There seems to be much argument and turmoil revolving around vitamin B12 and veganism. So it would be a shame if I didn’t chime in. Plus, I had already written about protein in an earlier post, so this is a nice continuation.
According to National Institutes of Health, vitamin B12 plays a role in keeping our nerve and blood cells healthy and also in making DNA. A typical adult needs about a measly 2.4 micrograms of B12 a day. That is 2.4 millionth of a gram, or 0.1% of a single grain of rice. Well, this is the number given in many nutrition guidelines anyway. But here is the kicker: you don’t really need to take it regularly everyday. It is stored in your liver and unless you were deficient for a while, you already have a five year supply of it.
Naturally, best sources of vitamin B12 is animal livers, since, you know, it is stored there. Well, that’s where most vegan haters like to stop and argue about how unnatural it is to be vegan (Even though no vegans I know defend veganism as the absolute most natural human diet anyway). But here, I would like to raise a question: How do the animals get it and store it in their livers?
How do the cows get B12? veganhealth.org has an excellent short article on this here, with references. Quick answer is bacteria. Bacteria makes vitamin B12. In the case of cows, they have a rich supply of bacteria in their rumen (first chamber of their 4-chamber stomachs). And some of these bacteria are responsible to create the amount of B12 sufficient for them.
Other animals, like primates, eat small amounts of eggs, insects or soil. As I said, you only really need very little B12. Certainly nowhere near the amount to justify the typical modern human level of meat/egg/dairy consumption. If humans were to feed like primates (mostly vegan,with very little animal food supplementation), I don’t think veganism would exist today.
But veganism, as I see it, is more philosophical. More of a reaction to the ridiculous scale of animal abuse that just cannot be explained by any human nutritional need.
It may sound like I got defensive about veganism because of vitamin B12. Not the case at all, I just got emotional and passionate again. There are vegan sources of vitamin B12. Since it is really a bacterial product, as opposed to something that animal bodies produce, we can expect bacteria to show the same action outside of animal bodies right?
Yes. Nutritional yeast is one source (not all of them have it though, check the label and do your research as always). Vitamin B12 is also in soil. So if you have fresh organic root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, beets etc…), the soil stained spots on their skin is said to be a good source of B12. So skip washing and peeling every now and then. Of course I wouldn’t recommend that for packaged products but if you are getting yours fresh from an organic farm directly, or better yet growing your own, just keep the skin. If all else fails Don’t wait for all else to fail, there are many good vegan supplements available.
While doing my research on B12, I stumbled on to one source that blew my mind. It may be the most enjoyable source of B12. It is oral sex, for both men and women. Apparently, those bodily fluids are a huge source. There, problem solved. You can thank me later.