One of the great concerns for those new to veganism is the possible lack of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is necessary for intellectual performance and vitality. It works to improve concentration, memory and relieves irritability. It is the most powerful known antianemic, necessary for obtaining energy from carbohydrates.
* Who should take special care to ingest B12 in quantity enough?
- Celiac people,
- People who abuse alcohol,
- People who abuse tobacco,
- People taking anti-cholesterol drugs.
* What effects can its deficiency produce?
- Pernicious anemia,
- Neurological damage.
* How are these effects manifested? What are the symptoms?
- Pain and weakness in the extremities,
- Decreased reflexes,
- Instability when walking,
- Lack of courage,
- Continued fatigue,
- Dementia in the elderly,
- Wounds on the tongue,
- Bad body odor.
All of these symptoms are reversible if treated early, but some damage can be permanent, especially in children. Its absence in adults usually manifests itself about 5 years later, although in some cases within 1 year.
* What do our B12 levels depend on?
- From the amount ingested through food,
- How much is segregated and
- How much is absorbed.
* What is the amount of B12 we need per day?
The recommended daily allowance is very small, just 10 micrograms a day, much less than what we need from any other vitamin. This amount is based on 50% absorption, although actually absorbing 3 micrograms per day would be more than enough.
* How to obtain it?
- Through a vegetable supplement of vitamin B12. Our needs for B12 have nothing to do with our "supposed" need for meat. The B12 in meat or milk is the same as in plant supplements or fortified foods. Vegans are recommended to take some vegetable vitamin B12 supplement from time to time. There is no toxicity if one exceeds the recommended intake of B12.
- By ingesting it in the form of food, the problem is that our body is sometimes not able to distinguish between vitamin B12 or other similar substances that do not actually act like B12, and that are found in spirulina algae, nori algae , brewer's yeast, alfalfa sprouts, sesame seeds, in some drinking waters, mushrooms, tempeh, miso, fresh vegetables from the organic garden, cauliflower and spinach, whole grains, germ of wheat, soybeans ...
The amount of vitamin B12 in a food increases as its level of hygiene decreases, as this favors the presence of vitamin B12-producing bacteria.
* Why can we have B12 deficiency?
- Because our body does not absorb it properly (metabolic problems),
- Because we have kidney problems,
- Because we consume little B12 or little B6,
- For abusing coffee, alcohol or tobacco.
Excerpted from "Novice Vegan Survival Manual"