Vegan Grandma

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Please, Please, Please Get Your B-12

Vegetarians and vegans, please take this seriously. You must have a a reliable source of vitamin B-12. I have written about this before on this blog, but I think it's important enough to repeat it. I talked to someone a few days ago who said that when she first became a vegan, she did not take a source of vitamin B-12, and as a result, she now has some permanent eye problems.

Humans and non-human animals do not produce B-12 in their bodies. Vitamin B-12 is produced by bacteria. The bacteria are on vegetation which animals eat. When we humans wash our food, which is a good thing, we wash off the bacteria. It is believed that our early ancestors weren’t so fastidious about washing their food, so they got enough B-12. I’m not suggesting that you eat dirt. In the modern world, we need to supplement B-12.

The following is excerpted from a summary of the preliminary results of the Vegan Health Study, which is being conducted by the Institute of Nutrition Education and Research, Michael A. Klapper, M.D., Director. For the complete summary, I strongly urge you to go to :

The Vegan Health Study confirms numerous other studies that vegans who do not supplement their diets with vitamin B-12 are at definite risk for deficiency of vitamin B12. The effects of vitamin B-12 deficiencies may appear as soon as 6 months after adopting a purely plant-based diet, or may not appear following consumption of an exclusively vegan diet for 10 years or more.

Vitamin B12 deficiency has numerous negative consequences for health: artery damage, neurological damage, blood system damage.

Risks to Children:

If mother is B-12 deficient while pregnant: birth defects.

If mother is B-12 deficient while breastfeeding: nerve and brain damage, poor weight gain and "failure to thrive syndrome."

If child is B-12 deficient during infancy and adolescence: impaired intellectual function impairment.

Insure a reliable source of vitamin B12.

Reliable sources include fortified foods and supplements. Fortified foods such as non-dairy beverages (rice-based and soy-based drinks), Red Star nutritional yeast (Vegetarian Support Formula), and some cereals are good choices. Select at least two servings of these foods each day, with at a total of at least 3 mcg. of B12 in total.

If there is any doubt that your intake of B-12 may not be sufficient (as is common with many long-term vegans), then a vitamin B12 supplement is advised. Take a sublingual "microdot" of approximately 2000 mcg. vitamin B12 at least once a week. When using large amounts of B-12, only 0.5 to 1.0% will be absorbed - thus high intakes are required to insure sufficient absorption.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Recommendations From the Vegan Health Study
For the complete Summary, please go to

1. Make whole plant foods the foundation of your diet.

2. Minimize refined carbohydrates – both sugars and starches.

3. Include a healthful intake and balance of essential fatty acids.

4. Assure an adequate protein intake (approximately 60 to 90 grams per day for vegan adults.)
Liberally ingest protein-rich foods – lentils, chickpeas, beans, tempeh, tofu, and other legumes, as well as nuts, seeds, and products made from them.

5. Assure an adequate supply of trace minerals.
Consume ample helpings of dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, root vegetables and fruits. It is not enough to eat the minerals – you must absorb them. So, break up the plant fibers by chewing your foods well and/or using food preparations methods that help to break up plant fibers – cooking (e.g. soups or stews), grinding, juicing, grating or pureeing.

6. Insure a reliable source of vitamin B12. .

7. Keep sodium intake to not more than 2400 mg per day, and preferably around 1800 mg per day.

Note: Athletes, especially those living in warm climates may require higher amounts of sodium in their diets.

8. Eliminate trans fatty acids.

9. Consider taking a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.

10. Be sure to get a consistent reliable source of vitamin D.

11. Try to get 20 to 30 minutes of active, weight-bearing exercise at least every other day.

12. For optimal health, a positive mental and emotional state is essential – and possibly more important than nutritional intake. Life is about more than avoiding disease and death. Get as much love, laughter and meaningful service into your daily life as possible. Make your life a reflection of your hopes, dreams and joys.
"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."-Albert Einstein


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