Vitamin B12 for vegans is one of the nutrients people think won't be sufficiently obtained on a vegan diet. Instead of the other things like protein, iron, calcium and what else some tend to see as problematic, vitamin B12 deficiency in vegans is the only thing that is truly being a problem that you can't overcome with a vegan diet. At least with a tasty diet.. (more below)
So that you not face any problems, I will give you the things you need to know and my experience about the experiment I made with not supplementing with vitamin B12.
Experiment on a Vegan diet without Vitamin B12 Supplementation
Going vegan I made tons of research on this diet form and stumbled across one major issue in a vegan diet. As you already know it was vitamin B12. So having the "paleo way" in my mind I wasn't really into considering supplementation but a way to get the B12 on a natural way.
What I have found about getting the B12 natural (back then) was that if you have a healthy gut flora, your body will absorb a sufficient amount of B12 from your gut. Important to know is that B12 is actually produced in your colon, the only problem is that the colon is not absorbing a sufficient amount into your bloodstream and the B12 is ending up wasted in the toilet.
Other ways I read of getting vitamin B12 are eating dirty vegetables, meaning not washed after harvest, what meant to me the only healthy way doing this is to grow your own food (what I couldn't do). And another would be to drink water from a natural spring. I have a spring near my place and gave that approach a try.
So assuming to have a healthy gut flora, eating organic foods (but cleaned) and drinking my water from a spring I put it to the test. After 2 years I had obvious symptoms I couldn't neglect and did a regular blood test to check my B12 status. It is not the best approach for a B12 test but good enough, if you are really deficient and it turned out that I was deficient.
Vitamin B12 is recycled in your Body
The reason why I could go for two years without having symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency is mainly because vitamin B12 can be reused and therefore your body won't get rid of it so fast.
But after I started to be sleepy throughout the day as well as more forgetful, I did the blood test to check what it could be. Already being very sure it can only be the B12 the tests showed exactly that. The doctor added that he is surprised that my hemoglobin (red blood cell) size is normal as it should usually get bigger. I'm not sure if that has something to do with unknown super powers (probably not).
So my test failed and I can tell everybody not to repeat this experiment because it can end in damaged nerves in your body that can cause an inability for a lifetime, if you don't react quick enough. Another thing I learned is to invest into blood tests instead of just thinking everything is fine.
After taking vitamin B12 supplements for some weeks and recheck myself again on the B12 issue, the results have been alright. But soon after I realized that I could have prevented this from happening. There was another way I could have obtained the vitamin B12 naturally, if I only had thought about it more simple.
Vitamin B 12 can be obtained on a Vegan diet but...
... that's for the hardcore vegans. Like I mentioned before B12 is produced in the colon and then wasted in the toilet. Well, thinking simple would be: "Why waste it?"
If you would eat your poo, you would get a sufficient amount of B12. And that was actually already known in the late 50s when Dr. Sheila Callender treated vegans with low B12 with water extracts from their poo. That is documented on onlinelibrary.wiley.com.
Looking at the animal kingdom you will find animals like our beloved dogs eating poo. The reason behind it is that they are lacking in nutrients (like B12) they can get by reusing their "brownies". This a legitimate and natural way to get B12 even if you are on a vegan diet. You can argue that poo is not vegan but vegetarian and I would't participate in that debate, because I think that time could be better used like in trying to sell one's poo.
Luckily we have science that can produce vitamin B12 in capsule form so you don't need to live a poopy live.
Vitamin B12 should be taken seriously
No matter if you want to take supplements or tend more to poo, which I wouldn't recommend, watch out to keep your vitamin B12 up. Too low levels can also cause depression what can result in obesity as well.
A Vitamin B12 deficiency isn't only a vegan or vegetarian problem. The average Joe can have it too and people with a higher age tend to be deficient as well. Therefore, you should always do yearly check ups on any deficiency to prevent age related diseases.
You can find out about what vitamin B12 supplement you should take here.
Did you have a similar experience like I did or did you even have found a better way nobody knows about getting your vitamin B12? Let me know in the comments.