The following is a very interesting article by Dr Gina Shaw putting to rest the myth that vegans and vegetarians are deficient in B12
.THE VITAMIN B12 ISSUE
by Dr Gina Shaw, D.Sc, M.A., Dip NH, AIYS (Dip. Irid.)
The subject of vitamin B12 is not new to most vegans, vegetarians or raw fooders. The supplement companies have many people running to their local health (drug) stores in an effort to make themselves deficiency-free, but is this a good idea? A number of issues will be raised in this article and I will attempt to piece together some information from many different and reliable (non-financially-oriented) sources.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is a serious disorder and indications of a deficiency of vitamin B12, when they do reach a stage where they have shown up, can be quite severe. Fatigue, paleness, anorexia, mental confusion, delusions, paranoia, weight loss, respiratory problems, etc. are just some indications that a person may have a B12-deficiency. If you do think you may have a B12-deficiency, it would be wise for you to seek the advice of a health practitioner who is knowledgeable about B12-deficiencies, for immediate advice. I would strongly recommend that you do something to remedy the situation, as this deficiency can eventually lead to death if left unchecked.
UK official recommendations have decreased in recent years, the body’s needs having been previously over-estimated. Indeed, the Department of Health recognises that some people have lower than average requirements of B12. A whole lifetime’s requirement of B12 add up to a 40 milligram speck of red crystals, about one-seventh the size of an average tablet of aspirin!
Vitamin B12 is excreted in the bile and is effectively reabsorbed. This is known as enterohepatic circulation. The amount of B12 excreted in the bile can vary from 1 to 10ug (micrograms) a day. People on diets low in B12, including vegans and some vegetarians, may be obtaining more B12 from reabsorption than from dietary sources. Reabsorption is the reason it can take over 20 years for a deficiency disease to develop. In comparison, if B12 deficiency is due to a failure in absorption, it can take only three years for a deficiency disease to occur. Since vitamin B12 is recycled in a healthy body, in principle, internal B12 synthesis could fulfil our needs without any B12 being provided in the diet, but there are other factors to be taken into consideration such as whether there is sufficient cobalt, calcium and protein in our diet to ensure a stable vitamin B2 level and the condition of our intestines.