Here’s the thing…
A vegan diet is great: great for animals, great for the environment, cuts out some of the unnecessaries we get from eating animal products…
…but it is by no means a cure-all diet for terminal or chronic illnesses.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of vegans out there who will claim that it is, especially if you’re following their special version of the diet…
There are a lot of reasons why this is problematic, particularly when it comes to nutrition and what the human body actually needs to function.
One of these things is B12, which is naturally lacking in vegetarian, plant-based, and vegan diets.
This is not a good thing.
If you are vegan, it is IMPERATIVE that you supplement for certain things, not least of all B12.
And here’s why.
What even is B12? What does it do?
So according to WebMD, B12 is an essential nutrient that we need for nervous system function.
We have to pay close attention to our essential nutrients because we only get them from our food (or other external sources, like supplements). Our bodies don’t produce them naturally.
But why is B12 so damn important? What is its role in your body?
Well, it helps with the formation of red blood cells and bone marrow,
as well as other nerve tissues.
Deficiency can lead to permanent nerve and/or brain damage…
I understand that there are some of you out there that are anti-supplement…but please, for the LOVE OF GOD…MAKE SURE YOU’RE GETTING YOUR B12!!!!!!
Like, seriously…don’t wait to see signs of deficiency or until you’ve had a blood test (which won’t give you the most accurate reading anyway). Go to the store and get yourself a multivitamin or some B Complex supplements (which will have a mixture of ALL your B vitamins, not just B12).
It’s safe, it’s cheap, and it’s essential (no pun intended…but, a little bit, it was…).
“But why is it so important for vegans to supplement their B12? Don’t we get it from eating a varied diet, like our other vitamins?”
Short answer? No. Not really.
I’m seeing a few different things here…I have heard that omnivores also have a tendency to be deficient of this vitamin. Because our ancestors used to get it from feces particles on their hands…or something.
So apparently, poop is an amazing source of vitamin B12…which is gross. And also not vegan.
But according to WebMD, most people in the U.S. get enough of this nutrient because it occurs naturally in some animal products.
So if you fit into the group of people that eats animal products or fortified foods, you’re probably doing ok. But you’ll want to do more than just have your blood checked to see if you’re deficient.
In fact, it’d probably be safe to take the supplement anyway. Since it’s an essential nutrient, excesses won’t really harm you the same way an excess of a non-essential nutrient would. You’d really have to be overdoing it to hurt yourself.
But I’m guessing that if you’re reading this post, you’re either already vegan/vegetarian or interested in trying it out…so this is for you.
Unfortunately, there are few natural plant source of vitamin B12.
*Edit: This post initially said that there is NO plant-source of B12. I have since learned that this is incorrect. I’ve recently been eating a lot of nutritional yeast and have found that it has active B12 in it– about 58mcg/serving (1/4 cup or 4 tbsp). (source)
So if you don’t mind eating a few servings of “nooch” a day, you could be covered for your B12. Just make sure you’re keeping track of your daily values.
As a vegan/vegetarian, you’re either gonna have to take a supplement or eat fortified/enriched foods to get your B12.
But you know what? It’s ok. Supplements are pretty easy to find at your local grocery store or online.
You don’t even need a prescription.
I went a little bougie with mine, since I was still learning and trying to make sure it was vegan (although unless you’re buying gummies or something with gelatin in the capsules, there’s a decent chance it will be).
I got the Vitamin Code B Complex capsules by Garden of Life. They’re actually not as expensive on the site as they were where I got them, so I was most likely paying for the location rather than the product.
But the link I’ve included here is for the 60 capsules. If you end up liking it, they do offer 120.
As for me, I just pop a once-daily multi-vitamin…
…because I’m lazy like that.
I love popping 1 tablet a day that has 100-200% of everything I need in it. It’s so easy…no muss, no fuss, no coconuts.
It doesn’t overdo too many of the daily values. Seems to take into account that I still plan on eating today, so 300-400% of every nutrient is a little overkill.
From there, I just eat a varied and relatively healthy vegan diet.
And I love it.
The vegan/vegetarian lifestyle does not have to suck…OR be vitamin deficient.
You can have your (vegan) cake and eat it, too.
A vegan diet can be delicious and nutritious. And to be honest, pretty fun.
And they’re not horrible for you. In fact, they’re kind of essential for a well-balanced vegan diet.
No reason to stay away from tofu; it’s perfectly fine for you. And so is soy.
So don’t starve yourself…eat and eat well.
And for the love of God…
TAKE YOUR DAMN B12 SUPPLEMENTS!
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Sources I used