B12 – for more than just energy!
Strict vegetarians are also at risk for B12 deficiency because the main foods sources for B12 are meat, eggs and dairy. While some non-animal food sources exist (such as small amounts in tempeh, sprouts, spirulina and barley grass), most experts agree that strict vegans and vegetarians should boost their diet with a B12 supplement. That being said, every vegan or strict vegetarian should also incorporate fortified nutritional yeast into their diet as it is a great non-animal source of B12. Often used as a cheese alternative because of its taste and the ability to melt with heat, nutritional yeast is great tasting non-active yeast that you can get at your favorite local health food store. My favorite brand is Red Star Nutritional Yeast; two tablespoons provide over 400% of the RDA of B12. (For an excellent article on the importance of B12 in a strict vegetarian diet, visit http://www.vegansociety.com/lifestyle/nutrition/b12.aspx)
B12 deficiency causes a myriad of symptoms ranging from pernicious anemia (B12 is essential for iron absorption), loss of appetite, brittle nails, weakness and fatigue, nausea, weight loss, hearing loss, headaches, exhaustion, problems sleeping, tingling in hands and feet, irregular heartbeat, problems concentrating or remembering, and other nervous system, digestive and neurological disorders! While the list of deficiency symptoms is long, it is also very vague and any could be symptoms of another deficiency or disorder, so the best way to definitively know if you are deficient in B12 is to have your health care practitioner run blood tests to check serum levels.
The good news is that overdose of B12 is virtually impossible. One article states that most cases of suspected overdose were actually found to be toxic reactions to the “other ingredients” contained in over-the-counter B12 supplements (all the more reason to only purchase quality supplements with no artificial ingredients at your local health food store). Even non-deficient folks choose to supplement with B12 because of its renowned ability to improve and sustain energy levels when taken orally, sublingually, or by injection. B12 supplementation is also thought to help folks shed unwanted pounds, and it has actually been proven to keep you from gaining weight!
I love to supplement with B12 about 30 minutes prior to working out. I find that when I supplement with B12, my cardio sessions are much more productive and I don’t seem to get muscle fatigue quite as easily as without it.
My favorite B12 supplements are:
|NOW B-12 10,000 mcg Energy Boost Shots – Vegetarian safe, these little pre-measured ampoules are perfect to throw in your gym bag and pack a whopping 10,000mcg per dose!|
|Peachtree Natural Foods B-12 Lozenge 1,000 mcg – A great source of B-12 with a pleasant raspberry flavor, this delivery method skips the whole digestive process by absorbing sublingually. Available at your local Peachtree Natural Foods, or online at www.peachtreenaturalfoods.com|