A vegan diet is increasing in popularity due to its various health benefits, yet recent research from the German Nutrition Society (DGE) in a new paper has highlighted the importance of “permanently taking a Vitamin B12 supplement”. Research from the not-for-profit organisation has highlighted how it’s “difficult or impossible” for vegans to attain an adequate supply of Vitamin B12 and that this deficiency can lead to damage of the brain and nervous system, along with increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The advice from the DGE is that long-term vegans should consider permanently supplementing with Vitamin B12 and getting their levels checked regularly by a doctor. Other nutrients may be missing or only present within low levels within a vegan diet and this includes essential fatty acids such as Riboflavin and Vitamin D, along with minerals such as calcium, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc. The DGE recommend that vegans have a “select very specifically nutrient dense foods”.

While the paper acknowledges the various health benefits of following a plant based diet, due to their associations with a lowered risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease, it also highlights how a high intake of red meat is associated with higher risk for a number of diseases and this includes certain cancers. Overall however the research suggests that the diet is “nutritionally unfavourable”and doesn’t recommend it during pregnancy or lactation, or for children of any age.

The research also suggested that the health benefits of a vegan diet are dependent on the individual’s motives for following the diet in the first place. For example many vegan foods are not necessarily “nutritionally favourable or health promoting” and this is because many of the foods are prepared and processed, and often high in fat, sugar and salt.

In response to this paper, the German animal welfare group Albert Schweitzer Foundation welcomed the DGE’s positive comments about a plant-based diet. It also expressed that the DGE is cautious in their recommendations but the reality is that vegans are “well informed and when they feed their children in this manner, they do so correctly”.

The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have concluded however that “A well planned vegan diet is appropriate for all stages of the life cycle including pregnancy, lactation, along with early and later childhood adolescence.”

This research provides a warning that the vegan diet may be lacking in specific nutrients such as B12, a deficiency of which can cause minor health problems.

But in some cases, vitamin B12 deficiency can have serious consequences. You can develop mental problems, including confused thinking, memory loss, and dementia, which in some serious cases can be irreversible. Low levels of B12 can also cause nerve damage and anemia and weaken your bones.

Animal products like meat, poultry, and seafood, and dairy foods like milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese are the best sources of vitamin B12. Honey, vegetables, and fruits are not really sources of vitamin B12, which is why people who follow a vegan diet may not get enough of it. If you’re a vegan, think about taking a B12 supplement, which is especially recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers who are vegans or even strict vegetarians.

Describing your symptoms to your doctor may give a clue that you could have low levels of vitamin B12. But you’ll ALWAYS need blood tests to confirm it.

Many pharma drugs can interfere with your body’s ability to absorb and break down vitamin B12 from food. For some people, taking a vitamin supplement or eating more animal products (or both) can help boost their B12 levels back to where they should be. But other people may have a severe deficiency or may have an underlying health condition that causes their B12 to drop.

If you are Vegan you may take an oral capsule B12 supplement, which you take once a day or a vitamin B12 sublingual spray.

 

Recommended Examples

As well as a super absorbable B12, B4Health Spray is especially formulated for healthy Homocysteine levels which is a risk factor for Vegans. This B4 Health Spray promotes healthy homocysteine levels and is properly absorbed through the digestive tract. It contains 6mcg of Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin) and four B-Vitamins including Thiamin (1.5mg of Vit B1), Riboflavin (1.7mg of Vitamin B2), Niacin (20mg of Vitamin B3) and 2mg of Vitamin B6