This post is not about me convincing you, a non vegetarian, to become a vegetarian. This post is addressed to vegetarians or vegans or people who are thinking about becoming one of those. Because it is paramount to be a smart vegetarian. And by a smart vegetarian I mean, take B12 supplementation for Christ’s sake!
By any chance, don’t skip that if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. And don’t believe that you can get B12 by vegan sources cause that is not true at all. Only animal products (and very few of them) are good sources of B12. Only fortified with B12 vegan products can provide B12. Spirulina or algae are not sources. And if you are a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy, be aware that they have little amount of B12 and you will become deficient eventually. Especially (but not only) when you get older. Because as we get older our body will depend even more of the right amount of nutrients to keep going, to keep working properly.
I, by any means, regret becoming a vegetarian. I would do it all again with no hesitation. However if I knew then what I know now, I would have taken B12, the right kind, from day one. Every single day. Because B12 is not only a vitamin from the B family. B12 is one of those vitamins that is essential to basically every process your body goes through. So, you don’t want to become B12 deficient. And if you don’t believe me, just read about Methylation. I will write soon about it, but for now, you can google it, if you want.
Let me tell you my B12 deficiency story, briefly:
I became a vegetarian when I was 16 years old. And I did because I always loved animals and back then for me, it made no sense to eat animals at all. So, one day I decided to become a vegetarian and ever since I have been a vegetarian. Ok, maybe a few years after that I tried sushi and something fish eventually but it was just a few times indeed. Nothing major, nothing that made me want to “unbecome” vegetarian.
When I decided to go vegetarian, even being that young, I read a lot about how to eat in a way that I would get all my nutrients in order to keep my good health. And since I was eating eggs and dairy I thought my B12 would be fine. After all, back then, at least the experts claimed that we had a liver storage that probably would last many years since we needed just a little bit of B12 to function. Hehehehe Knowing what I know now I can only laugh at this whole paragraph. So, by any means don’t register that information, Ok?
But I also learned that if by any chance, from that moment on I started to feel anything different, some health issue I should check my B12 cause it would be probably its fault. And even knowing that, when my health started to have some bugs, I did not check my B12. And I didn’t because in the beginning it never crossed my mind. Because the first symptoms in my view was related to Perimenopause. I was around my 36s. And I even went to my gynaecologist letting him know my concerns and all. He never ever told me about Perimenopause. And all I knew back then, by researching, was that a few years before you reach Menopause your period starts to get funny. That is why I was worried. I only heard about Perimenopause a few years ago, around my 43s, when I was reaching Menopause. And in my doctor’s view, I was way too far from Menopause to think my symptoms were due to it. In my mid 30s and in my early 40s. Not kidding. For him, I was perfectly normal.
But I wasn’t. At least not my normal. And that is why I kept on wondering and looking for some information. Worried all the way through.
In the beginning everything was kind of light. I am talking about my symptoms here. I started having problems with my period that up to that moment had been spot on. I also had some sleeping issues… Now I could credit to it, some other things like anger issues or my unwillingness to be a social being. But back then I had no idea I could. And to be honest, since everything was sporadically and light and they were not bugging me that much I was just monitoring it. Then, around my 40s, it hit me. Big time. I had a lot of little things going on but the major one for me was feeling really sick, like I had an infection (but I didn’t) or as if I was intoxicated (I wasn’t). And everything got worse after I took some courses of antibiotics. I had so many symptoms added to my shy list that me, a person who was used to never getting sick, not even having a mild headache or a cold, no PMS issues, had no idea how to deal with all of this.
And besides that, one of those symptoms or side effects were my inability to think properly, to absorb information. And yes, my memory was terrible as well. Even a fog brain I had. And all those things cloud your judgement, your ability to think and find answers. Of course that those things made my journey a lot harder. Cause to my surprise, when I really needed a doctor to guide me through cause I could not function properly mentally, I found none.
But thank God for internet. Bit by bit I was putting together more and more information about my condition. I found a great forum (Phoenix Rising) with lots of amazing insights and learned most of things I needed to, to put myself back on track. It took me years to get it right, to see the results, to Methylate properly again. But here I am, feeling myself again, almost there and just one certainty: B12 defieciency is a major bitch. So, don’t mess up with it.
Up to this moment I have no idea if my health set back was all caused by my B12 deficiency only or if it was a mixed of B12 deficiency and Perimenopause/Menpause. And yes, all the symptoms I had I could credit on its own to B12 deficiency. Because every Perimenopause symptom is a B12 deficiency symptom as well. All I know for sure is that everything I put back on the right track I did because I was working very hard to undo all the side effects of my B12 deficiency, to restore my Methylation cycle.
Maybe I should write a post telling my B12/Perimenopause saga so I can go deeper on that. I will do it soon.
By the way, as a vegetarian I never had any iron problem whatsoever. Just when my period went crazy and I bled for 3 weeks straight (being one of those weeks with a really really heavy flow) during Perimenopause that my ferritin (the iron storage in our body system) dropped for the very first time. Other than that, never was a big issue for me.
And again, be a vegetarian, but a smart vegetarian. Get your information right. Consult a good doctor. Your good health depends on it.