Myths and truths about vitamin B12 in vegan and vegetarian diets

It is estimated that between 1% and 2% of the world's population is vegan or vegetarian. Although that seems little, it amounts to hundreds of millions of people who opt for this lifestyle. If you are one of them, you may have worried about your consumption of B12, so these nutrition tips will be very useful.

B12 is a very important vitamin for our body. Some of its most important functions are protein metabolism, help in the formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, among others.

Myths about b12

One of the most wrong thoughts is to believe that B12 is produced by animals. While it is true that they provide this vitamin, they do not generate it. It is important to note that it is not produced by plants either.

So how do you get it? This vitamin is of bacterial origin, that is, it is produced by bacteria that live in the soil, water and in the digestive tract. The problem is that it is generated in the large intestine and we absorb B12 in the small intestine.

A very wrong advice is usually heard: as these bacteria live in the water and on the earth, it is said that you have to consume vegetables with dirt or untreated water. But by doing that, bacteria that are not beneficial and that could have negative consequences on the body could also be consumed.

On the other hand, some plant-based foods contain inactive B12, which means that the body cannot use it because it is not metabolized. A clear example of these foods are seaweed, soy or miso.

Options to incorporate it

How does a person who wants to change their lifestyle towards a vegan diet? It's very simple. Today, the market offers endless products that are supplemented with B12, such as flour, pasta, yeast, milk. All you have to do is make sure that at the end of the day you get the necessary amount through these foods.

If thinking about vegan products that are supplemented with vitamin B12 is not your thing, all you should do is consume a vitamin supplement. The daily requirement of this vitamin is minuscule – about 2.4 ug per day – so with a weekly supplement it will be more than enough.

It should be borne in mind that vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several health problems. Some of them are: anemia, tingling, paraesthesia, numbness of hands and feet, lack of memory and tiredness, among others.

The safest way to know what your vitamin levels are is by conducting a blood study that will inform you about your current situation. It is vitally important to ask the doctor to include homocysteine ​​and B12 in the analysis.

Do not forget: whenever you want to make a radical change in your lifestyle, you should consult with a professional to guide you on that new path. No matter if you want to be a vegetarian or vegan, having a varied and nutritionally adequate diet will always be easier and more practical with a professional by your side. That, yes, you should look for someone who is specialized in the subject.