Where Do I Get My Vitamin B12 on a Raw Vegan Diet?
The basic structure of vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria. Meat-eating humans ingest the vitamin primarily in animal food sources that contain these bacteria. While some non-animal foods can contain B12, these foods are not considered to be a reliable source and vegans are usually advised to take a B12 supplement. Interestingly, meat eaters are also advised to supplement B12, due to absorption problems. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., argues that vitamin B12 deficiency is typically caused by lack of absorption in the intestinal tract rather than a lack of this vitamin in the diet.
Reduced B12 levels can also be caused by other reasons. For example, pregnancy and breast feeding can reduce the B12 stores of the mother, making supplementation even more important.
I recommend that you get your B12 levels checked annually with a simple blood test. I have been vegan for over five years and I have my B12 levels checked once a year. My levels are always more than adequate. I do take a B12 supplement just to be safe. There are a variety of B12 supplements available at your local health food store or online.
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The above is one of the more frequently asked questions that come up when I give classes and talks about Raw food. For a very comprehensive introduction to Raw Food lifestyle and expert tips and advice on making it work for you, see my ebook:
Kristen's Raw: The EASY Way to Get Started & SUCCEED with Raw Food