Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

A place to discuss health and fitness, healthy diets. A fit body makes for a fit mind.

Do you supplement B12 or eat fortified foods two or three times a day?

My diet is vegan most of the time: Yes, I do.
7
58%
My diet is vegan most of the time: No, I don't.
2
17%
My diet is not vegan most of the time: Yes, I still do.
1
8%
My diet is not vegan most of the time: No, I don't.
2
17%
 
Total votes : 12

Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby David2 » Sun May 15, 2011 5:20 am

Hi everyone,

at the moment I am considering changing my diet from a lacto-vegeterian to a "95-% vegan" diet. "95-%" because I know it is not always possible to avoid dairy if you are eating at a restaurant for instance (With meat it is not that hard.)

I just read an article by the vegan society. They advise the following:
To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following:
eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (μg or mcg) of B12 a day or
take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms or
take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.


http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/n ... n/b12.aspx

I calculated it and it would just cost about 10 (Euro)-cent a day to use a supplement and make sure that you are getting enough B12.
In comparison, a glass milk (0.25 ml) costs about 15 cent in our supermarkets (1l for 60 c), so the vegan diet with supplementing B12 would be basically still cheaper. :)

My question to you: Do you supplement B12? Do you think it is necessary to do this?
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun May 15, 2011 5:25 am

It's up to you, of course, but I personally do not supplement.

My diet is mostly vegan and the few times I do eat some dairy or eggs, I get plenty of B-12 and the body stores this nutrient.

It takes 1,000 micrograms to equal one milligram and it takes 1,000 milligrams to equal one gram, which shows what a little amount of B-12 that is needed. The amount of B-12 we need is measured in micrograms. But it won't hurt to supplement just to make sure you are getting enough.

Deficiencies are not the issue. In most developed countries, the problem is with excess -- excess nutrients, fats, food in general.
Last edited by David N. Snyder on Thu May 19, 2011 11:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: 1,000 micrograms equals one milligram, previously accidentally had 1,000 mcg=1g
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby Ben » Sun May 15, 2011 5:46 am

Greetings David & David2

For the record:
My diet is vegan most of the time: No, I don't.

I don't consider myself a vegan but it probably describes my dietary behaviour - most of the time.
And, I don't do supplements. I don't think I need them but should I be convinced otherwise then I may start taking them.
kind regards

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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby David2 » Sun May 15, 2011 5:48 am

David N. Snyder wrote:My diet is mostly vegan and the few times I do eat some dairy or eggs, I get plenty of B-12 and the body stores this nutrient.

Ok thank you, good point.
Deficiencies are not the issue. In most developed countries, the problem is with excess -- excess nutrients, fats, food in general.

I think you are right, most of the times excess is the problem.
On the other hand, there is a study from 2010 which tested the B12-level among vegans, vegetarians and omnivores that comes to the following result:
Mean serum vitamin B12 was highest among omnivores (281, 95% CI: 270-292 pmol/l), intermediate among vegetarians (182, 95% CI: 175-189 pmol/l) and lowest among vegans (122, 95% CI: 117-127 pmol/l). In all, 52% of vegans, 7% of vegetarians and one omnivore were classified as vitamin B12 deficient (defined as serum vitamin B12 <118 pmol/l). There was no significant association between age or duration of adherence to a vegetarian or a vegan diet and serum vitamin B12. In contrast, folate concentrations were highest among vegans, intermediate among vegetarians and lowest among omnivores, but only two men (both omnivores) were categorized as folate deficient (defined as serum folate <6.3 nmol/l).

CONCLUSION:
Vegans have lower vitamin B12 concentrations, but higher folate concentrations, than vegetarians and omnivores. Half of the vegans were categorized as vitamin B12 deficient and would be expected to have a higher risk of developing clinical symptoms related to vitamin B12 deficiency.


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20648045
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby ground » Sun May 15, 2011 7:01 am

David2 wrote:My question to you: Do you supplement B12? Do you think it is necessary to do this?


Yes. There are studies that do recommend it.

I am still not 100% vegan because I use milk for tea.

Kind regards
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby ground » Sun May 15, 2011 8:04 am

Here is a link I found on Dharmawheel which concerns B12 and veganism:

http://veganhealth.org/articles/everyvegan


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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sun May 15, 2011 2:06 pm

I take it because my diet is mostly vegan. I see more harm in the possibility of running out of the body's B12 stores. It's really impossible to know how your body metabolizes your B12 until it's too late and the resultant nerve damage can be irreversible. I would recommend it since there's no downside (that we know of) to taking B12 but that's just my opinion. On another note, it's good to see so many of us are undertaking compassionate eating practices. Anumodana! :heart:
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby Indrajala » Sun May 15, 2011 4:06 pm

It is wise to supplement with B12.

B12 tablets or even multivitamins are not really expensive either, so cost-wise it isn't an issue for most people.

One thing I've wondered is how vegans in the past, such as in China or Japan, got by without knowledge of B12. Monastics didn't eat meat, dairy or eggs, and many lived to ripe old ages.
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby jackson » Thu May 19, 2011 4:50 am

Greetings David2,
In my opinion it would be foolish to be vegan and not have a source of B12. My B12 mostly comes from Soy Milk (2 cups a day = daily requirement), and I've also started eating nutritional yeast more often, which is tasty and a high source of B12. All I can say is make sure you get enough B12, and I'd also like to recommend an excellent book if I may, "Becoming Vegan" by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis. It gives a very thorough breakdown of all aspects of a vegan diet and it gave me a great understanding of how to be healthy and become healthier on a vegan diet. I'd also recommend you look up the vegan food pyramid on the internet, because a vegan diet isn't just about cutting out animal products, there are certain daily requirements you wouldn't normally expect, such as having a source of omega 3s like flax seed, eating legumes pretty much daily, having a good source of calcium (such as soy milk and certain dark leafy greens), and vitamin D if you don't get enough sun. It sounds complicated, but believe me it's really quite easy to get the hang of. Anyway, I hope that helps and best of luck.
With metta, :smile:
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby Jhana4 » Thu May 19, 2011 11:01 am

Several countries have laws requiring vitamin b-12 be included in fortified foods. Eating a vegan diet is only one reason why someone may not be getting enough vitamin b-12. I've read that it is hard for the human body to extract vitamin b-12 from animal products and this capacity decreases with age.

People other than vegans who might need to supplement with vitamin b-12

- people over 50
- people who have a natural disability to absorb it
- people who have a lot of heavy drinking or drug use in their past
- people who have a lot of heavy smoking in their past.

Vitamin b-12 is stored in a human body, but a human body can only store b-12 if it consistently gets small amounts. A person can't "gas up" on b-12 by going without (or too little) for a long time and then taking a supplement to fix it in one shot.

The thing with vitamin b-12 is that a person can feel fine while being deficient, until one day they get sudden and irreversible consequences like nerve damage, a stroke or a heart attack.

Jack Norris is a confounder of Vegan Outreach and a registered dietitian (RD), he wrote what is probably the most well researched and readable article about vitamin b-12. It is one of those things where you read it once and you will no longer be vulnerable to a lot of misinformation:

http://veganhealth.org/articles/vitaminb12

Norris also has a daily check list that all adults should be doing for their nutrition ( only 2-3 things are vegan specific ). It is a short list:

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/dailyrecs
Last edited by Jhana4 on Thu May 19, 2011 6:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby David2 » Thu May 19, 2011 6:15 pm

I think it is just impressive how large the effect is of these tiny approximate 3 microgram (millionth of a gram) that you only need per day.

Of course, the dosis in the supplements is much higher because the body absorbs very few. For example, I will use tablets with 1000 mcg now. If you take one of these, the body absorbs around 9 mcg (=0,9%) according to what I read (maybe a little bit more or less depending on the source). So you should take them at least 2 times per week. If you want to be safe and get to at least 3 mcg per day absorbtion, you should probably take them 3 times per week. The tablets are rather cheap so I don't think it is a problem to do that. :)

@Jhana4
Thanks for sharing! :anjali:
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Re: Vegans - Do you supplement B12?

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu May 19, 2011 11:44 pm

I edited my post above because I accidentally had:

1,000 micrograms = 1 gram

But of course it is actually:

1,000 micrograms = 1 milligram
1,000 milligrams = 1 gram

B-12 is measured in micrograms

The amount of B-12 we need is measured in micrograms. But it won't hurt to supplement just to make sure you are getting enough.
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