograms or more per day for people over 50.
- The Vegan Society makes a general recommendation of 10mg per day with a once-weekly B12 supplement perhaps of 2000mg but fails to provide an indication of age appropriateness.
Be reassured rather than worried about this aspect of your diet. You will read a lot of opinions promising you that it isn't possible to get "proper" B12 from plant food sources and that you're doomed to dementia, anemia, or something worse. That kind of dramatic conclusion can either lead to you rebelling and not bothering to do anything at all, or worrying too much that your balanced, healthy diet is not good for you. When you know already that it is. The reality is that B12 is in many fortified foods that you can consume and it's actually a very rare deficiency.
- The amounts of vitamin B12 thought to be needed for good health would be hard to get from food alone, and it is thought that it is better absorbed from supplements anyway. Just be sure to find dairy and animal-derivative free supplements from a reputable supplier.
- Don't be complacent, however. Being reassured is about knowing that if you actively care for your body's nutrient needs, then it will be a lot better than neglecting them. Vitamin B12 is important for your brain, nervous system, and red blood cells. And the risk for deficiency increases as you age.