Sep 30, 2011

health

 Some people follow plant-based diets for the health benefits, while others to do so for environmental reasons. There are of course also those who make the choice for ethical reasons... for many people, it's all of the above. Regardless of why someone has opted to go vegan, we share one thing in common; the need to make sure that our diets are healthy and sustaining.

An entirely plant-based diet, when managed in a balanced and informed way, can provide most all of the nutrients we need, including protein and calcium. One area where we need to remain vigilant however is in regards to vitamin B12, as there are no reliable plant sources for it.

The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12; including some soy products, plant milks and B12 supplements.

To get the full benefit of a plant-based diet, vegans should do one of the following:
-Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms of B12 a day or,
-Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms or,
-Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

Symptoms of B12 Deficiency
In adults, deficiency symptoms include loss of energy, tingling, numbness, reduced sensitivity to pain or pressure, blurred vision, abnormal gait, sore tongue, poor memory, confusion, hallucinations and personality changes. These symptoms can develop gradually over several months to a year before being recognized as being due to B12 deficiency and they are usually reversible on administration of B12.
B12 need never be a problem for well-informed vegans.

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