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It’s important that you find a good supply of vitamin B12 sources that come from plants, especially during pregnancy. And, it’s way easier than you might think.
There’s a good deal of misunderstanding about vitamin B12, but most people know that vegans will have a harder time getting a good supply of the vitamin in their daily diet. Word has spread that the main sources of vitamin B12 are from meat, eggs, fish, and yogurt, and that it isn’t naturally produced in plants.
The reason animals produce the bacteria that creates vitamin B12 is because they eat soil where the bacteria lives. When our fruits and vegetables are in that soil, they actually do have vitamin B12 on them, but when we wash them, the vitamin washes away as well. Before humans started taking such efforts to wash our food, we rarely developed deficiencies in B12. So, think of vitamin B12 deficiency as a neat-freak disorder.
Your body will store vitamin B12 for between five and twenty years, so if you continually add to your stockpile, you make it less likely you’ll develop an illness. Most vegans take a supplement to ensure their needs are always met.
During your vegan pregnancy, if you take a prenatal vitamin, you will be increasing your intake of folic acid. An abundance of folic acid masks a vitamin B12 deficiency, so if you were ever to develop a problem, you would not see the symptoms. Also, it’s crucial to your growing fetus and your newborn baby that you are getting plenty of the vitamin to help them build their stockpile of B12.
The Recommended Daily Allowance is 2mcg daily, and when pregnant that amount goes up to 2.2mcg daily. That is an incredibly easy amount to achieve. It’s also nearly impossible to get too much vitamin B12, so if you feel you’re at risk for a deficiency, you can safely take more.
It’s pretty difficult to develop a deficiency in B12 because your body stores B12 and uses it only as needed, but the results of the illness are severe. The biggest risk of the deficiency is developing pernicious anemia, which can be fatal. It also causes sensitivity of the tongue, nerve damage, and psychological disorders.
Some people can develop a deficiency due to genetics, taking antibiotics, taking antacids (both of which block the absorption of the vitamin), or other problems with absorption.
There are plenty of vitamin B12 sources that are completely vegan and natural, so just do your research and make sure you're eating plenty of them daily.
Your Vegetarian Pregnancy, Dr. Holly Roberts, D.O., FACOG