Most vegan diets are frowned upon because of the Vitamin B12 controversy. From all the angles of anti-veganism, this is probably the most common concern.
Vitamin B12, abundant in high quality animal products, is a nutrient which many medical doctors claim to be difficult for vegetarians to obtain.
What Is B12?
B12 is a nutrient produced only by micro-organisms, and is found in a variety of animal and certain plant sources. People with healthy intestines also produce large amounts of B12 in their colons.
But because of B12 absorption problems (which again depends on a variety of factors), and most people do not have healthy digestive tracts and colons, many health experts advised vegetarians to include B12 supplements in their diet.
As B12 can be stored in the liver for up to 6 years, it can be some time before deficiency signs show up. People with liver dysfunctions or B12 assimilation problems may experience these signs sooner.
So what is B12 for and why is it so important?
B12 is required for basic body functions including the formation of red-blood cells, normal cell growth, fertility/pregnancy, immunity systems, and even treatment for some degenerative diseases (like cancer,AIDS) etc.
Common deficiency signs include anemia, weaknesses/fatigue, diarrhea/indigestion, depression, mental imbalances and even brain damage in serious cases.
A good indicator of a B12 deficiency is a red, shiny and smooth tongue.
However, the signs of deficiency may be concealed by the “masking syndrome” of the B-complex vitamin folic acid. Folic acid contains similar properties to that of B12 and are actually inter-dependent with B12 for many body functions.
While folate alleviates many symptoms of B12 deficiency, the damage is still being done secretly to the body! And because folate is abundant in leafy greens, legumes and sprouts, we can see why deficient vegetarians only started to see the signs years later.
Before we condemn vegan diets, there are more things to consider. Apart from liver illnesses and poor digestive absorption, there are other factors which can cause B12 deficiency:
Contraceptives/Birth Control Pills
Intoxicants (coffee, cigarettes, alcohol etc)
Stress (mental and physical)
Can you see that B12 deficiency problems are not restricted to vegans only? Basically, anyone with an imbalanced lifestyle/diet can be at risk.
How – Solutions
The easiest way, and probably most used method is to take B12 supplements.
A helpful note would be to know that B12 mal-absorption is mostly caused by gastric juices losing a mucoprotein enzyme (which makes B12 absorption efficient).
This is known as the “intrinsic factor”, and can be lost through aging, surgery or excess intestinal bacteria. So if you opt for oral B12 supplements, be sure to choose the ones which cover this aspect.
Another well-rounded method would be to include a quality pro-biotic supplement. Although I do not take these on a daily basis, I use them to ferment raw nut cheeses, or to make nut milk with.
And of course, B12 growth is supported from some great tasting plant sources like unpasteurized miso, which I take on a regular basis. One thing to take note in the use of miso is the salt content: lighter miso has a lower salt content as compared to the darker ones.
…please refer to Part II of the article from the website below.
Linda has always been passionate about the Science of Nutrition for beauty, weight-loss, energy & longevity. She is also a successful Raw Foodist, Certified Raw Food Coach and is ever so delighted to share this gift of knowledge with fellow health enthusiasts! Visit [http://www.rawfoodlifestyles.com] and opt in to our mailing list for more free juicy information on how you can eat your way to a flawless complexion, a sexy body, AND abundant energy now!