What is it?
You’ve probably heard about vitamin B12 right? You haven’t!? Well, here’s the sitch. Vitamin B12 is a necessary component that our bodies need to survive. It’s necessary for cell division and blood formation. It combats asthma in children, has shown promise against HIV in adults, and has helped the elderly with their minds. Vitamin B12 also works with a compound that helps make serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for a calm feeling of well being. AKA it helps with depression. It also helps you get a good nights sleep. I know these don’t sound like SUPER important necessities to survive, but apparently without Vitamin B12, a lot of bad stuff could happen to you…
Vitamin B12 deficiency can happen if you have certain conditions, such as:
- Atrophic gastritis, in which your stomach lining has thinned
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it hard for your body to absorb vitamin B12
- Surgery that removed part of your stomach or small intestine, including weight loss surgery
- Conditions affecting the small intestine, such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite
- Heavy drinking
- Immune system disorders, such as Graves’ disease or lupus
WHAT ABOUT VEGANS!?
It’s often said that vegan’s (people who don’t eat animal by products such as meat, eggs, cheese, dairy, etc) don’t get enough Vitamin B12. Want to know why? Because they don’t eat animals, and animals have high amounts of vitamin B12.
It is true that we do not need meat to survive, and that all of our vitamins and nutrients can be found in plant based foods. But there’s this huge myth that all vegans are B12 deficient because it’s ONLY found in meat………….
Let’s break this down for you…
Vitamin B12 is made in bacteria that is live in the soil/dirt. The only reasons animals get vitamin B12 is because they EAT the plants that GROW in the soil. The reason that us humans don’t get B12 from plants is because once the plants/crops are picked, they are washed, sprayed with pesticides, etc, and that B12 is washed away. Animals on the other hand have no problem eating dirt, so that is how they obtain their B12. ALSO, farmers inject their animals with lots of things, one of those things being vitamin.
BUT, if you didn’t know this, when you cook foods, they lose their nutrients. Just like vegetables: it is always said to eat vegetables raw if you want to get the full amount of nutrients from them. And since humans cannot eat meat raw, the B12 is often lost when people cook it anyways.
Also there’s the fact that about 40% of the world’s population is vitamin B12 deficient, and only around 3% of the world is vegan…. so that means that a good 38% of meat eaters are also deficient in vitamin B12. Just like how people who eat meat can still be low in Iron..
I ate meat all my life and still had to take Iron supplements because I was low in iron. Same thing goes for B12. It’s just random – it can happy to anybody.
The only reason people who eat meat get Vitamin B12 is because they are getting it from the animals who absorbed it themselves, or was injected with it. AKA your B12 consumption is a secondary source from what an animal had inside of it.
HOWEVER, good news for vegans, there ARE some natural plant based foods containing Vitamin B12 such as nutritional yeast and spirulina.
You can also eat fortified foods such as certain cereals and almond/soy/coconut milks that contain vitamin B12.
OR YOU CAN ALWAYS JUST TAKE A SUPPLMENT!
Don’t be afraid to eat fortified foods or take a supplment, because tons of humans who eat meat have to do it as well.
So my point is: humans don’t need meat to survive. The Vitamin B12 is put into the animals, and that is why humans get it. And also…. we can get it to from (very few) plant foods, but still a plant none the less. 🙂
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency anemia. A mild deficiency may cause only mild, if any, symptoms. But if untreated, it may cause symptoms such as:
- Weakness, tiredness, or light-headedness
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Pale skin
- Sore tongue
- Easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums
- Stomach upset and weight loss
- Diarrhea or constipation
For most people, treatment resolves the problem. But any nerve damage that happened due to the deficiency could be permanent.
So just remember: ANYONE can become Vitamin B12 deficient, even people who eat meat. It is common and vegans are not the only people who develop deficiencies. If you believe you may be Vitamin B12 deficient, go see your doctor and schedule to get some blood work. I went to the doctor the other day to get my blood tested and everything came back perfect *thumbs up*, but I bought some B12 pills after that just for future. So that just goes to show that humans CAN survive without animal-by products and still have high vitamin B12, protein, calcium, etc 😉