Vegan Diet - b12

i am a fourteen year old girl who has been looking to veganism these past 3 weeks and am very fascinated by it. I've been taking b12 1000mcg supplements daily, after breakfast, and has been trying to eat with nutrition in mind. However, i think i have jumped in too quickly. I am noticing slight tingles on my feet, legs and hands, and this is concerning me. Am in a b12 deficiency? I have been taking the supplement daily.
Thank you for your help :)


  • Veganism is inherently risky, and in my opinion needlessly reckless. Especially for young people like yourself. What is your motivation for veganism? Short of a staunch unwillingness to eat animals that isn't grounded in logic, there are likely better paths to your goals that wouldn't leave you with a vegan diet. For example, oysters don't feel pain and would probably be a more nutritionally robust source of many things either missing or harder to obtain on a vegan diet.

    If the tingling started when you began a vegan diet, I'd take that as an indication that the current dietary pattern is probably insufficient. It could be anything from deficiencies in thiamine to biotin to B12. It would take some experimentation to find out, and you're already supplementing with B12. But neurological problems aren't something to play with. I suggest going back to the dietary pattern you were following before until you can ascertain precisely what's causing this issue. The vast majority of vegans supplement B12, yet statistically around 90% of vegans remain B12 deficient. This suggests that there is far more to B12 absorption and assimilation than merely eating enough B12 or secreting enough intrinsic factor. Who knows, but since it's a phenomenon pretty much unique to vegan diets, it's not unfair to assume that reintroducing meat could correct it.

  • My advice is to take it day by day and do a gradual change instead of all at once. You're young and your body is growing, which means you shouldn't take risks with developing deficiencies of any kind. And by switching out only a few ingredients at a time you'll be able to find your comfort zone, which decreases the risk of failure in the long run.

    If you want to gradually transition to a plant based diet you don't need to reintroduce meat, you could just start out by following a lacto ovo vegetarian diet or a pescetarian diet, and exclude one thing at a time until you find what works for you.

    Finding a replacement for one ingredient at a time is much easier than doing it all at once.

    Good luck!

  • edited October 2018

    Hi all,
    thank you for responding and answering to my query.
    I have reintroduced meat into my diet, and although it has not made any differences. It is just tiny pieces of either chicken, beef or salmon every dinner this past week; yet i have a little to few tingly feelings on my feet and legs.
    thank you all for your recommendations and will keep it in mind. if it continues, i will unfortunately stop my switch and continue to become an omnivore.
    Thank you once again!

  • @seilim

    I'd be curious to know how you'd feel after eating around 100g of liver.

  • @Susan_RD_101, you state above that, "Research shows that a vegan diet is healthy and safe for all individuals of the life cycle", references please.

  • It's an appeal to authority. The statement comes from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. There is a reference paper on PubMed from the AND that discusses this point, and that particular statement links to a citation that essentially reads like a supplementation strategy guide that discusses all of the pitfalls of veganism, haha. So, it's a bit of an oversimplification.

  • Couldn't tingling sensations be due to other causes, such as mineral deficiencies or nutrients other than B12?

  • Oh yeah. The exact symptom is called peripheral neuropathy, and lacking almost any of the B-vitamins can cause it. Either acutely or chronically. But the prime suspect more often than not is B12.

  • @DonnaLH

    No problem! Please see the position statement from the US Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2016). The position statement is in the top left hand corner but you can also read the entire article for free. files/practice/position and practice papers/position papers/vegetarian-diet.ashx

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • edited October 2018

    wouldn't 100g's of some liver kill you from vitamin a toxicity?

    just saying it's a bad idea to gorge yourself on liver because as far as i know, retinol is very toxic...

    I am an amateur. I've been using CRON-O-Meter for 10 years and counting, still learning.....

  • You're not going to kill yourself eating 100g of liver. At baseline, retinol toxicity is typically, like, 10,000 IU or above consumed daily, sustained over months or years. In most cases toxicity is seen in sustained doses over 160,000 IU daily. Eating 100g of liver gives you one shot of 31,000 IU. From the kinetics data I've seen, that should be enough retinol for a couple weeks or so. The literature overwhelmingly suggests eating 100g of liver once is perfectly safe. I've been eating 100g of liver per week on top of taking 3000 IU of retinol from cod liver oil every day for a loooong time. If that is toxic, it's certainly not toxic enough to cause sudden death, haha.

    But, I'm also taking around 3500 IU of vitamin D per day, and supplementing vitamin D has been shown to greatly increase the median toxicity of retinol. So, vitamin D protects against retinol toxicity, and this is a finding that has been replicated ad nauseam. In one study, vitamin D supplementation increased retinol's toxicity threshold to 320,000 IU per day over the course of months or years. So, I don't think one little chunk of liver is going to do any harm.

  • It seems the original health related experience/question posed by Seilim had already been answered to her satisfaction.

    I note this did not stop others from giving advice, some of which sounds to me like inappropriate encouragement, such as "If you want to be vegan, you don't need to justify your decision to anyone." which is an appeal to youthful rebelliousness and not related to the mature concerns expressed by the 14 year old, and ultimately her better judgement.

  • edited October 2018

    Sorry? i've just heard stories of people dying from eating liver.
    guess it was fiction?

    i'll leave with this:

    i guess i just wanted to add a word of warning, more isn't usually better...

    I am an amateur. I've been using CRON-O-Meter for 10 years and counting, still learning.....

  • Well, your reference is more consistent with what I said than what you said:

    "Chronic toxicity - ingestion of high amounts of preformed vitamin A for months or years - results from daily intakes greater than 25,000 IU for 6 years or longer and more than 100,000 IU for 6 months or longer - are considered toxic."

    A single piece of liver with 31,000 IU is perfectly safe, because the toxic dose is apparently 588x higher than that. The wiki suggests that a similarly high dose of retinol taken daily would take around six years to develop toxicity.

    This is the only reference on PubMed I found of chronic toxicity from liver leading to death:

    This is just the abstract, but in the actual paper they estimated that the children's daily retinol intake was approximately 15,000 IU per day. That's 12.5x higher than the upper tolerable daily dose for children as defined by the Institute of Medicine's DRIs. The most you could take away from this is the advice to not eat liver every day, and almost nobody who recommends liver suggests doing so. I certainly didn't suggest doing so. I suggested giving it a try once.

  • For the record, I also note that the quote offered by the self described "vegan dietician" from her professional organization is rather misleading, as if you bother to read the full statement by the organization you may notice they acknowledge that "a vegan diet" is not well defined, and they list many, many requirements which must be met before said diet could be considered adequate for anyone (let alone a 14 year old).

    I have been a vegan for two extended periods of my life, once at age 14, another ending last month with what I learned about my unmet nutritional targets here on Cronometer. I now regret my lack of knowledge both times. I understand it may be easier for certain ethnic groups, or more specifically populations and individuals with certain DNA profiles, to thrive on a "traditional vegan diet", or for those who may have an evolutionary pedigree which depended on animal products to avoid malnutrition with very careful planning and supplementation, but to say that an undefined vegan diet is healthy for everyone is misleading based on current science.

    For reference see "The Longevity Diet" by Professor Valter Longo who recommends a diet based on the latest science.

  • Just wanted to comment to say that I’m happy to answer questions related to the suitability and/or nutrient risks of a plant-based (or any other diet, for that matter).

    The wonderful thing about being human is that we can thrive and be healthy eating very diverse diets, be it keto, vegan, low-carb, high-carb, Mediterranean, pescatarian, vegetarian, paleo, etc. As long as you are doing your best and feeling great, that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, there is no one right way to eat; each of us is entitled to eat the diet of our choosing.

    But let’s just keep these comments respectful since this is what keeps Cronometer forums such a fun place to hang out! :smiley:

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • I wouldn't recommend doing it too often, but i'm going to eat a whole bucket of coffee ice cream today! and feel great! lol

    I am an amateur. I've been using CRON-O-Meter for 10 years and counting, still learning.....

  • Respect for truth, respect for family... I agree with that.

  • Way back to Waffle's comment about an appeal to authority. It's an appeal to valid/good authority. Using a position paper's statement would only be fallacious if the authority was not knowledgeable or back by research (which it is).

  • High doses of vitamin B-12, such as those used to treat a deficiency, might cause:
    Nausea and vomiting.
    Fatigue or weakness.
    Tingling sensation in hands and feet.

    Vitamin B-12 - Mayo Clinic › art-20363663

    "I've never considered excessive sanity a virtue" Mike Uris, San Antonio Express-News, 2002

  • Thank you comanchesue for answering her question! My prior reading showed that B-12 is stored in the body and that it can take years to develop a deficiency. However, it might be a good idea to check out the research presented by Dr. Greger at

    It's too bad that anti-vegans are allowed to troll vegan posts with their opinions here on Cronometer. I thought this was a vegan-safe place. I've been vegan for years and have no deficiencies. If anything I'm "overnourished." I need to work on staying away from processed foods and focus on "whole foods plant-based" (WFPB).

  • Everyone should be taking Vitamin B12 supplements regularly, not just vegans.

    seilim: If you're not sure what to believe about veganism, you can hedge your bets with a compromise. Eat limited amounts of meat/dairy/eggs/fish. If animal products are as unhealthy as vegans claim, then you limit the damage. If animal products really are essential as other dietary factions claim, then you don't miss out on those nutrients. There's so much polarization among the dietary factions that moderation has become a radical idea.

  • Just to chime in as someone who regularly reviews labs for B12 - I'd say that everyone should have their B12 checked regularly to maintain levels >360 pmol/L. As we age (and with certain medications) there is a loss of B12 absorption so it's more likely that someone will need B12 as they get older.

    Once stores are >700 ish, there isn't a lot of absorption happening, so there's no point in supplementing.

    For day-to-day maintenance, it's preferable to take lower dose B12 (50-100 mcg) unless a deficiency is indicated.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Or you can take the higher dose less frequently. I am taking it 3 times a week. I never had a deficiency. Before I started supplementing I was down to I think 420. I'm assuming that it's higher now.

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