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Thread: B12 in chlorella

  1. #1
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default B12 in chlorella

    This study has been mentioned in another discussion, but deserves it's own thread...

    J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2002 Oct;48(5):325-31.Related Articles, Links

    Characterization and bioavailability of vitamin B12-compounds from edible algae.

    Watanabe F, Takenaka S, Kittaka-Katsura H, Ebara S, Miyamoto E.

    Department of Health Science, Kochi Women's University, Kochi 780-8515, Japan.

    Substantial amounts of vitamin B12 were found in some edible algae (green and purple lavers) and algal health food (chlorella and spirulina tablets) using the Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis ATCC7830 microbiological assay method. Corrinoid-compounds were purified and characterized from these algae to clarify the chemical properties and bioavailability of the algal vitamin B12. True vitamin B12 is the predominate cobamide of green and purple lavers and chlorella tablets. Feeding the purple laver to vitamin B12-deficient rats significantly improved the vitamin B12 status. The results suggest that algal vitamin B12 is a bioavailable source for mammals. Pseudovitamin B12 (an inactive corrinoid) predominated in the spirulina tablets, which are not suitable for use as a vitamin B12 source, especially for vegetarians. algal health food, bioavailability, cobalamin, edible algae, vitamin B12

    PMID: 12656203 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  2. #2

    Default Re: B12 in chlorella

    I'm new here. I also wanted to chime in on chlorella as a source of B12. Most people are critical of it as a reliable source because of the problems with other algaes, like Spirulina containing B12 analogs, but all my research is showing that chlorella has a good amount of human active B12.

    B12 status in humans is typically measured by serum B12 levels. This has proven to not be a reliable indicator of true B12 functionality. The best test is measuring UMMA (urinary methylmalonic acid levels) which measures tissue B12. (note: UMMA is different from MMA test).

    Vegans are at risk, regardless of how healthy we eat, of B12 deficiency over time, which can cause neurological damage, psychological symptoms, anemia, and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and elevated levels of serum homocysteine (Hcys) (which have been shown to be a risk factor for strokes, heart attacks and /or blood clots). It is also important in pregnant vegan mothers-- as low levels have been reported to cause neurological damage to vegan babies.

    Here is a link to a valuable user study of long term raw food vegans whom consume chlorella and their B12 levels and UMMA below.

    From: John Coleman ( Subject: Re: chlorella, again - message from Rick Dina 9/30/05 Date: January 19, 2006 at 2:26 pm PST

    In Reply to: chlorella, again posted by Ann on January 19, 2006 at 12:44 pm:

    Hello Everyone,

    Here is some info. I began working on at the beginning of this week. I hope you all find it educational and informative.

    I am full support of John Coleman in the great majority of what he shares with us. Thank you John for bringing the actual data to us.

    I will propose, however, that it is possible to maintain optimal B-12, homocysteine, and MMA levels on a pure vegan predominantly (or potentially all) raw diet, without supplementation, if one consumes chlorella on a regular basis. I'll give three case histories and some recent articles to support my claim.

    Case history 1 and 2. Husband and wife, both long term pure vegans, predominantly raw, having been 100% raw for several years at a time.

    Both husband and wife had been raw vegans for well over 10 years. They were in their late 20's / early 30's at the time of this first analysis.

    Husband: B-12, 327, Homocysteine 13 (reference range 5-15), MMA less than 0.4, where 0.4 or above is abnormal.

    Wife: B-12, 288, Homocysteine 9 (reference range 5-15), MMA less than 0.4, where 0.4 or above is abnormal.

    Several subsequent tests have shown that they have maintained healthy levels of all 3 since this time, 6 years ago. Neither have supplemented with any B12 or any animal products whatsoever. So here are two long term (about 20 year) pure, largely raw vegans with excellent B-12 status any way you look at it. They both continue to consume several types of algae, including chlorella.

    Case History #3, myself. This is what Charlie requested some time ago.

    First test: March 1999. B-12, 159, MMA 2.7, where 0.4 or above is abnormal. Poor B12 status.

    All other parameters tested were super-optimal and I felt fantastic. Here is a copy of the note I wrote to myself regarding these lab values at the time I received the data.

    "While these levels are clearly out of the "reference" range (for Fat, Toxic Americans), I have to wonder a little if there really is any problem. I have been a vegan for 11 years, mostly raw, and I feel fantastic, excercise a lot (Run 25+ M per week, Gym 2-3x per week) and I feel GREAT! No indications of anemia or neurological problems!! Nevertheless, I don't want to end up with any problems, so I will see what I can do about this."

    I tested myself again in August of 1999 as a baseline for testing spirulina

    B-12 was 188 and MMA was 3.7, still out of range.

    I consumed 1 heaping TBSP of spirulina every day for three months, and tested myself again in November of 1999.

    B-12 was 156, MMA was 0.8 (that went down), and this time I tested my homocysteine, which was 17 (5-15 reference)

    Conclusion: Poor B-12 status, but the drop in MMA was encouraging.

    Because the MMA went down, I continued consuming spirulina and tested myself again in May of 2001. I wanted to give spirulina a totally fair change to work.

    May 2001 data:

    B-12: 457, wow! MMA 2.3 (reference range less than 0.4)

    Spirulina is known to contain B-12 analogs, and my best conclusion is that this is exactly what I got in this situation. B-12 went up, but the functional indicator of B12 status (MMA) was still poor. If this was truly human active B-12, then MMA would be much lower.

    My conclusion was that spirulina did not improve my B-12 status. I would also conclude from this that the B12 analogs in spirulina do not interfere with B12. If that were true, then my MMA would have been higher.

    I really wanted spirulina to work, but I cannot argue with the facts that I collected. I started with spirulina, because it is well known, widely available, and relatively inexpensive. If it had worked, then I would have been able to tell others about my experience and recommend it to those concerned about B12.

    From there I took some time off and was considering taking a B12 supplement. I stopped the spirulina and went back to my normal mostly raw vegan diet without anything else.

    I was considering trying chlorella as the next step. I was also keeping in mind that the high homocysteine was damaging my blood vessels. Although with all else so good, I was not too worried, but still did not want to push things too far. I decided to try Vitamineral Green. It is a green food formula that contains several types of grasses, vegetables, and algaes, as well as probiotics. The plus is if that worked, then I would be able to tell people about my experience and recommend it. The downside is that if it worked, I would not know which particular ingredient, or combination of ingredients, were responsible for the changes. Again it had been long enough that my B12 status was poor, and I was not willing at that point to try item after item and be B12 deficient for potentially several more years.

    So the plan was to try Vitamineral green (VMG) and if that did not work then I would take a supplement. As with anything else, I would always prefer to consume nutrients in food form as opposed to isolated extracted nutrients from supplements.

    I got my lab work done again in August of 2002 to establish a baseline because I took some time off.

    B12: 248 MMA 1.6 (<0.4 normal) Homocysteine 15.2 (5-15 reference range). I also got my urinary MMA (UMMA) tested. It is supposed to be below 3.8, and mine was 23.3, way too high.

    I started consuming 2 heaping TBSP of VMG daily for one month.

    September 2002:

    B12: 294 MMA 0.3 (<0.4 normal) Homocysteine 13.6.

    Wow! I had normal blood MMA for the first time, and homocysteine had come down a little in just one month.

    I continued with the VMG.

    November 2002:

    B12: 418 Homocysteine 10.5

    Hcy continues to decline!

    December 2002:

    B12: 333 Homocysteine 10.2 UMMA 6.0 Blood MMA: 928 (Reference 90-279) The lab I used started sending the MMA to another lab! So were are not comparing apples to apples anymore, but here it is anyway.

    Hcy went down a little more, and UMMA went from 23.3 to 6.0, still just slightly above the reference range of 3.8, but a dramatic drop.

    I kept consuming VMG for several more months, and got tested again in May of 2003.

    B12: 324 Homocysteine 8.7 UMMA 6.1 Blood MMA: 607 (Reference 90-279)

    That was it. I was very happy my Hcy came down to 8.7. Both MMA's were still just slightly high, but they came down a lot, especially the UMMA, from 23.3 to 6.1. UMMA is considered to be the most accurate indicator of functional B12 status.

    So why do I think it was the chlorella? Good question.

    A recent study done on raw food vegans in Finland found that chlorella may potentially contain human bioactive vitamin B12. This study examined the vitamin B-12 status in long-term adherents of a strict uncooked vegan diet called the "living food diet."
    In the study, 21 long-term adherents (mean 5.2 y, range 0.7-14) of the "living food diet" were compared with 21 omnivores.
    The study revealed significantly lower serum vitamin B-12 concentrations in the vegans compared with their matched omnivorous controls.
    The vegans consuming Chlorella algae had serum vitamin B-12 concentrations twice as high as the vegans that were not using it.
    Six of nine vegans, that were not consuming chlorella, showed slow but consistent deterioration of vitamin B-12 status over a 2-year observation period.
    On the basis of these results, the researchers concluded that chlorella consumed in large amounts can supply adequate amounts of bioavailable vitamin B-12.

    Researchers who have looked at chlorella itself directly have found human active B12 in it consistently. That would support this Finnish study, as well as my experience, as VMG contains chlorella.

    In other studies, researchers have looked for human active B12 is various foods. They found that dulse, nori and spirulina contained B12 analogs, and not human active B12. That supports my personal experience. I consumed very large quantities of dulse for 2 years (and lesser amounts for many years before) prior to my first test, and I was still in poor B12 status, and as you just saw spirulina did not improve my MMA once I began testing myself.

    Nutritional yeast was shown to sometimes and sometimes not contain human active B12. So if you eat enough of this consistently, you may get some B12, but it is nothing you should count on for sure. Yeast does not sound so appealing to me anyway.

    While some may say chlorella is pond scum and the like, I'll take Dr. Snidachs advice and follow my heart. I feel good about consuming it instead of a supplement, eggs, bugs, etc. It is seriously green and contains chlorophyll, minerals, etc. I look forward to learning about the fatty acid profile of chlorella as well. If anyone has any for real data about that subject, I am all ears.

    I hope you all find this interesting and informative.

    Best wishes to all,

    I've been vegan since late 2005, and have made an issue to get my UMMA levels tested through Norman Clinical laboratory , which Dr. Gabriel Cousens recommends vegans get tested through. They will mail you a test kit, in which you fill the vial and mail it back to them (if you are in the U.S.). Results usually are 1-3 days. It costs $150(USD) for the test, if you do it yourself without doctor ordering it.

    More info on accuracy of UMMA Testing from

    SENSITIVITY = 100%

    The uMMA test was found to have 100% sensitivity (if the person is B12 deficient the test is positive) in identifying less obvious B12 deficient hospital patients. (Normal uMMA was less than 5.0 micrograms MMA per milligram creatinine).
    Using the uMMA test to screen non-anemic senior populations, 49% of the 35 subjects found to be B12 deficient had a normal serum B12 level. uMMA levels normalized with B12 injections. (Normal uMMA was less than 5.0)
    Using the uMMA test to screen a vegetarian population (N=54). 43% (23/54) had abnormally high uMMA levels indicating metabolic B12 deficiency. Of those found B12 deficient with the uMMA test, 83% (19/23) had a normal serum B12 level. uMMA levels normalized with adequate B12 therapy. (Normal uMMA was less than 4.0)


    B12 deficiency is the only know cause for high uMMA except for a rare, life-threatening enzyme deficiency which is evident early in life.
    In a screening study, high uMMA levels dropped markedly on all 16 subjects who were treated with vitamin B12 replacement.
    In a study of hospital patients with vitamin B12 deficiency, the uMMA test specificity
    (the person is deficient if the test is positive) was found to be 99%. A convincing study of the value of the uMMA test showed the reduction of uMMA for vegetarians receiving sublingual B12 ( p<0.01) and nutritional yeast (p<0.05) but not those receiving probiotic food (p>0.2). B12 deficiency can developed in 2 years on diet.
    My first test came in Feb 2007, and my UMMA was 1.2 (which below 3.8 by the lab standards is normal). I consume 2tbsp of chlorella powder every morning in my green smoothie, and just sent off for another test April 2008. I am curious for the results. Although, it is important for vegans to know the B12 deficiency usually takes about 6 years to develop-- (as your B12 stores start to decrease). I'm just interested to see if chlorella has kept my UMMA from yearly decline. That's why i have gotten tested again (for curiosity) and peace of mind. (Will report my results in future post).

    I got my test results for April 2008. My uMMA is 1.9. I'm still in the clear. Now over 1year +2months it went up slightly, but before my first test in 2007, i was afraid and took some sublingual B12 1000mcg tablets for about 4days before i sent my urine sample (combined with chlorella consumption). Since that first test of 1.2, i have not taken any B12 supplements or fortified foods whatsoever, only chlorella.****
    Last edited by Veli; May 28th, 2008 at 01:12 AM. Reason: Update: Personal uMMA 2008 results

  3. #3
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 in chlorella

    Here's a newer study on chlorella. Unlike the study referred to in another message I just posted, this study doesn't take homocysteine levels into consideration - it's specifically focusing on anemia, proteinuria and edema:

    Pregnancy anemia and pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) are common and potentially dangerous disorder in human pregnancy, and nutritional status of pregnant women is one of the leading causes. Chlorella contains large quantities of folate, vitamin B-12 and iron, and can help improve anemia and hypertensive disorder. Our objective was to investigate the preventive effects of Chlorella supplement on pregnancy anemia and PIH in Japanese pregnant women. A total of 70 pregnant women were placed into the control group (n = 38) or the Chlorella group (n = 32). The subjects in the Chlorella group were supplemented daily from 12th-18th wk of gestation until delivery with 6 g of Chlorella supplement. The proportion of anemic (hemoglobin level < 11 g/dL) subjects in the Chlorella group were significantly lower compared with the control group at the second and third trimesters. Additionally, in the Chlorella group, the incidences of proteinuria and edema, signs of PIH, were significantly lower during the third trimester. These results suggest that Chlorella supplementation significantly reduces the risk of pregnancy associated anemia, proteinuria and edema. Chlorella supplement may be useful as a resource of natural folate, vitamin B-12 and iron for pregnant women.

    PMID: 20013055 [PubMed - in process]
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  4. #4
    Gazes at Trees
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    Default Re: B12 in chlorella

    How quickly can b12 deficiency be turned around with chlorella?
    Last edited by Sandy777; Nov 15th, 2011 at 03:46 PM.

  5. #5
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: B12 in chlorella

    Sandy777, not many seem to care, due to some kind of global campaigning stating that if it's not an animal product (or fortification) involved, it won't help you, and may even cause damage. They only way to find out, is to try a good chlorella product for a while, and see if your MMA (and B12 + homocysteine levels) improve....
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  6. #6
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default The Vegan Society's little chlorella study

    In this magazine, The Vegan Society writes about their own little study on B12 in chlorella, in the light of the ongoing focus on inactive B12 analogues vs active B12 which actually has been proven to be usable in terms of reducing too high MMA levels. A very short excerpt:

    "It is abundantly clear that spirulina is, as expected, not effective and should not be considered an effective source of B12. It seems likely that chlorella is an effective source of B12, but due to the small number of people completing the trial we still cannot definitely confirm this and therefore cannot recommend that chlorella can be relied upon as a sole source of B12".

    This was written 9 years ago. Since then, there are still very few plants which have been tested for B12 (knowing that there are more than a million plant species/subspecies out there), and among the dozens of plants which have been measured with positive B12 results, very few of them have been tested in terms of the 'activeness'; the reliability of the B12 found in these plants.

    I believe that the reason so few plants are tested for their effect on MMA/homocysteine is that some people, including a number of vegans who are very eager to make sure other vegans take B12, keep claiming that none of the plants out there contain active B12 - again, even of most of these plants have never been tested for active B12.

    There's a big difference between lacking reliable information about B12 in plants, algae, fermented foods etc and stating that none of these non-tested plants contain reliable B12!
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  7. #7

    Default Re: The Vegan Society's little chlorella study

    If only The Vegan Society had the kind of financial clout required to undertake such a huge but necessary search. Perhaps one day it will be a government funded quest, as it should surely be.
    ..but what would they do with all the cows?..

  8. #8
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Vegan Society's little chlorella study

    True... OTOH, any group of vegans could take chlorella or one of the other products which claim to have bioavailable/active B12 over a period of time, and monitor if it will have a positive effect on their MMA/hcy levels. They'd have to pay for the chlorella two MMA tests, of course, but still, it would be a simple way to find out ore about these products and their effect on MMA/homocysteine. Anyone could do it, anytime, and make sure no other B12 supplements or fortified food is taken during the same period. They could report it to an FB group, to the Vegan Society or somewhere else. If the results are good, they could at least serve as inspiration for a properly monitored test.

    Here's what has happened so far:

    In 1948 B12 was identified, and over a period of couple of decades, vegans went from...
    1) no focus on B12 to
    2) assume that one safely could get B12 from eg miso (etc), to
    3) assume that all B12 in plants was inactive (and falsely assume that all B12 in supplements/animal products was active.... wrong!).

    So... some vegans and others have claimed until around a decade or two ago that all B12 in plants/algae etc was inactive analogues. Then (4), various studies popped up suggesting that B12 found in some of these products actually was active.

    Some vegans out there are so eager to make sure that vegans don't develop a B12 deficiency that they insist that all vegans, even new vegans who may be loaded with way more B12 than they need from a life full of animal product consumption should take B12 daily, ideally in much higher amounts than any other authority ever has suggested. Some of them also firmly insist that one can consume an unlimited amount of B12 without ant health problems. And...(and here's where it gets totally irrational): they claim that just simply know that none of the existing plants in the world, or algae products, or fermented plant foods can serve as a reliable B12 source even if most of these products never have been tested, neither for B12 or for effect the B12 found in certain may have on MMA and homocysteine. It's as counter-scientific as it gets, really.

    There are no known problems with consuming a small, regular amount of B12 to be more safe, B12-wise, than one would be without any B12 sources at all. The real problem with claiming categorically that none of the plants in the world may be used as a reliable B12 source is that meat eaters etc will use this as an argument against living on a vegan diet. Also: those who blindly trust/assume that one will get enough B12 from not washing your carrots or by occasionally eating some random spirulina or miso won't trust someone who fails to acknowledge that there are studies out there which suggest that B12 from plants/algae, even in today's sterilised and anti-bacterial world, may servee as a reliable, active B12 source.

    Of course we don't need that 'natural' argument, humans are totally relying on man made products like clothes and houses, nothing would e wrong with eg needing to ferment certain foods to get B12. And most people seem to feel that it makes sense to assume that even if vegans may get too little B12 from diet in 2014, this probably wouldn't have been a problem in a 'natural' world without all these B12-antagonists which we are surrounded by today. We do not need to 'prove' that there's active B12 in algae or plants. But if it's correct that active B12 from plants, water or eg algae can/could be used as a reliable source, we would eliminate one of the main counter-pseudo-arguments against living on a vegan diet once and for all.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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