View Poll Results: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

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  • Yes, according to my bloodtests, but didn't have any symptoms

    6 2.31%
  • Yes, with mild symptoms that was treated with B12

    12 4.62%
  • Yes, with serious health problems that could be cured

    5 1.92%
  • Yes, with serious, non-curable symtoms (eg. neurological damage)

    1 0.38%
  • Yes, during pregnany, with birth defects as a result

    0 0%
  • No / I don't think so / not tested

    153 58.85%
  • No, not according to my blood tests

    51 19.62%
  • No, not according to my blood tests that also included MMA amd homocysteine tests

    7 2.69%
  • No, but one or more of my meat eating friends have had B-12 defiency

    14 5.38%
  • Yes, before I became a vegan

    5 1.92%
  • Yes, but this may be a result of my B12 / health conditions before I became a vegan

    3 1.15%
  • My B12 levels are in the low normal range, but that doesn't worry me much

    3 1.15%
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Thread: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

  1. #101
    salty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Have been vegan for nearly 20 yrs now and don't think have ever been B12 deficient. I've taken supplements for small periods of time on and off- but mostly have forgotten for years on end!

  2. #102
    AКЌİĻØҚΪÞÕҜ
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I fear blood tests and am recently vegan, so I assume I is fine.

  3. #103
    ogi
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    B12 level in blood is not reliable test, specially for us vegans

    Please, everybody, check your B12 status with Methyl Malonic Acid (MMA) urine test
    That is the best and maybe only reliable way

    I feel some B12 deficiency symptoms and I will get my MMA result in 3 weeks.
    Last summer I had low B12 level in blood

    If I proof B12 deficiency, I really don't know what to do..

    There is a lot of B12 forms, companies, dose, theory..
    I really don't know which one to chose
    And I don't trust to all this pills and injection, it's so unnatural

  4. #104
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I got tested after I got minor neuropathy in my feet, turned out it wasn't B12 deficiency but spinal cord compression from an old back injury - I went home and looked it up in my old anatomy books and the numb areas could all be traced back to the nerves leading from the lumbar vertebrae.

    I do take the odd bottle of megadose B12 around once a year just to be sure but do my best to make sure B12 features daily in our diet from fortified foods too.
    Silent but deadly :p

  5. #105
    ogi
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Quote Hemlock View Post
    I do take the odd bottle of megadose B12 around once a year just to be sure
    I think taking a lot of small doses is more natural way..
    And you can be sure only if your MMA is OK..please check

  6. #106
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Quote ogi View Post
    I think taking a lot of small doses is more natural way..
    And you can be sure only if your MMA is OK..please check
    Ok, thanks I will. Pernicious anaemia can have devastating and irreversible effects.
    Silent but deadly :p

  7. #107
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Quote ogi View Post
    B12 level in blood is not reliable test, specially for us vegans

    Please, everybody, check your B12 status with Methyl Malonic Acid (MMA) urine test
    That is the best and maybe only reliable way
    In spite of what some sources claim, there's still controversy and disagreement about MMA as homocysteine as well....

  8. #108
    ogi
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Quote Korn View Post
    there's still controversy and disagreement about MMA
    But we don't have anything better..right?
    What is your advise for the B12 deficiency determination?

  9. #109
    ogi
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Yesterday I get my MMA urine test result

    MMA level is 7 times higher than upper limit

  10. #110
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Hi Ogi,
    even if low B12 levels wouldn't be more common in vegans than in non-vegans, there would still 100,000s of vegans with low B12 levels out there - and you seem to be one of them. B12 is one of the few nutrients that vegans (for reasons discussed in various threads) actually have lower levels of than non-vegans (normally). Non-vegans have other nutrients to worry about...

    Your MMA levels most likely indicate low B12 levels, so I'm afraid all the support I can offer is to take the B12 levels you need to improve your levels, just like you would have to do if you would have been a non-vegan with low B12 levels.

    Here's what Wikipedia currently says about MMA:

    Increased methylmalonic acid levels may indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, it is sensitive without being specific. MMA is elevated in 90-98% of patients with B12 deficiency. This test may be overly sensitive, as 25-20% of patients over the age of 70 have elevated levels of MMA, but 25-33% of them do not have B12 deficiency. For this reason, MMA is not routinely recommended in the elderly
    We also have a MMA thread - here.

    Good luck, and - if you have any questions, don't hesitate to post them in this thread - just make sure you don't use our general discussions here as a substitute for getting your nutrient levels right!

  11. #111
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Ogi. I have had low B12 levels and had a course of injections as I absorb poorly from the gut. I feel much better for it and it can be quite serious to have low levels. Many who consume meat products also have low levels as well as iron. I think no matter if you are vegan or not low B12 can be serious and should be treated professionally to avoid major health issues. We vegans need to show other people the benefits of a health vegan lifestyle to lead by example I think and keeping our vitamin levels secure is one way we could do this.

  12. #112
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    the last tests i had i was ok for b12, low on iron but still in normal range.

  13. #113
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I got tested several times (15 vials of blood and 3 different doctors!) and I had lowish B12. Not terribly low but they thought it was low enough for me to feel as sick and tired as I was. I've been talking B12 pills daily for a few months and my levels are in the 700 range. Yay!

    I'm still suffering from fatigue though...but not as bad as it was.
    Peace, love, and happiness.

  14. #114
    Khashoggi
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I had a blood count a couple of months ago and all my levels were normal -- some high-ish.

    As far as I'm aware, the NHS will only specifically test for B12 if your haemoglobin's low or your blood's otherwise abnormal.

  15. #115

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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I work in a residential home, our residents are between 78 and 99, they have some sort of meat product for EVERY meal and at least 3 of them (out of 12) have to have B-12 injections regularly.

    I myself do not take an extra supplement for B-12. I make sure my milk is fortified, and also I take floradix which contains 80% RDA of B-12. Floradix is mainly an Iron supplement with added vitamins. I have had an iron deficiency before I became vegan or veggie.

  16. #116
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I don't think so, but have never been tested either. I am going to buy a multivitamin that has B-12 etc included though, my family is always going on about how my diet can't possibly give me everything I need so I'm going to take supplements and be done with it!

  17. #117
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I'm sure everyone here knows - but just to clarify -

    The people who need the injections have a problen with absobtion - basically their bodies defense mechanism attacks the substance needed to help absorbtion - they are the same people who can get Diabetes 1 or hypothyroidism. This is by a vast margin the commonest cause of real clinical B12 deficiency. It has absolutely nothing to do with diet.

    I've never heard of or seen anyone getting clinical B12 deficiency from diet - it must be incredably rare in the UK

  18. #118
    treaclemine
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    My GP agreed to test me for homocysteine and MMA, because I have two close relatives with pernicious anaemia (autoimmune B12 malabsorption). (I also happen to have autoimmune hypothyroid from the other side of my family!)

    Unfortunately, my GP didn't know how to set up the tests. They sent off a blood sample which was rejected - I think you need urine for MMA? A senior partner is supposed to be contacting the biochemical lab to confirm the exact samples I need to send this time. So watch this space ...

  19. #119
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    I think you need urine for MMA?
    No, you can test your MMA using a blood test...

  20. #120
    tevandanelo
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I

  21. #121
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Interesting results so far. You might run another poll to factor in how long the person has been vegan, do they supplement, and so on. (Notice how I'm laying all this work on someone else.)

    I've been vegan almost 8 years now, and I've never supplemented beyond the occasional (albeit rare) fortified food item. I keep meaning to get tested, but life is hectic. Anyway, I know the symptoms very well and I don't exhibit any of them. I have never even known a vegan who had a B12 deficiency (another poll question), and the conspiracy theorist in me honestly thinks it might all be a ploy by the American Beef Council or some other group to exploit fears of a rare illness that is more genetic or environmental than dietary.

  22. #122
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    my father-in-law has just been diagnosed with vit b12 deficiency - he is neither vegan nor veggie.

    he is 77, apart from being in the navy when younger, has always had a sit-down job in the print till he retired. since retiring, his only exercise is to drive to a nearby town, walk around a bit, go out daily to the supermarket and thats it.

    he sits around all day, every day watching tv, reading the paper etc. he does no gardening or anything. he has no hobbies nor outside interests, nor friends.

    he is to have a weekly b12 injection weekly for the next month and thereafter, quarterly per year for life.

    i am going to try to get more info from the oldies about possible cause (it's not from diet defficiency apparently, simply a problem with absorbtion) but you rarely get the right info from older people - they are just not listening properly when the doc is explaining things.

    more at some point.......

  23. #123
    treaclemine
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I have a family history of pernicious anaemia, and I have only been vegan for a couple of years. So this is likely a hereditary issue for me.

    My vitamin B12 serum levels were measured earlier in the year, and I'm only about 20% above the minimum threshold to avoid overt deficiency. But my homocysteine is already about 10% elevated above what is considered the safe maximum - which reduces my life-expectancy by about 6 - 12 months already.

    A serum vitamin B12 level about 400 pg/ml - about 200% of the minimum threshold - is my target. I'm currently taking vitamin B12 supplements, and I'm going to have my blood tests repeated in October.

  24. #124
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I had a slight B12 deficiency last winter. My levels were 135 pg/ml. It wasn't low enough for the doctors to worry and I didn't need any shots. I was simply told to include a B12 supplement pill every day. I took 1000mcg of B12 a day for a couple of months and when I went to get re-tested, my levels were around 300.

    I didn't have any complications or major symptoms regarding my low-ish B12 levels. I was tired a lot and my depression had gotten really bad. I did several tests from 3 different doctors to find out what was wrong. Other than B12, all my other vitamins were excellent. My iron was high and healthy and I tested negative for mono (which the doctors thought I had). At the recommendation of my family doctor, I increased my anti-depressant dosage but that didn't help so I was referred to a psychiatrist. I then got put on a new kind of anti-depressant and it's much better.

    So now I make sure I eat a lot of fortified foods (at least 2 servings a day) and I take 1000mcg of B12 every other day. I feel much better and much healthier.

    My cousin, on the other hand, is a different story. She's an omnivore, ate lots of meat, and not a lot of fresh vegetables or fruits. Her B12 levels were so low that she now has neurological damage to the nerves in her hands and cannot work as a hairdresser anymore. Her deficiency was not remedied by pills or injections. She's not even 30 yet so it's quite unfortunate.
    Peace, love, and happiness.

  25. #125

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Wow, this unnerves me - I've only been vegan for about three weeks to a month, though I've been avoiding dairy for six weeks.

    However, a week ago, the left side of my left hand got numb and tingly, and a shooting sensation from my wrist on the left side if you tap my wrist on the left side. I was tired the first day or two, but after that I haven't been tired or anything (in fact I've been alert even on four or five hours sleep), and in the morning I drink a fortified hemp milk that has about 25% b12, as well as a naked juice blue machine that's 100% b12 in 8 oz. I plan to get a supplement though in case that's what's going on.

    Anyway I saw a GP in urgent care and he though it's carpal tunnel, whereas I thought it was a side effect of epilepsy medication, but now am wondering if it could be related to b12 (which while if it is a deficiency couldn't have arisen - I think - in the short time I've been a vegan, if I haven't been getting enough prior to being vegan then that would add to me not getting enough now).

    Anyway, if it is b12 deficiency, hopefully it can be corrected with a supplement, and isn't a problem with absorption.

  26. #126
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Anyway, if it is b12 deficiency, hopefully it can be corrected with a supplement, and isn't a problem with absorption.
    Hi,
    humans normally carry around a lot of B12 (and B12 analogues) in the body. If you find that you have a B12 deficiency after only some weeks on a vegan diet, the problem started before you went vegan. Also, about the absorption problem: if you have a B12 absorption problem, there's nothing I've seen that suggests that you would get this as a result of going vegan, which means that you probably would have had that absorption problem before you went vegan as well. If you had, you should have been B12 deficient a long time ago...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  27. #127

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Korn View Post
    Hi,
    humans normally carry around a lot of B12 (and B12 analogues) in the body. If you find that you have a B12 deficiency after only some weeks on a vegan diet, the problem started before you went vegan. Also, about the absorption problem: if you have a B12 absorption problem, there's nothing I've seen that suggests that you would get this as a result of going vegan, which means that you probably would have had that absorption problem before you went vegan as well. If you had, you should have been B12 deficient a long time ago...
    I don't think a vegan diet has caused b12 deficiency (if indeed that is what's going on), as I didn't get much b12 before being vegan either - I didn't like dairy before I quit that, and I quit dairy before being fully vegan, and I never ate that much meat, as I couldn't stand the texture of most of it. So the typical meat-eater sources wouldn't have been major sources for me, probably. As a very young child I was famous for refusing milk (largely due to the physical reactions I would get, scratchy in the throat and difficult to breathe).

    BTW I didn't think that being vegan would be causative to an absorption problem, just that I don't know much about b12 deficiency due to absorption (or any b12 deficiency) and I don't know if this is something that can have symptoms appear at any time. I guess it would be a lifelong problem, though, then? Is that what you're saying?

  28. #128
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I guess it would be a lifelong problem, though, then? Is that what you're saying?
    Well, if you always would have had a B12 absorption problem, you would have had B12 deficiency problems earlier... but of course, if you have had a lifestyle or anything else meaning that you have consumed/absorbed very little B12 for many years, of course a B12 deficiency could occur just after you went vegan, as a result of multiple reasons. Various sources also state that you can be B12 deficient for a long time without actually having any symptoms (eg. because some of the B12 deficiency symptoms can be 'masked' by high levels of folate)... I can't really give you any general advice other than to check your levels and take supplements if you need to. If you check your B12 levels after a long time on a standard diet, it's a good idea to check your levels of other nutrients as well, because on a standard diet, there's lots of important stuff you easily can miss out on (as discussed here: Nutrient deficiencies more common in meat eaters than in vegans).
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  29. #129

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    In another b12 thread, you wrote:

    Quote Korn
    When discussing folate supplements, it's important to be aware of so called 'masking'-issues. For example, if you have low B12 levels, eating a lot of dark, leafy green vegetables will increase your folate levels, and/but this might remove some of the problems associated with low B12 levels. resulting in that a person could have low B12 levels without noticing it, due to ie. eating folate supplements, because the folate supplements masks the B12 deficiency. That's why it's normally recommended to take B12 with folate. This raises two questions:
    Does this mean that consuming lots of green vegetables (like lettuce and spinach), would mask the symptoms of b12 deficiency? Because I eat a lot of that (salad for lunch, and more greens on the side at dinner too).

  30. #130
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Hi,

    The whole 'masking' phenomenon probably deserves it's own thread, because it's good to eat leafy, green vegetables, and if they contain something that solves a problem you would have had if you were low in both B12 and folate, that would necessary be something that mainly should be considered 'masking', but a result of using one nutrient to prevent a problem instead of another.

    It would be wrong to avoid a healthy amount of folate from green, leafy vegetables to avoid 'masking' - most of should probably eat a lot more green, leafy, raw stuff than we do. If you are in doubt about your actual B12 levels, my suggestion is that you take a B12/MMA/homocysteine test first, and see what you find out...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  31. #131

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I am starting to think that it is a carpal tunnel type thing like the doctor thought, because I eat lots of leafy green raw vegetables (cooked too but mostly raw), but have been having these problems, but the wrist brace has seemed to help. I still got a b12 supplement anyway just in case I forget to eat enough of the fortified foods and such.

  32. #132
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Quantum Mechanic View Post
    I am starting to think that it is a carpal tunnel type thing like the doctor thought, because I eat lots of leafy green raw vegetables (cooked too but mostly raw), but have been having these problems, but the wrist brace has seemed to help.
    So, if I understand you right, you suggest that carpal tunnel syndrome has nothing to do with green leafy vegetables (or B12) at all?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  33. #133

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Korn View Post
    So, if I understand you right, you suggest that carpal tunnel syndrome has nothing to do with green leafy vegetables (or B12) at all?
    I mean that since I eat lots of green leafy vegetables, get lots of folate, theoretically this would help to mask the b12 symptoms, and mean that the neurological symptoms are more likely due to some other cause than b12 deficiency, but of course this is only one of many hypotheses and it is impossible to know without solid data (blood tests), but I have just about a week or so ago had a very hard injury to my wrist against my desk (though of course correlation is not by any means causation).

    But I would surely not make any conclusions; for all I know it could have everything to do with b12 and I could have had a deficiency creeping up on me a long time. However, I do intend to start the supplement tomorrow morning, for as much as I would like to have a "wait and see" attitude, I don't take such things lightly. I tried to do that with some mild seizures, especially when there was so much confusion caused in that I was being told that things like sensory overload were seizures, so to say I had a seizure was meaningless and it felt like blurring the lines between clinical depression and "a bad day". And things didn't work out good with that approach, so I try to get as informed as possible and take the precautions necessary.
    Last edited by Quantum Mechanic; Nov 18th, 2008 at 06:07 AM. Reason: dropped a few words from psot

  34. #134
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Wow, this is kind of scary. I'm thinking about taking supplements now. I try to eat fortified foods, but it's hard to get a balanced diet where I eat. I've only been vegan for six weeks and not had any problems except that I have this sensation in my muscles almost constantly like I'm not getting enough protein, which is annoying. I guess I should take protein supplements or eat some protein bars, too. I eat lots of peanut butter and tofu and soy, but veggies are hard to come by around here, and I'm not sure what proteins I'm missing. But I'm feeling it especially today because the dining hall is closed and all I've had to eat today is vegan brownies and a banana.

    But the B12 thing sounds much riskier. The only fortified food item I know my dining hall has is soy milk and rice milk, so I drink lots of that, although it's kind of fattening. I think it would be easier to just take supplements and not have to worry about it.

    Anyway, next semester I am planning to run a vegan campaign, and I'm going to devote some serious time to talking about vegan health, maybe even a whole evening session. I don't want to be responsible for causing anyone's ill health, and I also want people to feel totally comfortable with the health aspects. I'm going to make some pamphlets on it, too, because I don't want anyone to miss anything.

  35. #135
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Hello Quantum Mechanic and Sarabi...

    Hundreds of millions of non-vegans have various deficiencies, and of course vegans have deficiencies too. We have a subforum called "Personal Health Issues" in the member section, and here's the message/disclaimer posted in that area:

    Please don't use this section as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment!

    We have members on this board who has been vegans for many years, and who haven't experienced any symptoms of eg. B12 deficiency - and that includes vegans who haven't taken any B12 supplements for years. I'm not advocating that people should avoid supplements, or that vegans should always take supplements because we are risking more deficiencies than non-vegans.... I'm saying is that if you have any reason to believe that you need a normal - or therapeutic - amount of a vitamin or mineral, take a blood test and have a look at the results along with a health professional, or learn enough to figure out how likely it is that you should have a deficiency, or take a small amount before you get any problems to prevent problems to occur.

    Nobody - vegan or not - should take a 'wait and see' approach.Quantum Mechanic became a vegan in October and is worried that he is having a B12 deficiency in November... and: maybe he is right, but if he is, he can't possible have had healthy B12 levels in October. Sarabi also registered in October, and find things 'scary' already, but I encourage you both to find out what your B12 status is, and to get back to this thread if you actually have a B12 deficiency.

    I eat lots of peanut butter and tofu and soy, but veggies are hard to come by around here, and I'm not sure what proteins I'm missing.
    Maybe you aren't missing proteins at all. Did you check our vegan protein threads yet?

    I've only been vegan for six weeks and not had any problems except that I have this sensation in my muscles almost constantly like I'm not getting enough protein
    I don't know what sensation that would be... Since this thread is about actual deficiencies... with all due respect, please do yourself a favor and find out what you're missing - if you are missing anything - and get back to this thread if you find out that you have a B12 deficiency. You are more than welcome to ask for feedback in the Personal Health Issues-section, but again: please don't use this section as a substitute for professional help. Seizures and borderline clinical depressions are serious stuff, and please don't risk anything by guessing that your problems are caused by this or that....

    It's said that only 1% of the average population have healthy levels of all nutrients, and if you actually find out that you have a B12 deficiency after a few weeks on a vegan diet, this documents that your diet before you became a vegan was lacking out on B12, because most B12 experts seem to agree that a person with healthy B12 can store B12 reserves in his body for years (mainly in the liver).

    At some point I was eating vegan for several years without any B12 supplementation/fortified foods, and didn't have anything that slightly reminded of B12 deficiency symptoms. I'm not saying that others should follow this example: I don't drink coffee, hardly drink alcohol, I never take any medicine, I don't smoke, live in an area with a lot of fresh air and happen to have a taste/lifestyle which means that I avoid a lot of the 'B12 killers'.

    It's hard to avoid certain 'B12 troublemakers' (eg. chlorinated water, or eating plants from a soil depleted in essential nutrients). It's probably a good idea (for most people) to compensate for the expected lack of certain nutrients we'll end up with as a result of living in a 'modern' world by taking some supplements - but not instead of eating real food / real plants (preferably organic with a good amount of raw stuff daily). This actually applies as much - or more - to non-vegans than vegans, because they live on a mix of meat ("plants that has been eaten once already") and plants, normally with a good portion of sugar, junk food etc....

    We have to collectively move away from the assumption that if a vegan is sick, it's because she is a vegan, but if a non-vegan is sick, she is just sick - at the same time as we need to make sure we are healthy and (like everybody else) get professional help or supplements if/when we need it.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  36. #136
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    I don't think I'm merely "guessing" about what my problem is. I had this sensation as a meat-eater when I didn't eat enough protein. I would eat more meat, and it would go away. And also I didn't experience this sensation when I was lacto-ovo either, when I was eating lots of eggs. So no, I don't think that "professional" assistance is necessary to figure out what health issues I have. There's a chance I'm wrong, but I'm trusting my memory on this... professionals usually cost a fortune anyway. Seems cheaper to just take vitamins.

    I don't think I'm making this assumption just because I'm vegan, but I do agree with you that in general people make this assumption, and it needs to change.

    Thanks for the link...

  37. #137
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    professionals usually cost a fortune anyway
    Sorry, I forgot that B12 tests can be costly in some countries. Anyway, if you already know that a sensation you have is associated with something you knew was a certain type of deficiency back in your meat eating days, you're not really guessing (unless you were guessing back then as well).

    Some people say that you have to try hard to get a protein deficiency, even as a vegan, and while I don't know if that's true, protein deficiencies are generally very rare...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  38. #138

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Korn View Post
    Hello Quantum Mechanic and Sarabi...

    Hundreds of millions of non-vegans have various deficiencies, and of course vegans have deficiencies too. We have a subforum called "Personal Health Issues" in the member section, and here's the message/disclaimer posted in that area:

    Please don't use this section as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment!

    We have members on this board who has been vegans for many years, and who haven't experienced any symptoms of eg. B12 deficiency - and that includes vegans who haven't taken any B12 supplements for years. I'm not advocating that people should avoid supplements, or that vegans should always take supplements because we are risking more deficiencies than non-vegans.... I'm saying is that if you have any reason to believe that you need a normal - or therapeutic - amount of a vitamin or mineral, take a blood test and have a look at the results along with a health professional, or learn enough to figure out how likely it is that you should have a deficiency, or take a small amount before you get any problems to prevent problems to occur.

    Nobody - vegan or not - should take a 'wait and see' approach.Quantum Mechanic became a vegan in October and is worried that he is having a B12 deficiency in November... and: maybe he is right, but if he is, he can't possible have had healthy B12 levels in October. Sarabi also registered in October, and find things 'scary' already, but I encourage you both to find out what your B12 status is, and to get back to this thread if you actually have a B12 deficiency.


    Maybe you aren't missing proteins at all. Did you check our vegan protein threads yet?


    I don't know what sensation that would be... Since this thread is about actual deficiencies... with all due respect, please do yourself a favor and find out what you're missing - if you are missing anything - and get back to this thread if you find out that you have a B12 deficiency. You are more than welcome to ask for feedback in the Personal Health Issues-section, but again: please don't use this section as a substitute for professional help. Seizures and borderline clinical depressions are serious stuff, and please don't risk anything by guessing that your problems are caused by this or that....

    It's said that only 1% of the average population have healthy levels of all nutrients, and if you actually find out that you have a B12 deficiency after a few weeks on a vegan diet, this documents that your diet before you became a vegan was lacking out on B12, because most B12 experts seem to agree that a person with healthy B12 can store B12 reserves in his body for years (mainly in the liver).

    At some point I was eating vegan for several years without any B12 supplementation/fortified foods, and didn't have anything that slightly reminded of B12 deficiency symptoms. I'm not saying that others should follow this example: I don't drink coffee, hardly drink alcohol, I never take any medicine, I don't smoke, live in an area with a lot of fresh air and happen to have a taste/lifestyle which means that I avoid a lot of the 'B12 killers'.

    It's hard to avoid certain 'B12 troublemakers' (eg. chlorinated water, or eating plants from a soil depleted in essential nutrients). It's probably a good idea (for most people) to compensate for the expected lack of certain nutrients we'll end up with as a result of living in a 'modern' world by taking some supplements - but not instead of eating real food / real plants (preferably organic with a good amount of raw stuff daily). This actually applies as much - or more - to non-vegans than vegans, because they live on a mix of meat ("plants that has been eaten once already") and plants, normally with a good portion of sugar, junk food etc....

    We have to collectively move away from the assumption that if a vegan is sick, it's because she is a vegan, but if a non-vegan is sick, she is just sick - at the same time as we need to make sure we are healthy and (like everybody else) get professional help or supplements if/when we need it.
    Are symptoms of anemia similar to b12 deficiency? Because they used to think I might have anemia except I think the tests came back negative. BTW I'm a 'she'.

    I don't know how to request a test. I do have an appointment coming up for something else, but I have lots of communication difficulties (particularly in initiation), and in navigating the system, and I don't know when to find the time to get such a test done, since about 90% of the time that they draw blood or insert any sort of needle I faint or have a seizure (even when laying down and not looking, not even knowing when it has gone in or not), so I need a good deal of time to be prepared.

  39. #139
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    Post Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    My B12 story:

    I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 15 years (I'm 31 now, so half my life.) I became a vegan in Feb 2008. In the summer of 2008 I began getting weird symptoms, which were pain and weakness in the muscles of my legs. Sometimes I would feel it in my arm muscles too, but mostly my legs. To describe this pain better I would explain it as feeling like I had run miles when I may have really only walked the dog around the block. It was terrifying and depressing because I didn't know what was wrong and I had never had any muscle issues before. I attributed the blame to having been taking strong antibiotics for a horrible ear infection I had that summer - I believed it was a reaction to the antibiotics that was not going away. I had this pain for months. I was not really taking any supplements at this time, just a multivitamin once in a while, but not daily.

    I went to a neurologist after a few months of the pain not going away. The neurologist gave me a thorough physical and tests and said I seemed normal. She sent me for bloodwork including a B12 test. I never mentioned my diet because I was sure the evil antibiotic did this to me. (I never take meds if I can help it but this was a very bad ear infection and I was told it would be very dangerous to not take the antibiotics. I even had to have a tube put in my ear to drain the fluid.)

    My blood tests came back and the neurologist called me. She said I had a very low B12 level and that I needed to start on B12 shots right away because I must have a problem with B12 absorption. She said my level was 112 and a normal level is 180+. She STILL didn’t ask about my diet. She said, “No one gets B12 deficiency in this day and age unless you are an alcoholic.” I told her I had been a vegan for about 6 months and that could probably have something to do with it…. She said, “Let me repeat this. No one gets B12 deficiency unless they are an alcoholic!” I said, “Look, I really think it could be my diet and maybe I need to take a B12 supplement.” She says, “Well do you eat BREAD?!” I said yes. She said, “Well all bread is fortified and if you eat bread you cannot be B12 deficient.” I said, “All bread? I have looked at my bread and there is no B12 in it.” Then we argued about bread for a while and she told me to go get the shots.

    I ignored her advice and instead I took B12 sublingual tablets for about a month – methylcobalimin – 3000 mcg – approximately one a day. After about a week or two the pain in my legs disappeared. I also began to feel like I had much more energy. I hadn’t noticed but I had been feeling lethargic for a few months. I told the Dr. I wanted another blood test and if my levels didn’t go up then we would talk about the shots. I got the results yesterday and my B12 level is now 299. The nurse called with the results, so I didn’t get to hear the Dr.’s reaction, which was fine by me. I have never had anyone yell at me about bread before. Incidentally I researched this and all flour is fortified with iron and some B vitamins, but not B12.

    I am so disappointed about how little doctors know about nutrition and how they just want to give you a “quick fix” for everything. I didn’t want to get shots my whole life if there was no reason to. I would rather find out the reason for my health problems and address the cause rather then go running to shots and pills. It is so infuriating. I have now chopped the B12 tabs into quarters and will continue to take ¼ pill maybe a few times a week to keep my levels up. And now I know that if I feel any pain or my energy levels drop then I need to increase my B12.

    Incidentally, the antibiotics may have been somewhat the cause of my low B12 levels anyhow, as I have read that antibiotics interfere with B12 production in the gut. I will find the link for that article if I can and add it in after I post this.

    Thanks for reading. I hope my story helps someone!

  40. #140
    V for Veganica Sarabi's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Interesting story, erynne! Never trust doctors! That doctor sounds nuts, but when I think of all the people I knew in high school who wanted to to become doctors, I'm not surprised at all. Those people scare the daylights out of me. I told one girl I'd never let her be my doctor, and she told me she was going to force me to use a tampon.

    Anyway... someone should do a survey of vegans and B12.

  41. #141

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    That's crazy that she got so insistent that she KNEW when she only had a peripheral understanding about the bread/flour thing. Most sensible people will either keep quiet or ask questions when they don't know what they're talking about.

  42. #142
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Sarabi View Post

    Anyway... someone should do a survey of vegans and B12.
    We have one here...

    Quote Quantum Mechanic View Post
    Most sensible people will either keep quiet or ask questions when they don't know what they're talking about.
    Sure - but maybe most people aren't sensible?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  43. #143

    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Korn View Post
    We have one here...

    Sure - but maybe most people aren't sensible?
    LOL I figured that one out a long time ago by going to elementary school and finding out about the lies that are anti-bullying policies.

  44. #144
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Sarabi View Post
    Interesting story, erynne! Never trust doctors! That doctor sounds nuts, but when I think of all the people I knew in high school who wanted to to become doctors, I'm not surprised at all. Those people scare the daylights out of me. I told one girl I'd never let her be my doctor, and she told me she was going to force me to use a tampon.
    she did seem quite off, especially when she was actually yelling at me, like a parent does to a child, about bread and how b12 deficiency never happens anymore in this day and age. maybe she was thinking of scurvy...?

    yes, doctors are, unfortunately, just regular people like your tampon-wielding high school friend!

  45. #145
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote Quantum Mechanic View Post
    That's crazy that she got so insistent that she KNEW when she only had a peripheral understanding about the bread/flour thing. Most sensible people will either keep quiet or ask questions when they don't know what they're talking about.
    you would hope so....! but some doctors think they just know everything! i have heard that doctors take about 1 credit of nutrition classes in all their years of education, and i think this lady just about proves it!

  46. #146
    songlife
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Why is everyone so scared of supplements? Seriously, they are completely vegan-made in labs and are actually EXACTLY THE SAME as found in nature. It's like the taurine that is made and added to vegan cat food. Same deal as in nature.

    Natural does not = good, and lab-synth does not = bad.

    Let's be shining examples of healthy vegans, not so obsessed with getting everything "naturally" that we miss out on getting proper amounts of B12. We are not running around in the muck continuously like our distant ancestors and herbivores in the wild (who also need B12, and get it). Swallow your pride and take vegan B12 supplements or injections. I go to the raw food restaurant near my place and got sad when I talked to a girl who worked there and asked her if she takes any multis etc, and she said "Oh no, no pills at all just all natural! I get everything I need from the NATURAL things!" ... girl, you are sweet but you also run the risk of being one of those vegans who are deficient in something down the road and make veganism look unhealthy...

    If you don't know the exact quantities of every nutrient that is in everything you eat, and the combinations of when to eat what so that you absorb it all just right, take a vegan supplement (it's all available vegan) just to be sure.

    It's like... basil A was grown inside the windowsill. Basil B was grown outside. Basil A is STILL BASIL! (!!!)

  47. #147
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote songlife View Post
    Why is everyone so scared of supplements? Seriously, they are completely vegan-made in labs and are actually EXACTLY THE SAME as found in nature. It's like the taurine that is made and added to vegan cat food. Same deal as in nature.
    Last time I had a chat with a non-vegan about veganism, the only thing she seemed to question about being vegan is that she thought that vegans were more dependent on supplements than non-vegans. I've heard this a lot, and trust me: they don't care if some of the existing vegans claims that 'natural doesn't matter', or that 'supplements are natural'. According to the most common way to use the word 'natural', a man made vitamin supplement produced in a lab/factory isn't natural anyway. The action (to take a supplement if you need it) is of course a natural response to a deficiency, but that's a different story.

    Natural does not = good, and lab-synth does not = bad.
    Natural isn't always good, and man-made/cultural (etc) isn't always bad - sure, but vegans can claim that supplements are natural or that natural never matters until the end of time, but as long as a few billion people assume that non-vegans get what they need 'naturally' from their omnivorous diet, while vegans don't - many of them won't be impressed - or even interested - in veganism.

    We are not running around in the muck continuously like our distant ancestors and herbivores in the wild
    The myth that we should get B12 from dirt is probably as old and false and the idea that vegans need more supplements than non-vegans, or that we wouldn't get the B12 we needed from plants (not dirt) in a - yes - natural setting. Those who assume that non-vegan food is more nutrient rich that vegan food, and use 'nature' as a reference for this forgets that our lifestyle is far from being 'natural'. There are B12 antagonistic chemicals in water, medicine, soil... and so on.

    There's nothing 'natural' about raising hundreds of millions in factory farms, give the supplements/fortified food, and eating them afterwards either - it has to do with letting go of old myths and maybe even letting go of some kind what sometimes look like a more or less collective lack of trust in that humans can survive well without animal products.


    Swallow your pride and take vegan B12 supplements or injections.
    The way I see it, this has nothing whatsoever to do with pride.

    girl, you are sweet but you also run the risk of being one of those vegans who are deficient in something down the road and make veganism look unhealthy...
    For lots of people, veganism already seems unhealthy if it seems that we (unlike omnivores) are dependent on supplements as well. It will make people ask "how can a vegan diet be healthy if vegans have to use supplements all the time?".

    To claim that 'natural never matters' or that 'supplements are natural' just doesn't convince anyone - or, it may convince a part of the very small fraction of the world population that already are vegans. But if we shall reach beyond the circa 1% limit, a few not-difficult-to-understand facts IMO have to be stressed:

    Vegans don't seem to need any more supplements than non-vegans.
    Non-vegans use supplements as well, and the animals/milk products they consume are often fortified.
    A "standard" diet has never proven itself to be healthy - it's actually associated with a lot of health problems.
    The "infamous" B12 analogues aren't only found in plant food, but in animal products, fortified food and supplements too(!).
    There's no research that suggests that vegans would lack B12 if we would live in pre-industrial times, where all food was organic, often eaten fresh and non-processed, microwave ovens and canned food didn't exist, water wasn't chlorinated and the soil contained loads more nutrients than it does today.


    If you don't know the exact quantities of every nutrient that is in everything you eat, and the combinations of when to eat what so that you absorb it all just right, take a vegan supplement (it's all available vegan) just to be sure.
    Wait... 39% of all meat eaters have low levels of B12 as well, and some of them suffer from serious problems associated with too high B12 levels, or high intake of animal products. No vegan or non-vegan is "safe" just by taking some supplements. Taking more B12 alone may help many vegans and non-vegans, but should never be presented as a 'safe solution'.

    You may eat just as much B12 (through supplements) that your neighbor gets from eating eg. eating liver, but don't forget that 39% of your neighbors have low levels of B12, and that when their 'good' levels of B12 is reported, it doesn't take B12 analogues in their blood into consideration, neither are their 'good' B12 levels normally verified with MMA or homocysteine tests. You can of course eat twice as much B12 as your neighbor, or 10 or 100 or 1000 times as much, but then you could end up as a part of the statistics showing the bad effect of too high B12 intake.

    If you don't know the exact quantities of every nutrient that is in everything you eat...
    We never know that, and never will - unless we live in a test lab and scan everything we eat every day. The same is true for non-vegans. Getting enough nutrients isn't a vegan vs. non-vegan thing, it's a question about knowing a little about nutrition and the problems with a 'modern' lifestyle. It's not about assuming that we can eat what you want as long as you pop some pills.

    Let's stop indirectly 'glorifying' the non-vegan diet and lifestyle once and for all, which is what we actually do if we promote the idea that if we just take the B12 supplements we need to get the same levels as non-vegans have, we're safe. Apparently, only 1% of the non-vegan population are "safe", nutrient wise, in the sense that they aren't missing out on important nutrients.

    If 99% of them are deficient in one or more nutrients, why would we even consider using them as a reference for healthy levels of vitamins and minerals?

    What we know is that both non-vegans and vegans need to pay attention to certain nutrients, and that it's important for non-vegans to pay extra attention to B12. Non-vegans should focus on other nutrients - and on B12.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  48. #148
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?

    Hi all,

    Articles in mass media, written by non-vegans with no first hand knowledge about living on a vegan diet or in-depth knowledge about vegan nutrition sometimes (although less often than before) create the impression that you'll end up with neurological damage if you live on a vegan diet.

    Since literally nobody voted for the "Yes, with serious, non-curable symtoms (eg. neurological damage)"-option I'm considering closing this poll and instead start a new one, asking if people ever have met anyone who have had any kind of (permanent) damage from B12 deficiency.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  49. #149
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Quote songlife View Post
    Why is everyone so scared of supplements? ... Swallow your pride and take vegan B12 supplements or injections.
    I am not afraid of supplements at all. I preferred to try supplements first rather than starting on a lifetime regimen of B12 shots if they were not necessary. Doctors just want a quick fix I think (and/or assume that their patients wants a quick fix, which many do) and she was willing to make me sign up B12 shots for the rest of my life just to see the B12 number go up on my next blood test. A more reasonable approach would have been for my doctor to suggest the B12 supplements first and see how it went, which is what I decided to do myself. It has been nearly a year now and I take my B12 tablet every day and I am doing just fine. A supplement in the form of a tablet seems more "natural" to me than a shot every 3 months. Why would a healthy person want to get shots all the time?! It really is disappointing hat doctors aren't better educated in nutrition.

  50. #150
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

    Why is everyone so scared of supplements?
    I am not afraid of supplements at all.
    I don't even think that that's a topic.

    Why would a healthy person want to get shots all the time?!
    Hmmm.... I have two question for you:

    What makes you ask that question?
    Have you seen this thread Is oral B12 as effective as intramuscular injections??
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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