Vegan Eating 101: Vital Vitamins
By Denis Faye • January 12th, 2012 • 17302 Views
When it comes to getting many of the vitamins essential to human life, vegans win. Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are packed with these fabulous micronutrients so vegans, by definition, consume a lot of them. There are studies indicating vegans average a vitamin C intake that's 50% higher than non-vegetarians. Folate checks in at 20% to 50% higher. So unless you're one of those misguided vegans who sustain themselves on potato chips and Mr. Pibb, you're mostly good.
"Mostly?" you mutter. Yes, there are a couple standout vitamins that all the apples and almonds in the world aren't going to help you with: vitamin B12 and vitamin D. The easiest way to get both of these essential nutrients is from animal products – but you don't play that way. Luckily, there are ways of getting around this dilemma.
Vitamin B12. When vitamins were first discovered, researchers assumed there were two kinds: fat-soluble vitamins, which they called vitamin A; and water-soluble vitamins, which they called vitamin B. When they discovered that there are more than those two, they came up with vitamins C, D, E, et al. However, to make things more complex, they realized that, even after this alphabetical expansion, Vitamin B was still several different vitamins. To correct this, they subdivided B into the B complex: B1, B2, B3, and all the others, including our friend vitamin B12, also known in fancy circles as cobalamin due to the fact that it contains cobalt and nitrogen atoms.
B12 plays a vital role in our energy metabolism, meaning it's essential for breaking down the nutrients we eat into cellular energy. Insufficient vitamin B12 intake can lead to a form of anemia with symptoms including fatigue, difficulty sleeping, memory loss and other brain malfunctions.
While primary sources of B12 include meat, fish, and dairy, it doesn't actually originate from these products. In fact, it comes from bacteria and fungi that the animals being eaten have consumed. Back in the old days, you could get non-animal B12 more-or-less by accident, from the dirt on unwashed foods or from foods like sauerkraut or tempeh that had been fermented in less-than-sterile, bacteria-rich environments. In this day and age, this is a bit risky just for a cobalamin, so you're better off either eating fortified foods or investing in a good multivitamin.
If you're like me, you may lean towards whole grains and fresh-squeezed juices. This limits your exposure to fortified...
Nutrition, Wellness, Diet, health, vegan, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vegan eating, essential vitamins