B12 and Vegetarianism.
Health fads are such a well, faddy thing. We tend to ignore really basic information about eating a balanced diet. For example, I know that eating salad is supposed to be the healthiest food of all. However, the problem is that B12 is generally found in meat, cheese, salmon, cod, milk. And as a vegetarian/almost vegan, I really don't eat any of those things. So where do I get my B12? And it's such a vital vitamin as you'll see when you read below.
B(e) - you good for me?
Shattered? Fuzzy headed? Memory not what it used to be? This might be symptoms of a deficiency. As many as 1:20 young and middle-aged adults, and 1:5 of the elderly may have vitamin B12 deficiency. And the majority of them are either vegetarian or vegan!
Why do we care?More and more, a B12 deficiency is being linked to cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disease. Recent studies have shown:
- A relationship between low vitamin B levels and accelerated cognitive decline.
- A link between vitamin B12 deficiency and cognitive impairment, and
- That some types of dementia may actually be reversible with vitamin B therapy.
The symptoms of the deficiency vary. Classically they include: fatigue, memory problems, brain fog, nervousness, depression, pins and needles in feet and a red/sore tongue. [Sounds like me on a Friday night!]
What causes a Vitamin B12 deficiency?Are you a meat eater? Good news for you finally! B12 is found in animal products such as lean meat, fish and eggs. But plants are not capable of making vitamin B12. The only B12 content plants have comes from the soil. So vegans can be at risk of deficiency unless they take vitamin B12 supplementation. And pregnant or breastfeeding women following a vegan diet should almost certainly be taking vitamin B12 supplements. Clearly, your baby needs it to develop its brain and nervous system. Some Bad News for Meat Eaters - your ability to absorb B-group vitamins relies heavily on the health of your stomach. Any sort of irritation or inflammation of the stomach [pernicious anaemia anyone?] makes it unable to absorb the vitamin from the digestive tract. Other stomach problems that can affect B12 absorption
- Helicobacter pylori,
- Crohn's disease and
- Low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria), and
- Overuse of over-the-counter antacids, and prescriptions medicines used to control stomach acid.