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Thread: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

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    Default Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    When I first stopped eating meat about eight years ago- I never did the proper research or came to realize the things I now know about food and nutrition. In fact for the first five years or so I really felt in the dark about whether I was getting the proper nutrition. After the first three years I fell off the wagon as it were, and went back to eating fish and then chicken againÖand then back to being vegetarian after about a yearÖand back again to fish and chicken after about two yearsÖand back again to being vegetarian. Which leads me to where I am now. This, the most recent time I felt as though I could actually make an attempt to being vegan. Though in all of my attempts I've always been concerned with whether I was getting the proper nutrition. In the past I didn't keep a food journal and count calories as I do now. I also felt that I was missing a few variables in my life besides the insufficient research on my part Ė I also always had insufficient income (for doctors, blood tests, etc..)Öand overall support since I still live in a big family of all meat eaters. And even though I still don't have a close partner or vegetarian friends to share my ups and downs of being vegetarian I happy with the community I have found here online in the veganforum as I sincerely want to become a vegan myself. It is comforting to know that if I something on my mind related to being veg*n that there are people out there (people like you), willing to give some insight. I believe that I am closer to being stable and confident with my eating though I do still have some concerns. It is a little frustrating because I'm not sure why it's taking me this long. Whatever the reason, Iím trying make a change for the better now, by finding a better job and connecting with more people. In the last few months Iíve been racing around with questions about food allergies and finding a good balance with my calorie and protein intakes. These are topics related to some of my previous posts, itís helping me to have a better understanding and really get a grip. In this my third attempt at being veg*n since I stopped eating fish this past March. I made up, what in retrospect is a poor list of staples which was my best idea at the timeÖbetter than what Iíve been doing in the past. The list went something like this, take a good multivitamin, getting roughly about 5 fruits and vegetables a day and eat lots of soy products. I didnít really consider grains to be all that important this last time around. I know that sounds very strange. A year ago, I didnít do the kind of research that Iíve been doing these days. And my research was very scattered when I first started eight years ago. Eating all the soy products was a bad idea because I went too of a long stretch where I was just relying on them and consuming smaller amounts of fruits and veggies. I was getting about 1300 calories a day then. I was building myself up for a major breakdown though I didnít know it was coming. As work and family became more stressful, and trying to get so much out of everyday Ė I was starting find out that my mind and nerves were probably the only thing keeping me alive and moving, and my daily nutrition was playing such a minor role. Well usually when I start to have problems with my nutrition I have a tendency to blame it on a lack of some nutrients that Iím not getting in my plant food which is usually the same kind of thinking everyone around has (friends and family).

    In this most recent attempt, like the all the other attempts in the past, I get to a point where I have a hard time swallowing, along being nervousness and fatigueÖ at which time I would radically change my eating habits. The swallowing thing usually occurs first. When I first started eight years ago I definitely ate more grains, about the same amounts of fruits and vegetables, beans in the form of some prepared salads and soy products (esp. a lot soymilk) and very little or no seeds. And I used to think that my poor swallowing was due to eating too much starchy foods or rice. Now I believe that it is due to an insufficient amount of B12. At that time I didnít take a multivitamin regularly though I did take an assortment of single capsules (calcium, vitamin E, estherC and B complex once in a while). Getting back to my present day situation, Iím starting think that my nervousness and weakness might be due to a lack of sufficient B12. (regarding one of my other posts) I read in a vegan starter pack that B12 protects the nervous system and that fatigue and tingling in the hands and feet could be early signs of a deficiency. I have experienced all of these within the past 6 months, though the tingling in the hands and feet thing is new. I even sometimes wake in the middle of the night with poor circulation in my hands and arms though that might be due to my sleeping on a couch at the moment.

    The reason I wrote this little bit about my veg*n history is to hopefully connect with someone of you who might have some advice about vitamin B12 or the deficiency of B12. To let you know, I read many of the posts and links on this website regarding B12 though I believe my situation and concern is a little unique. You see, my last blood test was about five years ago and the doctor didnít have any real major concerns at the time. Since then I sustained an injury to my shoulder, and it hasnít recovered properly. Iím wondering if it could be due to a lack of B12. Perhaps my vitamin B12 is not a very absorbable one. I take the Solgar 1000mcg tablets as recommended by the vegan starter pack, now about 100 mcg every six hours. I am still in the process of finishing some paper work so I can get a blood test by the hospital clinic.

    In the meantime maybe someone could recommend a more absorbable B12. (or what you're using) Also, if I am deficient in B12 does that mean I will need to have injections or something?

    Thanks for reading this thing.

  2. #2
    Knolishing Pob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    I couldn't quite follow how much B12 you are taking. How many mcg in the pill and how often do you take it?
    Little and often is the best way - so fortified soya milk would be ideal.

    I take 2.5mcg daily in a multivitamin, but also get it from other sources, too (yeast extract, fortified soya milk).

    You should also be taking iodine supplements of some sort.

  3. #3
    AR Activist Roxy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Hi Etherweb - welcome to The Vegan Forum and congratulations on your decision to go vegan.

    I would recommend taking a B-multi vitamin capsule every day. If you have the Solgar brand where you are, I would recommend that one. The capsules are vegetarian (ie, no gelatin) and they seem to work quite well for me.

    I take them whenever I feel depressed, cranky, nervous or like I'm not in control. They really help a lot!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    I couldn't quite follow how much B12 you are taking. How many mcg in the pill and how often do you take it?
    Hi Rob, I followed the instruction of the vegan starter pack with a few slight modifications. The VSP recommends you dissolve 2000 micrograms under the tongue for the first two weeks. I did this plus I also took 1000mcg of B12 for the next two weeks after the first two weeks. So, for weeks 1-2 I took 2000mcg a day Ė weeks 3-4 1000mcg a day Ė week 5 500mcg a day). Iím now into week 7 and Iíve been taking 100mcg a day. Next week Iím planning to go with even smaller amounts ever six hours.

    Little and often is the best way - so fortified soya milk would be ideal.
    I take 2.5mcg daily in a multivitamin, but also get it from other sources, too (yeast extract, fortified soya milk).
    You should also be taking iodine supplements of some sort.
    I will go little and often next week. What do you recommend? What yeast extract and fortified soya do you use? What do you recommend for iodine? Thanks.

    Hi Etherweb - welcome to The Vegan Forum and congratulations on your decision to go vegan.

    I would recommend taking a B-multi vitamin capsule every day. If you have the Solgar brand where you are, I would recommend that one. The capsules are vegetarian (ie, no gelatin) and they seem to work quite well for me.

    I take them whenever I feel depressed, cranky, nervous or like I'm not in control. They really help a lot!
    Hey Roxy, do you mean a B complex vitamin? I tried the B complex by Solgar. It didnít make me feel all that great. I would give it another try in the future. Thanks. Actually, I read in a few places that too most vegans donít need some of the other B vitamins like B6 since they cause some kinds of problems in the stomach. Did anyone ever hear of this before?
    Last edited by etherweb; Sep 12th, 2005 at 12:09 AM. Reason: needed to be clearer with one answer

  5. #5
    I eve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    etherweb, as a non-vegan, shouldn't you be on the thread for people thinking about becoming vegan?

    As to your health problems, you seem to worry too much - counting calories, suffering nervousness that you think is due to low B12, etc. My advice as a long-term vegan, is simply for you to eat mostly vegetables and fruit, as much of them raw as poss, plus some pulses, beans etc, and have some soymilk. Instead of wondering whether your inability to swallow properly has something to do with low B12, why not get tested?
    Eve

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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    It appears that Etherweb has been following a vegan diet since March.

    I'm sure that your past forays into veganism, ending once you felt malnourished, are in some way contributing to your nervousness now. Before you start worrying about your B12 stores, keep in mind that it can take many months (some say years) to deplete you body's store of B12. Have you ever had any health issues when eating an omnivore diet? Probably. Somehow the focus on nutrition becomes such a big issue when people start eating a vegan diet (and it should be a big issue no matter what people eat).

    If you follow the vegan "food pyramid" then you should be getting all your nutritional needs met by eating:

    6-11 servings of (mostly) whole grains - (a serving is 1 slice of bread, 1 0z or 28 g of cereal, 1/2 cup cooked grains, pasta or cereal, 2 Tbls wheat germ, etc)

    3 or more servings of vegetables - (a serving is 1/2 cup or 120 ml vegetables, 1 cup or 240 ml salad, 3/4 cup or 180 ml vegetable juice)

    2 or more servings of fruit - (a serving is 1 medium apple, banana, orange, pear, 1/2 cup or 120 ml fruit, 3/4 cup or 180 ml fruit juice, 1/4 cup dried fruit)

    2-3 servings of beans or bean alternatives - (a serving is 1 cup or 240 ml of cooked legumes (beans, lentils, dried peas), 1/2 cup or 120 ml firm tofu or tempeh, 1 serving veggie "meat" such as burger or wiener, 3 Tbsp or 45 ml nut or seed butter, 1/4 cup or 60 ml nuts or seeds, 2 cups or 480 ml soymilk)

    6-8 servings of fortified soymilk & alternatives - (a serving is 1/2 cup or 120 ml fortified soymilk, 1/4 cup or 60 ml calcium set tofu, 1/2 cup or 120 ml calcium-fortified orange juice, 1/4 cup or 60 ml almonds, 3 Tbsp or 45 ml almond butter, 1 cup or 240 ml cooked or 2 cups uncooked greens with a high calcium content - kale, collards, chinese greens, broccoli, okra - 1 cup or 240 ml high-calcium beans such as soy, white, navy, Great Northern, black turtle beans, 1/4 cup or 60 ml dry hijiki seaweed, 1 Tbsp or 15 ml blackstrap molasses, 5 figs)

    Also, 1-2 servings of Omega-3 fatty acids such as 1 tsp flax oil or 3 Tbsp walnuts. Keep in mind that your intake of Omega-6 fatty acids will affect your conversion of Omega-3's so some people take DHA supplements.

    Recommended vitamin B12 is 2.6-2.8 mcg/day from supplements or fortified foods.

    Vitamin D 5 mcg/day until age 50, then 10 mcg/day until age 70, then 15 mcg/day unless you get a lot of sun exposure. Make sure it's D2 and not the animal derived D3.



    The above is a twist on the USDA Food Pyramid and therefor really stresses calcium - a trend I believe will change if the dairy industry ever fails. However, it is a starting point. The authors also state to eat a variety of foods from each of the groups since we haven't discovered all the nutrients that are in each food. Also drink adequate water or fluids each day. And be moderate in your intake of concentrated fats, oils and added sugars.

    If you follow the above and still have problems after 2-3 months then I would see a doctor about the source of your symptoms. When a vegan "diet" fails it's not because of the lack of animal products but the lack of a balanced, healthy diet.
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

  7. #7

    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    6-8 servings of fortified soymilk & alternatives - (a serving is 1/2 cup or 120 ml fortified soymilk, 1/4 cup or 60 ml calcium set tofu, 1/2 cup or 120 ml calcium-fortified orange juice, 1/4 cup or 60 ml almonds, 3 Tbsp or 45 ml almond butter, 1 cup or 240 ml cooked or 2 cups uncooked greens with a high calcium content - kale, collards, chinese greens, broccoli, okra - 1 cup or 240 ml high-calcium beans such as soy, white, navy, Great Northern, black turtle beans, 1/4 cup or 60 ml dry hijiki seaweed, 1 Tbsp or 15 ml blackstrap molasses, 5 figs)
    Thanks Diane. I get all of the other servings except for this one. I've never seen this one before. 6-8 servings seems a little excessive.

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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Oh, I definitely agree. Since this is a take-off of the USDA pyramid (remember that the Dairy Industry has a seat on the committee) this takes the place of dairy in the original pyramid and calcium rich foods in the new pyramid. I think it's a crock but hey, that's the USDA for you. The authors of the vegan pyramid just didn't have anything else to substitute for calcium, I guess. Anyway, I hope it helped to clear up some questions for you.
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

  9. #9

    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Thanks. I agree, it's a crock.

    Though I believe the suggested dairy serving is lower than 6-8 servings. I believe the original pyramid suggests 2-3 servings in the Dairy Group.

    Did you really mean to say 6-8 servings and not 2-3?

    Instead of wondering whether your inability to swallow properly has something to do with low B12, why not get tested?
    Hey eve. Sorry, what kind of test do you mean?
    Last edited by etherweb; Sep 14th, 2005 at 12:17 AM. Reason: question for eve

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    I eve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    You can speak to your doc, and ask him/her to refer you to a pathology clinic to get a blood test to check the level of your B12. There's also an MMA test, but that one is expensive - I had it done once only, and since then stick to the normal B12 blood test each year, as the results were the same. I usually tell the doc that while they are taking blood, I'd like other items to be tested, such as cholesterol (both types), liver function, glucose level, etc. Here the cost is covered by the health dept, but your posting doesn't indicate where you live, so it may be different there. But asking doesn't cost!
    Eve

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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Quote etherweb
    Thanks. I agree, it's a crock.

    Though I believe the suggested dairy serving is lower than 6-8 servings. I believe the original pyramid suggests 2-3 servings in the Dairy Group.

    Did you really mean to say 6-8 servings and not 2-3?
    Quoted by the authors: "The recommeded intake from Fortified Soymilk & Alternatives is 6-8 servings. This is more than double the number of servings from the Milk and Alternatives group in the U.s. Food Guide Pyramid for two reasons. First, this allows a variety of calcium-rich plant foods to be included in reasonable serving sizes. In the U.S. Food Guide Pyramid, 1 serving = 1 cup of milk, while in the Vegan Food Guide, 1 serving = 1/2 cup of fortified soymilk, 1 cup of kale, and so on. Second, the number of servings of calcium-rich foods reflects the new higher Dietary Reference Intakes for calcuim, which have increased from 800-1,200 mg/day to 1,000-1,300 mg/day for those above the age of 8 years."

    The good news is that each calcium-rich serving also counts as a vegetable, legume, fruit or nut!
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

  12. #12
    Gliondrach
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Etherweb, you said that you have difficulty swallowing. Is there any pain or tenderness in your neck? Is it always difficult to swallow?

    Have you been without a source of iodine for a long time?

  13. #13

    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    I appreciate all of your responses. Thanks.

    You can speak to your doc, and ask him/her to refer you to a pathology clinic to get a blood test to check the level of your B12. There's also an MMA test, but that one is expensive - I had it done once only, and since then stick to the normal B12 blood test each year, as the results were the same. I usually tell the doc that while they are taking blood, I'd like other items to be tested, such as cholesterol (both types), liver function, glucose level, etc. Here the cost is covered by the health dept, but your posting doesn't indicate where you live, so it may be different there. But asking doesn't cost!
    I really canít afford a pathology clinic at this time. I am planning to go to the free clinic before the end of the week. My doctor told me that he would do a phone prescription for a CBC comprehensive Ė Metabolic Panel blood test. He told me that they would be able to see my B12 levels and others (ferritin Ė for Iron, etc.) I might be going getting an appointment today.
    Etherweb, you said that you have difficulty swallowing. Is there any pain or tenderness in your neck? Is it always difficult to swallow?
    Itís more like a knot in my throat after a meal that usually lasts for a long time. So, when it comes time for me to eat my next meal the knot is still there and then it becomes difficult to swallow. Sometimes if I eat a meal about three hours before I go to sleep. The knot will stay with me into the next morning. Recently I implemented this thing where I wait at least three hours before eating my next meal. (since lately Iíve been in this bad habit of eating, sometimes an hour from my last meal) Actually, I started doing this yesterday and last night, after my last meal, I was able to swallow pretty comfortably.
    Have you been without a source of iodine for a long time?
    As far as I know I have been without a source of iodine. Does a lack of iodine result in poor swallowing? What foods are rich in iodine?

  14. #14
    Gliondrach
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    I asked about the difficulty swallowing because that can be a sign of goitre. It doesn't sound like a goitre from your description, but I'm not too familiar with all the symptoms. When you have your blood test mention this feeling in your neck. It might just be tension or some irritation.

    You should come to live in the UK, where we get medical treatment free of charge. Of course, we pay for it in our taxes. Or, go to live in Canada. I think they have a similar system.

    Iodine is very important. Too little or too much can damage the thyroid. I take a kelp supplement which provides 150 micrograms ( whatever those stupid French things are - what's wrong with grains? ) in each tablet. Here's a link to the Vegan Society's info. about Iodine:

    http://www.vegansociety.com/html/foo...ion/iodine.php

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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Quote etherweb
    As far as I know I have been without a source of iodine. Does a lack of iodine result in poor swallowing? What foods are rich in iodine?
    Lack of iodine can cause goitre/goiter which is a swelling of the thyroid gland. This can give you difficulties swallowing because the gland is at the front of your throat. A doctor should soon be able to tell if your thyroid is swollen. Swallowing is one of those things too, where the more you think about it, the harder it gets and if you are worried about it, you will find it more of a problem.

    To test whether your thyroid is actually swollen, try this: http://www.aace.com/pub/tam1998/card.php

    If your thyroid is swollen, the doctors should do various tests for thyroid function. They may talk about lots of scary things -- don't get too scared -- iodine deficiency is rare in "affluent" countries especially compared with thyroid disease and they won't expect it but have to test for all the scary stuff to be sure it's none of those. Don't let them put you on hormone treatment unless you are totally convinced it's the right thing (I hear you never get off it).

    If you do have a swollen thyroid and they can't explain it or suggest anything, then you are in the same boat as me (only better off because mine is quite a visible bump in my neck) and I'd be happy to talk with you about it if it could be any help. Taking iodine can be a good plan but be very careful -- if you get too much then it can be as bad as getting too little -- 100-150 micrograms is considered "enough" for an adult.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Taking iodine can be a good plan but be very careful -- if you get too much then it can be as bad as getting too little -- 100-150 micrograms is considered "enough" for an adult.
    I started taking a Kelp supplement this past Saturday. Each tablet has 150mcg of iodine. Which iodine supplement do you recommend?

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    Knolishing Pob's Avatar
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    I was taking the Vegan Society one - it has some other stuff in it as well (Spirulina, green tea extract) - but it is a bit pricey by the time P&P is added on.

    I'm taking Holland and Barrett Sea Kelp 100mg which has 150mcg iodine.

    I take 4 a week, as recommended on the Vegan Society iodine factsheet.

  18. #18
    Gliondrach
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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    Quote etherweb
    I started taking a Kelp supplement this past Saturday. Each tablet has 150mcg of iodine. Which iodine supplement do you recommend?
    I'm taking the H & B one, too. I couldn't find the brand I had before, so I bought theirs. In fact, I don't remember what the other brand was. I'll know it when I see it. The tablets I have will last me for another six monts or more.

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    Default Re: Absorbable B12?? B12 Deficient??

    ETHERWEB.
    I have had B12 deficiency. The symptoms I had were tired, dizzy spells, bruising, dry mouth and foggy thinking. I was deficient while still a dairy consumer (now I'm vegan). The best way to recover is to have B12 injections. It is a very serious deficiency so it's extremely important you have it checked out, you could request the shots anyway you only need 3 over 3 weeks and they last for years. Supplements are not always reliable (I was taking them when found to be deficient). It was explained to me that some people cannot absorb B12 through the gut (apparently humans used to be really efficient at this but have evolved to be much less so) and that can be why the deficiency occurs. If this is the case you could take mega supplements and they will have no effect. If you are going to have blood tests to check levels do not take iron supplement for a week before as these can mask the deficiency in the test. Good luck and I'd request further tests if nothing shows up as you are obviously not feeling fantastic.

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