Vegans: Here’s what you need to know about Vitamin B12

Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world.

Whether you simply prefer plant-based fuel or you chose to be vegan because of health concerns or animal welfare reasons, the number of people adopting a vegan diet is skyrocketing throughout the world. As a result, we are seeing a number of brands attempting to expand consumer appeal by avoiding animal ingredients wherever possible. Euromonitor International has identified that Australia's packaged vegan food market is currently worth almost $136 million, set to reach $215 million by 2020. It’s safe to say, it’s not just a phase that is set to fizzle away anytime soon.

Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal-based foods and is therefore a nutrient of potential concern for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Medical Journal of Australia

A vegan diet: can you get all the nutrients your body needs?

Whilst well-planned and considered plant-based diets can be nutrient rich, vegans do need to work quite hard to gain adequate amounts of protein, iron, calcium, and in particular, Vitamin B12.

Whilst national RDI’s for B12 vary slightly from country to country, there is a unified understanding that B12 is an exceptional vitamin, due to the fact that the body certainly needs it but it requires in smaller amounts than any other vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is typically absorbed by eating meat and is actually the only vitamin not recognised as being able to be supplied from a plant-based diet. There have been many varying suggestions put forward over the years about alternate sources of B12 however, according to Vegan Australia, “in over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12, capable of supporting optimal health.”1

B12 deficiency: what it looks like and how to avoid it

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a well-known concern amongst vegans but what exactly are the warning signs that you aren’t getting enough B12 and what can you do about it? In adults, symptoms of deficiency can vary from confusion and poor memory, to loss of energy, blurred vision and personality changes.2

The issue with a B12 deficiency is that symptoms are so varied and can often be attributed to other things meaning that months or years can go by without this being recognised. If you are vegan and experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s always worth speaking with your GP who can do a simple blood test.

Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anaemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimise potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications. It’s for this reason that the Medical Journal of Australia suggests "vegans, and anyone who significantly limits intake of animal-based foods, require vitamin B12-fortified foods or supplements" to ensure their minimum requirements are being met.

Vegan friendly vitamins within the VÖOST range include Vitamin B (containing Vitamin B12), Vitamin C, Calcium, Energy, Magnesium and Iron.

VÖOST products contain no added dairy, lactose or yeast and are simply added to 200ml of water and enjoyed.