How vitamin B12 & D3 helped me through the winter
This week we are launching our new vitamin B12 & vitamin D3 sprays. These sprays have been designed for everyone that struggles to, or simply doesn’t like to, swallow tablets in the morning just to get the vitamins that they need into their system.
In the autumn and in winter, many people (not just vegans) struggle to get the nutrients that they Need and this can have a huge impact on both a person’s health and their mood.
We wanted to start with B12 & D3 because they are 2 of the most important vitamins for everyday health and 2 of the hardest to find naturally, especially during winter and even more so for vegans and vegetarians.
The best vegan cookbook in the world won’t help you too much with vitamin b or vitamin d deficiency.
Every day for the past 6 months my mornings have always followed the same pattern. I wake up (begrudgingly), brush my teeth (listlessly), shower (thoughtfully), dress (clumsily) then quickly choke down some nondescript tablets with a mouthful of tepid water and run out the door.
Now, there are a multitude of reasons behind this repetitive ritual that you will never know. But, the most important ones are these: First, I am very, very sleepy. Second, I am very, very vegan.
After almost 18 months of veganism I was beginning to get distracted. The past 7 years of vegetarianism had, by and large, been a breeze. A waking dream in which I really believed that I felt and looked better, stronger, healthier and happier, and yet veganism had been a struggle.
Time and time again I had looked for the right cookbook to increase my mood, my energy and maintain a stable weight but nothing felt right. Until one long-time vegan suggested that I might be deficient in 2 vital nutrients: B12 & D3.
B12 is especially important for vegans and vegetarians to supplement as it cannot be found naturally within plant matter. While D3 deficiency is fairly common in all people. Known as the sunshine vitamin, D3 is very hard to find during the autumn & in winter.
I have been supplementing both ever since.
Now let me explain; during those first 18 months I was living in London – working a 9 to 5 office job and getting the tube to and from work – so even in the summer I saw very little of the sun. While in the winter the sun was as a dream, a fatty yellow colour that I lazily daubed over the fleeting memories of last years beer gardens and no more.
While it is no secret that many people feel blue during the tail end of the year it is not always so obvious to say why. This winter depression is often called Seasonal Affective Disorder (or somewhat ironically SAD) and it is thought to affect as much as 6% of the population in the UK during the autumn and winter months. It is thought that malnutrition is a major factor in SAD and the most common symptoms cited by sufferers of the disorder is a lack of energy and feelings of depression.
But what actually is vitamin B12?
Well, B12 is a vitamin in the same family as Biotin (B7) with wide reaching influence in our bodies. From our nervous system, to digestion, brain function and blood cell formation.
But beyond this B12 also has a huge impact on our mood. This is really important in the winter months when most people, vegetarian, vegan or otherwise are not getting the correct nutrition.
You’re not the only one though: when the nights get longer and colder it becomes harder to cook the perfect meal when quick comfort food is an option. Couple that with the fact that exercise (known for the positive endorphins it releases in our brains) becomes a much less appealing option in winter and it is easy to see how quickly SAD creeps into our lives in the UK.
It is also really important to know that for all intents and purposes B12 is not synthesised naturally within our bodies* so if you aren’t eating any then you are simply not getting any and you could quickly find that you are deficient.
The bottom line is that B12 is a vitamin which means that it is vital for our bodies. On top of that B12 is a water-soluble vitamin which means that it is not stored in our fat cells and as such must be replenished each and every day to ensure that we are getting the right dosage.
The kicker here is that – while not stored in fats – B12 can be stored for a number of months in the liver. This poses a problem for a number of new vegans whose diet was so recently rich in B12, that the reserves in the liver can disguise the symptoms of deficiency for around three months.
It is no surprise then that the most typical time for vegans to relapse into an omnivorous diet is at the 3-6 month mark, and guess what? Most people who slip from veganism cite fatigue as the principal reason… but more on that later.
What about D3?
Well D3 is naturally produced in the skin when exposed to the UV in sunlight and this is why many people call it the sunshine vitamin. Once inside the body it is vital in regulating the calcium in your system.
Used primarily for building and strengthening bones and teeth, calcium is absolutely vital in ensuring proper bone development. But beyond this calcium has a lesser known but equally important application in the production of hormones for the body. As such an unregulated calcium intake could be a reason behind fluctuations in mood.
What happens if I don’t take enough?
Deficiency can be a serious problem and for Vitamin B12 and D3 this is no different.
Some studies have shown that as many as one in 10 people aged 75 and over, one in 20 aged 65-74 may have a B12 deficiency. While this figure is lower in younger omnivorous people, it jumps to a huge 11% for vegans of all ages.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can be very problematic. More serious complications include a swelling of the red blood cells which can cause anaemia and when the case is very serious this can also manifest itself in reduced memory and cognitive function.
However, in most cases vitamin B12 deficiencies are more likely to leave you feeling weak, fatigued, constipated, and depressed.
A D3 deficiency may not always manifest symptoms, when it does however, these can include a difficulty thinking clearly, bone pain, muscle weakness, fatigue and irregular changes in mood.
Where can I get more B12 and D3?
B12 is found in the highest concentrations in animal products – the best sources of which are beef liver, eggs, dairy and clams. Good news for vegans however is that B12 is often present in fortified grains and in nutritional yeast. Since it doesn’t appear naturally in plant matter however this can make it very hard to find for vegans.
D3 can be found in many foods, including mushrooms, soy milk and tofu (excellent news) but many people choose to supplement this vitamin due to it’s powerful impact on the body.
The good news for you however, is that with the release of our new Vitamin B12 and D3 sprays, you will be able to get your whole daily intake of these two vital nutrients all winter long with just one pump of the bottle each morning.
We cant really say easier than that, now can we?