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Many in Israel have recently switched to a vegan diet and stopped eating animal foods. In most cases, the causes are ideological and spiritual. But what about the physical impact of dietary change? Is it possible to supplement essential vitamins and nutrients, most of which are from the animal, using only plant foods? And what do vegans need to know, understand, and eat to maintain proper levels of vitamin B12?
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Vitamin B12: Does it exist in vegetarian foods?
As you know, the nutritional sources of vitamin B12 are animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Vitamin B12 is also found in fortified foods, such as fortified cereals, soy-based, or almond-enriched milk drinks. However, contrary to popular opinion, fermented soy products cannot be considered a reliable source of this vitamin. Thus, vegans who do not consume animal foods are at risk of developing B12 deficiency. You can check the recommended amount in a recommended daily consumption calculator by the Ministry of Health.
While some types of edible mushrooms and edible algae, such as nori seaweed used for sushi making, contain vitamin B12, there is some doubt about the quality of the vitamin in these foods. The vitamin form of these foods may not be utilized in the human body, and may even interfere with the absorption and normal activity of vitamin B12.
Chlorella and spirulina are algae that are widely popular as Super Foods and have many attributes, including vitamin B12 content. The concentrations of the components in these preparations can vary according to the type of crop, growing methods, and preparation of the preparation. Hence it is not advisable to rely on popular plant foods or "superfoods" as good and reliable sources of vitamin B12.
In addition, it is worth noting that vegetarian and vegan diets are usually high in folic acid, which is high in plant foods. High intake of folic acid can hide, but not compensate for, vitamin B12 deficiency in blood tests. Therefore, the deficiency may not be detected in the blood tests among vegans.
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Moms and babies may develop B12 deficiency
The amount of vitamin B12 in the milk of breastfeeding mothers is greatly affected by their diet and vitamin reserves. Therefore, vegan women who do not take vitamin B12 supplements are at risk of vitamin deficiency in the milk they produce. Hence, mammalian infants who are completely dependent on maternal nutrition may also develop B12 deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiency in infancy can lead to damage to the nervous system, which can sometimes be irreversible even after the deficiency is corrected. Therefore, it is important to maintain proper levels of vitamin B12 in infants and children. And it is especially important that breastfeeding vegan mothers regularly consume the vitamin supplement.