Monday, December 29, 2008

Where's the B-12?


Earlier this year, my 9th year of being a vegetarian, my doctor discovered that I was vitamin B-12 deficient. As a result of this deficiency, my feet (and sometimes hands) tingled constantly. So my doctor recommended that I take a daily B-12 supplement of 1000mcg plus a daily multi-vitamin. A month later, the tingling had nearly stopped and I now only feel it occasionally.

Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in animal products, though dairy contains significantly smaller amounts than meat. B-12 is needed for cell division and proper functioning of the nervous system (this is my tingle problem). You can read more about it here.

Duh! How could I have neglected to do my research?! The truth is, I never planned to be a vegetarian and I just began to embrace it recently. Somewhere between 16 and 17, I unknowingly cut out meat. First, it was beef - due to looking at a McDonald's hamburger. Then, I started to feel sick when I smelled chicken cooking. And eventually, I wasn't interested anymore and didn't miss meat. And so I became a vegetarian by default. I spent a lot of time being apologetic for my diet, and feeling guilty. Some of my family thought it was a phase that they hoped I would outgrow. My grandfather (a Baptist preacher) tried to convince me that it was unnatural and against the Bible. Holy Cow! And I was always told 'just pick out the meat.'

But in the last few years, I figured out how to cook vegetarian meals instead of just eating sides. And living in New York made it so easy for me to fit in. I no longer was told that I had to choose a restaurant where there would be something for me to eat. I could eat anywhere! It was nice that people didn't feel uncomfortable around me and it became a non-issue. And then I moved here.

I ran out of my B-12 supply and haven't been able to find any. The pharmacists are incredibly confused by my request and the closest thing they found was a B-complex vitamin - 30 days supply for 70 pesos. wtf?! I found a defense-complex vitamin at a dietica for around 23 pesos but with a minuscule percentage of my doctor recommended dosage. And so, my tingly feet and I will have to write home to Mom and ask her to send my special vegetarian vitamins for the freakshow that I am.

Of course, I could just eat a lot of eggs and dairy. According to this Wiki article, 10 eggs would provide a daily amount. yummers. I feel a lot of omelets coming on. Please let me know if you have any suggestions (or egg recipes)!

(image from bviae.com)

5 comments:

Gina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gina said...

Yikes, B-12 is super important!! If you need some, I'll send it to you!! Nutritional yeast is also a really good source of B-12.

Its also important to note that meat, dairy and eggs don't intrinsically contain vitamin B12...it is a bacteria. Animals secret B12 the same way the humans secrete B12.

Good luck keeping your B12 levels up :) I'm glad you're aware of it now!

estarbol said...

I came to your blog from "D for Desorientation" and found your recipes quite good. I'll try them out.

About the B12 vitamin, ask in a pharmacy for SL12 http://www.labdominguez.com.ar/sl_b12.php

Keep the recipes coming!

Juan Pablo.

meag said...

awesome...thank you so much for the info Juan Pablo!

estarbol said...

You're welcome. One tiny detail though. The correct name of the vitamin is "SL B12". Sorry for the confusion.