Vitamin B12 deficiency – Is meat truly the only answer?
It seems to me that every time I mention my dislike for animal products on my plate, people always jump to the same argument: “But not eating meat can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency!”
First of all, I’ve had an iron deficiency that only lasted for a short while because I was working out for 30h per week. It was diagnosed and fixed shortly afterwards. Besides from that I didn’t get the flue, any other sickness or any vitamin deficiency for the past 6-7 years and I am as strong as a lion! Sometimes I have a lack of sleep but I’m sure that’s not caused by nutrition 😉
Many people think that you can only get vitamin B12 through animal products especially meat. However, very few people are aware that B12 is not necessarily restricted to meat only and that it is also plentiful in many plant based diets.
Cobalamin (B12) is a vitamin that the human body doesn’t produce itself, same goes for animals – they can only produce it through microorganisms. Only ruminants, if they are naturally raised on fields, produce it because of the bacteria living in their digestive tract. However, animals do not retain the vitamin by nature.
Now for the underlying question: How does the vitamin B12 get into the meat that consumers buy, which is apparently unalterable in everyone’s diet?
Simple answer: As a matter of fact, meat naturally does not contain any B12! Approximately 98% of all animals are fed with B12 pills, because they are kept on industrial farms. The contents of the pills are passed on to the consumers through the meat. So instead of using natural vitamin B12 compounds like many vegans do omnivores get their B12 indirectly through meat from animals that previously got fed with the pills.
Of course, people who live by a vegan diet should keep an eye on their B12 levels. Vegans tend to be more conscious of the products that they consume, therefore many of them know more aware of their health and diet than the average person. However the average person should realize that steak is not the only substitute for B12 and that there are instead pills.
You don’t tell a person that he probably has a vitamin C, D, zinc etc. deficiency – right? And many don’t know it anyways because they eat without thinking about which diet provides the biggest health impacts. I would even go as far as saying that people who live on a vegan diet have a broader knowledge about their health and the health benefits of the products they consume.
Vegans also often have better Vitamin C, zinc and folic acid levels. Maybe it’s because plant based products contain more vitamins than animal products, right? 😉
Also, it’s important to know that Cobalamin (B12) is responsible for:
- Sleep quality
- Sleep wake cycle
- Nervous system
The daily requirement of B12 of your body is approximately 6-10µg (officially 3µg in GER/CH/A)
- Plant based products that contain a lot of vitamin B12 are:
- Unpeeled and unwashed root vegetables (Carrots, beetroot)
- Wheatgrass and barley grass
- Fermented soy products like Miso, Shoyu and Tempeh
- Lactic acid vegetables like Sauerkraut
- Black tea
- Sea buckthorn
- Beer yeast and nutritional yeast
I think the arguments are clear. Do you have a different opinion or want to add something I’m happy to read it in the comments.