Thinking about going plant-based? Then you may want to heed some important advice . . .
Make no mistake, there are huge health benefits to be gained from a plant-based diet, many of which have received a good amount of media attention of late, with high profile sports people, media celebrities and health gurus extolling the virtues of following a meat-free diet across social media. However, there are a number of things you should be aware of when embarking on a predominantly plant-based regime, one of which is the importance of vitamin B12.
Lack of vitamin B12 can have an enormous impact on health, causing numerous unwelcome symptoms and often resulting in anaemia, fatigue and nervous system damage, though it may take some time for the symptoms to become obvious. Just like all the other B vitamins, B12 is water-soluble and needs to be regularly supplied by our diet. The problem is that the best natural food sources of B12 are all of animal origin – dairy products, meat, eggs, fish and other seafood – so if these foods are taken out of the diet without being replaced, problems relating to deficiency may arise.
According to the Vegan Society website, “B12 is the only vitamin that is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a varied wholefood, plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, together with exposure to the sun.”
So what’s the solution? Well, if you really can’t get the nutrients you need from your diet, both The Vegan Society and Vegetarian Society websites recommend that the next best thing is to either ensure that you are eating plenty of foods that have been fortified with B12 or to take a B12 supplement. The Vegan Society advises that “In over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12.” The advice goes on to say “If for any reason you choose not to use fortified foods or supplements, you should recognise that you are carrying out a dangerous experiment – one that many have tried before with consistently low levels of success.”
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