It's a concern that many new or aspiring vegans have: can they get B12 while eating a vegan diet?
It’s certainly a valid concern and one a reader recently asked me to discuss further.
By the end of this post you should have a much clearer idea of how to ensure you are obtaining enough B12 to avoid deficiency.
B12 is primarily responsible for health red blood cell formation and plays an important role in the health of nerve tissue and brain function. Usually when people are deficient in B12 they are fatigued and experience a very weakened immune system, meaning they are susceptible to colds, flus and other symptoms.
Like many things in the health world, how to obtain enough B12 is a heavily debated issue.
First let’s look at how to get B12 purely from the viewpoint that what we put into our bodies gives us the vitamins and nutrients we need to function.
B12 is found in animal products such as meat, eggs, fish and milk. This implies then that people who eat a vegan diet or a vegetarian diet without eggs or milk are particularly susceptible to a B12 deficiency.
B12 is produced by microorganisms in soil, so it is possible that you can get some B12 into your diet by not washing all the soil off your produce or eating the odd insect or two. However it is unlikely you would obtain all the B12 you need from a few grains of soil here or there. Plus who wants to eat soil and insects really?! I know it’s not my cup of tea but if you’re willing to eat some little critters and grainy soil, all the power to you!
The easier solution for a vegan or almost-vegan is to take a high quality B12 supplement.
But not all B12 supplements are created equal. The best option is to find a B complex that also contains other members of the B vitamin family, such as folic acid. This helps to ensure that supplementation of B12 does not create imbalances of other vitamins in your body and that they work synergistically to increase your B vitamin levels.
If you are experiencing low energy or are symptomatic while eating a vegan or almost-vegan diet, I definitely recommend you try taking a B12 supplement and see if this improves how you feel.
There is another very important point to consider and this sheds light on a possible reason for many of the vitamin and nutrient deficiencies people experience today no matter what their diet – meat lovin’ or plant based.
If you have a congested, impacted intestine, you are unlikely to absorb B12 from your food sources or supplements no matter how much you are consuming.
Your small intestine is where the majority of nutrient absorption happens during the digestion process so if you have a long history of eating poor quality foods, cooked animal products, refined salts and sugars (and let’s not forget the alcohol, pharmaceuticals, recreational drugs and cigarettes along the way) then it is very likely you have an impacted intestine. Oh, did I mention the environmental pollutants and stress too? Yes, they contribute too!
So what can you do about this?
The key is to eat a mostly alkaline, hydrating diet full of fresh vegetables and some fresh fruits and to regularly cleanse your colon through colonics or enemas. Both parts of this equation are necessary if you want to reduce the congestion in your intestines so that you can better absorb B12 and any other vitamins, nutrients and minerals necessary for great health.
If you do this consistently and also take a high quality B12 supplement, you should see a significant improvement in your B12 levels, and more importantly, how you feel (the best judge of anything!).
There are some experts in the nutrition and cleansing world, such as Dr Brian Clement, who firmly believe that the B12 produced in the digestive tract is re-absorbed into the bloodstream giving enough of this vitamin for the body to function well.
While this view is only supported by the few, it is worth considering that there are a number of very clean-celled people in the health world who do not supplement with B12 or eat any sources of B12, such as animal products. What all these people seem to have in common however, is a complete commitment to eating a very high quality, highly alkaline, hydrating, mostly raw fruit and vegetable diet and they consistently cleanse their colon as an ongoing lifestyle practice.
This should not lead you to think that if you have had a few colonics or eat a fairly clean diet most of the time that you should assume you can produce and/or absorb all the B12 you need to function optimally.
This is very unlikely unless you have been cleansing for years. Even with my total commitment to both of these aspects of (great) health and my last blood tests showing my B12 levels were ideal, I still choose to supplement with B12 as safe guard against deficiency.
Focus on supplementing while also cleaning out your body through a high quality diet and regular colon cleansing. This will give you the best chance at maintaining ideal B12 levels whether you are a vegan, almost vegan or even if you love a big slab of steak daily.