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Thread: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

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    Default B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Meat eaters who don't take B9 supplements often have low B9 levels. Vegans who don't take B12 often have low B12 levels.

    The problem for meat eaters is that B9 taken as a supplement isn't such a good solution as getting B9 from food. Regarding the low B12 levels in vegans and vegetarians: the good news is that B12 (not taken as a part of a multivitamin) already is "ready to be absorbed". This has to do with the job the so called intrinsic factor (a protein produced by the stomach) needs to do. The percentage of the eat B12 that's actually absorbed is also much higher the lower the B12 levels are in what people eat, as discussed here. So a non-vegan consuming 3 mcg B12 doesn't get 10 times as much B12 as a vegan consuming 0.3 mcg B12.

    B9 deficiency is so common that many countries now have laws about fortifying regular food with B9. The biggest dilemma for non-vegans is that the amount of animal product consume simply result in a reduced appetite for eating enough plant based food, which is why their B9 levels are so low.

    All of the B vitamins are important, but more and more studies pop up showing that the B9 deficiency which is so common among non-vegans could be much more of a problem for them than the problem vegans have with low B12 levels. Of course this doesn't help us or is a reason to ignore B12, but I'll post some references to studies in this thread which illustrates how significant and global the meat eaters' B9 problem usually is. Both B9 and B12 affect homocysteine levels. Folate is most important, but isn't as efficient as it is if B12 is missing.

    Here's a study about cognitive performance in older Chinese adults:
    Homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B-12 and cognitive performance in older Chinese adults: findings from the Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study
    (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 6, 1506-1512, December 2006)


    Although conclusive evidence from randomized controlled trials is still lacking, it is nevertheless possible that modification of homocysteine and B vitamin status could delay cognitive decline or even enhance cognitive function in elderly persons. Observational studies of community-dwelling elderly showed that the rate of change of homocysteine concentrations was significantly correlated with the rate of change of the Stroop scores (47). More recently, the Hordaland Homocysteine Study found that a "favorable" change in folate or homocysteine concentrations over time was associated with better memory performance (31). Large scale clinical trials with a longer interventional period are needed

    In conclusion, we found that in high-functioning Chinese older adults, there were differential associations of homocysteine, folate, and vitamin B-12 with specific domains of cognitive performance. Homocysteine was specifically associated with constructional ability and information processing speed, whereas folate was associated specifically with episodic memory and language ability. Vitamin B-12 did not appear to be associated with any cognitive performance, but additional studies are warranted.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Here's one form Feb. 2000:
    Serum vitamin B12, C and folate concentrations in the New Mexico elder health survey: correlations with cognitive and affective functions

    RESULTS: Males and Hispanics had lower serum vitamin B12, C and folate concentrations than females and NHW respectively. Participants taking a multivitamin supplement (MVI) had higher serum vitamin concentrations than those not taking MVI. There were significant associations between serum folate concentrations and measures of cognitive function, not seen with B12 or C, nor between any of the vitamins and affective function.
    CONCLUSIONS: Hispanics, even after adjustments for gender, age, vitamin supplementation, vitamin content of dietary foods, education and household income, had lower serum concentrations of B12, C and folate than NHW. The most significant associations observed were those between serum folate and various measures of cognitive function, even after adjusting for presence of depression.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    And here's a newer one, suggesting that there's no significant association between intake of B vitamins (and anti-oxidants) and cognitive functions later in life:

    Antioxidant and B vitamin intake in relation to cognitive function in later life in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936
    Results:A total of 882 participants returned completed FFQs from which intake of β-carotene, vitamin C, B12, folate and riboflavin was estimated. IQ at age 11 years was positively associated with dietary intake of vitamin C (P=0.048) and inversely associated with dietary intake of riboflavin (P<0.001) at age 70 years, and was higher in those taking folate supplements at age 70 years (P<0.005). Weak associations between intake of vitamins B12, C, riboflavin and folate and cognitive performance at age 70 years were attenuated by adjustment for confounding variables, including IQ at age 11 years. In the fully adjusted models, the proportion of total variance in cognitive function at age 70 years accounted for by intake of these nutrients was less than 1%.Conclusion:These results provide no evidence for a clinically significant beneficial association between intake of these antioxidants and B vitamins, and cognitive function at age 70 years.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication, 23 February 2011; doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.2.
    PMID: 21346712


    I'll post more later, and the interesting but sad findings - for meat eaters - is that lot of evidence suggests that they should get their folate from food, and not from supplements. In other words: Eat more vegan food!
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    From http://www.drmirkin.com/:
    Alzheimer's disease and homocysteine


    Dr. David Snowden shows in his Kentucky Nuns Study that nuns who were most likely to suffer Alzheimer's disease have low blood levels of the vitamin folic acid and high levels of the protein building block homocysteine. Not eating enough leafy greens and whole grains can deprive you of the vitamin folic acid, and eating too much meat provides you with too much methionine, and the combination of these two factors raises brain levels of homocysteine, that punches holes in arteries and causes plaques to form in them to cause ministrokes, which damages your brain.

    Methionine is an essential protein building block that your body uses to make another nonessential building block called cysteine. If you lack any of the three vitamins: B12, folic acid or pyridoxine, methionine is converted to a poison called homocysteine that damages arteries and causes strokes, heart attacks and Alzheimer's disease. Meat is one of the richest sources of methionine, and leafy greens and whole grains are full of folic acid that prevents methionine from being converted to homocysteine. Reducing your intake of meat and poultry lowers your intake of methionine. Folic acid is found everywhere in nature that you get carbohydrates, because folic acid helps your body convert carbohydrates to energy. You can help to prevent Alzheimer's disease by getting folic acid from all whole grains and fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and many other plants; and by reducing your intake of methionine by eating less meat. If homocysteine is above 100, take folic acid, pyridoxine and B12 (readily available in combination pills such as Foltex or Fol-B.)

    From Efficacy of multivitamin supplementation containing vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid as adjunctive treatment with a cholinesterase inhibitor in Alzheimer's disease: a 26-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Taiwanese patients
    In this population of patients with mild to moderate AD in Taiwan, a multivitamin supplement containing vitamins B(6) and B(12) and folic acid for 26 weeks decreased homocysteine concentrations. No statistically significant beneficial effects on cognition or ADL function were found between multivitamin and placebo at 26 weeks.
    PMID: 18042476
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    High homocysteine and low B vitamins predict cognitive decline in aging men: the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study

    Results: Over a mean 3-y follow-up, declines in constructional praxis, measured by spatial copying, were significantly associated with plasma homocysteine, folate, and vitamins B-6 and B-12 and with the dietary intake of each vitamin. Folate (plasma and dietary) remained independently protective against a decline in spatial copying score after adjustment for other vitamins and for plasma homocysteine. Dietary folate was also protective against a decline in verbal fluency. A high homocysteine concentration was associated with a decline in recall memory.

    Conclusions: Low B vitamin and high homocysteine concentrations predict cognitive decline. Spatial copying measures appear to be most sensitive to these effects in a general population of aging men.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Effects of Lowering Homocysteine Levels With B Vitamins on Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and Cause-Specific Mortality

    There was no significant effect on the rate ratios (95% confidence intervals) for overall cancer incidence (1.05 [0.98-1.13]), cancer mortality (1.00 [0.85-1.18]) or all-cause mortality (1.02 [0.97-1.08]) during the whole scheduled treatment period or during the later years of it. Dietary supplementation with folic acid to lower homocysteine levels had no significant effects within 5 years on cardiovascular events or on overall cancer or mortality in the populations studied.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    High Intake of Folate from Food Sources Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Esophageal Cancer in an Australian Population (2011)

    Limited evidence suggests high intake may reduce risks of esophageal cancer overall; however, associations with esophageal cancer subtypes and Barrett’s esophagus (BE), a precancerous lesion, remain unexplored. We evaluated the relation between intake of folate, B vitamins, and methyl-group donors (methionine, choline, betaine) from foods and supplements, polymorphisms in key folate-metabolizing genes, and risk of BE, esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in 2 population-based case-control studies in Australia. BE patients without (n = 266) or with (n = 101) dysplasia were compared with population controls (n = 577); similarly, EAC (n = 636) or ESCC (n = 245) patients were compared with population controls (n = 1507) using multivariable adjusted logistic regression. Increasing intake of folate from foods was associated with reduced EAC risk (P-trend = 0.01) and mitigated the increased risks of ESCC associated with smoking and alcohol consumption. In contrast, high intake of folic acid from supplements was associated with a significantly elevated risk of BE with dysplasia. High intakes of riboflavin and methionine from food were associated with increased EAC risk, whereas increasing betaine intake was associated with reduced risks of BE without (P-trend = 0.004) or with dysplasia (P-trend = 0.02). Supplemental thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B-12 were associated with increased EAC risk. There were no consistent associations between genetic polymorphisms studied and BE or EAC risk. High intake of folate-containing foods may reduce risk of EAC, but our data raise the possibility that folic acid supplementation may increase risks of BE with dysplasia and EAC.
    © 2011 American Society for Nutrition

    As suspected, getting folic acid from food sources is much better than getting it from supplements. This is bad news for non-vegans, who often need to take folic acid supplements since a "mixed diet" often is low in this nutrient. (Vegan diets usually have god folate levels).

    We already have an article suggesting that esophageal cancer is more common with people who have high B12 levels - which of course that people with low B12 levels should try to increase their B12 levels. Seen together with this info about a general need for humans to increase their folate levels - and to get the additional amounts from food, and not from supplements, clearly seems to suggest that people generally should eat more plants.

    Here are some good folate sources from http://pediatrics.about.com/od/nutri...late_food.htm:

    Black-eyed peas
    Lentils
    Okra
    Kidney beans
    Great Northern beans
    Broccoli
    Iceberg lettuce
    Beets
    Lima beans
    Sunflower seeds
    Spinach
    Brussels sprouts
    Corn
    Asparagus
    Baked beans
    Green peas
    Baked potato
    Cabbage
    Avocados
    Peanuts
    Romaine lettuce
    Tomato Juice
    Orange juice
    Strawberries
    Oranges
    Bananas

    In addition to the 26 vegan sources, an animal source (eggs) was mentioned as well.


    Here's a list from ufi.edu: http://grove.ufl.edu/~folic/info/folatesources.html

    And one from thenutritiondr.com: http://www.thenutritiondr.com/node/172
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Higher Maternal Plasma Folate but Not Vitamin B-12 Concentrations during Pregnancy Are Associated with Better Cognitive Function Scores in 9- to 10- Year-Old Children in South India
    Folate and vitamin B-12 are essential for normal brain development. Few studies have examined the relationship of maternal folate and vitamin B-12 status during pregnancy and offspring cognitive function. To test the hypothesis that lower maternal plasma folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations and higher plasma homocysteine concentrations during pregnancy are associated with poorer neurodevelopment, 536 children (aged 9–10 y) from the Mysore Parthenon birth cohort underwent cognitive function assessment during 2007–2008 using 3 core tests from the Kaufman Assessment Battery, and additional tests measuring learning, long-term storage/retrieval, attention and concentration, and visuo-spatial and verbal abilities. Maternal folate, vitamin B-12, and homocysteine concentrations were measured at 30 Ī 2 wk gestation. During pregnancy, 4% of mothers had low folate concentrations (<7 nmol/L), 42.5% had low vitamin B-12 concentrations (<150 pmol/L), and 3% had hyperhomocysteinemia (>10 μmol/L). The children's cognitive test scores increased by 0.1–0.2 SD per SD increase across the entire range of maternal folate concentrations (P < 0.001 for all), with no apparent associations at the deficiency level. The associations with learning, long-term storage/retrieval, visuo-spatial ability, attention, and concentration were independent of the parents' education, socioeconomic status, religion, and the child's sex, age, current size, and folate and vitamin B-12 concentrations. There were no consistent associations of maternal vitamin B-12 and homocysteine concentrations with childhood cognitive performance. In this Indian population, higher maternal folate, but not vitamin B-12, concentrations during pregnancy predicted better childhood cognitive ability. It also suggests that, in terms of neurodevelopment, the concentration used to define folate deficiency may be set too low.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Here's a study of two groups of Kenyan school children: one of the groups were given meat and milk supplementation, while a placebo control group were not. The childrens' levels of hemoglobin, serum or plasma C-reactive protein, ferritin, iron, zinc, copper, vitamin B-12, folate and retinol, and erythrocyte riboflavin were monitored. Not surprisingly, increased plasma vitamin B-12 is the only detectable micronutrient response to meat or milk supplementation. Even if I would have been a meat eater, I guess this would make me consider if all the suffering, environmental impact and expenses involved in producing animal based B12 really is worth it.
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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    It's easy to get enough folate on a vegan diet, as long as one is eating right, but in several countries (eg. USA), food is regularly fortified with folic acid. The consumption of meat and dairy products of course means a lower consumption of plants (compared with an all-vegan diet), and that meat eaters in general have lower folate levels (than vegans). Hence the need for a program to increase the folate levels.

    Here are some conflicting articles discussing this fortification programs, and there are conflicting opinions out there re. the overall effect of folic acid fortification in terms of cancer rate.


    Does Folic Acid Supplementation Prevent or Promote Colorectal Cancer? Results from Model-Based Predictions

    Folate Supplementation Linked to Increased Cancer Incidence and Mortality

    Excess Folic Acid May Raise Cancer Risk

    Folate may lower colorectal cancer risk after all

    Folic acid and colon cancer: Some benefits and no harm.

    Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplements May Increase Cancer, Death Risks

    Folate tied to lower colon cancer risk

    Too much folic acid a cancer risk:
    With half of pregnancies unplanned and defects occurring in the first trimester, folic acid fortification was a smashing success, dramatically reducing neural-tube defects. Thatís because women who didnít know they were pregnant were consuming adequate levels of a vitamin they didnít know they needed.As for what Canadians should do, Dr. Kim said they should consume folic acid at the recommended dose: 400 micrograms a day from all sources, whether natural or a supplement, adding that ďanything above that, Iíd be quite concerned about.ĒPart of the problem, however, can be trying to reach that recommended number. Some prenatal vitamins, for example, contain one milligram of folic acid, which is 2Ĺ times the recommended daily dose and the same amount used in the animal study.
    (I've already posted a link suggesting that the problem isn't associated with folate from food, which is beneficial, but folic acid from supplements.)

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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Interesting. I think vegans are more aware of the risk of being deficient (in anything) than meat eaters are, in general terms. I'm pretty sure most meat eaters won't even know what B9 is and where you can get it. (I didn't before this). They're too worried about where I get my protein from!

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    Default Re: B9 (folate) vs. B12: The meat eaters' dilemma

    Possibly, but many non-vegans use supplements (eg multivitamins), and especially when they are pregnant, which makes this sound like a bad idea: "
    Some prenatal vitamins, for example, contain one milligram of folic acid, which is 2Ĺ times the recommended daily dose and the same amount used in the animal study." And as mentioned before; getting enough B12 and B9 is something that (also) needs to be taken before you know that you are pregnant to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

    Due to the low level of folate in a mixed/standard diet, it's good that they take folic acid from a neural tube perspective, but they would have been better off reducing the intake of animal products and increasing the consumption of folate rich plant food. But there's of course less room for broccoli, asparagus and avocado in their bellies when it's full of beef and burgers...

    Time will show which of the articles mentioned above which are closest to the truth. But it is interesting that meat eaters, who in general are so low in B9 (folate) that whole nations are set on folic acid programs makes all this fuzz about B12 levels in vegans. And it doesn't help them anything that it seems that
    meat eaters in general are exposed to more nutrient deficiencies than vegans.

    http://nccam.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm
    Dietary Supplement Use in the United States

    A national survey conducted in 2007 found that 17.7 percent of American adults had used "natural products" (i.e., dietary supplements other than vitamins and minerals) in the past 12 months. The most popular products used by adults for health reasons in the past 30 days were fish oil/omega 3/DHA (37.4 percent), glucosamine (19.9 percent), echinacea (19.8 percent), flaxseed oil or pills (15.9 percent), and ginseng (14.1 percent). In another, earlier national survey covering all types of dietary supplements, approximately 52 percent of adult respondents said they had used some type of supplement in the last 30 days; the most commonly reported were multivitamins/multiminerals (35 percent), vitamins E and C (12–13 percent), calcium (10 percent), and B-complex vitamins (5 percent).

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