If there’s one nutrient that every vegan is interrogated about, it’s most likely protein.  But after protein, it’s vitamin B12.  Today’s video post is the sixth in the “where do you get your___?” vegan nutrition concerns series with the nutritionally-sound Dr. Michael Greger of NutritionFacts.org.  I’m going to let Dr. Greger answer this quandary and I’ll come back in to wrap it up. [tweet this]

To hear Dr. Greger's full take on the B12 issue, be sure to watch the video above.  But here are some choice nuggets:

On sources of B12:

“[V]itamin B12 is not made by plants [and] not made by animals either.  It's made by little microbes that blanket the earth.  So, we, you know, used to get all our B12 we needed presumably from drinking out of well water or mountain streams, but now in chlorinated water supply to kill off any bacteria. so, we don’t get a lot of B12 in our water anymore.  [We] don’t get a lot of cholera either, that’s a good thing!  But now that we live in a sanitized world, again, a good thing, and we’re not like our primate cousins, eating bugs…feces all day, we[‘ve] got to get B12 from somewhere. And so, the hygienic source, the safest source, the healthiest source, the cheapest source is vitamin B12 supplements.  You can also use vitamin B12 fortified foods in, you know, soy milks, meat analogues, in things that had B12 added to them.  But, probably the simplest things is to take one 2,500 microgram tablet of B12, you know the chewable sub-lingual once a week. [It] cost[s] you $5 a year. Share a bottle with your friends, [it's] super easy, and you’ll actually have better B12 status than everybody else around you.”

On injections versus sub-lingual B12:

“The reason people get shots in this country and sub-lingual [doses] everywhere else in the world is because a doctor's salary in everywhere else in the world, they don’t get paid by the visit.  And so, if you just take sub-linguals, do you have to go back and see your doctor? No! But if you get shots you have to go back and see your doctor, and you have to pay them more, and you have to get your insurance to pay them more. so, that’s the only reason, and that studies shown sub-lingual is just as effective.”

On the different chemical versions of B12:

“Cyanocobalamin is the best, it’s the cheapest, it’s the most widely available and convenient to get.  And the reason I say Cyanocobalamin because that’s what the research is on. … We don’t have similar studies with some of these others and the dosages are all different.  People get confused and if people wanted to take Methyl[cobalamin] then you would have to take like a 1,000 [milligrams] a day, not 2,500 [milligrams] once a week.  With the exception that people who are heavy smokers or people that subsist off of cassava, or have kidney function problems, Cyanocobalamin is the best, cheapest, most convenient source.”

I hope you enjoyed hearing Dr. Greger’s take on B12.  As I've mentioned before, animal products contain B12 because they eat from the ground and drink untreated water and thus ingest B12.  But owing to our horrific farming practices (which have virtually sterilized our soil) and our water purification practices (which have sterilized our water), even farm animals don't get their B12.

Farmers give their animals B12 shots to be able to market their products as containing B12.

Another way to look at this is, if a vegan diet is the reason we’re not getting B12 and meat is the only source, then how did the meat get B12 from eating a vegan diet? [tweet this]  Of course, we all do generate our own B12 to a small degree, but not in sufficient amounts.

B12 deficiency is a humanity-induced problem, not a vegan problem. [tweet this] And it is a serious medical issue.  I’m not here to tell anyone whether or not they should supplement.  I would advocate having your levels check to see where you stand and going from there.

Now if you eat B12 fortified non-dairy milks, fake meats, or other products, you can track your B12 with Cronometer.  And, because of their nerdgasmic supplement feature you can even enter your supplements to keep on top of your levels.  Just go and create your own food, select supplement and enter the data for the supplement you take.  Then, in your day’s nutrition report, you have the option of showing or hiding your supplements to see where your diet alone measures up.

While I already loved Cronometer, finding this new toy cemented our relationship.  And since we’re going steady–do the kids these days still say that?–they’re actually sponsoring this video to get this information out.  And the best part?  It’s totally free.  Be sure to use the link below to make your free profile so they know that Bite Size Vegan sent you.  I don’t get money for your click but it helps track the effectiveness of these videos and whether Cronometer will leave me for a younger, more attractive channel.

Now I'd love to hear from you.  Where do you get your b12?  Do you supplement?  Let me know in the comments!

Here are Dr. Greger's specific B12 recommendations from his site:

At least 2,500 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement

-or at least 250 mcg daily of supplemental cyanocobalamin (you needn’t worry about taking too much.

-or servings of B12-fortified foods three times a day, each containing at least 25% U.S. “Daily Value” on its label

-Those over 65 years of age should take at least 1,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin every day.

-Tip: If experiencing deficiency symptoms, the best test is a urine MMA level (not serum B12 level)

See ya next nugget!

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9 thoughts on “B12 On A Vegan Diet | Dr. Michael Greger of Nutritionfacts.org

    sally anne hubbard says:

    VegLife is a vegan multiple and has B12.
    I get it at The Vitamin Shoppe. Whole Foods also has it but I am protesting them for selling rabbit meat.

    EconDemocracy says:

    Super video combining the best of Dr. G. and Emily’s “outro” with important big picture stuff :-)

    Just to share my own experience, uses, and favorite products in followup to Sally’s comments:

    For those looking for a purely B12 (not a multi-vitamin containing it) I’ve use Freeda brand, chewables, very affordable, available through vegan essentials. Very few other ingredietns other than B12 (list of ingredients is on VeganEssentials site) and is a vegan formulation.

    I also like Freeda for being more than vegan, the pretty minimal number of ingredients. Most vitamin pills, mainstream kind, smell funny, from the distant past memories I have and from rare times I am near someone who uses the ‘regular’ kind… I use the Freeda Calcium/Magnesium pills too and they are so pure, that someone like me who cannot swallow even tiny pills, can just chew them, and have a glass of juice, they have basically no taste at all, very pure ingredients. I hope they same thing doesn’t happen to them that is so common: buy-out by some huge corporate machine that then messes with a good formulation to make it “Better” (more profits) by corrupting it…I hope they are around for many years.

    I use the calcium/mag irregularly, much less than 100% per day, maybe adding 16% (1 pill every two days) out of 1000mg but Greger notes that we need only 600 mg so I’m getting close to 25% of my actual needs, and try to get rest from food sources..sometimes I have more often like 1 pill a day but I try to get from whole plant sources…

    But the b12 freeda I try to use close to Greger’s recommendations

    Debbie Prince says:

    I’m a bit surprised (and dismayed) that Dr. Greger made a blanket statement about which form of B12 was best to take, without addressing people who have an MTHFR gene mutation, for whom the methylated form of B12 (and folate, by the way) can make all the difference. Please do some research on this, as it is not by any means a rare thing – it affects a significant percentage of people, most of whom are likely unaware of it (personally, I am heterozygous for the MTHFR C677T mutation, which my naturopath suspected because of my glutathione deficiency and other health issues, and had me tested for it).

    Here is one webpage you may find helpful: http://doccarnahan.blogspot.com/2013/05/mthfr-gene-mutation-whats-big-deal.html

    I’m hoping to see a video devoted to the methylation-challenged! Thanks, Emily!

    i’ve done a lot of research on MTHFR myself, Debbie, as I have several mutations in relation to it- my genetics “say” hydroxycobalamin is the one for me…unfortunately the MTHFR is still barely understood by physicians. i think it’s going to take some time

    Debbie Prince says:

    Aha! A fellow mutant – I knew it! :)

    I agree, Emily – it’s not really on their radar, though it should be. But there’s one way to fix that, and who better to bring it to Dr. Greger’s attention than you? He doesn’t know me from Eve, but I think he might be receptive to your input. In regard to B12 supplementation, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and it shouldn’t be treated that way (as you well know). Thanks, Emily!

    that’s why i asked him the genetic question but unfortunately our time was very limited so i wasn’t able to go into it much :( hopefully i can find some time with him again in the future ;)

    Hannah says:

    I found a natural plant-based b12 supplement made from couch grass root online (Sidea B12). It says on their website that it is suitable as a supplement for vegans – any thoughts on this?

    i would go with both
    Cyanocobalamin and methilc.
    both are the most choosen one.

    sure, you can make test, go with one for a couple or months and then change it. but at the beginng, if you have deficiency. go with both.

    body will be thank you.

    When people ask me “where do you get you B12 from duhh?”
    I reply: “From Redbull!”

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