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In response to the question about why vegetarians need Vitamin B12 - Vitamin B12 is required to convert folate to its active form. If this doesn't happen, a person can become anemic with lots of big immature red blood cells. When folate is trapped in its inactive form DNA synthesis slows down also. Besides this important function, Vitamin B12 also maintains the sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers and promotes normal nerve growth. Bone cell activity and metabolism also seem to be dependent on Vitamin B12. Remember that adults need only about 2 micrograms of Vitamin B12 a day, only 2 millionths of a gram. A deficiency of Vitamin B12 causes a creeping paralysis of the nerve and muscles, which begins at the extremities and works inward and up the spine. Early detection and correction are necessary to prevent permanent nerve damage and paralysis. Vegans need to find a reliable source of B12 such as fortified soy milk, meat replacements, or vitamin supplements. People who stop eating foods that contin Vitamin B12 may take up to 20 years to develop deficiencies because the body is very good at recylcling much of its Vitamin B12 by reabsorbing it over and over again. Hope this information is helpful.

Sandi, Dietetic Intern
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