Disclaimer: I am not a professional I have just read a lot on the subject and I am talking about personal experience. I have added some links to the “Interesting Links” section of my blog.
What is B12?
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that has a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and if we are not getting enough of this vitamin it can lead to irreversible neurological difficulties.
Where is B12 found?
It is naturally available in animal products such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products which as a vegan I do not consume. This fact makes me very susceptible to B12 deficiency however, there are also a lot of cases of meat eaters who have this deficiency so it is not only vegans. When I went to the doctors and got the B12 injection the nurse told me that over 30 people come in EVERY DAY for this injection and I’m pretty sure that they are not all vegans. I have to have 4 injections once a month for 4 months and then I should be alright for a little while. I will then look into a supplement to make sure I dont get low again.
Symptoms of B12 deficiencies:
These may vary from person to person as this is just a mixture of my recent personal experience and what the doctor told me.
- memory problems: I forgot stuff like my fave water bottle & my scarf and I am still not sure exactly where I left them.
- fatigue: it is not just feeling a bit tired because you haven’t slept properly for a few days when I say fatigue I mean you need naps in the afternoon, you are going to bed at around 20h and when you wake up your whole body feels weak and tired.
- depression: for me this was a very mild form and I wouldn’t even really categorise it as depression as I think it is for much more severe cases than mine and seeing as though it only lasted a few months, thanks to my amazing family and friends, I will say it was a “down” period in my life.
- Weight change: The internet says weight loss but I actually gained weight with a loss of appetite (which if know me, you know that that is a very very bad sign)
- Concentration problems: for me this one was probably the worst as I have always been quite a good student, I could work for hours and still be very concentrated and I wouldn’t get distracted that easily but recently I couldn’t do more than 20 min of work without losing focus and doing something else which really made my school work suffer.
- Numbness: The day I went to the doctors as I knew something was really wrong was the day my hands and feet felt numb and tingly.
What to do ?
As a vegan, I go and have a blood test every 6 to 12 months to make sure everything is ok especially this particular vitamin. I would highly recommend going at least once a year if you are considering going vegan full time and if you have the possibility. If not they have lots of B12 vitamins on the market nowadays and the one good thing about B12 is that if you have too much of it your body will just flush it out so there aren’t any risks of overdosing on it.
If you do decide to get tested and have got a B12 deficiency they will probably recommend you do the B12 injection which I highly suggest as when I did it all of the symptoms that I had pretty much disappeared within 24 hours.
I hope this does not put you off choosing a vegan diet as please remember is not only found in vegans but also a lot of meat eaters. I absolutely love this lifestyle and it has brought so much more to me and my health so if the only problem with the lifestyle is that I have to get an injection every now and then and take a supplement then that isn’t bad at all.
I hope this was blog post was helpful and please look after your own health, we only have one life.