Vitamin B12 is necessary for humans to live healthy lives, but because it is not often found in plant foods, vegetarians and vegans are often short on B12. Chronic vitamin B12 deficiency can result in anemia that both reduces your body’s ability to absorb B12, and result in a negative health state that may potentially affect other bodily systems.
Describing vitamin B12 deficiency paints a scary picture, but helping to fill nutritional gaps can be easy as vitamin B12 supplements are commonly available. In fact, some governments require that certain foods be fortified with vitamins to help maintain public health and well being.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that all people over the age of 14 should get a minimum 2.4 micrograms of B12 daily. This dosage recommendation is increased to 2.6 mg for pregnant women, and 2.8 mg for breastfeeding women. Mayo notes that in some cases, older adults may be prescribed higher doses by a physician.
The result is that you may get all of the vitamin B12 you need from your morning bowl of cereal. Some brands of plant milk (none specifically endorsed here) are fortified with B12 specifically for the vegetarians and vegans who enjoy them. Some soy products are similarly supplied to meet the needs of those who don’t get B12 from animal foods. Always read packages carefully, because this fortification step is not an industry standard.
you’re concerned that you may be missing out on your daily B12 boost, eating these fortified foods may help you to meet your daily dietary requirements. If you don’t want to eat cereal or other fortified foods for whatever reason, there are other ways to get what you need.
Vitamin B12 also comes in supplemental forms that are familiar to all.
- Pressed Pills and Gelcaps. As expected, many vitamin B12 supplements are available as pills and capsule/getcaps. Various dosages are available. The nutrient included may have been produced synthetically or taken from uncommon plant food sources like algae. Similar dosage levels are included in gummy vitamin supplements for children or those who don’t enjoy swallowing pills.
- Multivitamins. Vegetarian and vegan multivitamins are frequently used to ensure that a complete daily dosage of all required vitamins and nutrients is received by the individual. As above, vegetarian multivitamins may synthesize their B12 or get it from plants not normally eaten in daily life.
- Special Products and Snacks. Vegans should always be looking for products marketed to vegans, as they may include vitamin B12. Drinks, seaweed snacks, and smoothies may be good places to look.
There are a diverse array of supplements available through online retailers like ourselves, so learn about what you need and look around until you find something that works perfectly for you.
If you are not a vegan or vegetarian, vitamin B12 can be supplemented by eating the foods in which it is most prevalent. You may not eat a lot of cow livers or shellfish (clams, mussels, etc.), but these foods are jam-packed with B12. Properly prepared, these foods can be delicacies, so adding them to your repertoire for the occasional dinner or snack wouldn’t be a bad idea. For veggie lovers, there are some preparations of vegetables and legumes that make B12 available from these sources, through techniques known by experienced vegan cooks and practitioners, such as fermentation.
There are certain situations, however, where you should consult a doctor before taking a vitamin B12 supplement. If you feel weak or tingly, or otherwise experience the symptoms associated with B12 deficiency, you should see a physician. As stated above, if you are chronically low on B12, your body may not even be able to absorb it like it used to. This can be determined conclusively by a physician, and fortunately, treatments are available.
Such treatments may include large doses of vitamin B12 delivered through injection, with additional supplementation at home. If other symptoms or conditions were present, the doctor may treat them separately. The important thing is to seek treatment as symptoms occur. It can be difficult to remember “the vitamin factor” when asking your doctor about feeling unwell. By asking your doctor about this and other deficiencies, the patient might find an end to their complaints.
It’s great to know that vitamin B12 is supplemented in so many forms. With a little knowledge and preparation, you’ll have no trouble getting the B you need through foods and supplements. Keep it up for life, and you and your body will both be glad you did so.