Vitamin B12 is an important substance, but it’s only available, aside from in supplements, in a few sources. Without sufficient levels of this vitamin, problems can occur. People can become anemic because B12 is needed to make things like red blood cells, although pernicious anemia should be understood as a different symptom that makes it difficult for the body to absorb the vitamin. Those who have the most trouble with the sources of vitamin B12 are people who are vegan vegetarians, since their diets may be completely absent of the main foods that give people a steady B12 supply.
Most people get adequate supply from the main sources of vitamin B12. Red meat is a principal source, and in this form, plenty of the vitamin gets absorbed by the body. The two other common sources of vitamin B12 are eggs and milk. It’s easy to see how a vegan diet is absent any of these products. Vegetarians who consume milk and eggs may still get adequate amounts because they have access to two principal sources of vitamin B12.
An additional way to find sources of vitamin B12 is to look for products that are supplemented with it. This isn’t always useful. When in a natural source, a vitamin may be absorbed by the body easily. In other foods, as a supplement, it may not always be as successfully used. It’s also worth pointing out that people with B12 insufficiency may not know it or have lab tests accurately show it, if they are concurrently taken folic acid, and many supplements or products that are supplemented contain a large selection of B vitamins and folic acid
Should the diet be lacking in the usual sources of vitamin B12, it’s still generally agreed that supplements are important. These are many in number, and given the importance of the vitamin, even most doctors may have recommendations on what to take. Generally B12 is fairly well absorbed in supplement form, so people will be able to pick from a wide variety of supplements. They can find fully vegan supplements, too, if abstention from meat is a choice of conscience or necessity.
If there are any potential signs of anemia, doctors can check vitamin B12 levels to determine if a supplement dose is high enough. Vegetarians who seldom eat any form of meat byproduct, and vegans might be wise to occasionally have levels checked. Without appropriate levels people have complained of gastrointestinal discomfort, tiredness, ragged mood and other symptoms. Even a B12 level that falls into low normal range ought to be considered as a potential indication to supplement, if people have other unexplained conditions.