Cutting out animal products to avoid cholesterol, high levels of saturated fat & animal proteins which have been shown to increase your chance of chronic disease (type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and various cancers) is an incredibly healthy decision but what about Vitamin B12? While it’s absolutely true that Vitamin B12 is not present in a 100% plant-based diet, and therefore supplementation is required, we need to put things into context.
Many people consuming an animal-based diet rely on supplements to get their vitamins and minerals too. Just walk down the aisle at your local grocery store and look at the cows milks, yogurt, bread, salt and cereals which are fortified with things like calcium, vitamin d, iodine, folate, etc. Government bodies have put regulations in place to make it mandatory for food manufacturers to put these vitamins & minerals into their food – because without them many members of the general public eating the standard Western Diet would otherwise be nutrient deficient.
Grocery stores aside, walk into a supplement shop and see who’s filling their shopping carts – the multi-billion dollar supplement industry certainly isn’t propped up by vegans. This idea of supplementing in the modern world to reach the recommended daily intakes of certain vitamins or minerals is not a new one and certainly not limited to a plant-based or vegan diet. When it comes to nutrition and health the overall aim should be to consume a diet that maximises nutrition whilst minimising exposure to harmful substances. If everyone did this the supplement industry would shrink overnight. In contrast, this notion of eating a nutrient poor diet made up of empty calories (standard western diet) with the addition of supplements is what keeps this industry propped up.
I’ve mentioned methionine in the above diagram because it’s the amino acid most linked to causing a variety of cancers when consumed in high concentrations (eggs, meat, seafood and cheese naturally contain much higher methionine per serve than typical plant foods). I have covered the science behind this on my “animal protein & disease” blog with stacks of scientific literature references and videos for you to refer to. The evidence is more than compelling that animal protein sources contain amino acids in concentrations that are promoting these cancerous growths. Methionine is an essential amino acid, so we do need it, however it is found in better concentrations within plant-based protein sources compared to animal-based protein sources.
So we can get our B12 from a supplement that is shown to be highly absorbed or you can source it from animal products where the B12 sits alongside saturated fat, cholesterol, methionine, hormones and, often, antibiotics.
Plenty of food products these days are fortified with Vitamin B12. Typically they use a form of B12 called Cyanocobalamin which is the form that I generally recommend. There are a small % of people (smokers, those with kidney disease or those carrying the MTHFR gene) who are better suited to other forms of B12 which I discuss here.
Of the B12 supplements, I recommend a Cyanocobalamin form because it has been studied more than other forms of B12 and is considered more stable. You can pick this up online or in most health food/supplement shops. The other form of B12 that is commonly recommended is Methylcobalamin. If you have been taking Methylcobalamin and have had a blood test that shows good B12 status, by all means continue with what’s clearly working for you.
Otherwise, a B12 injection periodically is also something most doctors offer and works well too. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
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