Are You Getting Enough B12?

An essential ingredient for a healthy plant-based diet

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If you eat a plant-based or vegan diet, you need to take a B12 supplement, but anyone can be deficient in this critical nutrient.

According to Dr. Michael Greger, international speaker and nutrition expert, at least 30 per cent of the general public are B12 deficient. This number can be much higher in those eating a strictly plant-based diet without B12 supplementation.

B12 isn’t found in plants, but it’s not found in animals either. It is made by micro-organisms and as our food supply has become more sanitary, the less B12 we get from whole foods. While having access to safe supply of food is important for health, we can’t neglect getting our vitamin B12.

Dr. Greger explains that B12 deficiencies can cause everything from chronic diarrhea, anemia, nervous system damage, Parkinson’s syndrome-like symptoms, shortness of breath and swollen feet.

Signs that you may be deficient can range from numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, muscle cramps, dizziness, cognitive problems, difficulty walking, erectile dysfunction, or even fatigue and depression.

So where do you get B12 and how much do you need?

The most consistent source of B12 is supplements, although many plant-based processed foods are enriched with B12. It is best to take a B12 supplement separately from other vitamins to get the best absorption.

How much B12 we need is age dependent. The very young, pregnant mothers and older adults require more B12 in their diet.

Dr. Greger recommends that pregnant and breast feeding mothers take 50 mcg a day. He also recommends that everyone over the age 50, whether they eat a plant-based diet or not, should be taking B12 supplements. If you are over 65 years old Dr. Greger recommends increasing the dose to as much as 650 to 1,000 mcg a day.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is serious, but easy to avoid. Taking a B12 supplement is an effective way to avoid becoming deficient and stay healthy.


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