Everyone should know the importance of B12 and not just people who adopted veganism. B12 plays a vital role in our health and deficiency of it could adversely affect our physical and mental health and consequences could be devastating.
What is B12?
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin known as cobalamin. Its role is to involve in the production of red blood cells, play an important part in brain function and nervous system.
This vitamin is made by certain bacteria and microorganism which is found in the soil around grass that mammals eat. Animals don’t make B12 and no plants make it. The bacteria does, however, grow in the guts of animals and their body, that’s why they could be a source of this vitamin [External Link]
That said, why does a deficiency of B12 also occur in people who eat a large amount of meat and animal products? There could be many reasons and one of them is malabsorption due to gut inflammation, alcohol intake, medications, atrophic gastritis, leaky gut, hypochlorhydria, low stomach acid, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac, IBS etc.
What does the British National Health Service Say?
According to NHS “Red meat provides us with iron, and meat is also one of the main sources of vitamin B12” [External Link]
There is another article by NHS: “Red meat intake ‘linked to death risk'” [External Link]. So which one is correct? One seems to contradict the other.
Endless studies show that meat consumption and animal products cause life-threatening diseases such as cancers, diabetes, coronary artery disease, heart disease and the list goes on and on.
What is it then?
It is clear that consuming animal products can benefit us in one way and destroy our health in another way. If we already sick due to heavy consumption of meat the chances of absorbing vitamin B12 will be very slim, right?
Is it really worth consuming animals for the sake of vitamin B12?
That’s sort of question I asked myself when I was a meat-eater and suffered over two decades with a very poor digestive system, gastritis, hiatal hernia, acid reflux and inability to digest any meals with high-fat content. Besides, I always felt tired, lethargic and lack of energy.
After embracing a plant-based diet I started to feel the changes in my digestive tract almost immediately and I will never go back to eating meat again. But I know the importance of B12 and it will be silly to say that I get the level of the requirement by eating a plant-based diet. It is simply impossible as we know plants don’t make B12 and there is no reliable B12 in seaweed, spirulina, chlorella, fermented foods such as tempeh and organic produce. However, some vegetables and algae have been tested for B12 analogue levels in them but we don’t know if the vitamin is active for humans. For that reason, we can’t rely on inadequate scientific research and doing so is dangerous.
How Should I take B12
So how do I get my B12 in order to avoid a deficiency? In addition to a diet of whole plant foods fortified with B12, I also supplement.
It would not be wise to rely on nutritional yeast alone because the level of B12 varies from brand to brand and may not cover daily requirement.
In addition, fortified foods need to be consumed three times per day to meet adequate daily source.
Two Common Supplement Forms of B12
There are two common forms of B12 available in supplement form: the Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin. The most common is cyanocobalamin. It is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 that is not found in nature, it is easily obtainable in the form of tablets and it’s the cheapest form you can get.
Cyanocobalamin is shelf-stable as opposed to methylcobalamin. Dr. Michael Greger encourages people to take cyanocobalamin and not methylcobalamin. Because methylcobalamin is less stable, not as reliable and has not been studied as much as Cyanocobalamin – https://nutritionfacts.org/?s=B12
Methylcobalamin is found in nature and it’s less toxic, has better retention and thought to be the most active.
Also, It is one of the two coenzyme forms of vitamin B12. Our body must convert it into the second co-enzyme form of B12 which called Adenosylcobalamin.
According to Dr. Klaper’s source, in order for the body to transform cyanocobalamin into an active form of B12 methylcobalamin requires activation by the MTHFR enzymes and in some people, the enzymes could be a little bit slow and cause difficulties.
“Since methylcobalamin is the active form of B12, and is readily available for cells to use, many physicians, myself included, prefer the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12 supplement for everyone.”Dr. Michael Klaper states: Vitamin B12 Basics, https://www.doctorklaper.com/b12
I personally experimented with both forms. When I travel, I tend to get Cyanocobalamin mostly as it’s widely available.
Is it really worth it?
All that said, embracing a plant-based lifestyle led to a healthy and happy life for me without killing animals and consuming them for the sake of vitamin B12 or any other nutrients. The deadly disease we have from eating animal flesh for an exchange for B12 is far way too risky, to risk our health to satisfy our senseless and needless addiction to meat.
I asked myself this question and I am glad I did it. Maybe it is the time for you to ask this question yourself Is it really worth it?