All about Vitamin B12


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From the desk of Dr Nandita Shah

More and more people want to live and eat healthy these days. Fueling our bodies with the highest quality of food raises our immunity and makes us almost disease proof. After switching to a high quality plant based diet, few crave the animal products that they thought they would miss. Yet I have some heard people who had switched to vegan say, “I felt great as a vegan and my health improved. But after a few years I found myself craving meat and when I started eating it again, it was as if I was on super vitamins”. This and similar statements are common in those who do not check and supplement their vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can have so many symptoms. I know some doctors who do not even prescribe medicines and start their patients on vitamin B12 injections. After these, they often find that their prescriptions are not needed! In the times we live in, getting B12 through natural sources is a challenge. Unfortunately, we must to resort to substitutes such as shots or supplements. Never forget to periodically check your vitamin B12 levels. It’s best to take regular doses and keep the levels in a normal range rather than replenish in spurts when levels fall too low.

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If you are looking for the best health holiday of your lifetime, then don’t miss checking out our 21 Day Health Retreat at SwaSwara this year. These 21 days are an investment to your well-being as you pause and reset yourself mindfully. The early bird ends 31st March. For details, please click


The Vitamin B12 supplements came to my rescue!

SHARAN Dubai co-ordinator Ram Prasad was suffering from a frozen shoulder for months. He did all the possible treatments but nothing worked. One email to Dr Nandita and he found his cure!

Some lessons are learnt the hard way. But it does not have to be for you! I was elated after my first SHARAN seminar and I stopped dairy immediately. It took some time to go oil-free and then organic. I felt, now everything should be okay. Little did I realise, there is still something I overlooked!

I started getting minor pain in the shoulder. Initially, I brushed it off and neglected it for a few weeks. One morning, I just couldn’t move my hand and I was in intense pain. I rushed to an Ayurveda doctor. It turned out to be ‘Frozen shoulder’. The joint movement was stuck. The doctor said that It might take several months to get well. The pain intensified after massage. I then rushed to a chiropractor. It didn’t help either. Finally I wrote an email to Dr. Nandita asking for advice. I was asked to get my Vit B12 & Vit D checked immediately. The results were at an alarmingly low level! Dr. Nandita advised to supplement quickly with injections and tablets. In two days, I got major relief. In a week, I was almost normal!

Though Vit B and Vit D were in the 5-point SHARAN system, I neglected it until it turned into an emergency!

I have been enjoying greater health since then.

Red Rice Idli or Dosa 

These pretty pink idlis and dosas that are made with whole ingredients are tasty, filling and healthy. Once you get hooked to these, the white ones will lose their appeal.


  • 4 cups unpolished red rice
  • 1 cup whole (black) urad dal
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • salt to taste


Separately soak the red rice and the urad dal for 6-8 hours. Soak one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds either with the rice or dal.

Grind the soaked rice in the blender (or idli grinder) till you get a slightly coarse (but almost smooth) paste. Pour into a large bowl.

Grind the soaked urad dal in the blender till very smooth and mix with the rice paste.

Allow this mixture to ferment for 8-12 hours depending on the room temperature. In summer days, eight hours is sufficient, but on cooler days it takes longer. You can smell the sourness to tell whether the batter is sufficiently fermented.

Add salt to taste and pour into an idli steamer to make idlis.

To make dosas, add water to match the consistency of a typical dosa batter (somewhat similar to pancake batter).


Dosas can be made on a thick iron dosa tawa without oil by rubbing it with a chopped potato or onion before pouring the batter. Placing a lid over the dosa will create steam to help lift the dosa once ready. If all else fails, put a drop of oil on the tawa. Spray water over it to scatter the oil. Make your first dosa but do not consume it. The next few dosas will be easy to make without oil.

Variation for Dosas

An equal volume or less of finely grated lauki (dudhi) or pumpkin can be mixed with the batter along with a dash of ginger chili paste. This makes tasty, slightly thicker dosas that are a big hit with children and a good way to feed them the vegetables they don’t normally care for.

Serve with sambhar and coconut chutney

Serves 8-10

Fermented foods have good bacteria and our Indian meals automatically include a variety of fermented foods. Plant based yoghurts are fermented, so is cashew cheese. Dhoklas are fermented, so are baked vadas. Idlis and dosas though, feature high on the list as top favourites. All we do at SHARAN is to take a step further by using whole ingredients. In short, no white rice and no white urad dal in the whole plant based diet!

Food for the mind


If you love Facebook, then join us to be supported on your plant based journey. Since 1 January, 2016, we have been offering three possibilities

1. SHARAN India This is SHARAN’s main Facebook page which you can like and follow for getting useful daily updates and news from the plant based health world. You will also get news about the latest SHARAN events, see testimonials, and more.

2. SHARAN’s Vegan Support Group This is an open support group to know more about vegan/plant-based lifestyle. Here you can ask questions and share inspiring stories, tips, recipes, etc.

3. SHARAN’s Plant Powered Health This is the new group only for the past attendees of SHARAN’s events: seminars, cooking classes, retreats or longer programs.

All our doctors and presenters will be here to answer your questions and give you tips. If you have attended our events join this group to be a part of our family.

Please like the main SHARAN page and join the group(s) applicable to you.

Vitamin B-12 – The Power House

Most of us need to be concerned about vitamin B12. Also called ‘Cobalamin’, this soluble vitamin has a key role in the normal functioning of our brain and the nervous system, as well as the formation of red blood cells.

Neither fungi, nor plants or animals are capable of producing vitamin B12. Only bacteria can manufacture this vitamin, as only bacteria have the enzymes needed for its synthesis.

Meat and dairy products contain bacteria as they are decaying substances. However, prolonged consumption of meat and dairy can result in the inability to absorb vitamin B12 by the intrinsic cells in the stomach. Our super hygienic lifestyles, microwaves, mobile phones and their towers, and the consumption of alcohol further reduce our B12 levels. These days almost everyone is prone to vitamin B12 deficiency unless foods fortified with this vitamin are regularly consumed.

Given the fact that lack of vitamin B12 leads to multiple problems, including stroke and heart attack, it’s essential for everyone to test their levels regularly and to supplement if necessary. For more detailed information, click

Six symptoms to indicate Vitamin B12 deficiency:…

1. Weakness, tiredness or lack of energy

2. Anaemia

3. Acidity & weight loss

4. Nerve problems like numbness or tingling, muscle weakness and problems in walking

5. Vision loss

6. Mental problems like depression, memory loss or behavioural changes, anxiety, irritability

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This newsletter was compiled by SHARAN Head of Mumbai, Reyna K Rupani, She facilitates the Six Weeks to Health & Weight Loss program and also conducts health talks for schools, groups, corporates and more.

Edited by Vasanti Sundaram, Bangalore who has also benefitted from the SHARAN programmes, and now spreads awareness of the benefits of plant based lifestyle through her talks.

Sanctuary for Health and Re-connection to Animals and Nature (SHARAN) is a non-profit organisation with the goal of spreading awareness about holistic health and an ecologically sustainable compassionate lifestyle.

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