Those of you who follow Truthology know that I have recently adopted more of a plant-based diet. What you may not know, however, is that I have considered switching to a strictly vegan diet on my 40th birthday, which occurs one month from today.
Meanwhile, over the past few months, I have been experiencing a variety of unique symptoms that are interfering with my quality of life. Symptoms have all been mild and transient, but have included headache, dizziness, fatigue and sleep disturbances.
I could have easily passed all of these off as stress-related symptoms – and I’m not denying that stress probably has a lot to do with them – but after having done some extensive research on the mix of symptoms I was experiencing, I came to the conclusion that I was suffering from a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Since all of the symptoms I described above are consistent with a B12 deficiency, I asked my doctor to write me a lab order to have my blood drawn. The very next day, I found out that I was in fact below the normal range for Vitamin B12.
I immediately began to question my dietary principles. Did leaning towards a vegan diet over the past several months back myself into a corner? Well I never “got the memo,” but have since discovered that many people on plant-based diets (i.e. vegetarians and vegans) are susceptible to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. This is because, unlike other vitamins, B12 is only naturally found in animal-based foods. Vitamin B12 is also, coincidentally, thought to be closely associated with energy and stress.
Therefore, my hypothesis on the situation is best described as follows:
– Think of Vitamin B12 in your system as your “energy fuel tank”
– Everyday stress can gradually deplete your stores of Vitamin B12
– Avoiding animal-based foods will not properly restore your fuel tank
– Sooner or later, your tank will be empty*
– Symptoms ensue
*It is important to note that excess Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and is excreted slowly, so it may take months or years for someone to notice a deficiency. This may help explain why some vegetarians/vegans eventually revert to a more conventional diet after suffering from energy-related issues.
Thankfully, I am now supplementing with B12 injections and my symptoms have greatly subsided as a result.
So now the decision becomes…..what to do on November 20th? I have a great deal of respect for vegan philosophy – and while I feel that animal agriculture (particularly the CAFO variety) is becoming increasingly detrimental and by no means sustainable – it is impossible for me to accept the notion that I must rely on a Vitamin B12 supplement to deliver the nutrition that my body needs. My plan for now is to stick with a mixture of plant and animal based whole foods, organic and sustainable wherever possible. The answer: Omnivore at 40.