B12 Foods And Workouts For Vegans: Advice & Tips

23rd January 2021By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

B12 Foods And Workouts For Vegans

B12 Advice & Workout Tips For Vegans

In this article we will be looking at some of the best vitamin B12 foods and explaining why B12 is so important. Weโ€™ll also share some fantastic workouts tips for vegans! ๐Ÿ™‚

Three B12 Foods Suitable for Vegan Lifestyles

In terms of importance, vitamin B12 is right up there as far as the human body is concerned. This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for a whole host of physiological processes. It also plays a key role in bodily functions, which literally keep you alive!

We need vitamin B12 in order for our metabolisms to function as they should. We need it for the metabolization of fats and proteins, and it plays a vital role in the production of haemoglobin, and much more!

From an athletic standpoint, vitamin B12 is not only important for athletic performance, but also vital for a healthy body composition too.

Vegans, (and those who follow a plant-based diet), often struggle to consume enough vitamin B12. This is because it is largely found in animal-derived ingredients. However, there are numerous plant-based foods out there which are rich in this very vitamin. This is what weโ€™ll be looking at in this article.

B12 Foods And Workouts For Vegans Advice and Tips-Diet Zest Article

Here are several B12 foods suitable for vegan lifestyles:

Tempeh

This is one of the best B12 foods that is suitable for vegan diets and lifestyles.

Tempeh is an Indonesian soy product that is packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and probiotic benefits.

Made from soybeans, along with added whole grains and other beans, the soybeans are cooked and then fermented, before being pressed into a block. You may be wondering where the B12 comes from, (this is because the beans donโ€™t actually contain it). Well, the B12 is actually produced during the fermentation process!

A 100g serving of tempeh will provide you with as much as 14.8mcg of this vitamin, and it also goes great in salads and stir fries.

Chlorella

As well as B12 foods, vegan-friendly supplements such as chlorella have proved to be very popular over the last several years, as people are finally realising just how healthy they really are.

Chlorella is an algae, which is a nutritional powerhouse. It is loaded full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre, and other nutrients which the human body thrives upon.

Chlorella can only be consumed as a supplement, since in its natural state it has a tough cellular wall which the human digestive system cannot digest and breakdown. So instead, itโ€™s processed and turned into supplements in the form of powder, capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

100g of chlorella provides between 80 and 100mcg of vitamin B12.

Fortified Breakfast Cereals

Another great example of vitamin B12 foods is fortified breakfast cereals.

The B12 found in these cereals is synthetic, so is not derived from animals. Although cereals are often not recommended for healthy diets and lifestyles, if you choose the right cereals you can increase your nutrient intakes quite noticeably!

For example, cereals such as bran flakes are loaded full of dietary fibre. They also contain iron, folate (B12) niacin, and much more!

Many athletes will often eat fortified cereal before a race. This is not only for the carbohydrate content, but also because it is required to produce new and healthy red blood cells. Thus, enabling oxygen to be shuttled around the body, where required. The more oxygen these cells can transport to our muscles, the harder they will work and the higher our anaerobic thresholds will become.

Put simply, the B12 in fortified cereals will help to increase your energy levels and ensure that your muscles can work harder before they succumb to fatigue.

Different cereals have different ratios of B12, so read the packaging and see what works for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Workouts for Vegans

Years ago, if you dined out and wished to order a vegan-friendly meal, youโ€™d be lucky if you were offered anything more exciting than garlic mushrooms on toast! Nowadays, more restaurants, cafes, and fast-food outlets are offering vegan-friendly meals. So, this alone is proof of the popularity of veganism!

That said, in this section weโ€™re not looking at vegan diets, weโ€™re looking at workouts for vegans.
As vegans consume foods which are sometimes lacking in certain macronutrients, finding the right workouts for vegans can be tricky.

For example, a vegan looking to tone up (and maybe burn a couple of pounds of fat), would not follow the same workout program as a 280-pound meat-eating bodybuilder who is looking to bulk up before his next contest! ๐Ÿ™‚

If youโ€™re a vegan who is looking to get in shape but arenโ€™t sure where to begin, here are a few tried and tested workouts for vegans which are ideal.

B12 Foods And Workouts For Vegans Advice & Tipsโ€“Diet Zest Blog

Vegan Weight Training Guidelines

Forget what people say about vegans not getting enough protein to be able to build muscle, that is absolute nonsense! There are countless plant-based protein sources out there that are ideal for vegans. Not to mention the many different vegan protein supplements.

Plant-based dieters can follow similar workouts for vegans that would be suitable for meat eaters. The only real exception here is that workouts should be kept slightly shorter.

Stick to these workouts for vegan guidelines and youโ€™ll be absolutely fine:

Keep workouts short and aim for no more than 45-minutes per session

Train one muscle group each week

Train heavier and aim for lower reps

Stick with 4 exercises for big muscle groups and 3 exercises for smaller muscle groups

Muscle Building Workouts for Vegans

Sunday โ€“ Off
Monday โ€“ Chest and triceps
Tuesday โ€“ back and biceps
Wednesday โ€“ Off
Thursday โ€“ Legs
Friday โ€“ Shoulders
Saturday โ€“ Off

Chest & Triceps

Flat bench barbell bench presses โ€“ 4 sets of 6 - 10 repetitions
Incline dumbbell press โ€“ 4 sets of 4 โ€“ 6 reps
Push ups โ€“ 4 sets of 10 reps
Cable crossovers โ€“ 3 sets of 10 reps
Triceps overhead cable extensions โ€“ 3 sets of 15 reps
EZ bar or dumbbell skull crushers โ€“ 4 -5 sets of 12 - 16 reps
Close-grip flat barbell bench presses โ€“ 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps

Back & Biceps

Lat pulldowns โ€“ 5 sets of 5 โ€“ 8 reps
Deadlifts โ€“ 5 sets of 3 reps
T-bar rows โ€“ 5 sets of 5 โ€“ 8 reps
Dumbbell rows โ€“ 4 sets of 8 reps per arm
Spider curls โ€“ 2 sets of 12 - 18 reps
Hammer curls โ€“ 3 sets of 10 reps per arm
Preacher curls โ€“ 3 sets of 10 reps

Legs

Barbell back squats โ€“ 4 sets of 5 reps
Leg curls โ€“ 4 sets of 8 reps
Heavy machine leg presses โ€“ 4 sets of 6 โ€“ 8 repetitions
Hamstring curls โ€“ 4 sets of 10 reps
Walking lunges โ€“ 4 sets of 10 - 12 repetitions per leg
Calf raises โ€“ 4 sets of 20 reps

Shoulders

Heavy seated dumbbell shoulder presses โ€“ 4 sets of 5 โ€“ 8 repetitions
Standing barbell military press โ€“ 4 sets of 8 reps
Lateral raises โ€“ 4 sets of 10 reps
Viking presses on a machine โ€“ 4 sets of 8 - 10 reps
Barbell upright rows โ€“ 4 sets of 5 โ€“ 8 reps
Heavy barbell shrugs โ€“ 4 sets of 6 โ€“ 10 reps

The Importance of Efficient Workouts for Vegans

There are of course many workouts for vegans for you to follow. This ranges from workouts based on burning fat and getting fit, to workouts for vegans which are designed to promote strength increases.

As long as you are following a vegan diet and lifestyle that is healthy and balanced, and youโ€™re getting the right macros and micronutrients, youโ€™ll find these workouts for vegans will work wonders!

You can also check out our Personalised Grocery List service. This will provide you with tailored vegan and plant-based grocery list. It's specially put together for you, based upon the food preferences that you select!

Also, consider joining our communityย  - our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement! ๐Ÿ™‚

Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety: Plant-Based

17th January 2021By DZ TeamGoing Vegan, Self-Improvement

Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety - Vegan and Plant-Based

Plant-Based Diet Tips to Combat Depression

In this article we will share some foods that help depression. We also provide some useful general tips to help you improve your overall well-being.

Mental illness is one of the most actively increasing threats to public health, out of which depression and anxiety disorders are rising rapidly. It is proven that diet is correlated with all such diseases. An 18-month study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion stated that a plant-based diet might alleviate depression and anxiety. It also conveyed that specific nutrients help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.

To find out more about foods that help depression, please read on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegan Food Recipes are Super Quick and Delicious

A growing body of research shows that eating whole rich diet, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains may not only help prevent major depression and anxiety, but also treat it once it has started. Striving to eat a plant-based diet doesnโ€™t have to be boring! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can get portion of greens daily by adding them to soups, smoothies, juices, curries, pasta dishes or simply a good old-fashioned side of steamed greens to retain content of both magnesium and B vitamins.

Boosts Your Mood

Vegan and plant-based foods are a rich supplier of vitamins and nutrients that helps fight illnesses. For example, Vitamin C stimulates your body to produce antibodies and white blood cells that strengthen the immune system to ward off diseases. At the same time, Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps combat infections. Thus, a healthy body with lower chances of illness puts you in a good mood without making you feel lethargic or miserable any longer.

Better Quality of Sleep and Reduced Stress

Our bodies demand sleep to rest, restore and to reduce the chances of health issues like elevated blood pressure, and Alzheimer's disease. Magnesium and calcium maintain a more regulated sleeping cycle. In addition to this, the release of serotonin calms your brain. Also, antioxidants found in vitamins A, C and E reduce free-radical damage, at the time of stress. A study published in the Nutritional Journal found showed that participants levels of stress decreased after just two weeks.

 

Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety-Plant-Basedโ€“Diet Zest Blog

List of The Foods That Help Depression

Leafy green vegetables are the nutrient substations. It also comprises several vitamins and minerals. The rich content of folic acid and iron present in these vegetables protects you against dementia and depression.

All nuts and seeds contain tryptophan that is converted into serotonin inside the body. Although different nuts like cashews, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and hazelnuts effectively enhance omega-3 fats. Walnuts are the highest plant-based sources of omega-3, takes over as they support the entire brain's health by keeping the blood sugar level stabilized. A 2019 study found that depression scores remained 26% lower among those who consumed nearly 1/4 cup of walnuts every day. Thus, nuts and seeds are also considered one of the best foods that help depression.

Brazil nut- These are the richest source of selenium. People deficient in selenium usually feel depressed and anxious. Thus, two Brazil nuts per day help restore your mental well-being.

Mushrooms are one of the few sources of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D for the vegans with minimal tryptophan levels.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and calcium, which helps lower blood pressure and maintain a proper sleep cycle.

Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin, which shows many similar properties to pharmaceutical drugs used to handle anxiety disorders.

Bananas contain rich content of serotonin, for mood balancing and daily body functioning. They also contain Vitamin C and potassium, which enhances nerve and muscle health.

Avocados comprises of almost 20 minerals and vitamins. It also contains tryptophan that promotes a good mood.

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and protein along with folate and polyphenols that help maintain a healthy gut.

Foods to Avoid

Sugar and processed food are great contributors to anxiety and depression, resulting in inflammation throughout the body and brain. The quick pick me ups- a cup of coffee and processed food stands in for a complete breakfast, and healthy fresh fruits and vegetables replaced by high fat and high-calorie fast foods. This cycle needs to be cracked by incorporating healthy and tasty plant-based Foods That Help Depression.

You can check out some of our recipe ideas and our Personalised Grocery List service.

Also, why not consider joining our communityย  - โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement.

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based

29th December 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based

Vegan Vs Plant-Based: So What's The Difference?

Many people ask, what is the difference between vegan and plant-based? Isnโ€™t a vegan diet a plant-based diet? Yes, it is but that doesnโ€™t make them the same.

A vegan diet is different from a plant-based diet, though they are similar. They differ on the premise of the inclusion by choice of animal-based products.
A plant-based diet tends to include foods like fruits, sprouts, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Still confused about the difference between vegan and plant-based? No worries, I will explain further! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based - healthy vegan diet

A Healthy Vegan Diet

In this section, Iโ€™m going to breakdown the basics of a healthy vegan diet. Firstly, it comprises strictly of healthy plant-based foods. All animal products (dairy, meat, poultry, fish, honey, and eggs) are excluded from the diet. That said, some vegans may still consume foods like biscuits, chips, cookies and other junk related foods. It may also consist of processed foods including tofu, burgers, and ice-cream. Though snacks can be consumed a whole based diet is recommended. This will encourage a healthy vegan diet which is high in nutrients. Foods which are often consumed include:

Legumes: beans, split peas, nuts, seeds, soy products (tempeh or tofu). Legumes are known to be packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants, b-vitamins, and essential fatty acids.
Whole grains: wheat berries, millet, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Whole grains provide a rich source of minerals, protein, fiber, b-vitamins, and antioxidants.
Fruits: Citrus and Berries. They are rich in vitamin C and a great source of antioxidants.

 

What Else Should a Healthy Vegan Diet Include?

Vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iodine. The are important nutrients.
Vitamin B12: Crucial for the formulation of red blood cells, neurological functioning, and the system of DNA. B-12 sources are best received through methyl cobalamin and supplements. B-12 in the form of cobalamin is found in fortified foods such as nutritional yeast, cereal, and non-dairy milk.
Vitamin D: natural sunlight and vitamin D supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids: (flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, hemp seed oil, tofu, canola oil and dark leafy greens). Omega 3 fatty acids create the adequate balance necessary for optimal brain and heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for infant/child development. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is omega-3 fatty acid in its original form. This is recognized within the body as DHA and EPA when converted.
Iodine: (navy beans, baked sweet potato with skin, enriched white bread, prunes, apple juice, strawberries and watercress)
Calcium: (almond milk, soy milk, almonds and soya beans)
Iron: (amaranth, navy beans and blackstrap molasses
Protein: (oats, tofu, tempeh, legumes and quinoa)

 

The Vegan Society - Definition of Veganism

The Vegan Society provides a great definition of veganism. They say,

"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to excludeโ€”as far as is possible and practicableโ€”all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment."

Their definition also contains a specific clause:

โ€œIn dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.โ€

As we explained previously, this means that people who follow a healthy vegan diet will not consume meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products. Additionally, strict vegans avoid all animal-based products, i.e., honey and any foods or non-food products that are derived from animals.

 

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based - healthy plant-based diet

A Healthy Plant-Based Diet

A healthy plant-based diet is similar to a healthy vegan diet. In what way? Well, in the sense that it is about avoiding animal-based food products. That said, a person who is plant-based might avoid eating animal products. However, they might still decide to purchase a fur coat!

There are specific foods that some vegans might eat, which would not form part of a healthy plant-based diet. A perfect example is โ€˜vegan junk foodโ€™. This may consist of things like tofu based hot dogs and deep-fried seitan etc. These types of products are not great for your health and they obviously lack nutrition! Obviously, this does not fit in with the ethos of being plant-based.

What is Plant-Based?

Essentially, the focus is heavily placed on eating foods that are rich in plant sources. A healthy plant-based diet primarily includes whole foods. Whole foods are foods that experience little to no processing. Plant-based whole foods include vegetables fruits; whole grains (quinoa, barley, oatmeal); oils (avocado, olive, canola), and nuts and seeds. Additionally, refined foods such as white flour, white sugar, and processed oils are excluded or greatly reduced. Examples of recommended foods are listed below

Fruits: peaches, pineapple, bananas, berries, citrus fruits and pears
Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers
Starchy vegetables: butternut squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes
Whole grains: Brown rice, brown rice pasta, rolled oats, quinoa and barley
Unsaturated fats: Avocado oil, olive oil and coconut oil
Legumes: Lentils, peanuts, black beans, peas and chickpeas
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, homemade peanut butter and tahini
Plant-based milk (no sugar added): Coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk
Spices & Seasonings: curry, black pepper, salt, basil, rosemary and turmeric
Condiments: soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, salsa, mustard and nutritional yeast
Plant-based protein sources: Tofu, tempeh, protein powders, no added sugar, or artificial ingredients
Beverages: herbal tea and water

 

Summing Up - "Healing Through Foodโ€

To conclude, I will sum up the difference between vegan and plant-based in the following way:

- Veganism is a lifestyle which seeks to exclude all forms of cruelty, where possible.
- Plant-based is a diet which is about avoiding the consumption of animal products and anything refined, and food products which are not beneficial for health.

It's clear that people who follow a healthy vegan diet and a healthy plant-based diet have lower blood pressure and a lower body fat percentage.
So, now you are aware of the primary difference between vegan and plant-based nutrition, what is your next step?
Need help? No worries, check out our Personalised Grocery List service.

Whether you decide to go vegan or plant-based โ€“you should join our community and be part of our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement!

The Vegan Diet – An Easy Guide for Beginners

5th December 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

The Vegan Diet - An Easy Guide for Beginners

A World of Options for Vegans

Our vegan diet guide is filled with lots of tips, tricks, and hacks. This will help you to thrive while transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.

Before starting your vegan journey, it is important to think in terms of abundance instead of limitations. Instead of thinking, โ€œOh, I can't eat all these foodsโ€ it may be more helpful to flip it and instead tell yourself โ€œOh! I get to eat all of these foods.โ€ Not that people don't eat plant-based foods on a standard diet, but the focus changes.

With the vegan diet, you will notice and appreciate new foods and recipes, you can appreciate all the colors and variety in your food. And, you can appreciate how good you feel.

This little mental switch may help you with veganism. Plus, it's just good to adopt this mindset for many other journeys and challenges in life.

 

A Good General Rule of the Vegan Diet

Not all vegan diets are made the same. With growing popularity, there are many vegan products on the market today. While many of them are tasty, they can also be highly processed, unhealthy, and expensive. Many people enjoy these foods, and that is great, especially if it helps you. But having your diet centered on mock meats, and cheeses will defeat the purpose, and you could be missing out on the great benefits the vegan diet has to offer.

With that in mind, it is best to avoid refined oils (like canola oil and margarine), sugars, refined grains, and flours.

When going on a vegan diet it is most ideal to center it on plant-based whole foods. These are foods that are unprocessed and are purchased or prepared in their natural form. These are foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed fats, and legumes. Usually these foods don't come in a package, and if they do, there should only be one ingredient.

Keeping the whole food plant-based diet in mind is the best long-term strategy for eating. This is the way one can prevent, and even reverse many diseases that can kill or keep us from living our full potential. Nutritional science can be so confusing and contradictory. This can be because many industries with different interests fund the studies to make their products seem healthy. Lifelong nutrition doesnโ€™t have to be confusing when you keep those 4 words in mind - plant-based whole foods.

Benefits of a Vegan Diet

The list of benefits for following a vegan diet is long and worthwhile. We will focus on the health benefits for now because this is your journey, and it's about you. Not to overlook the amazing fact that animals don't have to die, and the health of the planet depends on sustainable, localized, plant-based food sources.

Plant-based foods can help manage your weight. This is because plant foods are less calorie dense than animal products. Most plant-based foods are abundant in fiber and are dense in other nutrients. Fiber is low in calories but helps keep us full longer. It also helps with digestion and keeps the heart healthy.

It is also great because you donโ€™t have to worry about cutting calories. You may feel you need to eat more on a vegan diet. There is no shame in that because plant-based food is less calorie dense but holds more nutrients. Eating more can be beneficial and even recommended - A favorite part for many on a vegan diet. Simply listen to your body. If you need to eat more, then do so.

The vegan diet can even be less expensive. Again, by focusing on plant-based whole foods you'll find that foods like beans, oats, rice, potatoes, and many fruits and vegetables are extremely cheap. It always helps to shop in season and locally too.

The vegan diet can keep your mind strong by preventing Alzheimerโ€™s and dementia. It can improve your longevity because plant-based foods are high in antioxidants which protect our body from free radicals and cancer-causing inflammation. Lastly, it has the power to kill the number one killer in the United States: Heart disease.

Following a vegan diet can keep you lean and muscular long term. One thing many worry about switching to a vegan diet is the lack of protein and possible muscle loss. This is not true though as there are many plant-based protein sources, and the vegan diet may even be better for fueling and energizing the body.

How to get Started and Keep on Track

Starting the vegan diet may be a quick transition, or not, but either way it is a lifelong journey. Always take the time to learn new recipes, read new books, or watch documentaries on the subject. It is helpful to learn which foods are the best for your body, and to learn helpful tips from the many who have followed the diet for a long time.

Transitioning does not have to be an all or nothing experience. Start by choosing plant-based whole foods. Many people start off as vegetarian too. Take small steps and go for consistency, and most importantly, have fun.

It is good to have a purpose and a reason why. Maybe if you feel like you're getting off track, or just feeling down, try to remind yourself why you do this. Maybe your reason is a bit different than others, and that's ok. But it is almost always about caring. You care about your body, the animals, and the planet.

 

The Vegan Diet โ€“ Diet Zest Article

Living in Society as a Vegan

Restaurants

Restaurants can be tricky if you live in a smaller city or town and there is only a handful to choose from. However, many restaurants are becoming increasingly accommodating by carrying plant-based meats, and cheeses. If not, you can always look at menus online and even call in advance to ask if they can prepare something or make substitutions.

Gatherings

You can always prepare and bring something you are proud to make. Potluck style gatherings are always a great opportunity to do so. People are usually quite accommodating to their guests. Even meat enthusiasts are usually happy to try to make vegan dishes for their friends.

Travelling

Travelling as a vegan should be an opportunity rather than a limitation. You can visit places that celebrate a more plant-based lifestyle. Or, you can check out Eat List to find vegan restaurants and more. Of course, you can visit local markets and cook food at your place of stay using local produce and ingredients.

Nutrition Myths and Tips

Plant Protein

Plant protein is among one of the biggest myths in the vegan diet. Research suggests that protein deficiency is not a problem in the vegan diet unless one is restricting calories. If you feel you are not getting enough protein, then you may need to eat more. But, eating a variety of plant-based whole foods should be more than sufficient in terms of protein.

B12

Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and not from animals. Due to sterile practices, plan-food does lack b12. However, it is recommended to take a supplement. Nutritional yeast also happens to be packed with it. Just a quarter cup can have 8 times your daily need.

Omega-3

A plant derived supplement can help with this. You can also eat chia, flax seed, hemp, and walnuts.

Iron

The plant based diet contains plenty of iron from sources like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, avocado, tofu, tempeh and potatoes.

Supplements

This not just applies to people on a vegan diet but everyone. It may be beneficial to supplement with Vitamin b12, Vitamin D (if you donโ€™t get much sun), and Omega 3.

You can check out ourย Personalised Grocery List service for more ideas.

Also, join our community, and our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement, it's growing daily! ๐Ÿ™‚

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Vegan Diet

5th November 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Vegan Diet

Definition, Signs, and Natural Treatment

Overview

In this article, we will explore one particular concern that gets often brought up with the vegan diet โ€“ the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Every year, the number of people who adopt the vegan diet increases. Experts attribute this phenomenon to the health benefits of eating fresh veggies and fruits, while eliminating processed foods.

According to one study, 9.6 million Americans have adopted the vegan lifestyle, which translates to around 3% of the population.
As expected, the rapid increase in the number of vegans raised some concerns. This includes the safety of excluding all animal products and the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.

 

The physiological role of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (a.k.a., cobalamin) is a water-soluble compound. It plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and the production of new red blood cells.
Cobalamin is indispensable for the production of new red blood cells, which transfer oxygen to different tissues. Low levels of vitamin B12 causes a type of anemia that primarily presents with fatigue.

Researchers found that vitamin B12 boosts the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This allows your body to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) more efficiently.
Sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 also:

  • reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration
  • improves symptoms of psychiatric disorders (i.e., depression)
  • prevents birth defects.

The list of vitamin B12 benefits does not end here, since this compound is involved in a myriad of physiological processes.
Normally, we can find vitamin B12 in meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products. For this reason, many vegans are concerned about whether they are getting sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 through their diets.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

The primary organs affected by vitamin B12 deficiency are the nervous system and the circulatory systems.

Unlike iron deficiency, which leads to microcytic anemia (i.e., the red blood cells become smaller), vitamin B12 deficiency precipitates megaloblastic anemia. The latter is characterized by the production of large red blood cells that do not function properly.

Researchers also found that low levels of B12 increase the risk of dementia, depression, paranoia, and certain behavioral changes.

Unfortunately, when the nerve cells get damaged, there is no current therapy that could effectively reverse the process.

Mild symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Balance problems
  • Confusion
  • Poor memory
  • Soreness of the mouth or tongue
  • Numbness and tingling in peripheral extremities (i.e., hands and feet)

By far, the most devastating adverse effect of vitamin B12 deficiency is birth defects, since these are usually irreversible.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of B12 deficiency ranges between 1.5% and 15% of people in the US. The incidence is even higher in vegans.

Vitamin B12 deficiency and the vegan diet - Diet Zest article

The vegan diet and vitamin B12

In general, unwashed organic produce (e.g., mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella, nutritional yeast) have vitamin B12.

Some vegans believe that including some of these plant foods in their diets means they donโ€™t have to worry about vitamin B12 deficiency. However, research is not aligned with this belief.

Furthermore, the plant foods that seem to naturally contain vitamin B12 might not be active in humans.

To add to the argument, there is no scientific evidence that recommends depending on unwashed organic produce for vitamin B12.

According to studies, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiencies, relative to those on a regular diet.

The appropriate vitamin B12 dosage

For adults, the daily recommended intake is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day. This number changes slightly during pregnancy (2.6 mcg) and breastfeeding (2.8 mcg).

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans is similar to individuals on a normal diet.

To reach these daily recommendations, vegans must consume large amounts of B12-fortified foods or take dietary supplements.

However, if you are under the age of 50 years and following the vegan diet, it is very challenging to meet the RDI of 2.4 mcg per day.

You see, taking vitamin B12-fortified foods may not be enough. For instance, the cobalamin found in nutritional yeast is light-sensitive, which means it might degrade if you buy the product from a store that uses clear plastic bags.

In one review paper, scientists reported that 86.5% of vegetarians have abnormally low levels of vitamin B12.

Unfortunately, there are no official RDI guidelines for vegans and vegetarians.

However, one study suggested that taking 6 mcg of vitamin B12 per day might be appropriate to keep normal serum levels.

For all the reasons listed above, vegans might not be able to reach the recommended daily intake. This is true, even when consuming B12-fortified foods. To compensate for this, you may want to take a daily supplement that provides 25โ€“100 mcg of cyanocobalamin. Alternatively, a weekly dosage of 2,000 mcg.

If you still have concerns about supplement intake, you can always test your serum levels of vitamin B12. This will allow you to tailor your dietary/supplement needs.

You should also keep in mind that the absorption of vitamin B12 becomes less efficient with age. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends that individuals over the age of 51 start consuming fortified foods. They also suggest taking B12 supplementation regardless of whether you are vegan or not.

Disclaimer: before taking vitamin B12 supplementation, you may want to speak with your primary care physician to ensure that it is safe. Your doctor may also order some blood tests to measure serum levels of B12.

Takeaway message

The vegan diet provides a myriad of health benefits to the human body. It optimizes your cardiovascular system, digestion, cognitive functions, and more!

Awareness of the potential nutritional deficiencies associated with this diet will allow you to be one step ahead. This also helps prevent unnecessary complications.

Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the importance of supplying your body with vitamin B12.

You can also check out Vegan Diet - An Easy Guide for Beginners and our Personalised Grocery List service.

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