Vitamin B12 is an essential part of every diet whether you choose to be vegan, carnivore, or somewhere in between. But for vegans, B12 is so important because it is one of the nutrients that is very hard, if not impossible, to come by on an exclusively vegan diet. This is because the B12 vitamin compound is primarily found in the very foods that vegans avoid – meat, eggs and dairy products. Because these food groups are not part of the vegan diet, vegans have to find other means of obtaining vitamin B12. For vegans, this vitamin is usually obtained through supplements.
What Is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is a complex B vitamin that is synthesized by bacteria. It is found almost exclusively in meat, eggs and dairy products.
Vitamin B12 serves a very important role in your health and development. One of the biggest purposes of the B12 vitamin is to help you to form red blood cells. Another important role of the B12 vitamin is to help you build a strong immune system.
Why Is Vitamin B12 Important?
Vitamin B12 is one of the essential elements to forming red blood cells. But, why are red blood cells important exactly? Well, red blood cells are so important because one of their key roles is to carry oxygen throughout your body. Vitamin B12 is so important because your red blood cells have a short, 3 month lifespan before they die. Vegans have to be diligent in replenishing this vitamin so that it may help to replenish those very important red blood cells.
Another benefit of the B12 vitamin is to help you build and keep a strong immune system. It is a well known fact that a strong and healthy immune system keeps you in the best health possible. You will get sick from infections and viruses much less often, which of course will have a wonderful effect on your overall health level and quality of life.
What Happens If the Body Does Not Have enough Vitamin B12?
Without the proper amount of the B12 vitamin, you can be a risk for B12 deficiency and even vitamin B12 neuropathy. Vegans, in particular, are a group that has a high-risk B12 deficiency. Some of the effects of B12 deficiency include anemia, weakness, problems with digestion, appetite loss and weight loss, just to name a few.
B12 deficiency can also lead to irreversible neurological damage, known as vitamin B12 neurological damage. The symptoms include poor memory, depression, dementia and confusion, amongst others. Many people also report a tingling sensation and numbness in their hands and feet, which is also irreversible.
Vegans and B12 Deficiency
If you’re a vegan, it’s important to pay attention to your bodily requirements. If there is an abundance of B12 in your body, your body will store it in your liver (anywhere from 3 to 6 years of B12 can be stored). Therefore, your body may be using its stored B12 reserves, showing no signs of a vitamin B12 deficiency. So, make sure that you pay attention to how much B12 you intake, and how often you replenished your B12 vitamins.