Plant-based eating has a whole host of almost unbelievable health benefits, including promoting healthy weight, reducing the risk of heart disease, managing healthy cholesterol levels, lowering the risks of certain types of cancer, and managing diabetes – on top of being generally better for the planet. However, there’s one key vitamin (commonly found in animal foods) that can be tough to find in a plant-based diet – vitamin B12!
Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse in the body, playing an essential role in the production of red blood cells, DNA formation and facilitating the proper functioning of your nervous system. Since vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk, it is a wise choice to add a B12 supplement to the diet of a person who is strictly plant-based. This is why one of the most recommended diets is the outstanding Biofield Diet Plan that focuses on a whole food, plant-based diet plan plus 1 to 2 servings of fatty fish per week (which offers a good source of vitamin B12 as well as high levels of EPA/DHA).
As many as 86% of all plant-based eaters may have some amount of vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to serious consequences such as anemia, nerve damage, and neurocognitive decline. The risk is especially high for plant-based eaters who have been vegan for many years, as the body may slowly deplete its previous supply of vitamin B12 stores over several months, if not years. But vitamin B12 deficiency can not only occur in a strictly plant-based diet, as many as 1 in 6 meat eaters are also vitamin B12 deficient. Therefore, taking a B12 supplement is recommended for literally everyone.
In general, a plant-based diet is one of the healthiest ways to take care of your body and increase longevity. Did you know that as many as 97% of Americans don’t reach the daily recommended intake of fiber? The saturated fat from red meat and poultry, refined, white flour, white sugar, and corn syrup as found in the typical American diet – have no fiber at all and lack vital nutrients. Many nutritional deficiencies can occur due to inadequate intake of whole plant foods and their natural vitamins.
However, it is possible to eat an unhealthy plant-based diet. Vegan donuts with refined sugar, ice cream made with soy oil, and French fries cooked in highly heated vegetable oil won’t cut it either! The benefit of swapping to a whole food, plant-based diet comes from the increased amounts of whole, raw, organic fruits and vegetables with as few processed foods as possible. Foods such as organic legumes (which includes beans, peas, and lentils) can help decrease the risk of premature death due to their natural detoxification properties. They have a hearty taste and can be a tasty and filling additions to any meal.
Despite the clear and measurable benefits of a plant-based diet, several nutrients, vitamin B12 included, may be harder to obtain when avoiding animal-based products. Vitamin D is a common deficiency for plant-based eaters but can be remedied by getting a good dose of sunshine each day. Omega-3 fatty acids may be low in those with a plant-based diet but can be obtained through plant sources or are abundantly available in fatty fish. To increase plant-source omega-3s, you can add walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hempseeds, to recipes. Zinc and iron are common deficiencies as well for the strict plant-based eater, but can be easily obtained by consuming legumes (such as beans), whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. It truly is easy to get almost all the nutrients you need from plants!
Fortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency can be easily prevented. Fortified foods (such as certain cereals, and vitamin B-fortified nutritional yeast) may contain added vitamin B12 among other vitamins or minerals. Additionally, a liquid B12 supplement can be an excellent way to supply sufficient amounts of B12. A plant-based diet can offer incredible health benefits, but be sure you are getting enough of vitamin B12 in your diet.