Vitamins and Minerals

The importance of vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians

Vitamin B12 is essential for our body, and especially important in vegetarian and vegan diets as only found in animal foods. We discovered why it is essential and what to do if follow these diets.

importance of vitamin B12

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet is quite likely that you have already realized the controversy that exists in relation to certain nutritional deficiencies, and basically in regard to possible shortfalls in vitamin B12, also known nutritionally with the name of cobalamin.

It is, as discussed throughout this note, an essential vitamin for our nervous system and is not found in vegetable origin, which is why if a person does not consume animal products it is necessary to obtain it from nutritional supplements.

Vitamin B12 is a unique product of the metabolism of the body, which belongs to the group of vitamins B and was originally discovered in 1948 and is especially noted for being the last true and real vitamin to be classified.

Recommended Also: What are the benefits of vitamin B1?

Certain studies have found the prevalence of the deficit of vitamin B12 in people who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet and are also quite common in those who follow an ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. Hence it is vital concern to discover how to meet the requirements of B12 or cobalamin safely.

Why vitamin B12 is so important? Its main functions

Vitamin B12 is essential for our body because it becomes an essential nutrient for the nervous system and participated very actively in a wide variety of functions:

  • Essential for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Involved in protein synthesis, DNA and RNA.
  • Involved in the neurotransmitter synthesis.
  • Essential and necessary in the conversion of fatty acids into energy.
  • Necessary for the proper metabolism of folic acid.
  • Participate and involved in immune function.
  • It maintains the myelin sheath of different nerve cells.
  • It helps in the maintenance of the energy reserve of the muscles.

Symptoms of deficiency or lack of vitamin B12

As shown by many nutritionists, for which the reserves are exhausted of the vitamin B12 it is necessary that it may take a relatively long time. However, when the reserves of this vitamin are exhausted its deficiency symptoms may occur very quickly, and some of them tend to not be irreversible.

Its deficiency causes the occurrence of pernicious anemia, also known as megaloblastic anemia, causing an alteration of the precursor cells in the bone marrow; that is, we have a lack of red blood cells.

Once appear pernicious anemia symptoms caused by lack of vitamin B12 are as follows:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Pale skin.
  • Numbness of hands and feet.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness and nausea.
  • Problems of concentration and confusion.

Why vegetarians, vegans and ovo-lacto vegetarian should take vitamin B12 supplements?

We should note that vitamin B12 is obtained from the consumption of animal foods, such as seafood, eggs, dairy products, beef and poultry, while plant foods do not contain cyanocobalamin bioavailable, but only similar or corrinoids.

In fact, these similar negative influence form the absorption of the real vitamin B12, and may even to falsify the results of a blood test, so that in fact the person may be suffering from a deficiency of this vitamin and yet it is not diagnosed until not arise the symptoms caused by its deficiency.

It is possible to find vitamin B12 in some such as the nori seaweed, and also in some foods such as tempeh, but for now it is not possible to confirm whether it can be used as reliable sources of nutrition.

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, for peace of mind we must say that vitamin B12 supplements are not from animals but from bacterial synthesis, and is also very safe. In this sense it is best to choose cyanocobalamin (first contact with your doctor before take any medicine), one of the safest and most studied.