(NaturalNews) Some vegetarians will avoid becoming vegan because of one simple myth they've heard again and again: they've heard that vegans can suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency based on their diet. Lots of vegetarians decide, based on this faulty information, that they need to continue eating animal protein. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
That's not to say that there is no such thing as vitamin B12 deficiency, because it does exist. People who are deficient of the vitamin experience many symptoms, such as fatigue, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues (such as upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation), numbness, confusion, and memory loss, to name a few. It does exist, but it's not caused by veganism.
The truth is vegans don't need to worry. They don't need to start taking special supplements or eating nutritional yeast. The biggest untruth feeding this myth is that people have been told the only source of vitamin B12 is through animal-based foods (meat, dairy products, etc.). However, lack of vitamin B12 needn't be a concern, even if a person only eats plant foods. According to Dr. Vivian V. Vetrano, vitamin B12 actually comes from coenzymes, which are already present in bacteria found on the human body (in and around the mouth, for example).
In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is often, according to Dr. Vetrano, a symptom of a larger problem; that is, it's not caused from a poor diet but rather from deficiency diseases that usually can't be treated simply by having the patient ingest additional vitamin B12. It is often caused by a digestive problem; Dr. Vetrano states that in the case of deficiency the body has a problem absorbing nutrients from food. Vitamin B12 deficiency, rather than being caused by diet, is often caused by Crohn's disease, celiac disease, and other digestive disorders.
Vegetarians who have heard that they don't get enough protein in their diets and know this myth is untrue can rest assured that vitamin B12 deficiency is a myth as well. Instead, vegans need to concentrate on eating plenty of healthy raw foods, nuts, seeds, grains, vegetables and fruits. The truth is people don't have to eat meat or other animal products to survive and thrive. Vitamin B12 deficiency due to a vegan diet is simply a lie that finally needs to be put to rest.
Cindy Jones-Shoeman is the author of Last Sunset and a Feature Writer for Academic Writing at Suite101. Some of Cindy's interests include environmental issues, vegetarian and sustainable lifestyles, music, and reading.