In this article you will find out whether in our (non medical opinion) Do Vegans really need a B12 supplement?
Recently I have been feeling exceptionally tired and exhausted. So I wanted to delve a little deeper into the possible causes and one avenue that I wanted to consider was whether or not I should start taking B12 supplements. So do Vegans need a B12 supplement? Or not?
What is B12?
B12 is a nutrient. It is a nutrient that is important for you and your body. It helps to keep your body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. It also helps to make DNA .
The recommended dose for adults is 2.4micrograms, do not worry though our bodies are clever and if you do take more than you need, your body will get rid of what isn’t necessary through your urine.
B12 is not just something that Vegans need it is something that everyone needs, but is how we get B12 important?
What happens when you are low in B12?
If you do not get enough B12 whether that is from meat and dairy produce or those fortified in B12 this could lead to anemia – the symptoms if this are feeling weak and tired. It can also cause damage to your nerves as well as affecting your thought process and memory.
If you are feeling tired, dizzy and not quite yourself it is important to talk to your doctor. You can get advice but also a blood test which will identify if you are low/high or deficient in any mineral or nutrient. Depending on what your blood test results the doctor can prescribe stronger doses of whichever nutrient you may need as quite a lot of the symptoms if B12 deficiency are common on other symptoms of a variety of other nutrients you could be deficient.
Which foods contain B12?
B12 is commonly found in meat, fish and Dairy products which is why it is suggested that Vegans take a supplement as the only other vegan products that could contain B12 are those that are a vegan alternative and have been fortified with B12 or ones that have yeast in one popular one is the spread that you either love or hate – marmite.
So do Vegans need a B12 supplement or can you get enough from just thinking a little about what food you are eating?
Top tip: If you are not too keen on marmite, just put a little teaspoon into your vegan bolognese or chilli to add a deeper depth of flavour and a little B12 nutrition!
Our favourite ingredient with added B12 is Yeast flakes; these can be added to many dishes especially for those vegans who really miss cheese. Any pasta sauce, or salad just sprinkle in a tablespoon of nutritional yeast. Even just having it sprinkled over plain pasta adds a really tasty cheese flavour with the added bonus of B12 as well.
Should I start taking B12?
I have been on a plant based diet now for over three years and I really enjoy all that this lifestyle has to offer. However recently I can’t help feeling that my lifestyle choices are the current cause of why I am feeling so fatigued. Now I am also equally aware that this may well have still been the case if I was still on a more carnivorous diet.
I’ve looked at all the alternatives and can see that I do get quite a reasonable amount of B12 just from having those (almond milk, alpro yoghurt and nutritional yeast – are my most common and consistent products with B12) relatively naturally within my current lifestyle. However, not necessarily daily. At Least with a daily supplement I will know that I am getting enough daily and any excess my body will naturally get rid of.
In Summary… Is B12 necessary while following a plant based diet?
So is B12 essential, vital on a vegan diet, no but should we take it? I am now definitely leaning towards the yes side. Better to take and keep all the vitamins and minerals you could need rather than not, the problems of becoming deficient seem more problematic than deciding to not take it. So our conclusion (which is not a medical based opinion) is that if you are feeling fatigued or anxious or not quite right after having been on a Vegan diet for over 6 months that you should consider speaking to your doctor and getting a blood test but in the interim start taking some supplements.