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Do You Need a Vitamin B12 Supplement?

If you are like me and eat a whole food plant-based diet, you need to be taking daily vitamin B12 supplements. What form? How much? The answers to these questions are contained in the video by Michael Greger, MD - link provided below. His website,

is a great research-based resource for all your dietary questions.

Here are some highlights of that video.

"Compared to non-vegetarians, those removing meat from their diets tend to have healthier body weights, cholesterol, blood sugars, and blood pressures, with a lower mortality rate due to ischemic heart disease, the #1 killer of men and women. However, underestimating the importance of correct supplementation of vitamin B12 can nullify these benefits. Currently, the official position of associations and governmental agencies is categorical and unequivocal: in the case of a vegetarian diet, even if you eat eggs and dairy—and, in fact, I would extend that to flexitarians eating a few servings of meat a week—supplementation of vitamin B12 is required.

Now, it’s not just those eating plant-based that should be concerned about getting enough B12. About one in three nonvegetarians aren’t getting enough for optimal health, and that may exceed half in women, especially when they’re pregnant. But this number could run as high as nearly 9 out of 10 among those eating strictly plant-based, and 10 out of 10 doing it long-term.

There are three groups of people who should ensure they have a regular, reliable source of vitamin B12 by supplementing their diet with vitamin B12-fortified foods or B12 supplements: those who’ve had bariatric surgery (which can sometimes impair absorption), those eating plant-based diets, and the more than a hundred million Americans older than age 50.

At age 50, everyone should start supplementing with B12-fortified foods or supplements regardless of the type of diet they follow. Over age 65, only high-dose daily supplements may suffice. For prevention and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency, cyanocobalamin in chewable, sublingual, or liquid forms (rather than in a multivitamin) is best under most circumstances."

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