the hunt for B12

bowl of cornflakesI am realising that I need to be more aware of the vitamin B12 content of my foods. This vitamin is not produced by animals (or plants) even though it is a crucial requirement for cellular metabolism, in particular neural health and red blood cell production. Deficiency or inability to absorb B12 can have both physical and mental health symptoms, including fatigue and breathlessness, depression and memory loss. Non-human animals ingest B12 from bacterially contaminated foodstuffs and cecotrope products (Google that, but be warned it’s a poop thing), they then by proxy become a source of B12 for humans. I find this essential co-dependency of humans and bacteria like an unwritten love story.

Anyway, as far as I can work out the recommended amount of B12 for an adult is 1.5 micrograms per day, more for pregnant women, and older folk. For anyone on a plant-based diet the scientific jury is out on whether it is present in fermented products like miso, seaweeds like nori and teas like kombucha, so fortified foods are key. Foods that are fortified include alternative milks, tofu, and cereals (check labels), so the humble bowl of cornflakes with a good lashing of chilled almond milk can help. The other option is to take a supplement that contains synthetic B12 and it seems that 2mcg a day is about right. The sledgehammer dosage of 1000mcg in many off the shelf products I am assuming is for anyone with a known deficiency and not for general use – after all it is comparable to about 200 glasses of milk or 23kg of cow and that has to be too much of anything in one day.

 

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3 thoughts on “the hunt for B12

  1. Hi! Im new to being vegan, and I found your post really interesting. from what I gather with the b12 is that the 2mcg is the amount that you need to actually absorb, and that you body can often have trouble doing that, hence the 1000mcg. I hope this helped 🙂

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    1. thanks for your comment rosesrandomthoughts, from my limited reading I think that there are probably underlying medical conditions that affect the body’s ability to absorb B12 and that is when higher doses are prescribed. I think that if there are no such medical conditions present, and no apparent symptoms of deficiency then the recommended daily doses are the ones to stick to. I think opinions vary between countries. This is what the NHS in the UK currently say about B12 (and other B vitamins). 🙂

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  2. It is so true that we forget about this vitamin compared to others like calcium and protein. This is very informative of ways to get B12 excellent job. Please keep these posts going because I really enjoy them. Cheers, cyber-veggie.

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