If you’re a vegan, you need to read this

More and more people every year are making a life style change and moving towards becoming completely Vegan.  Not to be confused with a vegetarian,  a Vegan removes all animal products from their diet and their life.  There are many reason why people choose to live the life of a Vegan but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter why.  Everyone is entitled to follow whatever diet and lifestyle they choose, but I believe everyone is also entitled to be well informed.  For this reason, you need to read the rest of this article to make sure you aren’t risking your life because of your lifestyle change.

The B12 Problem

Vitamin B12 plays an absolutely essential role in your body.  It is involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism.  Humans don’t and can’t produce this vitamin so it’s absolutely essential as part of your regular diet.  There is one small problem, however: your new Vegan diet contains no B12 since it’s a vitamin consumed through meat consumption (generally).  What happens when your body runs out of B12?

According to WebMD:

A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia. A mild deficiency may cause no symptoms. But if untreated, it may progress and cause symptoms such as:

  • Weakness, tiredness, or lightheadedness
  • Heart palpitations and shortness of breath
  • Paleskin
  • A smooth tongue
  • Constipation, diarrhea, a loss of appetite, or gas
  • Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness, and problems walking
  • Vision loss
  • Mental problems like depression, memory loss, or behavioral changes

Irreversible nerve damage can happen if the deficiency goes on for long enough.  For something so easily prevented, it should be a simple fix for most Vegans.

Looking at the study “THE IMPACT OF VEGAN DIET ON B-12 STATUS IN HEALTHY OMNIVORES: FIVE-YEAR PROSPECTIVE STUDY”

Until 2012, there had not been a long term study conducted on the impact of a Vegan diet on vitamin B12 levels.  In this study, they took 20 people who were previously meat eaters and they voluntarily adopted a strict vegan diet for the next five years.  They divided these 20 people into two groups:  one group would consume no fortified b12 foods and one group would.  Neither group would supplement with vitamin B12.   The results were very significant.

What they found

Over the course of 60 months, the group that didn’t incorporate fortified B12 foods into their diet slowly became severely deficient in B12. The group that consumed the fortified foods on a regular basis faired very well and had no issues.

b12 chart showing decrease
Chart showing the serum B12 concentration levels dropping over the course of 5 years in the no-fortified group (ND)

Conclusion

You need to supplement.  If you think you can incorporate fortified foods into your diet daily, then so be it.  Otherwise suck it up and take a damn B12 pill because all you’re going to do is get sick for no reason if you don’t.  STOP LISTENING TO OTHER VEGANS THAT TELL YOU NOT TO WORRY ABOUT IT.  I am apart of several vegan groups and there is a staggering number of people that don’t and haven’t ever worried about it.  YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED.  Even though this study was relatively small with only 20 participants, your MUCH better off using this information rather than taking some guy on Facebooks word.  Remember something very important:  when it comes to diet and exercise the only word you should take is science.  The body is too complicated to rely on one person’s results and outcomes.

To avoid B-12 deficiency, vegans should regularly consume vitamin B-12-fortified foods, such as fortified soy and rice beverages, certain breakfast cereals and meat analogs, and B-12-fortified nutritional yeast, or take a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Fermented soy products, leafy vegetables, and seaweed cannot be considered a reliable source of active vitamin B-12. No unfortified plant food contains any significant amount of active vitamin B-12. 2) To ensure adequate calcium in the diet.

Click here to read the five year study

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