B12: Here’s why the ‘vegan vitamin’ is not even a big deal
The Vegan Vitamin: Vitamin B12 or Folate deficiency can be a problem. On a vegan diet B12 foods can be hard to find. But really, what’s all the fuss?
B12 is not a big deal.
Love it or loathe it, the chances are high that if you follow a vegan diet, then at some point you will have heard about vitamin B12.
The problem for most vegans is that they hear about it at length. Now this conversation is usually played out in the pub and contains a variety of different actors.
There’s the vehemently un-vegan TopGear enthusiast, the concerned for your health Grandma, the überinterested flexitarian, the nice-but-homely “I could never give up Sunday dinner because…” person, the weirdly ubiquitous “what about fish?” clan, and you.
You: The centre of attention everytime you turn down a cheese and onion crisp, because you eat plants. Just like everyone else in the world – except you eat more of them.
As a vegan, you’ve had this conversation innumerable ways… but for the sake of simplicity let’s split it into the two broad and antagonistic strokes required for the sake of levity. So, with that in mind, this conversation goes in one of two ways:
Scenario 1 ~ The Scruple of the Omnivorous
Non-Vegan: But, there’s just no way that you can ever be healthy. Like, you need to eat meat and stuff. It’s like protein, yeah?
Vegan: You’d be surprised by the amount of protein in most foods – it’s not just meat you know
Non-Vegan: But what about iron?
Vegan: Beans dude. Literally anything you need, it’s in beans.
Non-Vegan: *smiles mischievously* But what about B12
Vegan: Yeah true… but I just buy it. It’s like a tenner for 3 months supply. Which is what… 10p per day…?
Non-Vegan: *disenchantedly* But man… bacon though!
Scenario 2 ~ The Increasing Normalisation of not Eating Animals
Vegan: …found this cool new B12 thing the other day actually
Also Vegan: Ah sweet, what is it?
Vegan: It’s a spray – It tastes like cherries! I keep it in my bag usually.
Also Vegan: Nice – I’ll check it out sometime. You fancy another beer?
Vegan: Sure… even Guinness is vegan these days
Now we know that this isn’t the last time you will ever have to have this conversation. So, with that in mind, we decided to make you a little fact sheet that you can use to check whether or not Vitamin B12 is for you!
What is B12?
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, plays a critical role in the pathways of the body that produce energy. It is also needed for DNA synthesis, proper red blood cell formation and for normal nervous system function. It’s roles in the body include:
- making red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
- releasing energy from food
- using folic acid
What happens if I don't get enough B12?
A lack of vitamin B12 could lead to:
- deficiency anaemia
- extreme tiredness
- a lack of energy
- psychological problems, which may include depression and confusion
- problems with memory, understanding and judgement
How to get enough B12
What if I'm vegan?
- Nutritional Yeast