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Melina
May 7th, 2005, 11:32 AM
Hi all,
I've recently gone vegan and find myself needing to explain my reasons to friends and family. One of the reasons which I give, is that it is natural. We do not have the canine teeth and claws to bring down animals and tear their flesh, like other carnivores. Cow milk is made for baby cows, not humans, and it is not natural to drink the milk of another animal. OK. So what about vitamin b12? I understand it is only found naturally in animal products. And we need it to be healthy. So how am I supposed to answer when someone asks me, "how natural is it, to take an artificially-made supplement?". How do they get the b12 into vitamin supplements? Where does that b12 come from? I am curious to hear what you have to say about this. I want my arguments to be strong and sound, yet I'm stuck on this issue. Thanks.

DianeVegan
May 7th, 2005, 12:53 PM
Melina,

B12 is derived from bacteria and fungi, not animals. This bacteria resides in dirt and water. Animals get it while grazing, eating food that has not been washed, or unfiltered water. Humans used to drink water that was not purified and eat bits of dirt (with the bacteria in it) before we had kitchen sinks to rinse everything. Also, home-fermented foods used to get B12 from bacteria in the air. Our great desire to be hygienic has rid us of B12, not declining animal products. So, now we have the choice of eating a supplement from the bacteria - or - eating dirty animals!

The book "Becoming Vegan" has a great chapter on vitamins and Brenda Davis/Vesanto Melina go into great detail. If you do not have this book, I urge you to read it. As they state in their book, please take a B12 supplement if you are vegan.

It's amazing to me that people have no problem with taking vitamin A, C, and other supplements but give us a hard time about B12.

Check out the sub-forum on B12. There's a lot of great info there!

soyabean
May 7th, 2005, 01:29 PM
From what I've read about vitamin B12 (please correct me if anyone knows more about it here), I believe it actually comes from bacteria that live in the soil (or some animals have the bacteria living inside them too).
So if we were living naturally as vegans, we would get vitamin B12 - the reason we sometimes might not nowadays is because with the way food is picked and processed, it's so thoroughly washed and processed that all the soil and bacteria gets removed - but if we were living a more natural vegan food gathering lifestyle, then we would be getting the tiny amounts of soil and B12 producing bacteria on food we ate.
I think most animals get B12 either from having the bacteria living in their gut, or because they eat food from the earth that hasn't been so thoroughly washed and processed as food for human consumption is.
(Hope I remembered that right - I'm sure that's what I read ages ago)

littleTigercub
May 7th, 2005, 02:01 PM
Yes the book also suggests that people (vegetarians) were not B12 deficient when they did not/could not wash their produce as thoroughly as we do.

To me this translates as: animals are never clean enough!?

littleTigercub

Melina
May 7th, 2005, 03:08 PM
Thanks! I posted on another forum and got the same explanation from a few people, so you're right! It's great to hear, because intuitively I knew that veganism was natural and there had to be a natural way to get b12, this explains it!

Melina
May 7th, 2005, 03:11 PM
Thank you! This explains it!!! I've got to get myself that book!!!

FR
May 7th, 2005, 03:26 PM
Melina,

B12 is derived from bacteria and fungi, not animals. This bacteria resides in dirt and water. Animals get it while grazing, eating food that has not been washed, or unfiltered water. Humans used to drink water that was not purified and eat bits of dirt (with the bacteria in it) before we had kitchen sinks to rinse everything. Also, home-fermented foods used to get B12 from bacteria in the air. Our great desire to be hygienic has rid us of B12, not declining animal products. So, now we have the choice of eating a supplement from the bacteria - or - eating dirty animals!

The book "Becoming Vegan" has a great chapter on vitamins and Brenda Davis/Vesanto Melina go into great detail. If you do not have this book, I urge you to read it. As they state in their book, please take a B12 supplement if you are vegan.

It's amazing to me that people have no problem with taking vitamin A, C, and other supplements but give us a hard time about B12.

Check out the sub-forum on B12. There's a lot of great info there!

Exactly, I practically cringe when I read things posted on the internet from people trying to justify eating animal products (usually lacto-ovo vegetarians) because they feel they provide the only natural source of b12. There are multi-vitamin companies who use natural b-12 obtained from bacteria feeding on plant matter. I'd rather obtain natural b12 in that manner as opposed to consuming cruel and unnecessary animal products. Not all vegan b-12 is synthetic.

Melina
May 7th, 2005, 03:30 PM
Hey that's good to know, I'd rather take naturally-derived than synthetic b12, right now I'm taking a Centrum multi-vitamin every day, it says it has 100% of my daily requirement of b12, do you know if this b12 is synthetic?

FR
May 7th, 2005, 03:38 PM
Hey that's good to know, I'd rather take naturally-derived than synthetic b12, right now I'm taking a Centrum multi-vitamin every day, it says it has 100% of my daily requirement of b12, do you know if this b12 is synthetic?

I am not sure as I only take vegan multi-vitamins and am unfamiliar with where other vitamin producers source their vitamins. You can always e-mail the company.

Glen
May 7th, 2005, 06:45 PM
Yeah, theres studies showing that eating unwashed veg gets you plenty of B12, god damn our cleanliness :mad:

littleTigercub
May 8th, 2005, 01:10 PM
I think all vitamins you get from supplements are synthetic.

littleTigercub

FR
May 8th, 2005, 01:16 PM
I think all vitamins you get from supplements are synthetic.

littleTigercub

Link/source please.

FR
May 8th, 2005, 01:47 PM
New Chapter offers a line of supplements that use no vitamins of synthetic origin (they are pricey). I currently use VegLife, but I am not sure if they are synthetic free (these are priced very low). I am more concerned with consuming a vegan product than worrying about if the product is 100% synthetic free. However, being 100% synthetic free I is better because I am led to believe the vitamins are more readily absorbed by the body, thus my interest in New Chapter's line.

The only questionable item in New Chapter's line is the source of their vitamin D. Apparently, it may be grown from nutritional yeast (according to their website), but I have e-mailed the company for clarification as I know of another vegan who was using this line and later found out the vitamin d, is vitamin d-3 (animal derived). They make the claim their product is 100% vegetarian but I see the word vegan no where on their site.

http://www.new-chapter.com/product/pro_nutrient.lasso

If New Chapter's products are in fact vegan, they look amazing:


We are a small company owned by families and friends, and are based in Brattleboro, Vermont and our organic estate near the Children’s Rain Forest of Costa Rica. Since 1982, our mission, our passionate commitment, has been producing the finest probiotic nutrients and herbal formulations in the world. Our purpose is to create the finest products that are truly natural, made of 100% real food and herbs. We have never made products with chemical isolates or solvents, and we won’t. We culture all our vitamins and minerals, and we always will. They are not synthetic-they are food. We are committed to supporting and protecting the environment, and our Costa Rican farm is a world model for organic sustainable farming in the rain forest.

ETA ... this site has a listing of vegan vitamins/supplements:

http://www.gentleworld.org/vegan_alternatives/vitamins.html

VegLife's website:

http://www.nutraceutical.com/about/veglife.cfm

FR
May 9th, 2005, 11:11 PM
I got a response from New Chapter:


Brian-

Thank you for your interest in New Chapter. That's correct the vitamin D
used in some of our multiple vitamin/mineral formulas is made using
lanolin which comes from sheep's wool. Thank you for contacting us.

Susan

Susan E. Stanton
New Chapter, Inc.
Technical Information Advisor
Inside Sales
800-543-7279
Fax: 877-287-8202
www.newchapter.info


That bites. Here you have a company that sources their vitamins from organic, whole foods, yet resorts to using d3. Stupid!

Shit like this only gives people who want to be vegan, but insist on having non-synthetic vitamins, an excuse to cop out.

Artichoke47
May 10th, 2005, 12:06 AM
I'd get rid of those Centrums ASAP. Of course it makes sense to use the rest of what you have, but a lot of the Centrum line has gelatin in it.

Korn
May 12th, 2005, 10:44 PM
Where does that b12 come from?

Hi Melina, maybe you'll be interested in this (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19) thread...

John
May 13th, 2005, 01:30 AM
No animal makes B12. I'll bet these omnis don't even know where the animals they eat get their B12. Do they think that B12 is a vitamin that other animals create--but not humans? Do they know that livestock are given B12 supplements? So basically, instead of the omnis taking the B12 supplement, their food is. The "natural" argument is groundless because intensive agriculture drains soil of its nutrients.

Korn
May 13th, 2005, 07:30 AM
Hi John, livestock aren't always given B12 supplements – I think the difference between the need for B12 supplements in between livestock/wild animals and humans/'wild' humans' is a gradual one. Animals are not exposed to all the B12-reducing effects of tea, coffee, tobacco, amalgam, or (in some cases) to pollution from cars. (More about causes of B12 deficiency here (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=38)). They don't eat refined sugar, take sleeping pills or microwaved food; they need less B12 than us, plus they consume more from grass and the surface of other plants (and soil). In the case of wild animals, plants are also always eaten fresh. But they are exposed to some of the same side effects of the modern society that humans are (acid rain, pollution in air, in some cases chlorinated water and even anti-biotics). Soil depletion also affects both humans and livestock.

So, some animals get their B12 from nature, and some vegan humans does. This gradual, as opposed to total difference and the relation between B12 consumptions in humans and animals are also reflected in studies that show that some animals need B12 supplements, while others don't, just like some vegans don't seem to have any B12 deficiency even after a long time without eating animal flesh (which of course contains B12 – for example because it contains blood that is used for transport of B12 in the body of the animal).

But I do agree that the 'natural'-argument sometimes used by omnis is groundless, and I have also observed that most of them are not aware that some animals are given supplements of B12 and other nutrients (or that cobalt is added to the soil to improve the B12 levels in the grass the cows are eating)...

John
May 13th, 2005, 11:23 PM
Yes, yes. Fine, fine. Livestock do not get B12 supplements if they do not need them, but sometimes they do.

Korn
May 14th, 2005, 07:34 AM
No big deal, John, but since Melina wrote that she wanted her 'arguments to be strong', it could cause trouble for her if she was claiming that all animals would get B12 supplements (and also just trigger a whatabouteatingwildanimals-reaction...)

But: While kettle often et a variation of food and fortified food, I've heard that other animals like pigs and chicken often gets only strongly supplemented fake food, and not any natural food at all (correct me if I'm wrong). Fortified food = food + supplements, but some animals don't get food+supplements, they get food substitutes+supplements. I can't see how eating someone who has been raised on food substitutes + supplements should is even close to being natural. And if humans would be dependent on eating wild animals only, there simply wouldn't have been enough of them (the wild animals) anyway. So your comment. John, is more relevant than I originally thought, not because of the B12-issue (alone), but because the standard diet for many of these animals aren't food+supplements, but fortified fake food, often with supplements in addition.

I just saw a site that discussed what kind of supplements to give to factory pigs when the fortified food they normally eat didn't provide enough nutrients. Another site I saw, discussing supplements for animals, mentioned how great AloeVera was because of all the nutrients it contains (it mentioned B12 as one of them). Yet another site about supplements for animals (pigs) mentioned giving them a supplement that had both added vitamins, minerals and three different fish-derived products in it. How natural is it for a pig to eat fish? Also, cow's milk have been been given to lambs, which also is not natural, and I've read about cases where this created problems for the poor lambs –*they developed serious anemia, and died as a result of that.

Isn't it strange that most people who seem to bring up the natural-argument are people who live on a strictly un-natural diet? I do agree that it is essential to look at what is natural and what is not, and I guess I'm even more concerned about this than most people are. I consider eating plants the only natural choice for humans.

There's another issue related to the B12-in-plants (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=22)-topic: Since most people - and most scientists - are getting their B12 from animal products, there hasn't been a lot of research on B12 in plants. Probably not even one percent of all plant species have been tested. The amounts we need are also so small that they hardly can be measured, and the test method often used to test plants for B12 use heating to extract the B12 from the plant: but the heating kills the B12....

So, since we know far too little about potential plant sources of B12, and the vegan movement still is so small/young that there are not a lot of money to invest into more research, and there is a lot of confusion/lack of knowledge about the B12 analogue issue, some vegans just say that it is as natural to cultivate B12 using bacteria, that it is to build a house or wear clothes not to freeze.

There are several types of bacteria that produce B12, like Streptomycus griseus, Streptomyces aureofaciens, Streptomyces olivaceus, Propionibacterium shermanii and Pseudomonas denitrificans. (I know of only one company (in France) that is using a genetically engineered microorganism to produce B12.)

In (some) tempeh, a bacteria called K. pneumoniae (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=253&highlight=tempeh) is responsible for the B12 production. Bacteria are not animals, and if they are not genetically engineered or tweaked in other ways, they are natural.

Melina
May 14th, 2005, 08:35 AM
I had no idea about gelatin. I just learned what gelatin actually is. Man. What a shocker.
This is all very interesting and I am learning so much here. Thanks guys!

j&k
Jul 3rd, 2006, 03:49 PM
People should not get too caught up in the what is "natural" argument, because that is not what is ideal for health. If you were to spend too much time thinking about what is natural, then the vegan diet also isn't natural because it does not contain an adequate source of B-12. Of course there is the argument that we used to get B-12 naturally from plant foods because there were insects on them that we would eat which had b-12, but of course that diet would no longer be vegan, would it?

The real question should be what is healthiest? The answer is a vegan diet (wth high quantities of veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds) supplemented with B-12 and DHA is the healthiest. We are in a rare position today that we don't have to eat what is grown within a few mile radius, we have supermarkets which import healthy produce from all over the world. Little about how we eat today is "natural" in the original sense of the word. But we are afforded an opportunity to eat healthier than at any other time in our history. I say take advantage of that and eat all the healthy produce year round, and supplement the diet when necessary with b-12 and DHA.

Best,
Josh

Korn
Jul 3rd, 2006, 04:35 PM
There are many studies that confirm that B12 is found in a variety of plants, and also many studies that confirm that B12 is destroyed by a large variety of 'B12 enemies' (age, light, cooking, chlorinated water etc). There are to my knowledge not one single study that have measured and proved that B12 in those plants come from insects, but there are a number of studies that confirm that this B12 come from bacteria (and cobalt, of course, since B12 contains cobalt). Cobalt is not an animal, neither is bacteria...


B12 is found in leaves, bark, in soil, in water etc., the problem seem to be that we don't eat the right plants, we don't eat them while they are fresh enough to contain useful B12, and is that we don't eat plants that are not exposed to 'B12 killers'.

DonQuinoa
Jul 3rd, 2006, 04:40 PM
The whole "it's natural" argument for a vegan diet is frought with pitfalls.

It's natural to survive.

It's easy to be vegan and we have a moral responsibility at the top of the food chain to appreciate our gift of choice - whether to make things worse - or try to make things better by making choices that are ethical, responsible, sensible, logical, healthy, avoid unnecessary suffering and are better for the environment.

But natural ?? Naaah - we'd have never got this far - A gorilla is the closest to a natural vegan diet but they eat incidental insects which are a good source of vitamin B12 for them. But they don't control their environment and spend all day eating! No time for philoshophy or theories of relativity. Throw an ice age at them - they'd die without turning to scavanging and risking constipation.

j&k
Jul 3rd, 2006, 04:44 PM
None of those of those points dispels my main point which is B-12 is not found reliably in the vegan diet. IF the points you make are true, and I have read many of your posts and it seems you have done your homework so I'm not doubting you, it still remains true that the average vegan is not getting a reliable source of B-12 in their diet. And my point was native peoples who relied exclusively on plants in the past would inevitably get ample B-12 while eating plants because the plants were not appropriately washed to get rid of all insects. Since insects have sufficient quantities of B-12, there would be no concern of b-12 deficiency.

OF course, I also believe there is no clean food source of B-12 eaten by the average individual (even those who eat meat should not rely on in it as a good source of B-12 because it is such an unclean and unhealthy source), so I recommend a supplement to everyone. My only point is, this argument in and of itself does not suggest that a vegan diet is less than optimal.

Best,
Josh