Demythifying B12 Deficiency
The Martial Art of Wellness
Volume 8 – June 2009
Welcome to this month’s BioNews. We must learn to free ourselves from the control that others exert over us. As we learn we become FREE, we become powerful. This pursuit of self defense in wellness, I call “The Martial Art of Wellness.” And as we practice we become Wellness Ninjas.
QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“ We do not GET a disease. We CREATE a disease by reducing our natural immunity through wrong eating, thinking and living. All diseases are curable. But not all patients are curable. We have to focus on the patient rather than the disease. Management of chronic diseases is a medical euphemism. It is not curing disease, but controlling it with the aid of suppressive drugs. This type of response to disease halts any progress towards healing. It serves only to make the patient more comfortable, while allowing him to progress to the degenerative stage, postponing the day of reckoning. Chronic conditions denied proper care will inevitably regress into ever greater chronicity until they become degenerative. The basic conditions which lead to disease are either nutrient deficiencies or toxic accumulations in the body. ”
~ Dr. Bernard Jensen
THIS ISSUE’S TESTIMONIALS:
Osteoporosis – ahead of the game building new bone
” I have great success with this product, and I reorder due to client’s requests.
This lady was taking the product to help rebuild bone density, and couldn’t believe that an “all encompassing” product (rather than a specific calcium/bone oriented product) would make a difference. She has been on it for 1.5 years after having a very bad bone density result 2 years ago.
She just came back from a bone density scan, and found that not only had she rebuilt all she had lost, but was ahead of the game building new bone. She was ecstatic. We had already muscle tested the new replacement product and knew it was biocompatible for her, but she decided not to change to that product due to the good test results. Why mess with results? So I had to reorder and I am so glad I did. “
– Esther S, Holistic Allergist, Canada
REALITY CHECK ( Demythifying Vitamin B12 Deficiency )
This year in each month’s BioNews I have committed to demythify either a substance, a supplement or a certain concept of health. This month I have chosen to demythify “B12” which is a re-occurring topic in the vitamin industry. I hope to simplify your life and save you money with the brief discussion that follows.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
It seems there’s always at least one tired old myth making the rounds about B12. Twenty nine years ago when I switched to vegetarian and remained for 12 years, it was the “protein deficiency” myth. Now that the protein myth has been completely discredited (human can compose all required amino acids for complete protein from a plant base diet), it is the vitamin B12 myth that surfaces occasionally. Usually it’s preached in places like old doctors’ office, on talk radio and internet web sites or newsletters dominated by heavy recommendations for the latest vitamin B12 supplement. The words “vegans B12 deficiency” are commonly requested on search engines.
As a vegetarian I had been confronted with the myths surrounding plant-based diets, such as the question “but where do you get your proteins from?”, and the more pervasive “what about vitamin B12?” During those years, I never suffered nutritional deficiencies, and I was in great health. But having known vegetarians and vegans for many years then and now, I have learned and observed the fact that vegetarians or vegans are much healthier and have “a lot” less of the most prevalent diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes associated with eating meat and dairy foods (1). Already then I had travelled in many countries including China and India. There I observed with my own eyes and learned that for thousands of years, large populations of hundreds of millions of people have not eaten meat and that the majority of these people are much slimmer and healthier than our typical overweight North American. That reassured me greatly at the time, but I have to admit, that the argument for B12 deficiency use to get me a little nervous as it does many of my clients. Over the years I stayed close to the vitamin B12 deficiency debate and have learned quite a bit since.
B12, also called cobalamin due to its central cobalt atom is a water-soluble vitamin with a very low recommended daily intake requirement, about 2-3 micrograms per day. That’s micrograms, not milligrams. In addition to having extremely low intake requirements, B12 is stored in the liver, kidneys, and muscle tissue, and most B12 is reabsorbed by the body instead of excreted. A deficiency could take from 5 to 20 years of inadequate intake to develop.
Vitamin B12 is a required vitamin involve with proper formation of red blood cells, manufacture of DNA, formation of fatty insulation surrounding nerve cells, detoxification of cyanide from cigarettes and food, cancer prevention, nervous system health, proper growth, prevention of PMS, posture and balance, memory and concentration, proper cell division, sperm production and motility, and in many metabolisms that we don’t know.
On the surface, you are told that the only foods containing vitamin B12 are animal foods. But when you dig deeper or if you remember your college biology you learn what B12 is, and where it comes from.
Some B12 deficiency facts
It is important to know that B12 deficiency is rare. Only a small number of people develop B12 deficiencies, most of them not even vegetarians, nor vegans, just like people with deficiencies in every other type of vitamin and mineral. Almost all cases of B12 deficiency are not a result of diet deficiency; rather they are of mal-absorption with which a B12 deficiency may develops in a few years. Very few cases have actually been diagnosed and reported that may meet a criteria of dietary cause.
“All of the Vitamin B12 in the world ultimately comes from bacteria. Neither plants nor animals can synthesize it. But plants can be contaminated with B12 when they come in contact with soil bacteria that produce it. Animal foods are rich in B12 only because animals eat foods that are contaminated with it or because bacteria living in an animal’s intestines make it.”
Thus we know that vitamin B12 comes from a microbe, bacteria which is produced by microorganisms,” (2) and that occurs with certain foods, but we also know that bacteria in your intestines can also produce B12, which is absorbed through your digestive tract. Propaganda says that few plant foods provide good sources of B12. True, but remember that the source of B12 is not plants OR animals; neither manufacture their own B12. In the B12 reality, bacteria are the B12 producers on which both plants and animals rely.
With that said, we also know that B12 absorption cannot happen if your gastro-intestinal tract is not supportive of a friendly intestinal flora (good bacteria), or if it is plagued with a layer of undigested proteins from eating too much meat, dairy, and gluten-containing wheat products. We know that when eating cooked meat and ultra pasteurized dairy products you will actually be consuming very little to no B12 because the vitamin B12 is easily killed when foods are cooked or irradiated.
In fact we learn that eating too much animal and dairy produce is not only a poor source of B12 but will inevitably destroy the usability of the vitamin,” (2), and contrary to meat and dairy industry propaganda, we know since 1959! (3), that people eating lots of meat are more likely to have a vitamin B12 deficiency. Studies have shown that those on a heavy meat-eating diet actually require more B12 than those eating a plant-based diet (3).
We now know that B12 also benefits from extraordinary recycling and reuse and long storage in the human body that likely it would take a lifetime even in a vegetarian for deficiency to be from a dietary cause. And in humans, that bacteria doesn’t necessarily has to come from plants or animals — the mouth, upper intestine, and lower intestine all contain bacteria that produce B12. However, it’s unknown if enough B12 to meet the daily requirement comes from internal sources of B12. More likely, they produce some, and the rest could come in with food and water consumed.
Principal causes of deficiencies
For whatever reasons, some people become deficient in B12. For example, it maybe that any depletion of intestinal bacteria, for example from lengthy courses of antibiotics, might lead to a drop in B12 production. However, it is interesting to note that deficiency occurs in meat eaters and that very few vegans develop B12 deficiencies. Most scientific evidence refer to destruction, and intrinsic factor (IF) production problems as the common culprits. B12 deficiencies occur primarily when:
1. Destruction: Something is competing (parasites) or destroying your B12 (like cyanide in cigarettes)
Another cause of B12 deficiency could be destruction of the vitamin due to dietary or environmental factors. For example, cooking, food processing, smoking, high protein diets, alcohol consumption, chlorinated water (disruption by chloroform), and diarrhea may deplete B12. It is also helpful to understand that “vitamin B12 can be destroyed by competing parasites, antibiotics and vaccination, and other highly acid conditions,” (4). This could mean that the B12 in meat would be destroyed by the increased levels of hydrochloric acid needed in the stomach to digest meat products (4). That is, if the B12 microbes were not already killed by the several rounds of antibiotics given to animals in factory farms.
2. Absorption Problems: Something is preventing the proper absorption of B12 (like inadequate production of intrinsic factor)
Other than destruction, the most common cause of B12 deficiency is absorption problems. In order to properly absorb B12, the stomach produces a special “intrinsic factor” that, with adequate calcium, promotes the absorption of B12 in the small intestine.
How can you ensure that your body is getting the Vitamin B12 it needs?
First, it is important to not fall for the fear generated by the propaganda or a particular person telling you about it. Conduct your own research. Realize that deficiencies even from a pure vegetarian diet are largely a myth, remember that environment, mouth, and gut bacteria are sources of B12, and that food was created whole and complete long before arriving at our dinner table. We never needed any supplement for thousands of years. People have forgotten the power of foods, that fresh whole food and healthy living can sustain good health. Here are a few tips that you can incorporate in your life:
- Avoid eating too much meat, dairy, and gluten containing products which create an acidic internal environment and effectively line the intestinal walls with a thick layer of mucus, preventing absorption of B12.
- Eat a mostly plant-based diet rich in raw foods (at least 50%) to ensure proper digestion and a more balanced alkaline internal environment. It is known that foliate, high in a plant eater diet protects against B12 deficiency diseases.
- Raw food guru and author, David Wolfe, believes that the natural soil microbes and bacteria found on wild plant foods and garden plants are typically adequate to supply our B12 requirements (5). “It has also been reported that vitamin B12 is present in wild fruits and wild and home-grown plant foods,” (2).
- Buy raw and organic to avoid foods that have been pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, or irradiated.
- Include nutrient dense microalgae and marine phytoplankton, into your daily diet. Both are part plant, part microbe and are known to contain vitamin B12. Some marine phytoplankton and microalgae happen to be the original source of omega 3-6-9, and carry no risk of mercury contamination, unlike fish oil.
- Always drink plenty of pure water, exercise daily and avoid conditions of severe stress as much as you can.
So we learn that we don’t necessarily have to eat animal products to get vitamin B12, and that eating more whole fresh organic and raw plant foods will lead to higher amounts of B12. Those eating more plant foods will have a much cleaner digestive tract than a heavy meat-eater, resulting in higher levels of good bacteria residing in the intestines and increased absorption and re-absorption of B12. I hope that this has cleared up some of the confusion regarding a popular myth, that of B12 deficiency.
Next is an extract from a Facebook post by Robert Ross at rawfoodlife.com
One of the main issues meat eaters throw in the face of vegans is the lack of vitamin B12 in a vegan diet. However, meat eaters are actually MORE likely to have a B12 deficiency than vegans– about 1 in 6 meat eaters are B12 deficient themselves! You see, animal products are actually a really poor source of B12 since they are normally COOKED! Cooking actually changes the chemical structure of foods, creating toxins and destroying many nutrients. And a cooked food diet also weakens the digestive system. But what if you are a raw foodist?
B12 Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA’s) are actually based on what the average person needs. And guess who is average? People who eat cooked foods that also may smoke and drink! Why is that, you may well wonder?
The answer is simple – commerce! It is often in the best interest of corporations to exaggerate our nutritional requirements. The typical studies they rely on actually do NOT apply to a healthy raw vegan. Though factors like metabolism or stress can cause our needs to vary, all humans need very littleB12.
Plants don’t make B12. Neither do animals. B12 is made by bacteria in the guts of animals, which is why meat products have B12. Our herbivore primate cousins get all they need consuming bugs, dirt, and feces in their diet. We also may once have gotten all the B12 we needed by drinking out of natural mountain streams or wells. But today we chlorinate water to kill the microbes. That prevents us from getting cholera—but it also prevents us from getting B12. So in our modern world we all need to find a reliable source ofB12. Fortunately, the daily requirement for B12 is very low.
In the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has reported that only 1 micro-gram of B12 is required per day for the average person – a cooked food, meat eater! But a healthy raw food vegan usually needs less B12 because cooking has not damaged the nutrients in their food!
1. The China Study, XXX, XXX
2. ‘The Vitamin B12 Issue’, Dr. Gena Shaw
3. ‘Fit for Life’, Diamond, H. and M., 1987
4. ‘Human Anatomy and Physiology’, Marieb
5. Sunfood Diet Success System, Wolfe, David
6. The Vegetarian Way, Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, & Mark Messina, PhD. 7. Rachel’s Environmental & Health Weekly. Dangers of Chlorinated Water; RACHEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS. Annapolis, MD: Environmental Research Foundation
BioSuperfood and it’s connection to B12
The first benefit of BioSuperfood in relation to B12 deficiency is that; consuming BioSuperfood, will “fire” your ordinary foods, and its B12 content potential too. By that we mean that in “awakening the genius within”, or the principal regulation organs of the brain (such as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland), that BioSuperfood will significantly increase your capacity to assimilate, transform and absorb the many nutrients in your food, including B12. BioSuperfood is an extraordinary ally food that will expedite the return to balance and health. Read more at The Magic is BAC