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Video: Vitamin B12 Deficiency In Vegans And Vegetarians
Many people believe that the vegan diet is healthy because it consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. However, not consuming meat or dairy products poses a risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. Anemia, fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, tingling, swollen tongue, ulcer in the mouth, numbness of the feet and hands, constipation, memory loss, irritability and mood disturbances … vitamin deficiency can manifest in several ways. So how do you fix it? How to supplement vitamin B12 when you are vegetarian or vegan?
Vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans and vegetarians: how to fix it?
Many are already the people who decide to succumb to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Regardless of whether it is a desire to be healthier, to lead a green lifestyle or to remain sensitive to animal welfare, vegetarianism can have an unfavorable influence on optimal intake. certain vitamins and minerals. We talk about vitamin B12, iron, calcium and iodine.
Considering the fact that fruits and vegetables contain important nutrients for health, it seems a bit odd that a plant-based diet can cause nutritional deficiency. And although meat and dairy products go hand in hand with digestive disorders, they contain high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals that are almost unobtainable in plant foods. What then to do to compensate for any deficit that arises? Before giving you the answer, let's take a closer look at B12!
What is vitamin B12 and what is it used for?
Whether it's food supplements, fortified products or animal products, B12, also called cobalamin, is produced by microorganisms. No animal or individual is capable of producing it themselves, for lack of possessing the necessary enzymes. In addition, some herbivorous mammals, such as cattle and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria already present in their own digestive system. However, this is not our case! The human body needs a very small amount of B12, less than any other vitamin.
Crucial for red blood cells, fatty acids, and certain neurotransmitters needed for brain activity, B12 is typically stored in the liver, heart, pancreas, and brain. So, no matter if you're vegan or not, you can't do without cobalamin. However, it is important to clarify that vitamin B12 deficiency is not due to the amount taken, but to the body's ability to absorb it. This is why, in novice vegans, such a deficiency can appear after several years of deficit.
Prefabricated food, medicines, pollutants and distance from nature are in fact the direct cause of deficiencies. That said, it can be seen that cobalamin deficiency is not necessarily caused by diet, but rather by lifestyle. Because, the latter has a direct influence on the need for B12, its production by the intestinal flora and the absorption capacity of the body.
How to diagnose a deficiency?
Although the symptoms can be caused by something other than a deficiency. If you have any doubts, go to the doctor for a blood test. However, the latter often gives rather vague results. This is why the most reliable test is based on measuring the concentration of methylmalonic acid in the urine. Once the deficiency is diagnosed, supplements or treatments can fill the possible lack of cobalamin. In any case, a consultation with the doctor is recommended.
Vegans: foods to refuel B12
As mentioned above, animal products have the highest content of vitamin B12. And while vegetarians can afford eggs and milk, this is not the case with vegans. So where can you find B12 when you're vegans? In addition to B12 food supplements (in the form of ampoules or tablets) and fortified products marked "vegan" (cereals, meal replacements, diet biscuits, soy products and drinks) you can get cobalamin naturally.
Nutritional yeast comes from a cultivated mushroom. After harvesting, the yeast is washed, drained and packaged. It is found in stores in the form of powder or yellow flakes. Its taste is reminiscent of cheese or toasted hazelnuts and slightly sweet. However, it should not be confused with bread yeast. This is an inactive yeast, so it has no leavening property. Vegetarians therefore use it as a supplement to meet their B12 needs.
Algae against vitamin B12 deficiency
Typically, cobalamin can be inactive and active. The B12 found in algae, however, is considered inactive and therefore not assimilable by the body. However, researchers have shown that nori contains relatively impressive amounts of active vitamin B12. However, the availability of vitamin B12 in this alkaline food remains a subject of study. As a precautionary measure, specialists recommend a systematic intake of cobalamin, in the form of ampoules or tablets, for vegans.
Mushrooms are not like other plants. Rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber… they are low in calories and contain a large amount of protein. As a bonus, they are the world champions in vitamin B content. Virtues that make them a delicacy! Not to mention their unparalleled taste. By the species that contain the most, we find button mushrooms, the trumpet of death and chanterelle. To get your fill of B12, it is better to consume them with seaweed.
Kombucha or fermented tea
Kombucha is more and more talked about as a drink packed with several health benefits. Kombucha fans consume it as an alternative to sodas and lemonades. Kombucha is a fermented tea rich in probiotics. This drink contains small amounts of vitamins B, B1, B6 and B12 and minerals, produced when yeast breaks down sugars. It is therefore very suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Tempeh instead of tofu
As you will already understand, soy is the only plant food with the potential to adequately replace the lack of protein and vitamins found in animal products. The main difference between tempeh and tofu is in the fermentation process. However, tempeh contains more fiber than tofu, especially when combined with grains. It also contains more protein, potassium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and B12, making it a great source of nutrients for vegans and vegetarians.
Kimchi or fermented vegetables
Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish usually made from fermented vegetables and chili peppers. As for its taste, it's halfway between spicy and sweet… and it's delicious! Most of the known recipes are made from cabbage. It also includes ingredients like sugar, salt, ginger, onions, red peppers, garlic and radish. As for vitamins, Korean fermented plants offer vitamins A, B1, B2, B12, and C, not to mention the level of antioxidants and probiotics, which are also present. Considered one of the healthiest recipes in the world, kimchi is also very popular with vegetarians and vegans for filling up with vitamins. So here's how to prepare it at home!