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A ‘must-read’ for Vegan Skydivers…

I started skydiving in 2016. I made a tandem jump in New Zealand, just a tick on the bucket list… however I realized I wanted to do it myself and completed the AFF course right after.

Then became completely addicted, found an FS 4-way team ‘Elevate’ and started having a lot of fun participating in Big-ways. I had found my sport! I was truly happy.

Barbara joining a 37-way over Perris during P3 bigway camp, 2019


In May 2019 disaster struck. After 3 days of jumping from 16,000 ft in Perris at the P3 Big Way Camp, my facial nerve bothered me. The left upper part of my face felt numb. At first, I thought it was due to the altitude jumps, as I had the same problems jumping at my home DZ of Teuge from 15,000 feet. I had to stop jumping early that day. I could feel it getting worse each time climbing above 12,000ft. In the course of time I also got problems starting from 9,000 feet. I was really in a panic – would this be the end of my skydiving career? Just now that I tasted the real thing… big-ways, FS4 team…

I checked everywhere with big-way organizers, neurologists, the Center for People and Aviation… No-one was familiar with my affliction. According to the doctor I just had to stop skydiving for a while. That was NOT an option!

I started to reflect about what had changed compared to last year, so that I was now suffering?

Barbara’s team Elevate during Dutch Nationals, 2019


It appeared to be my diet. I had started eating vegan since the beginning of 2019. For me that meant a very small diet change; only cutting out fish, eggs and cheese. I already ate very little meat. As a real gourmet, I took into account all the known pitfalls; to ensure that you get all the basic nutrients and vitamins? So, I took my vitamin B12 daily and thought I was doing well. 

But, when I looked into it, my vitamin B12 level turned out to be on the low side, but just above the lower limit for the Netherlands.

At the beginning of June, I started a ‘Power Boost Vitamin B12’ and after just 6 weeks I noticed the difference. I no longer suffered from my facial nerve issue!! Other vague complaints such as cramp in my hamstrings during indoor skydiving disappeared completely! The damage comes on slowly and you think, ‘I have to work out more, I am getting old…’ ☹ No! Who would think a simple vitamin could make such a huge difference? I now know that vitamin B12 is very important for the nerve system and oxygen transport in the blood. 

I can now jump again without any trouble ☺  !!! Happy. 🙂  I participated in the Dutch 4-way Nationals, the Euro Big Way Camp at Hibaldstow and of course the Shark Boogie at the end of September!!

Barbara was on this successful 40-way during Euro BWC at Hibaldstow
Photo by Sam Bemment

The moral of the story 

If you are a vegan skydiver or intending to be, take B12 vitamins and boost them if you have any health problems at all. 


“An egg a day keeps the doctor away” 😉

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Meet: Barbara Poetsma

Barbara is 44 years old and she started skydiving in 2016. She made a tandemjump in New Zealand, just a tick on the bucket list.... She fell in love with skydiving and completed the AFF course right away. Then became completely addicted and she is now part of FS 4 team Elevate and also
participating in Big Ways.

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