Vitamin B12 for vegetarians
Any kind of diet, if not done in a balanced, varied way, with an organized structure, which does not contemplate any possible lack of nutrients, can generate inadvertently nutritional deficiencies.
The important nutrients, and, in some cases, the essential ones, if not properly provided, can bring nutritional deficiencies being a risk factor of multitude of problems, disorders and diseases, unnecessary and avoidable with a proper nutrition.
One of the more common problems in vegetarianism is that of vitamin B12, caused by removing all food of animal origin.
What is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is part of the B vitamins, although it has a particularity,: it is not functional in plant foods, but in the animal foods.
Therefore, no plant foods contain this vitamin in its active form. If this is not active, it does not perform its function, which is an important issue for strict vegetarians or for those people who do not consume eggs or dairy products.
In contrast, there is no problem for ovo-lacto vegetarian or lacto vegetarian people, nor for those people who consume fish or some kind of meat.
Do algae contain enough vitamin B12 for vegetarians?
The algae that contain vitamin B12, which are all, do not offer functional vitamin B12 because they contain an analogue of the vitamin that does not perform the same functions. Therefore, they are not valid for this purpose. One example is the alga Spirulina, which is known for its vitamin B12 or cyanocobalamin content, although it does not have it in sufficient quantities to the needs of people.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 in vegetarian people
This vitamin is necessary for our body and its functions, if we generate a nutritional deficiency in our body, it can provoke very negative avoidable consequences to our health.
By not providing for a long time vitamin B12, the central nervous system can be affected (confusion, loss of balance, depression or dementia), the heart, the immune system and other threats such as tingling in the extremities of the body, problems in the formation and maturation of red blood cells and DNA.
Anemia of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 requires an intrinsic factor (a protein secreted by the stomach) to be absorbed. If there is a deficit of its absorption caused by a gastric involvement (usually 90% of cases is autoimmune), it can cause a decrease in the manufacture of intrinsic factor and vitamin B12 is not properly absorbed even when ingested in the necessary amounts. This malabsorption leads to a type of anemia called pernicious anemia.
Pernicious anemia is another type of megaloblastic anemia. It does not appear as a result of a deficit intake of vitamin B12, but the deficit is produced because an autoimmune disorder.
In contrast, megaloblastic anemia is caused by shortage of intake or absorption of two different vitamins, vitamin B9 or folic acid and / or vitamin B12, either one, the other or both.
Another type of anemia, macrocytic normochromic anemia,can be caused by a deficiency of vitamin B12, due to the combined action of abuse of alcohol intake.
In addition, cyanocobalamin or vitamin B12 is also necessary to properly absorb a very important mineral, iron. With which, if not contribute, we can also cause iron deficiency anemia.
In any case, when you see one of these types of anemias, it means that the health of red blood cells of our blood is being affected negatively and the transport of oxygen, to all the tissues and cells of our body is not performed properly.
When and why to supplement ourselves with vitamin B12?
In strict vegetarian, vegan or even more restrictive diets, we will probably need some kind of d supplementation or we will have to eat foods that are rich in this vitamin.
* Related information:
– Symptoms of vitamin B12 Deficiency
– Diagnostic of vitamin B12 deficiency
– Vitamin B12 supplements for vegetarians
– How to take vitamin b12 supplements
– Deficiency of vitamin b12 in babies or vegetarian children
– Vitamin B12 during pregnancy
– Does the body store vitamin b12?
More information on vitamin b12.
19 March, 2019