It was such a good learning experience when I interviewed Dr. Joel Fuhrman last month. For those of you who didn't have a chance read the interview.
A crucial part of the interview for me was about the importance of Vitamin B12
During the interview, one of the questions I asked Dr. Fuhrman about was vitamin B12, and was there any way to get this important nutrient from plants. His answer surprised me, as I never realized all the problems that can happen without the vitamin. Did you know it can cause mental disorders, nerve problems, tremors and memory loss? Plus, I didn't know that B12 cannot accumulate in your body to use at a later time. I thought that as a flexitarian (someone who's vegan most days a week with only a few days of animal products), I could get away with having animal products a few times a week and that would be sufficient supply of vitamin B12. Apparently, that's not the case.
According to Dr. Fuhrman, you only get a small amount of B12 in one sitting when eating animal products.
So, those that eat animal products multiple times a day, they would get an adequate supply of the vitamin. This made me realize that many people, not just vegans, can be low in B12. If someone eats animal product for dinner, would that get someone to the recommended daily amount? Probably not. So now I take a Vitamin B12 supplement on days that I don't have animal products. As a flexitarian, this amounts to about 5 days a week.
Here's a little history on what vitamin B12 is and where it comes from. Vitamin B12 is considered a water-soluble vitamin. It is an important part of the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and it also helps with the formation of red blood cells. It's involved in the metabolism of all the cells of the human body. Plants and animals are not capable of producing vitamin B12 which confused me, as I knew animal products are a good source of vitamin B12. But I think animals only get vitamin B12 from the bacteria they consume.
I'm lucky in that when I did the week long vegan challenge a few months ago, I had an almond milk that was fortified in B12.
I didn't even realize it was until I read the label of the almond milk the other week. Maybe that explains why I felt so good during the challenge. I wasn't actually short on the supply after all. But I will continue taking the supplement on days I have no animal product, even when some of the food is fortified with B12. I figure it's better to be safe than sorry!