Vegan Society Warns Not To Mess About With B12 levels

This is actually close to home this week as P has recently gone vegan after having been vegetarian for 35 years. Last week he went to give blood and felt awful for the next few days. It usually takes him a while to recover – most people would go home and eat a steak, I suppose – but this was in a different league.

I dosed him up with iron. Not much help. So I gathered it must be a lack of B12 that had been somehow exacerbated by the blood donation. I immediately gave him 4000mcg of this B12 because that’s the one we could get quickly, and within a couple of hours he was far better. A good lesson learned.

It is easy to become B12 deficient on a plant-based diet and even the Vegan Society are warning against ignoring this issue:

“In over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12… If for any reason you choose not to use fortified foods or supplements, you should recognise that you are carrying out a dangerous experiment – one that many have tried before with consistently low levels of success.” Source: NutriAdvanced Newsletter

I couldn’t have put it better myself. I really respect people wanting to be vegan and there are many benefits from it, of course, on lots of levels. I’ve been vegan myself and now eat fish to keep me healthy. My worry as a nutritionist is that people are following a diet that means they have to supplement something that we can’t make ourselves and have to get from diet. It strikes me that we are maybe not made to be purely plant-based if we simply cannot get such a key nutrient and have to supplement it. Still, that is a choice and, as long as people are aware of the need to supplement, that’s fine with me.

However, it’s not quite as simple as taking B12 in your multi. Case in point: I had already made sure that P had 500mcg in his daily multi (this one), when the standard advice is 3-10mcg! But he was still deficient and it showed with the blood donation. That’s because many people have difficulty absorbing B12 from oral tablets. I always recommend methlycobalamin preferably in a spray form, as above, and, even better, in liposomal form, although that is much more expensive – you get what you pay for. For the latter, this is my current fave and it should be TGF safe (the ethanol comes from sugar; I checked!). If buying, please give my name if this has helped you; I get a bit of kick back, thank you.

You can read much more on B12 on this blog including how to test – not serum testing, please, use Active B12 and/or MMA, symptoms and treatment.

You can also read the Vegan Society’s advice in full here.:

What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12

Hope that helps. As the Vegan Society says – don’t mess with your B12 levels; I can’t tell you how many people I see who are deficient and it can cause all manner of problems, especially fatigue!

2 Replies to “Vegan Society Warns Not To Mess About With B12 levels”

  1. Good advice, Micki. I have read that by the time you have symptoms of B12 deficiency, you have been deficient for a long time and have suffered permanent neurological damage. So, as you say, not enough to just take oral supplements but also need to check blood levels. B12 is especially critical for children.

    1. Permanent damage: I hope not Terry, that would be a bit depressing – and, thankfully, it is not something I have found clinically at least.

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