Thursday, 23 December 2010

Veganism and the B12 conspiracy

One of the main concerns of people considering a vegan diet (and a question that I get asked often as a vegetarian) is the possibility of B12 vitamin deficiency.

The B12 deficiency conspiracy has been completelly blown out of proportion by those who cling to the idea that meat is necessary for a healthy body. First it was the protein deficiency risk, then the omegas deficiency risk and now the current vegan bogey man is the unlikely possibility of B12 deficiency. The fact is that the biggest mammals on Earth are herbivores and I never heard them having any B12 deficiencies, so what real reason of concern is there for vegetarians and vegans?

Multi-vitamins & minerals
The following article Vitamin B12: Facts for Vegetarians contains a full overview of vitamin B12. It starts by pointing out that:
"Vegetarians who continue to eat dairy products and eggs therefore also have no trouble supplying their bodies with enough B12."
Great, so if you're vegetarian you can stop worrying about the risk of B12 deficiency. But how about vegans? To answer this question, lets fully understand the B12 origins.
"The vitamin in fact does not technically come from animals or plants. It is made by micro-organisms such as bacteria and algae that are found in and on the foods we eat.
[...] Changes in agricultural production have also eliminated another reliable plant-based source of B12: the soil on the surface of fresh vegetables. In the past, when people ate carrots, beets, turnips or mushrooms fresh from the ground, the soil left clinging to the vegetables often contained Vitamin B12."
So, in short, herbivores eat some soil with their grass, which contains micro-organisms which produce vitamin B12. Suggestion — grow your own organic veggies, don't wash them and you'll be fine!

Vegetable patch (with plenty of B12)
Also, apparently our bodies store B12 for a long time, so it's not something vegans need to consider daily but I would still recommend reading the full article: Vitamin B12: Facts for Vegetarians.
"For most of us, excess B12 can be stored in our bodies for three years, although this varies."
The reality is that anyone is at risk of a dietary deficiency if we don't eat a varied range of foods but, contrary to the still widely believed myth, this does not have to include meat. In fact I would go as far as saying that there are plenty of meat eaters deficient in all sorts of vitamins and minerals for lack of eating enough fresh vegetables and fruit but it's easier to focus the unlikely risk of B12 deficiency of those who do not follow the conventional omnivore diet... lol it's laughable really.


Prem Estrela said...

Thank you. I'm a vegan and the information here helped me.

Prem Estrela said...

Thank you. The information you brought here helped me very much as a vegan