Before I get into the nitty gritties of B12, it’s sources, importance, deficiencies, etc.. we must know what B12 is! Let’s start by debunking a very common myth that animals “produce” B12. While it is true that B12 is found in animals, they, however are not responsible for producing it.
Next time, someone tries to tell you that being vegetarian is not complete, you can correct them. Vegetarians can get all their protein, vitamin and other nutrition requirements from plants, beans/lentils/soy, dairy products, etc…
We learned in grade school how bacteria are our friends. Common every day examples are making yogurt from milk, yeast, etc.. yes! the answer we’re looking for is “bacteria”.
Bacteria are responsible for producing/synthesizing B12 which is needed by humans for good health. Also, unlike proteins and other vitamins like C and A, the daily intake requirement of B12 is not too high. However, it is best to check with your physician before making any changes to your dietary lifestyles. I am NOT a doctor 🙂
Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them.
So, if you’re vegetarian, make sure you consume enough yogurt, cheese and milk on a daily basis. If you’re vegan, that’s fine too. Luckily, a lot of cereals, soy milk and other soy products come fortified with B12.
Anemia and brain/nerve damage are the most common effects of B12 deficiencies. There are other problems that may be caused due to lack of sufficient amounts of B12. To find exact details you should ask your doctor.
Unless you’re lactose intolerant, the least you can do going forward is to have at least one glass of milk every day and carry those cheese cubes. They also form great snack items, keep you strong and full 😉
Here are the sources of some of my information (wiki is never 100% reliable):