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Modern dietary propaganda consistently gets it wrong – very wrong, when it comes to the critical nutrient Vitamin B12. The false notions pertaining to proper food sources of B12 has resulted in epidemic numbers of people being deficient in this all important nutrient and suffering the sometimes devastating health consequences.

Deficiency of B12 is extremely dangerous to health and can lead to dementia and even death if not rectified. While early symptoms include paleness and overall weakness and fatigue, as the anemia caused by B12 deficiency progresses, symptoms can mimic the signs of ageing and so can easily be dismissed as a somehow natural or “normal” occurrence: shaky hands or spastic movement in general, sleeping disorders, unsteady gait, easy bruising, incontinence, and memory loss.

Other warning signs of a low B12 status include:

Nervous system problems

Reproductive issues

Digestive problems

Depression

Tingling hands/feet

Upset stomach

Constipation (or diarrhea)

Infertility

Children with B12 deficiency are particularly at risk with permanent damage to development a very real possibility. Growth retardation, delay in motor skill development, and significantly reduced problem solving ability, spatial ability, and overall ability to learn are the consequences of low Vitamin B12 in the developing years.  For heaven’s sake – do not subject your precious children to vegan or vegetarian diets! See this excellent article on Vitamin B12 deficiency if you care enough about your children to find out why veganism is not an option.

The real culprit in the B12 deficiency epidemic (40% of people are deficient, and don’t even know it), is the demonization and consequent avoidance of B12 rich foods by a deceived public. The very foods highest in B12 – particularly organ meats and eggs, are the very same ones erroneously labeled as unhealthy by conventional or faddish nutritional circles. Ironically, these very same foods have been used for centuries by traditionally long-lived peoples as they imparted vibrant health, vitality, fertility and healthy babies and children to those that consumed them.  These foods include:

  • liver
  • kidneys
  • meat (cooking meat only destroys B12 on the very surface, not the interior of the meat)
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • egg yolks
  • dairy products (raw dairy is has much more than pasteurized dairy, and the milk proteins that assist with absorbing the B12 are not denatured as happens when milk is pasteurized)

 Gut Bacteria Do Not Produce a Usable Form of B12: because the original source of B12 in nature is bacteria, some nutritional sources confuse the issue by maintaining that beneficial B12 is synthesized by gut flora in the colon of humans. While this may be true, the B12 that is produced this way is not in a usable form as very little if any of this B12 is able to be absorbed across the walls of the large intestine or colon. The reason is that the bacteria produced B12 in the gut is not attached to the “intrinsic factor” (IF), a special protein that is secreted in the stomach.

B12 must attach to an intrinsic factor protein to be absorbed effectively. This happens when B12 that is consumed binds with the intrinsic factor that has been broken down by pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine. The tightly bound B12-intrinsic factor complex then moves through the gut to the Ileum or lower portion of the small intestine and attaches to cell receptors for absorption.

B12 Not Available in ANY Plant Foods: contrary to claims by the vegan community, usable B12 is not available in algae like spirulina or tempeh (a fermented soy product). The B12 found in these foods is similar to true B12 but not exactly the same thing. The B12 in Brewer’s yeast is due to factory fortification, in other words, it is not naturally occurring in the food.

Studies have indicated that the B12 analogues in algae and tempeh are not bioavailable to the human body – blood levels of the nutrient did not change even after algae or tempeh were added to the diet. Even worse, these B12 imposters can actually inhibit the absorption of true vitamin B12 as the result of a competitive situation in the digestive system. This puts those that avoid animal foods at an even greater risk for deficiency!

B12 Supplements: It is always best to seek nutrients from whole food sources first. However, in the case of B12, there are many ways absorption can be inhibited and so sometimes supplementation becomes necessary. The pathways for uptake of this critical nutrient are very complicated and very common physical issues such as reduced stomach acid, compromised protein digestion, lack of pancreatic enzymes and autoimmune disorders can cause disruption in the absorption process. MUCH better would be plentiful servings of foods rich in B12 such as liver, eggs and red meat which can typically resolve the situation.

Sources: Myths of Vegetarianism

Vitamin B12: Vital Nutrient for Good Health

Vitamin B12 from Algae Appears Not to be Bioavailable

Vitamin B12: Plant Sources, Requirements, and Assay