Nutrition

Trying a Plant-Based Diet? Stock Up on This Vitamin ASAP

B12 deficiency is not a myth.

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Plant-based diets have become more popular with trends like “Veganuary” challenging us to go without animal products this month. Plus, recent studies show that a vegan diet can help with weight loss, improve gut health, and balance blood sugar. 

If you’re inspired to say “see ya” to meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products, it’s important to do your homework and find out what else you’ll need to adjust to stay healthy — especially if you decide to give them up for good.

Although it’s possible to live a perfectly long and healthy life without consuming animal products, there is one vital nutrient our bodies rely on that can’t be found in any plant-based ingredient: vitamin B12.

“I’m concerned many people think B12 deficiency is a myth,” Tom Sanders, a professor from King’s College London, told BBC News. “It’s something that can be easily avoided, and what concerns me is that many new people becoming vegan are unaware of the need to combine sources of plant proteins. And they’re not aware of the need to ensure they have adequate levels of B12.”

OK, they’re worried — but what exactly happens to someone who doesn’t get enough B12? According to the US Department of Health, the vitamin aids in blood cell production and neurological function. Without enough of it, we run the risk of developing scary things like permanent nerve damage, anemia, gastrointestinal issues, and heart disease.

But don’t panic: If you became vegan at the start of the year or fairly recently, you probably have plenty B12 stored in your system to last for awhile.

You will need to stock it back up sooner than later, though. It’s easy to do with supplements like Nature Made Vitamin B12 Time Release Tablets ($11.99, Amazon). You can also cook with fortified ingredients like nutritional yeast, which adds a savory, cheesy flavor to meals that you might be missing without dairy. Bragg Premium Nutritional Yeast ($13.19 for 2 pack, Amazon) is one of our favorites.

Now all you need is some delicious, plant-based recipes to try out — click here our favorites!

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