It is said that dogs will eat anything, but let’s face it: humans aren’t always the pickiest of eaters. One glaring exception of course is in the vegan population. While asking 10 different vegetarians will likely yield 10 different answers when asked about the purpose of their lifestyle decision, many of them will agree on one thing, and that is potential vitamin deficiencies that arise from their dietary choices.
Benefits of B Vitamins are many, but B vitamins go beyond just being useful for pretty skin and nails. B vitamins are essential for cell growth and nervous system health. In short, Vitamin B is not optional. As a matter of fact, vitamin B deficiency symptoms in women and men can sometimes even be severe and cause permanent damage. Your nerve cells can be damaged beyond repair by not having enough vitamin B12 sources.
It’s also important to remember that your lifestyle choices are directly transferred to any potentially vegan offspring that you choose to populate the planet with and babies need your B12. They don’t have B12 storage vaults chilling in the womb, so if you are expecting, finding adequate vitamin B12 sources are even more critical for you. The US’ National Institute of Health confirms that vegans are almost guaranteed to have a vitamin B12 deficiency since there are no known sources of this vital vitamin in plants; only in animal foods. Therefore, taking a daily vitamin B supplement is a must for vegans!
Given the less vast diet of the vegetarian lifestyle, you aren’t going to find shelves upon shelves of B12 rich foods that fit into your diet at the grocery store. You might have to get a little creative, which shouldn’t be difficult for someone who has managed to eliminate one or two food groups and not starve.
When looking for the best vitamin B12 sources for vegans, you should pick up one of many supplements at your natural food store or health food store. Believe it or not, there is even a Vitamin B12 patch out now. It won’t help you quit smoking, but you’ll get your needed nutrients. You can also pick up Red Star B12 fortified nutritional yeast. Supposedly it has a cheesy flavor and is easy to take will keep you from having to put any thought into your dietary intake.
If you actually want to brave a trip to the grocery store, you can fill your buggy with vitamin enriched foods such as free-range organic eggs. However, while being on the list of vitamin B sources, most vegans would likely not consume eggs since they do not eat animal products, unlike vegetarians who do not eat animals, making it acceptable to eat eggs. Pair eggs with milk substitute that is also fortified and Hello – you’re combining two B12 vitamin foods that are tasty and filling.
Being vegan doesn’t have to mean being unhealthy. It also doesn’t mean that all of your nutrition has to come from a pill, but it does mean that the majority of your vitamin B12 sources for vegans will come from a supplement form because no food other than animal, can supply it. By replacing the missing slots on your food pyramid with food substitutes and enriched products, combined with supplements where needed, you will have the health of someone with a well rounded diet and still maintain the beliefs that you choose to.