Vegans Should Consider Vitamin B Supplements
Vegans often become depleted of B12 (cobalamin), which can lead to decreased energy, loss of appetite, hair loss, respiratory infection, muscle cramps, depression, numbness, abdominal pain tingling in the extremities, and even anemia. Certain birth defects are tied to depleted levels of certain B vitamins. The B vitamins are vital to a person's neurological health.
Children and Teens Require B Vitamins
Children and teens require B vitamins for growth and development. The B vitamins turn food into energy and play a role with enzymes that regulate chemical reactions in the body. B9 also aids with DNA maintenance and plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells. B3 (niacin) helps maintain the skin, digestive system and nervous system.
Studies Incomplete on the Link Between Vitamin B Deficiency and Cancer Treatment
People with certain cancers are often discovered to have an insufficient intake of B9 (folic acid). However, study results often vary on the link between B vitamin deficiency and cancer. For the most part, the medical community will agree that there is a link between preventing cancer and B vitamins, although much of the medical community is split over the use of B vitamins as a successful treatment for diagnosed cancer patients and continued studies are needed.
National Academies of Science
The National Academies of Science recommends that people over the age of 50 take vitamin B supplements. Women of child-bearing age should consume 400 micrograms of B9 (folic acid). Vegans may discover new symptoms after three to five years living a vegan lifestyle, as the liver is capable of storing B12 for that length of period. However, for the most part, B vitamins are water-soluble and are excreted with urine; therefore, an effort to consume B vitamins, other than B12, daily is necessary.
Vegans may want to consider nutritional yeast as a source of B complex vitamins. Nutritional yeast flakes are known to have an abundance of amino acids, selenium and zinc. B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and a few nutritional yeast products have B12 added. Beet and cane molasses undergo a fermentation process and are then dried and packaged as nutritional yeast. The resulting products taste is nutty or cheesy.
Side Effects of Too Much Vitamin B
Always discuss taking B vitamins or any vitamin supplements with a physician before starting. Side effects for overdosing on B vitamins include gout, heart and liver ailments, high blood sugar levels, skin problems, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and stomach ulcers. Caution, take B9 (folic acid) while undergoing chemotherapy treatment only under the advisement of a physician, as it has been known to interfere with the chemotherapy drug, methotrexate.
Royalty-free photo courtesy of onegreenplanet.org.