Are you a new vegan and feeling tired? Let me let you in on a little secret that rocked my world when I went vegan…
Vitamin B12 supplements!
Taking a Vitamin B12 supplement (along with eating a balanced vegan diet chock-full of veggies, legumes, carbs and fats) has given me the extra pep in my step I needed to make me feel like I could take on the world. (Well that, and coconut MCT oil… more on that at a later date.)
What is Vitamin B12 and Why Does It Matter If I’m a New Vegan and Tired?
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that our body doesn’t produce so we must get it from our diet. Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency could include fatigue, memory fogginess, headaches and a slew of other troublesome issues. So, if you’re a new vegan and tired, you may want to consider your Vitamin B12 intake.
Now, many places on the internet will lead you to believe that the only place to get Vitamin B12 is from animal-products. Language like, “you have to get it from animal-based foods,” makes it sound like you can only get Vitamin B12 from animal-products.
But that actually isn’t quite true – I’ll explain.
Where does Vitamin B12 come from?
Only bacteria and microbes have the ability to produce B12. Yep! Animals ingest B12 and then store it in their organs which is then passed on to their milk, eggs and tissue which then becomes a source of B12 if you ingest animal products. But is that the only way to get B12?
Luckily, we live in the day and age of fortified foods and supplements. Many products (cereals, soy products etc.) are fortified with vitamins including Vitamin B12. If you don’t eat fortified foods you can check-out a variety of vegan Vitamin B12 supplements that are readily accessible. (I haven’t found much difference between brands so I don’t promote any one in particular.)
How do I know whether I’m getting enough Vitamin B12?
Talk to your doctor and request a blood test. The standard test is for overall Vitamin B12 levels (i.e. how much Vitamin B12 is in your blood) while more specific tests can be done to check the bio-available levels of Vitamin B12. Overall Vitamin B12 level testing is important to determine whether you have enough Vitamin B12 in your blood for your body to use however it may be equally important to determine whether your body is actually making use of the Vitamin B12 you’re ingesting. Tests like methylmalonic acid (MMA) and holotranscobalamin (holoTC) may be better at identifying active Vitamin B12 so, consult with your doctor about what tests to do. If you’re like me and want to know all the details, ask for the MMA or holoTC test.
As always, consult with your doctor and/or a registered dietitian before making major dietary changes or decide to take a supplement.
The Vegan Virgin, xo