B12 is often at the forefront of concern for people adopting a plant-based or vegan diet, and with good reason.

Eating a plant-based diet without supplementing B12 poses a very serious risk of B12 deficiency and can cause anemia, nerve damage, neurocognitive changes and even paralysis.

The good news? Vitamin B12 deficiency can very easily be prevented (more on this later). 

Why are people who eat plant-based/vegetarian and vegan at risk of B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods or bacteria. Animals get this B12 by eating foods covered in bacteria, or the bacteria that lines their intestines.

Prehistoric people never got B12 deficiency because they didn’t have the hygiene standards we have today. Their food had enough bacteria on its surfaces, and subsequently B12 even if they were eating a plant-based diet.

As we’ve evolved to clean, wash and cook our foods, our risk of B12 deficiency has increased.

So, how do I make sure I’m getting enough B12?

The dose of B12 necessary for an average human is 250 micrograms per day, or 2,500 micrograms a week.

Luckily for us, vitamin B12 deficiency is very easy to prevent. Many foods designed for people on a vegan or plant-based diet are fortified with the vitamin, including some almond milks, cereals and nutritional yeast.

However, the most reliable way to make sure you are getting enough B12 is to take an oral supplement, available at your local pharmacy, superstore or online. I personally take this one.

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