Before I chose a vegan lifestyle, I was a vegetarian and way before all that, I was a meat eater and dairy consumer and I had an iron deficiency. Doctors had told me to eat more red meat, this was supposed to be the answer. Yet, I still had all the side effects of having an iron deficiency and eventually I was put on iron tablets.
Symptoms of having an iron deficiency can cause a wide range of problems, including:
a lack of energy
pins and needles
a sore and red tongue
psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion
problems with memory, understanding and judgement
(Information taken from NHS)
Since being more mindful of my diet and making all the positive changes I have made; the side effects I used to get from having an iron deficiency have almost vanished. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid clinical deficiency. But I did still have concerns about B12 and I needed to research a little more into if I needed it or not.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12, or Cobalamin, is one of the eight B vitamins. It is needed to ensure the proper functioning and health of nerve tissue, brain function, and red blood cells.
B12 Sources for a Vegan
As vegans don’t eat anything animals related which is where most B12 comes from, we consume our B12 via fortified sources, grains, vegetables and supplements that contain B12 such as:
Dairy Free Milk
Nutritional Yeast such as Engevita Yeast Flakes B12
Grains such as certain breads, such as rye, cornbread | oatmeal and cracked-wheat, wheat and corn.
Vegetables such as
How Much B12 Do We Need?
We don’t actually need that much B12 in our diet, so it’s best not to go OTT. As I mentioned, most vegan’s don’t need it as they get sufficient amounts in their diet. I have suffered from an iron deficiency pretty much all my life regardless of diet and that’s why I choose to take a supplement.
From The Vegan Society:
To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following:
- Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day
- OR Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms
- OR Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.
If relying on fortified foods, check the labels carefully to make sure you are getting enough B12. For example, if a fortified plant milk contains 1 microgram of B12 per serving then consuming three servings a day will provide adequate vitamin B12. Others may find the use of B12 supplements more convenient and economical.
The less frequently you obtain B12 the more B12 you need to take, as B12 is best absorbed in small amounts. The recommendations above take full account of this. There is no harm in exceeding the recommended amounts or combining more than one option.
Additonal information on B12 via The Vegan Society
Shop for 100% Vegan products at The Vegan Kind
You should always consult your GP or specialist if you think you may have a deficency.
If you found this article useful, please feel free to get free updates from me by signing up to my newsletter.