What are the causes of B12 deficiency? What are the signs? What does vitamin B12 do and why is it important? Should raw foodists and vegans supplement? These questions will be answered here.
Why is vitamin B12 so important? What does this vitamin do? It supports our nerves, energy production and red blood cells. It helps to decrease our homocysteine and thereby the risk of heart disease and weakening of the arteries and nerves.
If you don't get enough B12, you might become anemic. You don't carry enough oxygen to your blood. You look pale and your immune system might become weak.
But there are be many other signs of B12 deficiency:
In babies or toddlers, the child may start to look pale, fail to thrive or have weak muscles.
There can also be many "slow" symptoms. Symptoms that you don't notice immediately, but show only over time.
Actually, it might be a reason why some people don't feel well on raw, vegetarian or vegan diets.
The main causes of B12 deficiency is age. As you get older, it becomes harder for your body to absorb B12.
This may be due to low stomach acid that comes with age or intestinal problems such as ulcers or having part of the intestine removed or taking medications such as antacids and laxatives on a regular basis.
Other causes of B12 deficiency: when you don't eat meat, fish or dairy. Because these are vitamin B12 foods and you don't find this vitamin in fruits or plants. That's why 80% of all vegans - who don't supplement - are deficient in this vitamin.
Consistent research has shown that vegans (including raw food vegans) have a high chance of not getting enough B12. This is especially true for babies and toddlers!
You store this vitamin in your body. This stored B12 is not transferred to the baby through the breast milk. A vegan or vegetarian mother should take daily supplements in order to supply her baby through breast milk!
Even among mothers who do eat animal products, the babies may not get enough of this important B vitamin. However, research has shown that as long as the mother supplements during breast feeding, the baby should be OK.
When you have vit B12 deficiency symptoms you might consider taking B12 Vitamins or shots. You should know however that many people suffer from side effects to B12 vitamins or get vitamin B12 shot problems.
Most of the time, the side effects are the result of chemical (synthetic) version vitamin B12 used in the shots or vitamin supplements, the "stabilizers" or preservatives used in the injections and/or the unusual large amount of B12 that your body has to deal with suddenly (especially with shots).
Some common side effects are:
Mild diarrhea, upset stomach, nausea, a feeling, or a sense, of being swollen over the entire body, headache, joint pain.
More severe (less common) side effects:
The RDA for B12 (for adults) both men and women is 2.4 mcg.
Some people believe sea vegetables are a good source of B12, but I haven't found sufficient research that shows sea greens contain B12. Especially if you are breastfeeding or are pregnant, I wouldn't take the chance.
If you're on a raw vegan diet, causes of B12 deficiency can be prevented by taking supplements. You don't need much vitamin B12.
Methylcobalamin - 1000 mcg (sublingual) is a great source (i.e. from Natural Factors). It contains ingredients that most people react well to (rarely any side effects)
Nano B-12 is another good source. This is probably the best B12 supplement because it is 100% natural and is absorbed easily (but a bit more expensive). It's recommended by Gabriel Cousens and David Wolfe.
Some great internet sources for natural B12 supplements are:
Rejuvenac (fermented wheat drink) is also a good source of vitamin B12. However, though this is a natural and vegan drink, you should know that the Hippocrates Health Institute (Raw food institute in Florida) advises not to drink this because of the high amount of fermentation. And personally, I have difficulty with the taste...
Victoria Boutenko's, a long time raw foodist and vegan, research lead her to the conclusion that people who do NOT wash their produce are rarely B-12 deficient, while raw foodist who DO are. Victoria suspects that B-12 can be found in the soil.
If you are lucky to get fresh produce from a reliable natural source or if you have your own vegetable garden you may be able to get your B-12 from your veggies IF you do not wash them.
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