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For most vegetarians and vegans, getting enough of the nutrients that are commonly found in animal products – including protein, iron, and vitamin B12 – can be a struggle.

For example, vitamin B12 is made by organisms living in water, soil, and the digestive tracts of animals. Thus, people who do not eat meat can have a hard time getting this nutrient from diet alone.

Since B12 is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, nervous system, and blood cell creation, a deficiency can cause serious health complications. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are linked to anemia, heart and nervous system problems, and a higher risk for dementia.

A New Vegan Friendly Toothpaste

Happily, a new product is on the market that is sure to make vegetarians and vegans smile: vitamin B12 toothpaste.

Each gram of fortified toothpaste contains roughly 100 micrograms of vitamin B12. A thorough brushing provides on average 1.8 micrograms of B12. It is recommended that adults get 2.4 micrograms of this vitamin a day, so brushing twice daily is more than sufficient for preventing a deficiency of vitamin B12.

Where’s The Proof?

A study was recently conducted by the German Vegetarian Society to investigate the benefits of this toothpaste. 127 people with plant-based diets, ages 18 to 64, participated in this study. The experiment lasted for five weeks, during which participants were not allowed to take supplements or eat foods fortified with vitamins B12, B6, or folic acid.

Half of the group was given vitamin B12 toothpaste, the other half was given a placebo. Blood tests taken before and after the study revealed that the group using vitamin B12 toothpaste had a large increase in the amount of vitamin B12. The placebo group reported a marked decrease in levels of B12 in the body.

A Larger Population Can Benefit Too

However, vegetarians and vegans are not the only people who could benefit from better ways of obtaining vitamin B12. The elderly and people who have difficulties absorbing nutrients in the small intestine may also want to consider alternative ways of getting enough of this necessary nutrient.

Should I Use This Toothpaste?

This new brand of toothpaste is definitely exciting. While the benefits to vitamin levels are obvious, there are a few things that are less clear. For example, does this toothpaste offer the same level of cavity protection? Does it help whiten teeth too? Or are the nutritional benefits the only ones available?

Before making any major adjustments to your oral care, it is wise to discuss the changes with your dentist first.

The Best Supplement Method?

Your dentist isn’t the only person you should talk to. If you are considering switching from traditional supplement methods to this toothpaste, you’ll want to discuss the idea with your general physician too.

Severe deficiencies might not be treated with the toothpaste—you might need a higher dose. In these cases, you’ll want to stick with your prescribed vitamin B12 shots.

Vitamin B12 shots are also necessary for people with pernicious anemia. Again, the vitamin B12 found in the toothpaste won’t be enough.

Lastly, vitamin B12 shots are the only form of supplementation that deliver the nutrient directly into the bloodstream, thus ensuring the full dose is utilized. With toothpaste, the vast majority isn’t absorbed by the body. If a person doesn’t put much toothpaste on their bush, they’ll receive even less. Plus, skipping a brushing means skipping out on much needed nutrients. A vitamin B12 shot ensures all the essential nutrient is absorbed and used.

It is important that people who are at risk for a deficiency take steps to get adequate nutrition for optimal health. Shots may be preferred by some because they are quick and easy, though B12 toothpaste may be preferred by others because everyone brushes their teeth anyway.

At the very least, using this toothpaste achieves two objectives: getting enough nutrition and having a cleaner, healthier smile.