By Raluca Tutulan, Registered Homeopath
Over the past few weeks we talked about being mindful of protein and essential fatty acid intake. Today we are going to talk about vitamin B-12 , which is a vitamin to keep in mind when switching to a plant-based diet, since it is found mostly from animal-derived products.
Vitamin B-12 is a water-soluble vitamin that contributes to the production of red blood cells, nerve function, cell metabolism and the production of DNA.
A deficiency in vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia and neurological concerns and may present as: fatigue, sensations of pins and needles, mobility issues, dizziness, vision problems and mood changes. Deficiencies may be caused by eating a strict plant-based diet as well as some medications such as metformin, proton pump inhibitors and birth control pills.
Our bodies can store vitamin B-12 for up to four years, so people switching to a plant-based diet may not notice the effects of B-12 deficiencies for a few years. The first symptoms to watch for would be memory problems, fatigue and depression (but this is not specific enough to determine that it is a B-12 deficiency).
What is the recommended amount of B-12?
The recommended daily amount of B-12 for adults 14 and over is 2.4 micrograms, for pregnant and breastfeeding women, the recommended amount is between 2.6 and 2.8 micrograms. B-12 can be taken in slightly higher doses than the recommended amount. Since it is a water- soluble vitamin, the body only absorbs as much as is needed and eliminates the rest.
What are some vegetarian sources of B-12?
Vitamin B-12 can be found in :
Milk : 250 mL contains 1 µg B-12 (1)
Cheese : Swiss cheese has the most B-12 with 0.95 µg per 1 ounce serving (2)
Eggs: 1 large egg contains 0.44 µg of B-12 (3)
What are some vegan sources of B-12?
Nutritional Yeast fortified with B-12:
Seaweed Snacks : Nori or dried purple laver
Fun fact : 4 g of purple laver can supply the 2.4 µg daily intake requirement) (4)
Other sources include:
Tempeh: 0.08 µg in 100 g (4)
Chlorella: 100 µg in 100 g
Spirulina: 35 µg in 100 g (5)
Almond milk fortified with B12
Supplements! There are many vegan B-12 supplements available which are made by using B-12 producing bacteria in a lab.
Vegetarian Tip of the week:
Prepare for social situations.
If you are the only person that follows a vegetarian/ plant-based diet in your family or friend group, it may be a new transition for them too. There have been multiple times that I have heard the question “You’re vegetarian…. but what do you eat?”. Your family and loved ones might feel stressed not knowing what to prepare for you at events or when you are visiting, but you can make it super easy for everyone. You can either share some easy options and ideas of what you like to eat, or prepare a vegetarian shareable food to bring to the event. For example, for holiday meals, I usually prepare veggie “meat” balls and a mushroom gravy which go well with all vegetarian sides that are there.
If you are going out to eat, you will be happy to know that most restaurants have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Even at restaurants that have fewer choices, you can always combine appetizers and sides to create your own vegetarian entrée. Before going out, make a practice to take a quick peek online at the restaurant’s menu. This will give you an idea of what to expect, see if it is the right fit for you, or give you some time to plan out what items you can combine for your order.
This has been the last post of our vegetarian series! If you found these posts helpful, share them on Facebook or Instagram, or message/comment on our social media and let us know you enjoyed them.
If you would like to book a vegetarian transition consult with Raluca and get 1-on-1 guidance you can book here.