Vitamin B12 and the Case For (and Against) a Plant-Based Diet

The other day, Jeff D. asked some great questions in the comments section of my post 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Vegan:

What are your thoughts concerning the inability to get B12 naturally on a vegan diet? It’s necessary for the body but a vegan diet only seems to get B12 through fortified foods and supplements.

Also, what about grains? It seems that a vegan diet relies on a lot of grains (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.). Recent research and acknowledgement of our anthropological history point to the idea that our bodies were not meant to process grains (especially gluten-based ones).

Grains are a topic for another post (check out The Paleo Diet Debunked?, by my friend Steve — a Paleo proponent but whose view on grains is almost identical to mine).

Right now, let’s stick to the B12 question; it’s a common one. Often, it takes a more argumentative and challenging tone, like this:

If we were really meant to be vegan, then why would we need to supplement with B12?

There’s little doubt about the presupposition: a vegan diet, without supplementation or fortification, is deficient in vitamin B12. Some will argue that you can get B12 from chlorella or “dirty produce,” and that before modern agricultural practices there was more B12 in the soil, but that’s not the discussion I want to have here.

My assumption in this post is that you can’t get B12, in the necessary amount, from a vegan diet unless you supplement or eat fortified foods. So …

How can one say we’re meant to be vegan?

My answer to this question often surprises the person asking me, and it might surprise you, too: I don’t think we’re “meant” to be vegan.

If there’s anything we’re meant to do, from an evolutionary perspective, it’s “reach reproductive age and have kids that do the same.” On whatever diet our environment affords us.

And, you must admit, our bodies are pretty remarkable in their ability to do this — to survive, and often thrive, on a huge range of diets.

Just look at how many people eat the Standard American Diet — it’s called “standard” for a reason. Anyone who thinks about their food agrees that the SAD is horrible, yet most people who eat that way don’t have any problem living long enough to have kids and to care for those kids until they’re old enough to care for themselves.

Less extreme: look at pro athletes, and what a vast range of diets they have. Whether in endurance sports, mainstream sports, Olympic sports, or combat sports, you can find someone on top of the world eating whichever diet you’re searching for. Paleo, vegan, fruitarian, fast food … you name it, someone (in a relatively small pool of elite athletes) is doing it.

The criteria for deciding which diet is best

So meant is a confusing term. Is the diet that maximizes longevity the one we’re “meant” to eat? Or is it the one, say, that makes us perform the best in sports, or the one that gives us six-pack abs?

Most of us aren’t pro athletes or even serious athletes. We do the sports we do in order to enrich our lives, but that’s it. And abs, well, we know you can have those for three easy payments of $19.99, and they’ll even throw in some Mighty Putty. So we’ll leave that be.

For me, and I suspect most other people, longevity is what we’re after.

Let’s look at the question from that perspective: What populations of people live the longest, and what do they eat?

Dr. Joel Fuhrman devotes a small section in his excellent book Super Immunity to this question. And his answer is:

The longest-lived societies in history — such as the Hunzas in central Asia, the Abkhazians in southern Russia, the Vilcambans in the Andes of South America, and the Okinawans in Japan — all ate very little animal products but were not completely vegan. As we drift considerably up from the occasional use of animal products, to include animal products in significant amounts, we see evidence that more heart disease and most cancers become more prevalent.

Of course, the source Fuhrman cites for this last assertion is T. Colin Campbell’s famous China study (not the book but the study itself), one that has drawn criticism, like many longevity studies, for mistaking correlation for causality. (Namely: people who choose plant-based diets tend already to make healthier choices, making it tougher to determine whether it’s the diet or their healthy lifestyle in general that is responsible for their longevity.)

But Fuhrman later describes the Adventist Health Studies, which were designed so as not to make this causation/correlation mistake. The population studied, the Seventh Day Adventists, is almost completely free of alcohol and tobacco use and lives a nearly uniformly healthy lifestyle, with one exception: half are vegetarian, and half eat small amounts of meat.

As it turns out, the study found that the vegetarians lived longer than those who ate small amounts of meat, but other factors like whether or not someone ate nuts and seeds actually had a larger effect on longevity than whether that person was vegetarian or near-vegetarian.

But back to B12 …

So if the healthiest populations in history have mainly eaten diets that include a small but (importantly!) nonzero amount of meat, what does that tell us?

To me, it says our bodies our great at thriving on plants, but there’s something in animal products that we need and can’t get elsewhere without supplementing. And that something is what we know as B12.

So the question remains:

If B12 is the only reason we used to need meat, and we can now supplement with B12 and avoid meat entirely, do we maximize health by doing so?

Studies like the Adventist Health Study, mentioned above, point to “yes,” but still with some hesitation over causality versus correlation. But the differences between a vegan diet and a near-vegan diet appear to be tiny, so tiny that I think they can be ignored (when it comes to health, not ethics, of course).

Even pro-vegan Dr. Fuhrman actually believes that a 100% vegan diet can result in “suboptimal levels” of other nutrients, like DHA, EPA, iodine, and zinc. But eating more animal products as a way to get these nutrients leads to increased heart disease and cancer rates, according to his research.

(This is why I like Dr. Furhman’s work, by the way. He avoids dogma and doesn’t let ethical leanings color his understanding and advice about health  – I’m not even sure what his ethical stance on veganism is. When a scientist can’t admit a single fault of his or her diet of choice, that sounds an awful lot like religion to me.)

For me, the take home message, and (finally) my answer to Jeff’s question, is:

I believe that a diet with a very small amount of animal products, like what we see in the diets of the longest-lived societies, is extremely healthy. It’s clear that we need B12, and if there were no other way to get B12, then in general, I would consider a diet with a lot of plants and a very small amount of meat to be the healthiest possible type of diet.

Fortunately, for those of us with ethical reasons for wanting to avoid animal products, we can now do so healthily, by supplementing with B12. I haven’t seen any good evidence that a plant-based diet of mostly whole foods, along with a B12 supplement, is less healthy than any other diet — some studies show that a vegan diet might actually be healthier than a whole-food based diet that includes a tiny amount of meat, but to me it’s not clear that the difference is significant.

Whole foods, mostly plants

Eat whole foods, eat lots of plants, and whether you choose to eat a small amount of meat or not won’t make much difference in the healthfulness of your diet.

Ethically, it makes a dramatic difference, and that’s why I choose to be vegan. But arguing about whether a whole-foods based diet that includes a small amount of meat is healthier than a whole-foods, plant-based diet seems to me like a waste of time, when other factors make a bigger difference in health — like nuts and seeds in the Adventist Health Study, for example.

Worse, the argument unnecessarily widens the gap between whole-food vegans and whole-food omnivores. We’re both in the healthy minority, and I wish we’d embrace that instead of quibbling over whose diet is healthier. Again, that’s not to say there aren’t ethical grounds for disagreement, but if that’s what the argument really comes down to, don’t pretend it’s about health.

If you agree — and I’m well aware that many people don’t — a good place to start is with these two posts, one by me and one by Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness. They’re written in much the same vein, just from opposite sides of the vegan/Paleo line.

1. Why Paleos and Vegans Should Stop Hating Each Other

2. The Paleo Diet Debunked? (Jeff and anyone else wondering what I think about grains, I agree with Steve’s take on them)

As always, I’m interested to hear your comments. I may not like arguing, but I learn something whenever I write a post like this and people chime in from different sides.

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Comments

  1. So…What about nuts and seeds? Please, the suspense is too much!

  2. Eliot W. Collins says:

    Anyone can have a B-12 deficiency, and the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

    If one does have a deficiency, then take a B-12 supplement. Cyanocobalamin is pretty harmless.

    It is as simple as that.

  3. Clyde Grubbs says:

    B12 is synthesised in the intenstines of mammals, (including humans.) It is also in the soil from mammals leaving bowel deposits.

    Because of anti biotics “civilized humans” don’t produce enough. It is available as a supplement in many foods.

    • It’s synthesized in human bowels, but farther down the digestive tract than where it is absorbed. It could be synthesized as well in the human mouth of people who don’t brush their teeth, but that’s not a reliable (or socially acceptable) source!

  4. I think the thing that is missing from this is that meat doesn’t have B12. It’s the bacteria in the meat that produces B12 and therefore the bacteria’s production of B12 is passed on to you when you eat meat. However, a lot of meat eaters have low levels of B12 and many vegans have adequate levels of B12. (good info here from Dr. McDougall – http://drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/nov/b12.htm)

    Our own guts actually have bacteria in them that synthesize B12 too. The reality is that in our current lives, everything is overly washed, sterilized, etc. So even if you eat meat, you can still be lacking in B12. If you eat vegetables that you grow out of your own organic garden and don’t scrub them and wash them to death, then you probably will get B12 that way. But we are now very “germ” conscious.

    So I don’t the the argument holds that we aren’t supposed to be vegan because of B12. Way before civilization got so “germ” crazy, there were probably many people who were vegan who never took a B12 supplement. But we are paranoid about germs now.

    B12 is especially important in older adults as many are deficient, no matter what they eat. I’d still rather eat a 100% plant based diet which I know is better for my health, than to eat meat to try to get some B12. I’ll pop a supplement under my tongue a few days a week instead not only for my health, but to save animals and the environment.

    • Great response, Karen.

    • Veggiemom66 says:

      I hear you! I am not a germaphobe at all…I am waayyyy too lax about washing fruits and veggies. The problem is that I am wrong for being so lax…. animal production (can’t really call it husbandry) has too much run-off that contaminates the soil is the cause for things like e-coli outbreaks from spinach. I agree with Matt’s basic premise: whole foods, lots of veggies, a bit of meat/fish probably is as healthy as vegan diet (I mean, that is what the world Blue Zones eat) BUT humans are so adaptable….time to “evolve” away from being primitive (cruel) meateaters.

    • Thank you for the info about B12…a fog just cleared in my head!

  5. Brenna McEowen says:

    Incredibly well-said!

  6. I love having a plant based diet. I also continue to have between 1-3 eggs per week. Usually at (cheat meal) Sunday brunch of eggs-Benedict. :D I think by having the occasional animal product, I provide myself with the balance it needs. That is for MY body, MY health, and MY lifestyle based on my health issues and experiences. I don’t apologize for it to my vegan friends. After much experimentation, I have found that is all the animal products I need and thrive on it.

    Once Matt said : I’d rather see 100 people go mostly vegan than 25 people go all the way.

    I agree 110%. I think the environmental impact would be tremendously positive. I also think the impact on animals and humans would also exponentially increase. I’m part of that 100 (mostly because of the support of this site). Thanks to everyone who contributes.

    p.s. also a huge fan of nerd fitness – paleo aside ;)

    • I like what Matt and Jen say very much. That was a fantastic and honest article. In addition I think why do we need to fit in a box. I eat vegan 5 days a week, vegetarian one day and then fish and even a bit if meat on occasion one day a week. People ask me if I am vegan or vegetarian but I can’t really say yes without insulting the purists. So I just say I’m a week day vegan. And like Jen says that is what MY body thrives on and it is better if 100 people would be that way than 25 purists. It’s nice to know I have company in this ‘box’. Thank you very much

      Gordon

      • Interesting approach Gordon. Like it!

        After battling the snowball effect of Vit D deficiency last year, I have taken the less stringent approach and it’s nice to know someone else reading this blog is in the box….. labels, schmabels.

      • I am vegan for both ethical and health reasons and I would LOVE if my family (all of whom have health issues and whose idea of vegetables is a spoonful of frozen, tasteless corn or a white potato) were weekday vegans. The planet and it’s inhabitants would be healthier if more people ate as you both do! And for some who do so and continue to learn more, they may be more inclined toward going all the way if it feels right for them once they experience the benefits and learn that it is doable.

        I appreciate anyone looking to make healthier food choices. There is strength in numbers and hopefully we’ll reach a point where fruits and vegetables are subsidized, rather than less healthy foods, and they’ll be more widely available to folks of all walks of life.

  7. I didn’t think I’d inspire your next post, but thank you for the information. It is a well-written article and makes logical sense. I’m even somewhat on board with you concerning the grains. However, I believe that the basic grains of today have been modified/hybridized so much from the ancient grains like Einkorn and Emmer that it’s not accurate to compare eating grains 100,000 years ago to the grains that are used today. Thus, I avoid grains.

    • If your only argument for not eating something is that they are different from the most ancient form, then you wouldn’t eat vegetables or chicken either, both of which have been dignificantly modified. This singular notion of only eating what we think our ancesters ate is quite frankly not a very useful lense. I prefer to rely on peer reviewed quantifiable and observeable studies to make my food choices. So I eat whole grains.

      • We’ll have to agree to disagree. There is certainly a lot of quantifiable evidence that our bodies were not meant to process whole grains, gluten-based grains in particular.

        • Eliot W. Collins says:

          Apparently my body has evolved; I never have had any problem with whole grains.

          On the other hand, I do avoid many wheat products, e.g., bread and pasta, not because they contain gluten, but rather because they are essentially empty calories with limited nutritional value.

          I do enjoy oatmeal, even if it was “Manufactured In A Facility That Processes Wheat”.

  8. Hello!
    I have read that B12 used to be in the soil, as you mention, and that even animals that we eat do not naturally have B12 in their bodies- they eat it through the grasses and then we eat it through the animals bodies. However, since animals are starting to be grain-fed, B12 deficiency is becoming a global issue for vegan’s and meat eaters alike!
    I agree our diet can evolve and since we are now able to supplement, this is a viable option.
    An interesting resource : http://astore.amazon.com/vega-licious-20/detail/1884995691

  9. paul hughes says:

    It is true that B12 is not found in almost all plants but it is found ON plants. Because of pesticides and the over washing of produce we end up with B12 deficient foods. Because of this approx 40 per cent of meat eaters are actually deficient in this vitamin. However, recent studies have shown that vegans actually produce more B12 inside their own bodies than people who eat meat. The reasons are not definite for this but it appears that by ingesting B12 from meat it actually suppresses our own system of production. It is possible to produce enough B12 ourselves for our own needs. However, to be certain of this then I always recommend my clients to take a supplement or if they do not want to then they should have regular blood work to be certain that their B12 production is sufficient.
    Many years ago (mid 20th century) we did not have the same problems with pesticides and our food tended to be grown organically as a matter of course. Consequently the vegetables we ate had a much higher level of B12 on it.

    • Regarding vegans producing more B12, that’s very interesting. I hadn’t heard that before. Do you recall the source? I’d like to look into it further. I’ll still supplement to be safe, but I’d love to learn more. Thanks!

  10. The healthy human liver stores enough vitamin B12 to last almost six years before deficiency becomes an issue. It is true that the human gut flora produces Vitamin B12, it does so well after the Ileum where it is absorbed. We must intake sufficient B12 at least every few years to replenish the liver’s stores. B12 deficiency is most common in vegan cultures such as those found in areas of India. Supplementation is necessary in a vegan diet.

  11. Hi, for those that may not know B12 is a bacteria found in soil, animals get it from eating the roots/soil of plants or it is supplemented in their feed, it is not inheriently found in them – we would get it too if we ate roots/soil but we wash and disinfect our produce plus our commercial agricultural soil is so depleted of minerals and nutrients we need to supplement, and not just vegans – many people are found to be low.

    • And it is only found in soils that contain cobalt (why “cobalamin” is in its name), and soils are becoming deficient in that mineral (especially soils subjected to non-organic methods of production).

  12. Thank you for the great post. It was informative and well written!

  13. Kevin Calderon says:

    I think you should all look into the 80 10 10 book by Douglas Graham. No need for b12 supplements or animal products in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ultra-marathoners and iron man athletes have thrived on his methods of a raw vegan diet for countless years now. T. Colin Campbell from the china study lines up with his views in his new book whole as well.

    • But, I am vegan and am B12 deficient (confirmed by a blood test at my doctor’s). So… I DO need B12 supplements. Right?

  14. I agree that anyone can have a B12 deficiency, even if they include meat products in their diet. Just like people who do not eat animal protein can still have high cholesterol, etc. Some things are hereditary and out of our control, so we should all have our vitamin levels checked, not just those of us on a more selective diet.

    I don’t think everyone is “meant” to be on the same diet. What works for me is not necessarily going to work for the person next to me. It’s easy for me to say I don’t eat meat because I really, truly didn’t miss it when I cut it out. But for some of my friends, they go crazy without it.

    I do believe in knowing about and researching WHAT you are eating: where it comes from, what chemicals are being used, how the animals were treated, etc. Being educated is one thing, but turning a blind eye is another. There are a lot of people fighting for us to have the right to know what is in our food, and we shouldn’t make those wasted efforts. If we care enough, the information will eventually become more accessible, and “cleaner” food will continue to be readily available and more affordable.

    We can’t convert everyone we meet, but we can lead by example. I am feeling a slight victory in that one of my most carnivorous friends has taken to hunting his own meat or buying from local butchers, planting gardens so he can eat his own clean produce, and making an overall effort to healthy, clean eating. We finally have some common ground and I’m proud of him. :)

  15. I get plenty of B12 from spirulina. It also provides lots of iron, beta carotene, amino acids and EFAs. The amount of B12 in spirulina gives me tons of energy and is adequate enough that there is no need to supplement.

  16. Good stuff Matt! And Karen’s follow up was very informative and good points. I think it is important that everyone realizes that each body is different. Some people may have a certain deficiency regardless of the diet they follow. You really need to establish a baseline for yourself to fully understand what elements you are naturally missing and try to replenish those through diet or supplementation. I have been following a rigorous endurance training schedule while maintaining a vegetarian diet for the last 2.5 years, and vegan for the last 6 months. I have never felt that anything was missing or my energy levels low, except for periods where my sleep has been off.

    I believe its most important that people adapt whatever diet works for them. I would rather see someone adopt a partial vegan/veggie/plant-based/whole-food diet and stick with it then going to the extreme, not having it work and resort back to a heavy animal-based diet.

  17. Real B12 deficiency is not pretty. I remember a teacher of mine years ago who followed a macrobiotic diet and eventually developed nerve damage and had difficulty walking. There are so many important body functions that are dependent on good B12, B6 and folate intakes. Vegans and those who eat a lot of plants get enough B6 and folate. It’s so easy to take a B12 supplement or B12 fortified foods and you can’t OD on it. Many who follow all kinds of diets are B12 deficient.

  18. Great post Matt. I feel that many of us are on the path to healthier eating, which to me is different for each of us. Who is to say which one is better? We need to figure it out for ourselves. I do know that my journey has taken me to choosing a plant only diet because it has made me feel the best. I know that I do not have a B12 deficiency, but take a supplement several times a week. It is great to have a forum like this to help us make informed decisions.

  19. Another terrific post. I follow Dr Furhmsn’s neat vegan diet and I have never felt healthier or stronger. I hope to move to a completely vegan diet but I still occasionally eat fish. I do supplement with B12

  20. There is one thing I know and that is as a meat eater I needed B12 shots; as a vegan I don’t.

    • This is fascinating to me because I am vegan and must give myself B12 shots. My doctor told me I would have to do this forever and would never be able to switch to supplements because of “how deficient I had been”. But, once the levels are up again (as mine are now – they are fine), why can’t I switch to supplements? I’m thinking of switching doctors instead! So I’m interested to hear that you used to need shots and now don’t… I may have to press her more on this issue or perhaps get a 2nd opinion. I’d love to get off the shots.

  21. The more and more I learn about these things, the more its seems that the commonalities are much more important than the differences (from health perspective).

    You have two groups, one that eats no meat (and thus eats a lot of plants) and another group that east a lot of plants + some meat. We often focus on the differences: one group eats meat and the other doesn’t. But the evidence seems to suggest that the similarities are much more important: both groups eat lots of plants, and so both are pretty healthy, all else equal. The takeaway is that eating a whole food based diets that is mostly plants is very healthy, especially when compared with the SAD,

  22. Bill Jennings says:

    Heather “Anish” Anderson and Josh Garrett both vegan broke the existing record for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail by 4 and 5 days respectively this year. She was unsupported and he was supported. Their diets are a mystery.

  23. Hi
    I just read this post with great interest. I was a total vegan for no less than 20 years when I was diagnosed with cancer last October. At the onset of treatments, I went through a battery of tests including lots of blood tests. Results were bleak; iron deficiency, very low calcium. A nutritionist was appointed and in the course of our several meetings, she urged me to include some fish and eggs in my diet. She drummed in my brain that a vegan diet was not conducive to good health on a longer time span. As per the results, seemed she was right.

    • Eliot W. Collins says:

      Just because one is a veg*n, that does not mean that they have a healthy diet. Many veg*ns love their veg*n junk food. Some even smoke. As long as no animals are harmed, then they do not care. They may even look down on those who follow a veg*n diet exclusively for health reasons.

  24. We are all, whether we are vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous, experiments of one. I’m female, old (over 60) and have been vegan for 11 years. My health isn’t as good as I would like = last marathon 2007 – knee problems since 2008 (torn meniscus) – autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroididits) 2013. Within those 11 years I’ve bounced back and forth with different kinds of veganism – soy-no soy-grains-no grains fake meat – no fake meat low to no fat – to nuts and avos. Right now I’m mostly raw fruits and veggies, occasional brown rice and beans, spirulina and chlorella supplements (but NOT as a source of B-12) some nuts and seeds. I take a vegan multi (Veganlife) daily with 300 mcg cyanocobalamin and once a week I take a Jarrow 500mcg methylcobalamin. Once a year I get tested – this year’s blood test for B-12 was 790 pg/mL (with the reference being 211-946. I’ve never had B-12 shots. My in-laws were both sad eaters (typical meal pattern- bacon and egg breakfast – ham sandwich for lunch – and a hamburger for dinner) and they both were B-12 deficient in their 70′s and had to supplement.

  25. Love your article, Matt. I’ll just add that if you’re going to try to get B12 from animal foods, check the amounts to see if it’s worth it.
    To get your daily value of B12 from eggs, you’ll need 70 per week! From milk: 2.75 gallons per week! From cheese: 10 pounds per week!
    Source – http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/

  26. One thing to add. It is not that meat eater don’t take B12 supplements, they do via the animals because the animals get it in pills as supplement well. Since the animals are not fed on soil reach in B12 anymore (like it was in the past) they get it the same way they get antibiotic and other pills. So it is basically a matter of whether I, as a vegan will take a supplement directly when I am the one to choose which one how much etc or a meat eater who leave it to the industry who grows the meat to decide for them and get it indirectly trough the meat.
    Bottom line- everyone get supplements.

  27. Wendy LaPointe says:

    I agree that bridging the gap between no animal flesh or product and “low” animal flesh or product will do more for our planet’s health overall as well as the health of animals (of all species).

    As for the ethical issues involve, I agree with the PP who basically said we should lead by example. “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” -Gandhi

    With relatively few exceptions, most who are vegan were not always. It serves us well to remember this as we explore the most effective ways to bring about change for animals and our planet.

    • Eliot W. Collins says:

      I would say that world-wide most people who are veg*n were raised that way, and have never had any meat. I could be wrong.

  28. bitchy_vegan says:

    Just about 1 TB of nutritional yeast covers a full day’s RDA of B12. Also, lots of non-vegan food products are fortified (cereal, milks, snack foods, etc), so I see no big deal if I get my B12 from fortified sources, either.

  29. Elsje Massyn says:

    I am not religious – however I am a believer in Creation by a Creator.
    The Bible Book of Genesis 1 verse 29 says that God gave instruction to the first people on earth to only eat plants & fruit along with the animals.

    Proof of very healthy vegan living humans today are evidence that meat is something that came many years after creation. Someone slaughtered an animal – found out they liked the taste of steak and taught their kids generations after generations after that to do the same.

    Read “Essie Honibal’s book: I LIVE ON FRUIT” – that old lady started eating only fruit and veggies after years of sickness and became healed. Her testimony and life was tested in Universities in Cape Town South Africa and her fitness (she was much older than many girls whose fitness was tested against her and she beat them all) – today she is in her 80′s – lives in an old age home here in our town as fit as a fiddle, her mind as bright as it was when she was a young girl.

    The B12 theory I think is meat eating scientists supporting beef farmers business to cause us to believe we need B12.

    There are too many people who followed aunty Essie Honibal’s lifestyle and are living good strong and healthy lives until old age to still believe the B12 theory.

  30. Ive been vegetarian for almost 25 years, and ive had a major B-12 sufficiency for almost 10 years. I take B-12 shots (ie. Cyanocobalamin). They not only give me an exorbitant amount of energy and clarity (it’s obvious when I stop taking the shots), the B-12 helps with the radiculopic pain cause by ny spinal injury 8 years ago.

    There’s not a food out there that my doctor nor nutritionist have found that can supply the amount of B-12 my body needs replenished due to being vegetarian.

    Btw– Technically I shoukd be vegan sibce im allergic to dairy, but I just love ice cream once in awhile! :)

    • Ps. I also had a severe Vitamin D deficiency several years ago (blood and hair testing) and had to take 50,000 IUs weekly for three months. Now I take 5,000 IUs at night.

      I buy food fortified with Vit D (Soy milk, Rice milk, etc.).

      I would suggest doing the smart thing and get tested.

      :)
      Insomnia ia a sure sign of Vit D deficiency.

  31. I’ve been vegan for over 30 years, I don’t take supplements of any kind and I’m not deficient in anything. I get my B12 from avocados and seaweed. Our bodies don’t need that much of it anyway. But what surprises me that we are still having this argument/debate. There are several plant based sources of B12. I’m living proof it’s possible to go vegan long term! Hell, Einstein was vegan! and he was no dummy :)

    • I wish this were true for me! I’ve had blood tests and the doctor found I was seriously B12 deficient (and I eat tons of avocadoes). Now I have to inject it regularly, even supplements aren’t good enough. So – it’s not true for everyone that you can get it from plant-based sources, unfortunately.

    • Interesting article explaining B12 sources for vegans – http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/plant. B12 only matters if it is not analogue and lowers MMA levels. Raw and dried seaweed both raise MMA levels and is not considered a valid option for B12. Avocados have B6, but I don’t think there is any B12.

  32. A Seveth Day Adventist Doctor once told me that as we get older, we don’t absorb B-12 as well as when we were younger. It is best to use a sulingual B12 supplement and place it under the tongue for around 15 minutes daily. Under the tongue is one of the easiest placest to absorb directly into the blood stream.
    Also, if you make homemade seitan into mock meat, adding nutritional yeast is important for the B12 vitamins it contains.

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  1. […] me! There are several locations in the DC metro, check it out! 2. For some light reading, peruse this article from NoMeat Athlete (one of my favorite websites) about the vegan diet & vitamin B12, as well […]

  2. […] This insightful article about Vegans and B12 supplements. […]

  3. […] Meat Athlete, Vitamin B-12 and the Case for (and Against) a Plant Based Diet. It is true that vegans can’t get vitamin B-12 from their plant based diet. Matt reflects on […]

  4. […] No Meat Athlete: Vitamin B12 and the Case for (and Against) a Plant Based Diet. […]

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