Vitamin B12 Deficiency in Vegans and Vegetarians
Vitamin B12 is possibly the most argued upon topic between vegans and carnivores. You always hear arguments regarding lack of B12 in plant foods (which is true) and that this very important vitamin (which it is) can only be found in animal products (also true…for now…).
B12 which is cobalt/cobalmin used to be found in very mineral rich soil (which we have depleted). It is believed our very first ancestors who were plant eaters and foragers never washed their greens (quite logical) and that is how they got their B12.
Besides the fact that not washing greens is not an option today, our soils are depleted of cobalt and we wouldn’t be eating anything more than pesticide residue. So for this one particular vitamin, supplements are definitely needed. The best form is in lozenge form, melted under the tongue.
It is an absolute essential vitamin for many vital reasons and sadly needs to be taken in supplement form for vegans/vegetarians unless you are eating a perfect* diet in a perfect* environment
Once again, I can’t help but note the irony: we demolish our mineral rich soils with animal farming and chemical sprays (1.1 BILLION pounds of chemicals a year in the U.S. alone, a whopping 95% of which misses its target and pollutes air, soil, and water instead), and then we fault vegans for their diet that lacks cobalt and suggest it must come from animals – not acknowledging the hormones, cholesterol, saturated fat, risks of contamination, and all the other problems that meat brings with it.
B12 doesn’t come from animal meat or their muscle tissue, it comes from the bacteria in their body. The meat isn’t the source, it’s the carrier, and with irradiation increasing due to mad cow disease increasing, B12 will also diminish.
*”perfect” diet in a “perfect” environment means you honestly think there are no toxins of any sort entering your system via food, inhalation, or through skin; this means 100% organic raw food, natural pure spring water, showering in pure clean water, no motor vehicles to force you to breathe gas emissions, all soaps and shampoos are completely natural,…does this sound like your life? LOL
Does it sound like ANYONE’S life? Even people living in the Arctic can’t avoid toxins and the proof of that is the chemicals and cancers found in the whales and fish there.
The reason I am stressing toxins so much is because it is a critical factor in understanding B12.
B12 comes from bacteria. The bacteria grown in animals, bacteria growing on plants, bacteria grown in our body. For the human body to create this bacteria it needs a very clean healthy environment – this is where the toxins come in and disrupt the process. You also need a healthy pancreas to properly absorb these small amounts of B12 your body can create, but if the pancreas is busy reacting to toxins and sugar and other harmful elements…
I could go on forever about my lack of respect for most studies, but I’ll summarize, and let me state outright I disagree with most study arguments from both sides of the fence on this topic.
The meat eaters point to studies, usually a particularly famous one done in India on vegetarians there showing B12 deficiency and terrible health as a result. Um…are we talking about the same country that has the worst water issues in the world? I find it difficult to take these studies seriously considering the people studied have masses of health issues, of which B12 deficiency is only one, due to horrendous water alone, never mind all the other hygiene issues caused by poverty.
The vegans point to a handful of studies done on a handful of vegans showing no deficiency at all. Besides the fact that they didn’t study large populations of people, there’s a good chance they studied vegans, raw foodists, people with extremely pure diets and in one case I know it was people on a retreat camp.
Now I’ll look at my own life, pretty pure, vegan, organic when possible (not always possible), mostly raw, everything from toothpaste to laundry detergent are eco-friendly non-toxic phosphate-free….but – there’s always a but – I travel, shower in hotels with no filter on the water (causing my skin to absorb goodness-knows-what), eat at airports and can’t always find organic, am forced to drink from bottled water sometimes which I know contains rocket fuel half the time, live in an urban city, breathe in fumes…I must have hundreds of toxins in my body at any given time and I take extreme care – imagine the average person?
The only place on earth (or a place with similar conditions) where this is no issue is probably in the Amazon. No kidding. The non-polluted areas that have not been deforested yet (give them time) still have very rich soil and the indigenous people there still eat greens as they pick them, unwashed, leaving all the beautiful rich minerals intact on the plants and into their stomachs.
So my bottom line with B12: unless you live in the Amazon (in which case you can’t be reading this, Bill Gates hasn’t made it that far in) find a good vegan supplement and stop wasting brain cells on figuring out whether you need them or not. You need them. You need them to avoid nerve degeneration, build proteins, for blood formation, normal brain function, and avoiding death. Let’s move on…
Researchers from Tuft’s University in Boston have explored the relationship between low Vitamin B12 status in elderly people with high levels of folate . What they’ve found is that vitamin B12 enzymatic functions are actually worsened as folate status increases in people who are already vitamin B12 deficient.
In previous research, they also found that low vitamin B12 and high folate status is associated with a higher prevalence of cognitive impairment and anemia than other combinations of vitamin b12 and folate.
- Selhub J, Morris MS, Jacques PF. In vitamin B12 deficiency, higher serum folate is associated with increased total homocysteine and methylmalonic acid concentrations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 11;104(50):19995-20000. Epub 2007 Dec 4.