The Hemp Connection + vitamin B12

Are you vegetarian with PCOS? Take note of this important potential deficiency

One of the more frequent searches bringing readers to our blog is"vegetarian" and"fertility"…and"vegetarian" and"pcos". I've also noticed when doing Fertility Friendly Food Tours at Whole Foods, that a disproportionate percentage of women attending these classes, are vegetarian. And, in my individual counseling, it's not uncommon to learn during an assessment that if a client is not currently vegetarian, she was at some point in her life.

So I wasn't surprised to find this study reporting that women with PCOS tend to be deficient in vitamin B12.

I often teach that PCOS is a counterintuitive illness. By that, I mean that what often needs to be done is the opposite of what you might think. In this case, rather than immediately assuming that the most important strategy is to restrict food choices because your appearance suggests overnutrition, it may actually be to add foods back into your diet to correct underlying deficiencies.

This B vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. It is also found in some fortified breakfast cereals, but if you're avoiding carbohydrates as well as trying to be vegetarian, you're likely not getting enough vitamin B12 in your diet.

Some fermented soy products, namely tofu, tempeh, miso, and tamari, may contain vitamin B12, if the bacteria, molds, and fungi used to produce them were vitamin B12 producing. This is a project I'll look into and blog about in a later post.

Finally, some nutritional yeast products also contain vitamin B12. Lucky for you Aussies reading this blog, that means Vegemite and Marmite, made from yeast extracts, can be excellent choices to include in your diet!

It is possible to obtain vitamin B12 by taking a vitamin supplement, but the amount of the vitamin that is actually absorbed through the digestive tract may be very low. For this reason, physicians who note a low vitamin B12 level may recommend an injection, to bypass the digestive tract.

Women over 14 years of age, if not pregnant, should be consuming 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. They should aim for 2.6 mcg per day when pregnant, and 2.6 mcg per day when breastfeeding.

It's clear, if you don't do vegetarian eating in a thoughtful, proactive way, it carries considerable health risks. As you've seen before in this blog, inCYST believes that healthy vegetarian eating is about what you DO choose to eat, more than what you DON'T choose to eat.

It is a good idea, if you're vegetarian, or ever have been, to ask your physician to check your vitamin B12 levels. A low status is easy to correct and that can be part of your strong foundation for managing your PCOS and improving your mood, insulin function, and fertility.

Kaya C, Cengiz SD, Satiro─člu H. Obesity and insulin resistance associated with lower plasma vitamin B12 in PCOS. Reprod Biomed Online. 2009 Nov;19(5):721-6.

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Are you vegetarian with PCOS? Take note of this important potential deficiency + vitamin B12