View Full Version : B12 deficiency: case stories wanted

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May 15th, 2004, 10:46 AM
Hi, we had a thread in the 'old' veganforum requesting case stories from vegans that had experienced B12 deficiency. We didn't get any response, but we are still interested in personal reports from people who have had personal experience with B12 deficiency. There are some case stories available on internet, if you come across any, please post a link to them in this thread...

From http://library.thinkquest.org/20922/where_nutrients.htm:
"Despite the notoriety of this vitamin, dietary B12 deficiency in adult vegans is rare: some 15 cases have been recorded in the medical press worldwide since the 1980s. Not all cases will be published but it is significant that B12 deficiency is so uncommon that single case reports are still thought worthy of publication in medical journals."

The number is higher now, but still very low. This does not mean that the possibility of developing B12 deficiency should be ignored...

DontJustDoSomething, SitThere
May 15th, 2004, 09:33 PM
Here is a report from a vegan who developed B12 deficiency, from fruitnut.net:

Had you asked me 3 years ago, I would have suggested that B12 problems with a vegan (high raw food) dietary was due to poor food choices and/or a conspiracy put about by animal eaters. Now, having had experience with the effects of low B12, I offer these comments. I do so in the hope that the attitude of many people and groups who wish to see the Vegan way remain 'untarnished', may find a new and exciting outlet for a real advancement of the Vegan diet and subsequently improved attitudes in the wider community, to our fellow creatures.

There is I believe a large body of subjective information which if it were to be thoughtfully published, may relieve a lot of anxiety and misconceptions which have surrounded this topic for many years.

Numerous references to the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) and suggested Serum B12 levels and MMA readings are available, as are symptoms and potential causes of variations in measurable quantities of B12 in the body. Test methods (blood, urine and assimilation), availability from foods, statistical data related to vegan/vegetarian groups as well as for human carnivores has been documented in scientific studies over the last 30 years or so. Please refer to vegan literature, articles in magazines and on the internet for these details. (Search for B12 in any of the related vegan links, or with Search engines.)

The purpose of this article is to commence a catalogue of personal experiences, so that people have access to real stories and not just a scientific kit bag of research data and second hand experiences, possibly losing the means of usefully identifying causes in the re-telling.

Current medical advice suggests NO upper limit, potentially a B12 level of well over a 1000 pg/ml blood if B12 injections are utilised. Some sports related professionals may well have extended this also, as B12 is sometimes given by injection to athletes.

From vegan literature, a suggested minimum of some 100-120 pg/ml blood for B12 appears for many long-term vegans to be satisfactory in tested subjects for subjective acceptability of health status.

My experience of two separate incidences about 12 months apart, with low B12 symptoms and low B12 measurements, is briefly explained below.

First Experience
In 1999, I had been predominately raw food (90% plus) for around 6 years and a practising vegan for some 9 years. After 2-3 months with intense periods of stress, (my hair turned grey also!), I had my B12 blood levels checked for the first time. A single test revealed a sample of 56 pg/ml with high follate levels. Not wishing to administer either supplements or injections, I decided to re-aliment with a change in diet. Large quantities of parsley, some mushrooms and green leaf were consumed at usual mealtime between 5.30pm and 7pm. In addition I left the high raw food regime and reduced to about 70-80% for a week or two. Eating some tempeh, steamed vegetables and a daily intake of about 300 ml of soyoghurt. I also sought out seaweed. A few meals included baked potatoes. My expectation that my B12 levels would be restored in this way was never in doubt. The selected re-alimentation procedure was based on:

* Soyoghurt to re-establish intestinal flora particularly, including acidopholous bacillus present and listed on container.

* Pineapple one lunchtime for a high acid content. A few days later, paw-paw (papaya) at lunch for high alkaline content. All other lunch meals and afternoon grazing on fruit as usual.

* Tempeh made locally in my village, is untested for B12 content. The care and dedication of the manufacturer to make a product specifically for vegans though, and his experience with tempeh manufacture, including in Indonesia, with access to B12 data around the world, suggested to me there would be some B12 present.

* Greens, lightly washed, many from home garden. A lot of references in vegan/B12 literature indicate minute organisms and bacteria settle on garden leaf. These included parsley, spinach, green outer lettuce leaves, kale and Chinese leaf, pakchoy and bokchoy.

* Emotional assistance from a higher percentage of cooked foods, during wintertime. As I was still not 100% rawfoods, I thought this was a good opportunity to 'give myself some love'. I was/had been under duress and I wanted to reduce as much as possible any potential source of mental pressure. I felt that I may have been trying too hard to be a 'rawfooder. I knew I still would enjoy some foods which I had forbidden myself, even though feeling an attachment to them if others were eating in my presence. (Read baked potatoes, yummy soyoghurt and tempting tamari tempeh!).

* Seaweed, some diced raw weed and some roasted nori sheets. From published data seaweed contains measurable amounts of B12 in many tests. Mushrooms similarly, regularly show traces of B12.

*Complete rest as best I could with help from a few wonderful friends.

*Time for the external source of my initial stress to dissipate.

Three weeks later, I had another B12 blood test. This confirmed my subjective feelings, I was getting better. The single sample from the same laboratory showed a B12 level of 146 pg/ml. ( Compared to 56 pg/ml previously.) I felt more positive in myself, I was actively helping myself to heal, periods of dizziness and mental confusion and poor decision making were lessened and overall I was reconnected with the power of my own judgement and self control. The timing of this first experience was between August and early September 1999.

Transitional Period

I continued the altered regime for the 3 week period, with an increasing amount of rawfoods after the first week, regular seaweed and fresh herbs every day, leading to a similar 90% plus raw food intake with occasional baked potato binges until March 2000, when I commenced 100% raw foods. I have since felt perfectly happy with this final transition, with no lingering attachment or desire for any other foods, whether previously ' self-forbidden ' or not.

Typical meals

My basic eating regime is largely unchanged with first food at 11am or later consisting of seasonal/purchased fruit, such as orange, apple, banana icecream, mangoes, durian, persimmon, blueberries, stone fruit or my own nectarines, papaya or whatever else is the 'food of the week' from my shopping spree. Avacado or occasionally some nuts /seeds whole soaked or milked add some 'bulk' to satisfy. Grazing usually to some extent in afternoon depending on activity, time of year etc. with fruits in season and a salad for dinner at 5.30pm-7pm dependant on time of year, extent of hunger etc. Evening salad is a combination meal, with a green sludge herb sauce, or lemon/orange/oil dressing with garlic possibly. Tomato, cucumber, greenest leaf and fresh herbs form the daily basis to which is added avacado, celery, a small amount of grated carrot and/ beetroot, daikon, mushrooms, etc. and anything else raw around the kitchen or garden at the time of preparation. Often this is supplemented by a few pieces of fruit a little afterwards, or a rawfood ball, (dried fruit and nuts/seeds blended with a small piece of banana or apple for moisture and combining.)

Second Experience
The second adventure with B12 commenced about 4 months after my adopting the 100% rawfood regime:

In June I noticed upon waking that my toes and fingers appeared to have poor circulation. As this was onset of winter, temperatures frequently would be less than 3 degrees C overnight, and often down to -2/-3 degrees C, leading to cold extremities in any case. I did not immediately connect this symptom. I also noticed some dizziness when standing up quickly - again an experience not unknown to me in recent years. This usually happened when energy levels were low, during and after a fast, at other times if I had lost weight quickly or was less fit. Also at times on 100% fruit regime for months at a time I attributed this spaciness to 'not being grounded'. - The spiritual effects of a fruitarian food intake!

Anyway, a few weeks later, my left thumb began to feel numb, which feeling progressed over the next 6-8 weeks with the numbness spreading to my left forefinger and up the web of my left hand. I suspected that this may be B12 related, but I was unsure and so I waited to see if this was some other natural action my body was causing.

Consequently by mid-August, after about 10-12 weeks of the symptoms of numbness, with me having travelled North to a warmer climate and still finding my other fingers also tingling and getting a sense of numbness, the low B12 question was almost constantly on my mind.

I was disappointed that perhaps a 100% rawfood regime seemed questionable for me and scanned literature and the Internet to clarify other peoples experiences and advice.

I found nothing to support a rawfood vegan diet in terms of naturally occurring KNOWN raw sources of B12, only references to debatable cobalimin analogues, little scientific help and even less subjective details. How had I arrived here after so many years thinking I was improving my health and ending up with a sure B12 deficiency symptom and no natural solution for a 100% raw fooder. I felt alone all of a sudden. My first experience last year had been re-alimenting using some processed foods, what to do next?

I decided on a B12 test. I waited 2 days for the results and thought long and hard about the consequences of prolonging my present status and finding some quick way of resolving my predicament. When the results came back, the value was less than 45mcg/l B12 in my blood and therefore not recordable.

After a telephone call to the clinic I was told that the instruments lower limit could not measure below that figure and that this was a very low level in their view. This was of course confirmed by the doctor and nurse when I received the sample results.

I had 3 choices:

a. to re-aliment as I had done previously
b. take B12 supplements
c. have B12 injections(s)

This was really a landmark. I knew that I had previously been capable of assimilating B12 form my first experience a year earlier. I have a legacy of wanting to believe in the 'Power of Nature', somehow a natural solution should still be possible, but everywhere I searched, I could only find negative information about 100% raw food vegan diet and a low B12 status. I had been reading the literature about the non reversibility of neurological effects from B12 deficiency and a quick solution seemed important. My natural hygiene and nature cure adherence had not prepared me for this event. I talked to a number of vegans who had been taking B12 pill supplements and read about the expected absorption rates and times to build my level up. This could have been months possibly although I tended to think it would be sooner. I then considered the concept of having injections. I talked to people who had an injection and found the mental relief offered by a very quick potential fix to be quite appealing. The thought of knowing a solution lay readily at hand was comforting but how could I relate to it? I realized also what an opportunity I had. I considered it unlikely that I would ever again get into this predicament and I wanted to make the most of it. I therefore decided that this was the ideal time to see the effect of B12 injections. This realisation was comforting, as I had been many weeks considering the potential effects on my health and a quick, safe positive solution, one which I was initially trying to avoid, suddenly appeared completely plausible, sensible and exciting at the same time. Thus I opted for an injection. I felt exhilarated afterwards, with the thought of permanent damage largely dispelled and the long drawn out saga now at completion. I could get on with the business of life again. Three injections are recommended over about a 4 week period. I was satisfied with the results of the first. It took about 10 days for a semblance of normal feeling to return and some 3 weeks for most of the symptoms to dissipate. I then decided it would be a useful thing to do further research into B12 and investigated various schools where this could take place. So far I have not bothered as other events have overtaken me, but I still think that I will get involved with B12 research in some way in the future. I had a second injection some 2 months after the first, and the last one still sits in it's little packet in the drawer becoming outdated. I did not have another blood test to see and record my B12 level as this is really of no consequence to me, but would perhaps of been useful to others to complete my investigations. Suffice to say I feel fine and as far as I can tell there is no permanent scar as a result of my experience. It is now July 2001.

I offer this story in the hope that by recording my thoughts and actions over this issue, others may in some way benefit from my experience and normalise their own health matters as a result. Anyone wondering about the B12 conspiracy theories may also better judge for themselves what opinions to form if similar real experiences end up documented as well.

I would like to finish this article by noting a few comments which I found interesting during my own search:

A friend re-alimented from about 180 to around 600 pg/ml B12 just by eating more roughly washed carrots from her own garden. I know of 5 other 'vegans' who recently have also had low B12 readings, enough for each of them to have either taken supplements or in a couple of instances to have injections. Symptoms generally have been tingling/ neurological/numbness. None of them are on high raw food intake. Apparently the coincidence of a fall in all B vitamins is consistent with body/mental stress, so B12 is just one of the group. The significance in my view of this fact is that vegans with lower maintained levels of B12 are probably less likely to be able to maintain a 'buffer' in the instance of a high imposed stressful situation, once the point of depletion is reached. This is only circumstantial reasoning on my behalf, however I think a reasonable postulate. A long term vegan (over 30 years and a lifelong vegetarian), with access to organic foods and fresh produce, mostly raw food (not 100%) suffered from B12 deficiency symptoms and has since been told by medical staff that he will need to have injections as he is no longer capable of assimilating B12. Tests for B12 in (read ON) foods have generally not been documented substantially. Of course cobalt traces need to be available to form cobalamin and hardly any food references to cobalt exist in literature I have viewed. Some processed foods such as fortified soymilk, cereals, marmite and some yeast varieties show B12, however, the most consistent recorded levels which I have found in raw food seem to be in Seaweed. Some references mention occasional traces on leaf matter and mushrooms, which presumably is also variable depending on soil, grazing of animals/bird life, insects and potential bacterial growth. Commercially raised B12 is grown on molasses. Some pragmatic nature cure and natural hygienists openly state that they have had many experiences with individuals who have come to them with health problems, when trying to maintain a 100% rawfood vegan regime. We are individuals. Some people presumably are able to maintain a raw food vegan dietary without any problems. Food sources, washing methods, soil types and history of manures, fermented food stuffs and various degrees of resilience and natural diversity amongst peoples is yet to be investigated in adequate detail to be able to identify more rigorously the effects these have on our ability to keep healthy. A good source of B12 is from seaweeds. My body/mind just ate up lots of seaweed when I felt that I was possibly low in B12 and I do have a degree of faith in the ability to judge from this fact. I have been purchasing Dulse from Canada, (look on Internet for sources). The B12 levels have been tested and appear repeatable in various batches, so this is as good as any Known raw food source in my opinion. It may be that the residue of B12 is bacteria or even minute sea creatures. If as a vegan you are concerned, it can be further washed to reduce clinging contaminants and the possibly high salt content also reduced. The choice is always ours.

If the B12 bacterium seeks to grow on selected foods which are now becoming washed commercially before we have access to them, and we are not growing our own, then a known source of B12 may still elude us. Apart from supplements and injections that is. Probably as a vegan I am ultimately happy to make the sacrifice of these methods to maintain a non-violent outlook, but my preference is still to seek another way.

Anyway, happy hunting, eating and alimenting to you all. I would be pleased to answer any enquiries and may be contacted via this site or at zalan@rawfoods.com .. also for further info regarding B12 on a raw diet, you can read the article - "B12 on a raw food diet"

MY B12 UPDATE By Zalan Glen OCTOBER 2002

It is good to use the internet to get a diverse range of opinions, certainly for B12 this is probably all you will get, very few people seem to agree, even less have any personal history with their own search for B12 truth, therefore my reason for writing the featured article.

"Where do you get your B12 from, and how do you know?"
Perhaps a pertinent question to ask any Rawfooder, and Vegan, and especially a Rawfood Vegan. I would suggest most people guess, some take supplements anyway and assume this is their source. Basically "if it ain't wrong, don't try and fix it" has been a philosophy which I have generally followed. So entrenched in that particular philosophy, which Natural Hygiene promotes, I did not ever bother to undertake any B12 tests, or indeed any other diagnostics, nor did I take supplements of any kind. Thus to my surprise, after many years a vegan and after following a "Healthy Way" based on hygiene with a very high rawfood %, the long term caution which has plagued Vegans for many years finally came to my direct attention. I had discussed B12 with numerous people; most vegans will have stories to tell, either their own, or some one they know personally who has been diagnosed with 'low B12.' This of course does not necessarily mean, in all cases, that these people actually have symptoms of B12 deficiency. Often a low numerical value is used to suggest this, without the value being related to the Vegan Sub-group, and possibly without symptoms. Current accepted levels this year, 2002, in Australia; less than 180 ng/l is low, whilst 180 -220 ng/l is indeterminate, a telltale for future checks.

So where does this lead? Well frankly nowhere and everywhere. A personal history may or may not be seen to be useful or desirable. WHY B12? Why not check progress of 1001 other diagnostic values, which I might be personally interested in? Energy levels for instance, or tooth caries or cholesterol or WHATEVER. Well, the distinguishing factor with health is always--"HOW DO I FEEL?" If I believe there are symptoms, which are effecting my health and performance, then I start to narrow down the implications, just as Natural Hygiene suggests - "Health care IS Self care." If I am stuck in the external environment, then I take EXTRA care of my bodies' internal environment and maximise my health in those areas I have the greatest influence and knowledge about. If I suspect a problem with B12 symptoms however, unless I have a personal background value and traceable record of B12 variations, then any assumption about the source and effect of B12 is unverifiable.

The main article here (above), was written over 12 months ago. Since then I have further tests, not because I experienced symptoms, but as a check for science, and I also wanted to know. Tested serum level in mid March 2002 was 135 ng/l. Recently, I had another check, on 24 Sep 2002, when serum level measured 193 ng/l. Although different testing laboratories, the numerical variation I believe is enough to suggest my levels have actually risen, by exactly how much I don't predict, but they are UP. Macrocyte size was 'Normal' and 'Antiparietal Cell Antibody' was negative. That is platelets appear normal, and I have functioning Intrinsic Factor, both 'diagnostically' and practically. I feel good and I HAVE NO LINGERING SUSPICION THAT THERE MAY BE A PROBLEM WITH THE RAW FOOD DIET I AM FOLLOWING. THUS I AM HAPPY AND I KNOW THAT MY B12 IS OK, both symptomatically and numerically. So I am ONE HAPPY PERSON.

I also believe I am probably one of the few sources of this type of actual experiential information in this regard. Many people can read books and papers and quote Shelton and other Luminaries, however, when one experiences the symptoms attributed to B12 deficiency, if it is low B12, whether a crappy gut or not-is not really relevant. But the methods of FIXING symptoms which all point to low B12, whether by supplements, which do work, by injections, which do work or by food re-alimentation which I have also done and know works, - these are all up to the individual. I have been regularly eating a handful of Roland's Sea Vegetables 'DULSE" from Grand Manaan Island Canada. I import this at great expense and consider the seaweed to be a food, not a supplement. I attribute at least some of my rising B12 levels to this dietary modification.

So my advice is-DONT GO THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. FIND A READY SOURCE OF KNOWN B12 AND USE IT. If this is produced by you without outside intervention, well FINE go for it. However, if any doubts arise, the only way to FIND OUT is to test- whether serum or urine for background levels and then repeat at some future time. To me this is VERY SENSIBLE. Research information, which is upgrading some of the old hygiene anecdotes (not principles) is ever more available and so parts of hygiene 'folklore' are being exposed as just that. Foods with washing, storage, supermarket presentation, changing soil conditions and hydroponics and who knows what else?? are altering the Capacity for Human Health on a daily basis now. I don't take this current change lightly. The move to Rawfoods I believe is an essential Health Imperative on behalf of Governments for all citizens, not just us ' health specialists.' Best Wishes, In Health, Zalan

May 27th, 2004, 07:53 AM
According to ecologos.org (http://www.ecologos.org/B-12.htm), "...a PubMed search for "B-12 deficiency vegan" brings up only 25 hits since 1967, less than one per year, and the journals abstracted in PubMed pretty much cover the entire civilized planet."
There are more known cases than those reported at PubMed, but still very few, compared with the total, worldwide number of vegans.

Ecologos also writes:

"A poll of 968 adults (=>18 years old) reported that 0.9% claimed to be true vegans. Since there are more than 209 million people in the US in that age range, there are about 2,000,000 vegans in the US.
So, if an insignificant 1% of all US vegans actually had B-12 issues, the medical journals would be flooded with reports of these 20,000 cases, yet we do not see them. If 10% of vegans had B-12 problems, where are the 200,000 cases??? Where are they? Even if 10% of vegans had B-12 problems, these could be easily solved with inexpensive supplements and thus allow this 10% to also reap the considerable and documented health benefits of plant-based diets!"

Interesting stuff, but since probably at least 50% of all vegans take B12 supplements, the number doesn't really reflect the B12 deficiency risk based on vegan diet alone. Also, I think the number of vegans in US is lower than 2,000,000. Plus, there's a big group of vegans that do not take supplements, but add some B12 if they feel they need it. Finally, there might be a large group of that do not develop any B12 deficiency symptoms, but who have increased homocysteine levels due to low B12 levels - this might shorten their lives (heart risk); such info would not show up in PubMed.

Nevertheless, I think ecologos.org is doing a great job in focusing on the fact that the number of known B12 deficiency cases among vegans is extremely low (compared with the number of vegans worldwide).

To find out more about the real B12 situation among people on a vegan diet, please post more cases here!

Here (http://www.healthpromoting.com/Articles/articles/b12.htm) is an article that writes about dozens of documented cases of B12 deficiency among their patients. I don't know if they by deficiency mean that people actually had any symptoms, or if these patients just had lower levels than average meat eaters. Although the article seem a bit superficial, it's good to see an article about B12 written in the spirit of veganism (unlike some of the material written by the so called "vegan" number crunchers at some other sites):

Even in the modern environment, with our fastidious food cleanliness, a person consuming a vegan diet may never experience the need for vitamin B12 supplementation. Even the small amounts of B12 commonly found in the nodules of organically-grown root vegetables, and the small amounts produced by the bacteria in our own mouths, may be enough to sustain many of us. A very little of this substance can go a long way. For those who switch to a vegan diet, for example, there are usually stores of B12 in the liver that can last for several years, or even decades. However, the doctors at the TrueNorth Health Center work with a large number of vegan patients every year, and we have documented dozens of cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, all of which corrected with supplementation. Although many of our patients are understandably resistant to the idea that they might need supplementation, we urge them to test periodically for this possible deficiency, and to take appropriate action when indicated. We also recommend that all pregnant and lactating women include a reliable source of vitamin B12 to ensure the nutritional adequacy of their milk supply.

Keeping it simple
Our advice is straightforward: If you adhere to a vegan diet, we recommend that you either (1) have yourself tested for vitamin B12 deficiency every two years, or (2) ensure a reliable source of vitamin B12. The most appropriate test for evaluating B12 status is the blood or urine test for methylmalonic acid (MMA). Elevated MMA is currently our best tool for detecting vitamin B12 deficiency, and is considered to be superior to testing for serum B12 directly. We recommend that if you choose to avoid all animal products, fortified foods, and supplements, periodic testing for elevated MMA is indicated.

Jul 25th, 2004, 04:24 AM
I can't tell whether the item on 16 May is about Zalan, or is about Mango (fruit nut) - either way, one or both of them had the deficiency. I know two other long-term vegans who have b12 deficiency. I had the MMA test as well as blood test, and thankfully they both show good levels, but I do take daily a sublingual b12 tablet! What I've found is that if someone gets tested and finds a low level, they stick their heads in the sand and don't want to know.

Jul 26th, 2004, 08:06 AM
Just as a postscript, b12 deficiency among meat eaters is not so widely publicised. Today a friend of mine, Dulcie, called round after seeing her doctor. Dulcie is a meat eater, though she said only chicken!!! However, she has been diagnosed with low b12 and anaemia. The doctor recommended that she eats steak and good mince! I tried to explain that the steak comes from an animal that just eats grass, but she went ahead and paid $5 for a pack of mince. :confused:

Jul 31st, 2004, 12:17 PM
Also, the numbers that document high levels of B12 in meat and among meat eaters normally doesn't distinguish between true, active B12 and B12 analogues.

Aug 4th, 2004, 12:29 PM
Is the B12 in fortified foods (eg soya milk, breakfast cereals) what you would class as true, active B12 or not?

Dec 4th, 2004, 09:11 AM
Is the B12 in fortified foods (eg soya milk, breakfast cereals) what you would class as true, active B12 or not?

Studies of normal patients with no stores of cobalamin have shown that only 1 microgram per day is required to quickly reverse early pernicious anemia. A dramatic increase in young red blood cells and reticulocytes and a rise to normal hemoglobin and hematocrit was observed within
days. The minimum daily requirement (MDR) for cobalamin appears to be even lower, 0.2-0.25 micrograms per day absorbed from food is adequate for normal people (Herbert 1987). It has been found that a significant percentage of the activity in 'B-12 enriched' foods are inactive analogs. Hamburger, cottage cheese and boiled eggs averaged about 10% analogs while milk products (whole, evaporated, nonfat) averaged about 30%, whereas nearly 100% is inactive from tempeh. A typical 'VA lunch' consisting of potato soup, cottage cheese, lettuce, peaches, crackers, butter and milk was analyzed and found to contain 40% inactive analogs (Herbert 1984b). This is not a problem for normal people, as it has been established that inactive B-12 analogs exist in human liver, red blood cells, brain and mineral and vitamin supplements (Kanazawa 1983;Herbert 1982). Normal humans are able to discriminate between the active and
non-active forms as both have always been in nature and in foods. For example, the role of the plasma transport proteins transcobalamins I and III are to deliver non-functional B-12 analogs to the liver for discard in the bile (Burger, 1975, Jacob 1980, and Kanazawa 1983b). Moreover, an
effective enterohepatic circulation recycles the vitamin from bile and other intestinal secretions accounting for its long biological half-life. During this process, vitamin B-12 analogues are preferentially excreted while human-active cobalamins are largely resorbed (Kanazawa 1983). ( http://veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=317 )

Dec 4th, 2004, 09:35 AM
Afraid all this is too complicated for me. I do know vegans who have a b12 deficiency, but also know omnivores with the same deficiency. Also, what is a 'normal patient'? What may be right for one person may be insufficient for another. I'm not a scientist, and certainly there is no consensus there, so I get myself tested, and continue to take a tablet. Why should I bury my head in the sand? One vegan I know absolutely refuses to take tablets or have an injection even though he is deficient and had the beginnings of pernicious anaemia at least 18 months ago when he was tested for the first and only time (MMA), so possibly it has got worse. He is convinced that by eating organic fruit and veggies, he will be all right.

Apr 20th, 2005, 09:27 AM
One vegan I know absolutely refuses to take tablets or have an injection even though he is deficient and had the beginnings of pernicious anaemia at least 18 months ago when he was tested for the first and only time (MMA), so possibly it has got worse. He is convinced that by eating organic fruit and veggies, he will be all right. There is no proof that eating organic fruit and veggies will cure pernicious anaemia at all: some plants contain B12, some don't, plus there's the whole issue with inactive analogues... it doesn't sound wise to assume that 'organic' will fix this. That one person can live well on 35 years without supplements doesn't mean that all vegans can. As you know, I'm not at all follower of the supplement-hysteria, but please remind him from me that pernicious anaemia isn't actually the main problem with B12. Even folic acid (supplements) can correct the anemia associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Unfortunately, folic acid will not correct changes in the nervous system that may result from serious B12 deficiency.

Studies of normal patients with no stores of cobalamin have shown that only 1 microgram per day is required to quickly reverse early pernicious anemia. A dramatic increase in young red blood cells and reticulocytes and a rise to normal hemoglobin and hematocrit was observed within days. The minimum daily requirement (MDR) for cobalamin appears to be even lower, 0.2-0.25 micrograms per day absorbed from food is adequate for normal people ( Herbert 1987)

It may or may not be possible to obtain 1mcg B12 daily from organic food (or 0.3 mcg, see below), but there is no warranty. It all depends on the soil it has been growing in, how fresh it is, what kind of plants we a re talking about, what kind of water it has been exposed to plus, of course, a lot of conditions in the (life of) the one who is eating these plants.


In 4 Indian vegetarians with B12-deficient anemia, .10 - .25 g of B12 (through the diet) was not enough to correct anemia, while .3-.65 was enough. Not all patients, however, require so little.

According to the numbers referred to in two different posts in this (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=217) thread, vegan food contains between 0.3-0.4-mcg / maximum 1.3 mcb B12, and if 0.3-0.65/1 mcg B12 is enough to cure pernicious anaemia, fresh organic plant food from good soil could cure the anemia itself. Or not.

Apr 21st, 2005, 10:04 AM
When I was pregnant with my first child, in 1985, I was worried about my B12 level, having been vegetarian for 9 years and vegan for about 4 years, without taking any supplements or eating fortified foods.

I was found to have sub-normal levels, after a blood test, although I had no adverse symptoms and was perfectly healthy. My doctor wanted to give me B12 injections, but I opted to take tablets, 10mcg B12 in brewer's yeast tabs. After a few weeks, I was well within the normal range.

I now rely on fortified foods, particulary Meridian Yeast Extract, to ensure my family get enough B12.

I think it's not a good idea to take risks, particularly with the health of growing children. For adults, of course it's up to the individual to decide whether to investigate the possibility of obtaining sufficient B12 from purely 'natural' sources.

But I really don't see what the problem with synthesised B12 is, anyway, as it's manufactured from yeast.

Jun 17th, 2005, 12:30 PM
I suffer from a B12 deficiency (penicious anemia) due to my diet, I have been a strict Vegan for 17 Years now (I am 26). For a number of years I have been recieving B12 (Hydrocobalamin) injections direct in to my arm muscles for slow release and absorbsion into the system...

I originally started having problems 10 years after going Vegan, during my seccond year at college I had the equivelent to a nervous breakdown as I could not think straight, my memory was so bad that I could not complete assignments because I couldn't remember what I was taught, and the things that I did know became blury, I was having trouble turning up to the right lessons because I just couldnt think and I went into a deep depression...

Whenever I was hurt I was not healing fast and tended to bleed a lot from the smallest of injuries...

I figured I had to have something wrong and therfore sought my doctor, I was checked for vitamin levels and It turned out I had a vitamin B12 deficiency and penicious animea which my doctor suspected, I was treated with B12 injections once a week for three weeks and then one every three months and sent to a pycologist for the depression...

I have to tell you I am stubborn and was feeling much better by the time I saw the pycologist, he kept trying to make me touch his leather breafcase to show that I could, to which my response was (calmly) "I could touch the briefcase but I choose not to" this conversation was repeated a dosen times or so till he gave up. At the end of the session he said to my mum that their was absolutely nothing wrong with me and if she would like to speak he could arrange for her to have a session. He was at this time very fustrated as I was very calm and composed. We had one more session booked so I turned up to find that he dissapeared directly after my last session and no one had heard from him since (this was 1 week later), I think I gave him an nervous breakdown aI was able to deflect all his pyco-analysis so easily...

A few years later I have now developed an overactive thyroid...

If you need more details just message me,

Jul 6th, 2005, 05:02 PM
Could you or anyone elaborate on what vaganism has to do with thyroid? Any information? Thank you.

Jul 6th, 2005, 06:07 PM
Mixtlupus - Did the psychologist think that veganism was some type of phsyciatric disorder from which you had to be cured. LOL. Shocking, really, that someone with such a lack of knowledge is (or was?) in practice. :rolleyes:

Jul 15th, 2005, 10:41 AM
i never actually got tested for b12 deficiency, but just over a year ago i started to get numbness and tingling in my fingertips even when it wasnt cold, and they would turn a horrible dead greyish white colour :( ..it was quite scary, i would rub them and shake them and eventually they would go back to a normal colour.
i also had huge problems concentrating and made heaps of silly mistakes at work..couldnt seem to retain any information and felt really spaced out all the time, tired and dizzy when i stood up.

i had read about b12 deficiency and suspected what was wrong. i had been very slack in not making sure i was getting enough fortified products and also had stopped taking my b12 tablets (through sheer forgetfulness and a bit of laziness) so i started taking b12 again and eating fortified products and within a few months the numbness and tingling stopped. i felt sharper in the mind and also took iron so maybe that had something to do with it.

i guess ill never know if i was b12 deficient but the symptoms seem to point to that after reading other peoples stories.


Jul 22nd, 2005, 12:11 PM
I was diagnosed with B12 deficiency 6 years ago (as a vegetarian long standing). Symptoms were tiredness, bruising/ dizziness (similar to iron dificiency). Dr discovered this after blood tests where my platelets were large. Dr asked if I drank heavily, this was not the case. After 3 injections I was back to normal. However I have to have the injections for the deficiency about every couple of years as my gut does not absorb the B12 so medication and food are not reliable, this is apparently a common issue with some people.

Jul 22nd, 2005, 12:15 PM
when you were b12 deficient did you find your hair fell out alot more than usual?

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:35 AM
I think it did yes.

Apparently a percentage of the population are difficient due to not being able to absorb it through the gut including meat eaters. Thats why you need the injections otherwise you can consume suppliments in huge amounts and you still would not absorb it.

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:37 AM
when you were b12 deficient did you find your hair fell out alot more than usual?


If your gut cant absorb the B12 you need injections. You will not absorb suppliments. It effects meateaters the same if their guts cant absorb the B12.

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:41 AM
i am a little worried that during the time i was suffering from anorexia i was mildly deficient in B12. i was consuming egg whites at the time, but it was in such low amounts...however i now take a supplement and such...that should be restoring my reserves and such right?

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:45 AM
i am a little worried that during the time i was suffering from anorexia i was mildly deficient in B12. i was consuming egg whites at the time, but it was in such low amounts...however i now take a supplement and such...that should be restoring my reserves and such right?

You need a blood test to determine levels. Keep in mind that iron can mask a B12 deficiency so don't take it for a week before the test. Suppliments won't help if your gut cant manufacture it. Hopefully yours can :) I think the B12 is in the yolk of an egg.

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:48 AM
I had been taking suppliments regularly when found to be deficient

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:50 AM
thank u for the help! i was eating replacement for it, u know the stuff to simulate it made of egg whites, but often enhanced with some of the other nutrients. and i'm really sorry if this is grosing anyone out, or offending anyone, i'll stop posting my pre-vegan foods after this one

Nov 7th, 2005, 03:55 AM
It wasn't gross we need to ask certain questions so we can all learn :)

Nov 7th, 2005, 04:00 AM
thank u for ur understanding :)