I’m Mic and today:
should vegan supplement with B12 in the modern sterilized world?
Yes, vegans are at a greater risk of getting a B12 deficiency than the rest of the population.
So they absolutely should take B12 supplements.
It is cheapass insurance, but in no way is this a fundamental flaw of the vegan diet for many reasons including
how B12 was ubiquitous in bacteria-rich pre-industrial times,
how a truly healthy human gut can produce and utilize its own B12 in the small intestine,
how 40% of people are taking vitamin supplements anyway,
and also how other deficiencies are rampant among the rest of the population.
Well looking at the U.S., for example, where 95% of people eat meat,
about 10% of people have a B6 deficiency.
A single banana, about 40% of your daily need, not a vegan issue.
And when looking at vitamin C, about 6% of the U.S. is deficient.
Well a single orange will give you as much as you need.
And a whopping 96% of people in the U.S. do not get the daily recommended amount of fiber,
which is absolutely not hard on a vegan diet,
and it’s associated with diseases like heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.
And back on subject, 2%-4% of the U.S. is B12 deficient anyway, so where does B12 come from?
Bacteria are the only ones that can make B12.
Animals do not make B12 and guess what, if you are eating meat you are in a sense likely supplementing
because 90% of the world’s B12 supplements are now given to animals.
So you can either take that B12 supplement, feed it to an animal,
and then pay someone to kill that animal and then eat its dead body,
or you can just take a B12 supplement directly.
And people that supplement with B12 have such higher levels than the rest of the population that
a vegan supplementing will probably have higher levels than a meat eater that does not supplement.
But going beyond supplementing, this brings up the question:
where did low meat cultures like the Tarahumara get their B12?
They only ate 2% of their total calories as meat, so how were they getting it?
What most people don’t know is that untreated water and soil have B12.
But we treat our water and use that water to triple wash our vegetables.
We also take that soil and add so many chemical fertilizers to it
that it reduces bacterial diversity and turns into dirt.
Looking at nature, herbivores like elephants get a portion of their B12 from eating soil,
and early humans likely did as well.
But is it enough?
This study shows that spinach and other vegetables that are fertilized with manure
can have considerable amount of B12.
But that’s if they are unwashed, and that’s not necessarily in all soil. That’s just from cow poop.
But what about water, is untreated water really enough to do the job?
Well the FAO and the WHO both say to be on the safe side, you need an RDA of about 2 mcg per day,
and the minimal amount to prevent deficiency is about 0.1-0.5 mcg per day.
This study measured pond water and found that the B12 levels range from 0.1-2.0 mcg per liter.
And since the Institute of Medicine recommends that you drink about 3 liters of water per day,
you can easily reach 3 times the recommended daily amount or 12-60 times the minimum required amount
by drinking pond water.
But it’s not limited to pond water, allegedly the Yarra River in Australia,
which is safe to drink, has twice the level of recommended B12 in it per liter,
according to an Adventist scientist named Matt Steele.
But these high levels aren’t necessarily everywhere.
Going back to the Tarahumara and looking at this study,
it is clear that they did get a large portion of their B12 from untreated water,
but areas in Mexico that were tested were likely more down around an average of 0.05 mcg per liter.
So they probably barely would reach their daily requirement just base off that.
But it doesn’t stop at soil and water, what about the human body?
People have pointed to just being really dirty as a way to get B12
whether it’s bacteria underneath your fingernails, in your nose,
or just having really gross teeth that would maybe give you B12,
but there is no substantial evidence to support this.
However, there is some interesting evidence to support that a healthy human gut could make its own B12.
It is commonly presented that only the large intestine – the colon makes B12,
and that since it’s after the small intestine where B12 is absorbed, we can utilize it.
However, research papers like this paint a different story.
The scientists show that there are at least two strains of bacteria
that create B12 in your small intestine, where it can be absorbed.
But would I bet that my intestine is making B12 that I can absorb?
No. Is it worth the risk?
I especially wouldn’t bet a pill that cost a few cents against my brain health.
So could a wild vegan out there get all the B12 he needs
from dirt, untreated water, and maybe a healthy microbiome?
Maybe, but it’s not that world anymore.
It is the modern world, and it might be unnatural to take a B12 supplement,
but it is also unnatural to treat all of our water.
But I am probably like I get it! I should take B12, but what kind of B12?
Should I take cyano-cobalamin or methyl-cobalamin?
Well plant-based doctors and doctors that promote a vegan diet say that you should take cyano-cobalamin
because most of the studies are done on cyano-cobalamin, and it is proven to have a positive effect.
So how much would you take?
Well 100 mcg per day seems to be a sufficient amount,
and you can probably take as much as you want
because though mega mega doses are associated with acne possibly, there is no upper tolerable intake level,
which means that unless you have some diseases that you should consult your doctor about,
you’re probably gonna be OK.
But what about FullyRawKristina, didn’t she have that blood test that said she had perfect levels of B12
after being vegan for 9 years?
Well, here’s the deal.
Whether FullyRawKristina’s body was able to recirculate B12 from before she was vegan for that long,
or whether her microbiome was so healthy that her small intestine made B12 that she was able to absorb,
or maybe she was just got some extra B12 from owning an organic vegetable co-op, who knows?
It doesn’t matter how FullyRawKristina got her B12,
the point is you should take it anyway because that’s the smart thing to do.
Especially if you are focusing on whole foods because if you’re eating a standard American vegan diet,
you’re likely to get a lot of B12 fortified foods such as nut milks and sometimes even weed.
In the end, 40% of people in the U.S. already take vitamin supplements,
and everybody, even if they eat meat over the age of 50, is recommended to take a B12 supplement.
So next time somebody says that the vegan diet is flawed because it needs B12,
just tell them that they probably have a lot of deficiencies,
and the modern world is sterilized, otherwise you probably can get it.
All right, that’s it for today.
Go take some B12 or drink some pond water.
Thank you for watching.
All credits go to Mic. the Vegan