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    Veganism and vitamin B12 – what do I need to know?

    Veganism.

    It’s become increasingly popular over the last few years. More and more people are deciding to take the plunge and adopt a diet free from all animal products – which is great. It’s ethical. It reduces your impact on the planet. And it can be good for your health… but only if you do it correctly.

    By cutting out certain food groups, you also eliminate or reduce your intake of certain vitamins. And over time this can be problematic, leading to a wide range of symptoms, such as tiredness, depression, insomnia and brain fog – to name just a few. To stay healthy, supplementation is key – and one particularly important vitamin that you will need to supplement is vitamin B12.

    B12 plays a crucial role in the formation of red blood cells and is essential to maintain healthy blood and a healthy nervous system. But it’s mainly found in meat, fish, milk and eggs. And as a result, it’s a very common ‘vegan vitamin deficiency’ and something that must consider if you’re vegan.

     

    Vegan sources of vitamin B12

    Unfortunately, vegan-friendly foods that contain vitamin B12 are extremely limited. In fact – according to the NHS – the only reliable vegan B12 sources include fortified products, such as:

    • – fortified breakfast cereals
    • – unsweetened soya drinks that have been fortified with B12
    • – yeast extract, such as Marmite, fortified with B12

    It was recently suggested that algae foods have a relatively high vitamin B12 content. However, further research has shown that algae actually contain B12 analogues. These are similar to vitamin B12, but they’re not bioavailable – and so will not improve your intake of the vitamin.

    On average, adults require approximately 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. And as it has a 50% absorption rate, only 50% of what you consume is realistically absorbed into your system. To get enough, you would therefore need to eat these fortified foods at least 2-3 times a day.

     

    Vitamin B12 supplements – tablets or injections?

    The fact is – it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to rely solely on fortified foods to get a sufficient amount of vitamin B12. Which is why, vitamin B12 deficiency is incredibly common amongst vegans.

    Some of the characteristic symptoms of this deficiency include:

    • – extreme tiredness
    • – lack of energy
    • – breathlessness
    • – feeling faint
    • – headaches
    • – pale skin
    • – noticeable heartbeats (palpitations)
    • – loss of appetite and weight loss
    • – a decline in your mental abilities (brain fog)
    • – irritability
    • – depression

     

    If you’re following a vegan diet and recognise any of the symptoms outlined above (or just wish to prevent them!), a vegan B12 supplement may be required and you have two options available.

    The first is to take vitamin B12 tablets. These need to be taken every day, in between meals, and will help to relieve any symptoms. However, only half of orally-consumed vitamin B12 is absorbed into your system – and a particularly high dose may be necessary to ensure you get enough.

    The second option is to have vitamin B12 injections. These are available via the NHS or at specialist clinics, such as Aesthetics of Essex. They’re only needed twice a year and, as they’re administered directly into the muscle, almost all of the vitamins are utilised by the body. This means that people tend to respond extremely quickly and start to feel better after their first shot.

     

    Man having vitamin B12 injection

     

    Think you may need a vegan B12 supplement?

    The bottom line is, vitamin supplements are essential if you wish to embrace a fully plant-based diet and maintain optimal health – particularly vitamin B12 supplements. And here at Aesthetics of Essex, we can help.  Our medical aestheticians are trained and knowledgeable in this area and we’re now regarded as one of the leading clinics for providing vitamin B12 injections in the UK.

    If you’d like to find out more about vegan vitamin deficiencies and the benefits of B12 shots, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re always happy to answer your questions and we’ll gladly offer further guidance on vegan B12 sources and advise on your suitability for injections. Simply give us a call on 01708 22555 or send an email to info@aestheticsofessex.co.uk and we’ll get back to you.

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