Plant-based diets are growing in popularity among health-conscious people who want optimal nutritional value from food, without the negative health effects of animal products. Many elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts have embraced plant-based nutrition as a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable way to eat.
For decades, vegans and vegetarians have been warned about potential protein deficiencies from not eating meat and dairy, but those concerns have been largely been disproven by the remarkable performance metrics of vegan athletes. However, one essential nutrient found mostly in animal products may be missing from vegan and vegetarian diets, and deficiency can cause serious health problems.
Vitamin B12 and Human Health
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a micronutrient found in animal flesh and animal byproducts like eggs and dairy. B12 is classified as a water-soluble vitamin, meaning your body does not store it. Cobalamin contains trace amounts of the metal cobalt.
B12 is fundamental to a number of important metabolic processes, including:
- Red blood cell formation
- Nervous system function
- Nutrient absorption
- Adrenal gland support
- Cognitive function and memory
- Brain cell regeneration
- DNA synthesis
- Mitochondrial metabolism
- Male and female reproductive health
Because of its important role in the nervous system, severe B12 depletion over time can lead to irreversible neurological damage.
B12 Missing from Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
Scientists surmise that plant-eating humans once got adequate amounts of cobalamin from small amounts of dirt found on the surface of plants, in much the same way that plant-eating animals like cattle acquire the nutrient. However, with today’s hygiene standards for food products, most people do not ingest trace amounts of soil with their fruits and vegetables, and therefore no B12.
Research confirms a high incidence of B12 deficiency in vegetarians and vegans. A recent study reported that:
- Vegans who do not take supplements have a higher incidence of B12 deficiency than all other types of vegetarians.
- All forms of vegetarian diets are deficient in B12 compared to diets that include meat.
- Vegans and vegetarians should supplement with B12 to avoid the negative consequences of deficiency.
Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, chances are you need more B12. Many cereals and other manufactured foods are fortified with B12. However, vegans and vegetarians often avoid processed foods for the same reasons they avoid animal products: avoidance of chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, sugar and other artificial ingredients.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency include:
- Weakness, fatigue and dizziness
- Heart palpitations
- Pallid skin
- Constipation, diarrhea and gassiness
- Vision loss
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- Depression and memory loss
If you are a vegan or vegetarian and feel run down and fatigued, you may be B12 deficient.
B12 Shots to Supplement Your Vegan Diet
Oral B12 supplements are available in many forms, and they may help boost your cobalamin levels. However, the human body’s ability to absorb B12 orally is limited. This is due to the presence of intrinsic factor, a glycoprotein in the digestive tract that limits the bioavailability of B12. In fact, for every 500 μg of oral B12 supplement ingested, only about 10 μg is absorbed.
To circumvent the digestive tract and ensure bioavailability, B12 injections offer a simple and inexpensive solution.
Benefits of B12 injections include:
- Boosts energy
- Prevents memory loss and neurodegenerative disease
- Improves mood and cognition
- Fights heart disease
- Reduces cancer risk
- Promotes healthy skin, hair and nails
- Improves digestion
- Supports red blood cell production
B12 Shots in NYC
If you eat a plant-based diet, you are setting yourself for long-term health and longevity. However, B12 deficiency can undermine the health benefits of vegan and vegetarian diets. Regular B12 injections can eliminate the problem, ensuring optimal physical and mental performance.
Advanced Cryo NYC offers B12 injections, along with IV vitamin therapy, cryotherapy and other health treatments, to improve your overall performance and quality of life. Visit our clinic, conveniently located in SoHo, and give your body the nutrients it needs to function at its peak.
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Lederer, Ann-Kathrin, et al. “Vitamin B12 Status Upon Short-Term Intervention with a Vegan Diet—A Randomized Controlled Trial in Healthy Participants.” Nutrients 11.11 (2019): 2815.
Pawlak, R., Lester, S. & Babatunde, T. The prevalence of cobalamin deficiency among vegetarians assessed by serum vitamin B12: a review of literature. Eur J Clin Nutr 68, 541–548 (2014) doi:10.1038/ejcn.2014.46
Rogerson, David. “Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 14.1 (2017): 36.