To Supplement Or Not To Supplement?

Today I received a call from my doctor’s office. I went for my physical last week (have you had yours this year?!) and it turns out my vitamin B-12 is low! This is the first time it’s ever been low!


vitamins.jpg (Source)


But the more I thought about it the more it makes sense. One of my goals for 2010 was to decrease the amount of fake meats I eat because they’re still a processed food and I’m trying not to rely solely on soy for my protein (as we all know, too much of anything isn’t good for us). Unfortunately, most fake meats are fortified up the yingyang including a whackload of vitamin B-12 so it makes sense that it’s a little on the low side.


So this begs the question. Do I supplement?


I’m not a person to take supplemental vitamins and minerals with the exception of calcium (as a woman, vegetarian with limited dairy intake and as an athlete, I just have to). I do my best to get my vitamins and minerals through a varied diet. I try not to eat the same thing all the time for that very reason. However, I also can’t deny the fact that B-12 is incredibly important (see here for a great article) and I also can’t deny the fact that B-12 is mostly naturally found in animal products. If it is my choice to live my life the way I do, I can’t afford to ignore it’s importance in my diet.



vitamin-b12-source-picture.jpg (Source)


Vitamin B-12 is found in natural foods such as tempeh, sea vegetables and some nutritional yeasts. However, some research suggests that this form of B-12 is actually inactive in the human body and may actually block the the effects of active B-12 in the body so most doctors err on the side of caution for non-meat eaters and suggest supplementation.

So do I go back to eating my fortified fake meat? Up my dairy content? Drink loads of fortified soy milk and/or fortified cereal (which could arguably also be seen as a processed food)? What about vitamin shakes? Or do I just take a supplement?


Of course, I’m not doing anything until I go see my doctor on Tuesday. It could turn out to be nothing!


To be continued…


Do you take vitamin or mineral supplements? Why or why not?



P.S. Check it out! I’m featured this month on Evolving Wellness!

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29 Comments

  • At 2010.12.02 08:11, Mark Smith said:

    Multi-vitamin and fish oil for me. I also take other supplements like Creatine and an EAA complex. The multi for me is just to make sure I get everything I need as my diet is far from perfect. Fish oil has plenty of benefits.

    • At 2010.12.02 08:17, Anne said:

      Hey! One thing that you didn’t mention is eggs… according to that image, you could get at least some B12 from them… Like dairy, I try to keep my consumption of eggs to a minimum, but it may be a good, wholesome alternative (especially since there are so many nutrients in eggs).

      If you are mostly trying to eat vegan, then maybe you should go to a health food store and ask about natural supplements that are absorbed properly. A naturopath could certainly help you out on this one!

      • At 2010.12.03 11:49, Therese said:

        Yeah, I’m not a huge egg fan either. I only really like my eggs in three forms: 1. Omelette form, 2. Bread form, and 3. Pastry form.

        But I would be willing to at least make sure I had a whole egg once a week if it’ll help.

      • At 2010.12.02 08:43, Erikka said:

        I take a prenatal vitamin because I’m nursing so I’m sharing my vitamins with someone else. lol I really should be taking a cal mag too.. I don’t drink milk at all. I barely eat dairy products really.
        As for B-12… Isn’t that a vitamen that is best injected if you need to supplement? I could be wrong on that but I thought it was B-12.

        • At 2010.12.03 11:50, Therese said:

          You don’t necessarily need a shot for B-12, I think it depends on the deficiency level though. And I ain’t gettin’ a shot! It’s not covered!

        • At 2010.12.02 09:44, Hayley said:

          I recommend trying Vitamin Code raw whole food vitamins. They have B12, and they also have a regular multi, D3, etc. The multi has all the B12 you need, plus lots of other essential nutrients. That is the one I take. Anyway, I really think these are the best supplements because the nutrients come from real food, which makes them easier to absorb. For the record, I do not work for the company and I’m not a nutrition professional (yet!), just sharing something that has worked well for me :)

          • At 2010.12.03 11:50, Therese said:

            I’ve never heard of that brand! I’ll have to see if it’s available in Canada! Thanks for sharing!

          • At 2010.12.02 10:25, Amanda said:

            Would you believe that I have never in my entire life had a physical? (Hangs head in shame …)

            I do take a few supplements, though. A multivitamin, calcium and iron (but only because I’m anemic right now – it’s not a normal part of my routine). I used to take a ton more but I’ve cut it down because I’m not entirely sure that what I was taking was necessary.

            • At 2010.12.02 12:31, Robyn @ Frugal 'n' Fit! said:

              I take a prenatal vitamin and fish oil (so I’m not really a vegetarian – gasp!!! But it’s so that my baby is a smarty pants, so I make the exception lol).

              A couple of years ago my doctor noted my B12 was low so recommended a certain brand of vitamin supplement only available at a natural health foods store. Hopefully your doctor will give you a few different suggestions for upping your B12 and you can choose the best that suits you.

              It is tough being a vegan/vegetarian, eh? You are just trying to do right by the world and your body, but getting all the vitamins is tough. Good for you for taking care of yourself, though!

              • At 2010.12.02 15:47, Haley said:

                I do supplement, mostly just because I can’t find the room in my diet for some things (without going way over my daily caloric intake). I try to keep up with my nutrients, my fiber, my protein… ya know?

                I only have a few supplements, though:
                1) iron – because I got to be borderline anemic and it was doctor’s orders if I wanted to stay a pescatarian
                2) B complex – because it honestly gives me more energy
                3) 1/2 a multi in the morning – because who REALLY needs 4000% DV of vitamin C, anyway?!
                4) protein – because I just don’t get enough of it and don’t want to eat meat.

                Good luck on finding your perfect balance!

                • At 2010.12.03 11:53, Therese said:

                  It’s funny because the last time I went in for my physical I told my doctor that I felt tired a lot and he mentioned that it “could” be vitamin B related but didn’t bother to do anything about it. Now I’m thinking that it may relate, especially if I have a B-12 deficiency (although I didn’t at that last physical). Hmm…

                • At 2010.12.06 21:23, Simply Life said:

                  Great topic/question – I always wonder if I’m getting enough of all the nutrients I need so I usually take a multivitamin for main things like Vitamin D, Calcium and Iorn

                  • At 2010.12.12 01:27, vegantickles said:

                    I wouldn’t worry about taking a b12 supplement. it’s so important and you don’t really get enough from fortified food.

                    • At 2010.12.16 13:05, Lynne said:

                      I take a B-12 supplement from time to time. It seems to help with my S.A.D during the winter months. I’m not a nutritional expert by any means but I would say it wouldn’t hurt to supplement if it turns out you need it. As you point out it would seem vitamin B-12 can only be readily absorbed from an animal protein so if you’re not eating much of that then you need it from somewhere. This is why my attempts at vegitarianism don’t pan out…..the spirit is willing but the body seems to desperately need nutrients from animal protein!

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