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Thread: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

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    Default Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I'm looking for people who have been long periods as vegans without supplementing (including from fortified foods where possible - in continental Europe, for instance, they don't fortify soy milk and so on).

    People who believe in the B12 myth often say something like "oh, you've been X years without B12, but you'll get deficiency in Y more years". Seemingly, they'd go up to 150 years just to not to have to admit they are wrong.

    So I'd like to know of vegans who have been 20+ years without supplementing; especially people who were brought up vegan, who would be especially confounding as according to the standard tale they've never consumed B12 in their life.

    A viable historic example might be good too. There must be a few strict vegans in history, back in the days when no supplements or fortified food existed.

    Thanks for anything you've got.

    Andrew

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I'm in continental Europe and the store brand soymilk I buy is fortified with B12 and so are other brands... maybe they aren't in Spain but your claim for continental Europe is not correct. For this to have any worth you would need bloodtests on those subjects. You will not drop dead on the spot because you are low on B12 but quality of life might be impaired on the long run. Also vegans deficient on B12 isn't a myth. And omnies can be deficient on it as well.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    The myth is that veganism causes b12 deficiency.

    I'm terribly sorry for being incorrect about Europe.

    Update for the thread: I've found Douglas Graham, 33 years no supplements, and Leonardo Da Vinci, who lived 67 years and was a vegan since childhood. (Often quoted as a vegetarian, he does however write in his diaries opinions that clearly eschew the consumption of eggs and milk)

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Veganism without B12 fortified food or supplementation most likely will cause a deficiency. It's not a myth.
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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Risker View Post
    Veganism without B12 fortified food or supplementation most likely will cause a deficiency. It's not a myth.
    The myth is that vegans, without supplements, have no way of getting B12 at all. This precept means that eventually (omnivores questioned differ on exactly when) unsupplemented vegans will, in fact, "drop dead" as the above writer put it. It's a lie designed to scare people off from veganism.

    The fact that the population in general is susceptible to b12 deficiency is true. It may also be true that vegans are a little more susceptible (I question that, though). What is clearly not true is what is normally stated about vegans being unable to survive or be healthy long term without a supplement. Douglas Graham and Leonardo Da Vinci (see above) provide ample proof of that.

    Doesn't anyone have some more examples for me? I would have thought that at least half of this forum disbelieves in the b12 myth. Or is it a homogenous opinion forum?

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I wouldn't call Leonardo Da Vinci proof. He's not verifiable at all. Also food practices in his time where totally different.

    There is B12 in/on other things than animal derived products, the issue is that this isn't a reliable source. We wash and process our foods too much and plenty of people don't eat a balanced diet but stay within a limited range.

    And like I said you will not drop dead. If that is the myth it is easily debunked: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12#Deficiency

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Wikipedia says that B12 deficiency causes extremely horrible symptoms. It's also possible for someone to die of b12 deficiency. But that's neither here nor there, because the question is whether vegans, by specific cause of their diet, will develop b12 deficiency in time. Considering that they supposedly consume "no" b12, they must die eventually from deficiency - that's why b12 is an essential nutrient, you die if you have none.

    But vegans, unless they have the same absorption problems as omnivores often have (not caused by their diet), DO get b12 without need for supplement. It's produced in the intestines. How else could 90% of a test group recover entirely from b12 deficiency induced pernicious anemia from a fast? http://www.raw-food-health.net/VitaminB12Deficiency.html

    The b12 deficiency myth is a lie perpetrated to scare people off veganism. The precept is that vegans can absorb NO b12 from their diet -- and INEVITABLY get deficiency if they go long enough unsupplemented -- which is PROVEN false by just ONE long term unsupplemented vegan case. I think Douglas Graham is good enough. No matter what you might say about the unverifiability of the other example given (which I think is good enough, considering the lack of motives to lie).

    Edit: partly in response to this discussion I've rewritten my article on B12 deficiency, which outlines my viewpoint well.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I think Korn posted a story a few months ago about a village up a mountain somewhere. I think all the occupants were Vegan without supplementation and lived a very long time. I can't find the thread at the moment because I'm in work and getting funny looks from the boss, but its worth searching for.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Thanks Firestorm, I'll try searching for that.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Was it this story? http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?250-Vegan-settlement-in-Siberia-Russia&highlight=village%2C+mountain

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    t's a good one, though I was hoping for a community of vegans from birth

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I don't know personally know any longterm vegan who hasn't supplemented, but like someone mentioned, I'm absolutely sure that there are vegans who live in a natural way who doesn't take supplements.

    I don't think that b12 deficiency have much to do with being vegan. I will say that the people I know of with b12 deficiency are and always have been, omnivores. Myself, I've been a vegetarian for a large part of my life and when I went to the doctor for a checkup he said that I had high levels of b12.
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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    To be honest, I would not take it as granted that all vegans do not need to supplement B12 if there were a few vegans (like Doug Graham) who have been living for years vegan without supplementing.

    If you go deeper into the issue, you will notice that there are various sources of a vitamin B12 deficiency - not getting enough of it and not being able to process it properly. To cut a long story short, I'd have my B12 levels checked regularly in your place, because if you do have the deficiency, it's not fun.

    I personally do take a vegan multivitamin (VEG-1), although I recently heard from a nutritionist at a vegan seminar that you should maybe not take one if you are not deficient. Her argument was that "currently all kinds of horror stories are coming in" (her words, 'coming in' means becoming known to the scientific community) where artificial vitamin supplements were deposited in organs causing negative side effects.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I don't take it as granted that all vegans do not need to supplement. I just seperate B12 deficiency from veganism: one has nothing to do with the other. You can get deficiency as both a vegan or an omnivore, and both would get the same value out of testing their levels and supplementing, or not, as the case may be.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    Was it this story? http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?250-Vegan-settlement-in-Siberia-Russia&highlight=village%2C+mountainIt's a good one, though I was hoping for a community of vegans from birth
    No, I think it was posted this year

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I see.. well, I can't find it (searching for "mountain", "village", "Korn" and keeping it within the past year). If you have any more clues that could help out...?

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Risker View Post
    Veganism without B12 fortified food or supplementation most likely will cause a deficiency. It's not a myth.
    Statistics on 'modern' humans (using chlorinated water etc) show that vegans usually have lower B12 levels than non-vegans. There are no proper studies on B12 levels in old communities living on an animal-free diet, for a number of reasons - one being that B12 was identified in the 1940s. So if we talk about eating vegan B12, we need to distinguish between current humans and what the world looked like when everyone ate organic, fresh food, with clean water, no pharmaceuticals and fresh air.

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    The myth is that vegans, without supplements, have no way of getting B12 at all.
    Some reports mention how much vegans not taking supplements/fortified food will get from their diet. More studies are needed - but the results would vary a lot based on diet/lifestyle. The studies would also need to be done properly - eg. by distinguishing between active B12 and inactive analogues.

    This precept means that eventually (omnivores questioned differ on exactly when) unsupplemented vegans will, in fact, "drop dead" as the above writer put it. It's a lie designed to scare people off from veganism.
    What really matters is: how many vegans have had health problems due to low B12 levels, or risk getting them after some years if they don't supplement? And since there' isn't even a global agreement on how much B12 we need to have in our blood, the topic is bound to be complicated. Due to all the B12 killers out there, I think it's fairly safe to assume that after some years (or even shorter time) many vegans would see that they have low B12 levels, but not for the reason ('veganism') Risker mentioned.

    It may also be true that vegans are a little more susceptible (I question that, though).
    If we say that the lowest healthy level of B12 is eg. 3 (on a scale from 1 to 10), and vegans often are at level 4 while others are at level 6, we simply are more likely to become deficient - unless we can prove that (all) vegans need less B12 than others. But all humans don't have equal B12 needs, because some eg. smoke, drink coffee/alcohol, use oral contraceptives etc.


    Doesn't anyone have some more examples for me?
    There's a video somewhere with a vegan doctor who is now old, and who was off B12 supplementation for 30-40 (?) years. I was also emailing with some other vegan doctor who told me about a case where an old guy had been vegan for 38 years without any problems.
    And there's an example (on the ever-so-useless veganhealth.org, I think) about an old guy who had been vegan for decades without heath problems, but which got some problems... their conclusion, not surprisingly, was that he got health problems due to his vegan diet without supplementation - even if most people his age have health problems.

    I still think that it's potentially dangerous to claim that vegans' increased likelihood of getting B12 deficiency is a myth. A lot of studies confirm that our B12 levels are lower. Now, we are supposed to have lower B12 levels than someone who consumes liver, beef and other B12 rich food. So the real focus should IMO be elsewhere: why is that all these people consuming lots of B12 also often become deficient? And: Maybe the real problems is that our B12 intake would have been fine, as vegans, if it wasn't for all those elements which has nothing to do with vegan/non-vegan food (organic, clean water, fresh air, "anti-bacterialism" and dozens of other things)?


    Or is it a homogenous opinion forum?
    No. This thread demonstrates that. I have personally observed B12/vegan facts which on the surface may appear as non-homogenous, so even as a single person I'm not "homogenous".

    One example: it seems that would get enough B12 from water/plants/heathy soil if we had the necessary knowledge about B12 AND live in a world very different from ours. (That's why I disagree with Risker). But if you want to prove that the B12/vegan thing is a "myth", you must first demonstrate that you can get old on a vegan diet without any negative side effects. I guess that's the kind of evidence you're looking for in this thread. Personally, I'm pretty sure you could, a few hundred years ago, but I don't think most vegans can in a over-sanitized, denaturalized world. Not for decades. And I say this as someone who feels that eating vegan food *is* the most natural of all diets.

    Quote CoolCat View Post
    I wouldn't call Leonardo Da Vinci proof. He's not verifiable at all.
    We'd need to know a lot about daVinci's heath to use him as an example, so I agree.

    Also food practices in his time where totally different.
    Yes, but again; we have to remember the difference between discussing veganism and B12 vs. veganism in a highly 'unnatural' would and B12. IF he could live fine on vegan food with no extra B12, vegans can do that, as such, even if it would be difficult for most vegans to live in such a way - today. Even if it would be impossible today, that doesn't say anything universal about vegan diet; it says that most vegans, just like non-vegans, today may need supplementation of certain nutrients.

    There is B12 in/on other things than animal derived products, the issue is that this isn't a reliable source.
    Unless you can prove that - and you can't - that's also a myth, an assumption.... just like claiming that there are plants which can be used as reliable B12 sources is a myth until someone can prove it.

    BTW, I don't think will drop dead from a B12 deficiency as such. But you may gradually become sick. Too low B12 is associated with some diseases people die of (some cancer types, for example). The same is, by the way, true for too much B12.


    It's produced in the intestines. How else could 90% of a test group recover entirely from b12 deficiency induced pernicious anemia from a fast? http://www.raw-food-health.net/Vitam...eficiency.html
    'Produced in the intestines' isn't good enough if it isn't absorbed/recycled sufficiently also for people who don't fast. But thanks for the article, I'll definitely look at it. I generally like your questioning of myths - but we have to make sure we don't kill some myths and create some new ones.

    The b12 deficiency myth is a lie perpetrated to scare people off veganism. The precept is that vegans can absorb NO b12 from their diet -- and INEVITABLY get deficiency if they go long enough unsupplemented -- which is PROVEN false by just ONE long term unsupplemented vegan case.
    I've used a similar example once - if only one person would not be affected by gravity, the gravity theory as we know it must be false. And I do find the people who do not develop B12 deficiency after years on a vegan diet without fortification a lot more interesting than those who become deficient - because it's very likely that we could find something in their lifestyle/diet which explains things about B12 deficiency we don't know yet. Some will claim that there could be genetical differences, other will say it has to do with exposure to B12 killers - and so on. We need to know more.

    I think Douglas Graham is good enough.
    In theory, one example would be enough to document that all humans will not become B12 deficient even if they wouldn't take B12 or eat animal products. What really matters is if we can use these few examples to learn how their 'success' can be applied to others.


    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    Was it this story? http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?250-Vegan-settlement-in-Siberia-Russia&highlight=village%2C+mountain

    I
    t's a good one, though I was hoping for a community of vegans from birth
    I guess this is the story: 5000 year old tribe still on a vegan diet It's not a scientific article though; it can't 'prove' anything. But after many years of reading about B12 and vegan diet, it seems so likely that 'natural' people in a 'natural' world easily could B12 from water/soil/plants, so I'm not sleepless over the studies well never see: B12 studies on people who lived before B12 was discovered.

    Some studies would have been quite interesting - albeit difficult - to organize. One could, for instance, look at a group of vegans eating fresh/organic vegan food - without being exposed to B12 killers/chlorinated water and so on over a few years,and check two things:
    • Will their B12/MMA levels become worse?
    • Will their health be reduced?

    We still wouldn't be able to recreate how the same scenario would have worked, say 500 years ago, before the soil/air situation is the way it is now. And such a study would only be able to tell us something about whether veganism in a 'natural' world would work fine without supplements. It would be a scientific study to verify an ethical/philosophical viewpoint. It wouldn't say much about what people living today can expect from living years on a vegan diet without additional B12.
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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    As I mentioned in the thread, the link to the article was dead, but I've found a copy of it: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=496218993890

    It's interesting though it's odd that other sources contradict the vegan part. Which makes me tend towards thinking it's false, but I'm also willing to believe people would lie to keep a healthy vegan community covered up.

    Thanks for the long reply Korn, anyway. I can't reply to everything, but I'll clarify a point. I don't call it a myth that vegans might need some supplements, or that they might be more susceptible to B12 deficiency. What I call a myth is that it's absolutely impossible to survive without either animal foods or supplements. It's a point I think is worth fighting for, because this, like the disproved protein myth before it, bears all the mark of an invention used to keep veganism from being credible.

    Just because we "don't know" doesn't seem to me to be a good enough reason to worry about B12. We don't know very much about biology at all. Which means we don't know if the B12 claim is credible. Given the likelihood it's a sham to keep people from veganism, we need to look at it with suspicion. If we fall for a lie, we're weakening our cause just because we're scared of science maybe being right. I tell you: science has been wrong about a lot more things than it has been right about!

    To worry about B12, I want a study that shows in an unbiased way that vegans which don't supplement are at significantly higher risk for B12 deficiency related issues. There has been no such study: which is exactly why I can't believe the B12 myth! That study would be a reason to worry. But people have worried and gone as far as to swear themselves and others off veganism for an assumption. A theory.

    In fact, the assumption which I fight is that no vegans can survive and be healthy without supplements. I would be willing to accept that unsupplemented vegans are slightly more at risk than meat eaters for B12 deficiency issues (while at much lower risk for other diseases). But what I can't accept is the idea that in the natural state the human machine is hopelessly dependent on animal foods. And by extension, I refuse to buy into the B12 myth, something that was created from a bias towards that idea, and an investment in defending that idea.

    I take the fasting study to be more significant than you have, by the way, Korn. The author states (possibly in another place, I can't remember) that it was previously postulated that maybe the human body couldn't absorb the B12 produced in the intestines. This was later shown to be wrong. Certain people, however, conveniently neglected to update their ideas.

    If you think about it, why the heck wouldn't the body be able to absorb B12 which is right inside it? Does it lack for space in the intestines? Why would it need to be dependent on external sources when it has such a great source so close - whether we're talking animal foods or plant foods that have grown in "more natural" soils? Is nature that dumb?

    One more thing to think about. Some people have suggested that science has only discovered about 10% of all existing vitamins.

    If vegans had something to worry about, what if it were one of the unknown vitamins? What then?

    What this point shows is that we can't depend on science. We can depend on nature. We can depend that nature has provided us with all that we need, so long as we live within her laws. It's our task to come to understand her laws: and I think veganism is one of those laws. Once we can be sure that nature has furnished us for a certain thing, we can be sure we have what need to be OK with that thing.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    Just because we "don't know" doesn't seem to me to be a good enough reason to worry about B12.
    Good point, and to begin with - no vegans worried. B12 wasn't even identified when Donald Watson & Co started it all in 1944. But 20-30 years later, studies started to pop up - sometimes focusing on macrobiotic vegans and their kids.

    For a period, one assumed that everything would be OK in terms of B12 if one only would have some miso, tempeh, nori and shitaake. Nobody was worried about inactive B12 analogues. MMA and homocysteine wasn't discussed... until suddenly everybody were concerned about inactive B12, and some started to state that they just knew that reliable, plant based sources couldn't possibly/didn't exist (which Jack Norris and The Vegan Society still does, of course without any evidence for that statement).

    For a while everybody thought that B12 in plants was impossible, and some people were very active promoting that idea that all vegans need B12, ideally from the day they go vegan. We've eg. had trolls/Spammers here logging in under multiple accounts, pretending to be different people, and promoting B12 supplementations based on very unscientific references - with links to sits where one can buy B12. A now banned VF member called beforewisdom was active on multiple forum, posting the same messages a zillion times - but didn't want to discuss his ideas. (He is still busy trying to give the impression that he was banned for his 'viewpoints'. I wonder if some of these people are hired to promote supplements or sites like veganhealth.org.


    A member called Veganmike was also very active here, he had a 1000 mcg B12 supplement picture as his avatar, and posted a lot of the kind of stuff you mention, like links to an article called "Vegan diets are lethal". Look here: http://www.veganforum.com/forums/sho...rch-collection. They may contain links that interest you.

    And if you look at PubMed or similar sites, you'll find that there are lots of studies out there. You can search for 'B12' and 'vegan', for instance.

    But what I can't accept is the idea that in the natural state the human machine is hopelessly dependent on animal foods.
    There's no evidence that such claims are true.


    it was previously postulated that maybe the human body couldn't absorb the B12 produced in the intestines. This was later shown to be wrong. Certain people, however, conveniently neglected to update their ideas.
    There are conflicting articles about that, and the main point against humans being able to recycle B12 synthesized in the intestines has been that B12 is absorbed in a part of our digestive system which appears before the area in the intestines where it is created. Check this subforum for more info about these viewpoints.

    Why would it need to be dependent on external sources when it has such a great source so close - whether we're talking animal foods or plant foods that have grown in "more natural" soils? Is nature that dumb?
    Some non-vegans will answer that we are more similar to carnivores (which need external sources) than herbivores. I disagree. But the point's has to be how things work - more than 'why shouldn't it work like this'...


    What this point shows is that we can't depend on science. We can depend on nature.
    A nice thought, but one which could have a fatal outcome if we don't live naturally anymore and ignore that we don't, or if we don't know enough about human nature and what it needs. If 3% of all plants contain B12, and you on't know which plants that with do. you would get problems in an eco-village 1000 years ago as well. And in spite of the possible B12 synthesis/recycling in the body: the bacteria needed to synthesize must be present, and the same goes for the mineral cobalt. With no cobalt, there will be no B12.

    We can depend that nature has provided us with all that we need, so long as we live within her laws.
    That may be a philosophical or maybe even a semi-religious approach - but whether you are right or not, I don't think that viewpoint will convince anyone to go vegan. They'll just respond that nature has provided us with eatable animals, we just need to figure out the most convenient way to get their meat.

    It's our task to come to understand her laws: and I think veganism is one of those laws.
    If we separate what humans have created (read: culture) from how we were born, it's obvious that we aren't very similar to omnivorous or carnivorous animals. We have some threads about that topic. But if some government or health professional shall recommend a diet for someone, they need to know for sure that the diet they recommend contain all the nutrients they need, or that they need to add some supplements.

    And until someone can say - and document in proper, unbiased tests - that by eating certain plants regularly they don't need to worry about B12, we have to deal with the fact that we can't give such advice. There are threads about studies in the subforum called B12 in plants? which are marked with [bio], and these studies claim that the plant products in question are bioavailable for humans. Next step will be to verify that they are fully absorbable and that eating these plants means that you don't need to think about other B12 sources.

    But: due to repetitive 'vegan isn't natural' claims - and lobbyism - from a small group of non-vegans (and vegans), very few seem to be interested in search research. The end result is, so far, that some vegans just take supplements to be safe(r), others ignore such viewpoints, and many lose interest in vegan diet because they think it is lacks certain nutrients people on other diets don't need to think of.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    But: due to repetitive 'vegan isn't natural' claims - and lobbyism - from a small group of non-vegans (and vegans), very few seem to be interested in search research. The end result is, so far, that some vegans just take supplements to be safe(r), others ignore such viewpoints, and many lose interest in vegan diet because they think it is lacks certain nutrients people on other diets don't need to think of.
    Very much the sort of thing I have a problem with.

    You know, I tend to think that a vegan can always start taking B12 if they acquire symptoms or if their levels drop too low. I think a "don't take B12 unnecessarily but if you want to be sure, watch your levels" approach would be better advice. I also think the standard message about B12 should be updated from "take it or else" to "vegans may be more susceptible to B12 deficiency than meat eaters, take it at your discretion". This would do much better to paint veganism in a positive - and balanced - light than the scare tactics we have going round these days.

    I also particularly have a problem with vegans themselves promoting the scare tactics designed to undermine their cause..... "just to be safe", apparently.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Regarding the topic of the OP, I was inspired by your above post to check out Donald Watson. Roughly 70 years as a non supplemented vegan, and a history of good health until the end of his long life. As good a disproof of what I call the B12 myth as any.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Korn View Post
    I guess this is the story: 5000 year old tribe still on a vegan diet
    I think that was the story, I think I was getting mixed up with the one about the 108 year old vegan that was posted this year.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    The myth is that vegans, without supplements, have no way of getting B12 at all. This precept means that eventually (omnivores questioned differ on exactly when) unsupplemented vegans will, in fact, "drop dead" as the above writer put it. It's a lie designed to scare people off from veganism.

    The fact that the population in general is susceptible to b12 deficiency is true. It may also be true that vegans are a little more susceptible (I question that, though). What is clearly not true is what is normally stated about vegans being unable to survive or be healthy long term without a supplement. Douglas Graham and Leonardo Da Vinci (see above) provide ample proof of that.

    Doesn't anyone have some more examples for me? I would have thought that at least half of this forum disbelieves in the b12 myth. Or is it a homogenous opinion forum?
    It is a myth when you know the truth. Go study Bacteriology and Biochemistry. Mix em together and hopefully you'll see what I see. Think outside the box.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    You know, I tend to think that a vegan can always start taking B12 if they acquire symptoms or if their levels drop too low. I think a "don't take B12 unnecessarily but if you want to be sure, watch your levels" approach would be better advice. I also think the standard message about B12 should be updated from "take it or else" to "vegans may be more susceptible to B12 deficiency than meat eaters, take it at your discretion". This would do much better to paint veganism in a positive - and balanced - light than the scare tactics we have going round these days. I also particularly have a problem with vegans themselves promoting the scare tactics designed to undermine their cause..... "just to be safe", apparently.
    Lots of the stuff which is written about B12 and vegans is based on assumptions, and many vegans just read what non-vegans or even 'anti-vegans' have written about B12/vegans and repeat it, and thereby distribute the 'non-vegan perspective'on the topic.

    One main thing which often is ignored is that theres lots of scienetific evidence of lifestyle/environmental (stress, sugar, coffee, poor sail etc etc) reasons that we get less B12 than we should. That reason alone is enough to suggest that people who otherwise would have had perfect B12 levels won't have it. This is a valid argument for compensating for poor B12 levels by using a supplement - and the common argument against waiting with taking any B12 until you actually notice symptoms of B12 deficiency is that at that point, underlying symptoms which you won't notice until it's too late may have developed as well; symptoms which may cause permanent neurologic damage.

    As an example: If all vegans generally would have circa 100% of the recommended B12 levels in some 'natural'/ancient world, and meat eaters would have an average above that level (say, 125%, since certain animal products contain a lot of B12), and we all, today, are exposed to factors which reduce our B12 levels with, say, 20% - the result in an over-sanitized and 'unnatural' world like ours is that vegans would on average have a 20% too low level of B12, while meat eaters on average would not be B12 deficient. This is just an example, of course but the idea is to illustrate how people on a good, natural diet may become deficient in a certain nutrient in a 'denaturalized' world. THe answer is of course not to eat meat, but to keep enjoying all the benefits of a vegan diet and compensate for living in modern world when needed.

    A study showed that 39% of the non-vegan population have low B12 levels, and 9% of them are B12 deficient. That would be 28 million B12 deficient people in USA alone. But - have we seen 28 million reports from North-Americans with neurological damage caused by a B12 deficiency? No. What do you think the reason is? I think it's both that many cases aren't reported, but also that in lots of cases, people actually do notice deficiency symptoms before any permanent neurological damage is happening. But read on...

    If vegans should have the same B12 deficiency rate, we would have almost 1000 B12 deficient people among our members alone. According to most reports, vegans have lower B12 levels than non-vegans, suggesting that we also should have a higher (than 9%) rate of B12 deficient people. And while vegans in many ways are healthier than non-vegans, there are valid reasons to assume that there are more B12 deficient vegans than B12 deficient non-vegans, simply because our levels generally are lower. But we have seen hundreds of reports of serious B12 deficiency here, and hardly any reports of neurological damage. There could of course be some fanatical vegans who won't mention that they've had permanent damage - not to give a bad impression of the vegan diet, but there's also a real chance that vegans/ex-vegans with permanent damage from too little B12 would log in and let us know. to helpp others avoid the same problems.

    While the actual risk for permanent damage from low B12 levels may be exaggerated, we are a minority, and minorities always have a problem: if there are 100 people in a village, and one of them is from Poland and also a thief, ugly and smells bad, people will start thinking that Polish people often steal and look/smell badly. And if only a few vegans will get permanent health problems from a B12 deficiency, people will start to think badly about eating vegan, and (important!): this will happen even if vegans only have exactly the same deficiency/damage rate as non-vegans! This is why I both agree with in lots of what you say, but also think that vegans should pay extra attention to B12 - and their health in general.

    Regarding how real the risk of permanent damage from an underlying, but un-noticeable B12 deficiency: that's probably a topic which deserves it's own thread.

    Here's our poll about B12 deficiency cases:
    Have you ever had a B12 deficiency caused by your diet?



    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    Regarding the topic of the OP, I was inspired by your above post to check out Donald Watson. Roughly 70 years as a non supplemented vegan, and a history of good health until the end of his long life. As good a disproof of what I call the B12 myth as any.
    From what I've read, Donald Watson wasn't taking supplements - but was eating some food with certain nutrients added as 'fortification'. If he was smart - and I think he was - there was probably some amount of B12 in some of what he was eating. OTOH, I'm sure these levels weren't even close to the 25-100 mcg B12 a certain vegan 'expert' suggests (in a very non-scientific manner) that we need every day.


    Quote Consistency View Post
    It is a myth when you know the truth. Go study Bacteriology and Biochemistry. Mix em together and hopefully you'll see what I see. Think outside the box.
    Tells us more.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Andrew Gubb View Post
    I tend to think that a vegan can always start taking B12 if they acquire symptoms or if their levels drop too low. I think a "don't take B12 unnecessarily but if you want to be sure, watch your levels" approach would be better advice.
    Does this mean that vegans should not be taking a supplement unless they are deficient or have low levels? I hear contrasting opinions all over the place on this, and it's hard to know what is right. I have been taking daily supplements, and don't want to harm my health by having too much B12. If B12 is so essential to a healthy lifestyle, is it not wise to take a supplement when there is no other proven way of vegans getting it through any other foods?

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Korn,

    I will think about writing an article or if you want to write it with the information I give you. I would prefer that. It won't be easy to write or not easy for me to write in the majorities point of view. Its complex with a lot of factors or what I like to call wrong human evolution habits.

    Let me know.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    I will think about writing an article or if you want to write it with the information I give you.
    Not 100% sure what that means, but if you want to write an article and post it here, that's fine.

    If you want me to write an article based on your info (is that what you suggest?)...: Well, so far, I haven't posted any articles here, just some very long posts. And I don't even know what kind of info you want to share. But please just write an article - or PM me if something is confusing/you have questions, OK?

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Quote Kat_90 View Post
    Does this mean that vegans should not be taking a supplement unless they are deficient or have low levels? I hear contrasting opinions all over the place on this, and it's hard to know what is right.
    Since Andrew hasn't responded to your question yet: Just like you wrote, there are contrasting opinions about this. And anyone who would give you a firm answer on that question would indirectly also claim that s/he he is right, while all the others are wrong - certainly a type of answer which would need scientific backup to betaken seriously....


    Here's another way of asking the same question: "What's worst, risking permanent neurological damage - which, after all, doesn't really seem to be a widespread phenomenon - or risking side effects of too much B12, which, after all, is a phenomenon some expert insist that isn't widespread at all?" Note that 'side affects' and 'diseases' are two different things...

    Or: "What's worst: exposing oneself to a potential increased risk of certain cancers (those who are associated with a high intake of B12), or risking temp. or permanent results of a B12 deficiency?"

    Without being a scientist, I'd say that the safest thing is probably to make sure you have relatively normal B12 levels, which - for many vegans and non-vegans - means taking supplements, at least in periods. Also: make sure you aren't overdoing it. Even without supplementation, there's certainly a higher risk of having very high B12 levels on an standard diet, and vice versa: as a vegan in today's world, most vegans risk ending up with very low B12 levels, particularly after some years on a vegan diet. One thing which makes it all extra confusing is that some people start to eat vegan when they already have dramatically low B12 levels, while others go vegan when their B12 levels are much higher than they need to.


    Is it not wise to take a supplement when there is no other proven way of vegans getting it through any other foods?
    Some will disagree with that statement. In another thread, one of our members mention that studies have found B12 in vegan sources that is active/useful for humans (I have also posted about search reports).

    Here's one of the studies: Dept. of Health and Nutrition, Nagasaki International University found, using so called "
    Silica gel 60 thin layer chromatography-bioautogram analysis", that the B12 found in
    tested Korean purple laver products "contain true vitamin B(12), but not inactive corrinoid compounds
    ". Also: "in vitro gastrointestinal digestion experiments indicated that digestion rate of vitamin B(12) from the dried Korean purple laver was estimated to be 50% under pH 2.0 conditions (as a model of normal gastric function). These results suggest that Korean purple laver products would be excellent vitamin B(12) sources for humans, especially vegetarians."

    From another study in, from Dept. of Health and Science. Kochi Women's University:
    Vitamin B(12) concentrations of dried green (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple (Porphyra sp.) lavers (nori) were determined by both Lactobacillus leichmannii ATCC 7830 microbiological and intrinsic factor chemiluminescence methods. The values determined by using the microbiological method (63.58 +/- 2.90 and 32.26 +/- 1.61 microg/100 g of dry weight) were identical to those found by using the chemiluminescence method (69.20 +/- 2.21 and 25.07 +/- 0.54 microg/100 g of dry weight) in both dried green and purple lavers, respectively. A silica gel 60 thin-layer chromatography of both laver extracts shows that non-coenzyme forms (hydroxo and cyano forms) of vitamin B(12) predominate in both dried lavers. The dried lavers contained lesser amounts of dietary iodine ( approximately 4-6 mg/100 g of dry weight) relative to other seaweeds, suggesting that excessive intake of the dried lavers is unlikely to result in harmful intake of dietary iodine. These results indicate that the dried lavers (nori) are the most excellent source of vitamin B(12) among edible seaweeds, especially for strict vegetarians.


    Here's a third B12 study, about Sea Buckthorn:

    Dr. Pandalis Research (EU Patent: No. 079 92 37) was the first to discover that sea buckthorn skins of certain biotopes contain a lot of vitamin B12: and, by means of the symbiosis of sea buckthorn with special bacteria, a vitamin B12 concentration occurs in the seed skin of sea buckthorn, which was previously only known in liver. Not every sea buckthorn bush, therefore, is a supplier of vitamin B12!
    Very recent analyses of the freshly harvested raw material have again confirmed the high content of up to 60 mcg vitamin B12 per 100 g sample. And another piece of information for those hungry for knowledge: our classification procedure for vitamin B12 is based on an antigen-antibody reaction (ELISA test). Therefore a guarantee is provided that only "genuine" vitamin B12 is recorded and not substances analogous to vitamin B12.
    A fourth one, about B12 in chlorella (sorry, rats):
    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.
    A fifth study, about B12 in mushrooms:
    Vitamin B12 is the active corrinoid produced in cultivated white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)

    Centre for Plant and Food Science, College of Health and Science, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 1797, Australia.
    Abstract
    Analysis of vitamin B(12) in freshly harvested white button mushrooms ( Agaricus bisporus ) from five farms was performed by affinity chromatography and HPLC-ESI-MS techniques. The vitamin B(12) concentrations obtained varied from farm to farm, with higher concentrations of vitamin B(12) detected in outer peel than in cap, stalk, or flesh, suggesting that the vitamin B(12) is probably bacteria-derived. High concentrations of vitamin B(12) were also detected in the flush mushrooms including cups and flats. HPLC and mass spectrometry showed vitamin B(12) retention time and mass spectra identical to those of the standard vitamin B(12) and those of food products including beef, beef liver, salmon, egg, and milk but not of the pseudovitamin B(12), an inactive corrinoid in humans. The results suggest that the consumer may benefit from the consumption of mushroom to increase intake of this vitamin in the diet.
    OTOH: if you listen to The Vegan Society, the only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods which are fortified with B12. Then again, they also claim that "most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anaemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimise potential risk of heart disease" etc... But how do they get that B12, if there are no reliable B12 sources among plants? (Off topic: Also, how scientific is their statement about B12 and heart disease - given all the discussion that exists about the B12/homocysteine/heart disease topic?)

    What really matters, is if you actually consume the five mentioned vegan B12 sources (or some of the many other vegan B12 sources suggested by various articles) - combined with a proof that this B12 is active in your body. If you don't use these plants and know that your body absorb and utilize this B12 properly, most vegans will suggest that it's better to take some B12 supplementation, again - at least in periods, as long as you don't overdo it. The exception would be vegans who already have very high B12 levels - either from supplementation, or from your former diet (or both).

    The point I think Andrew want to make, is that some of the facts/"facts" many people today assume are 100% correct and based on science may actually prove themselves wrong over time. I have also, several times, com across reports of non-supplementing vegans who have been living on a vegan diet for decades without any sign of B12 deficiency. The topic is interesting, and also relevant: what if the increasing focus on eg cancer risk and high B12 levels proves itself to me a lot more important than previously thought, and that B12 supplementation even in small amounts may increase eg cancer risk? Circa one out of three people get cancer at some point, and if there's some info we can use to prevent that, we should take information seriusly. What if people on a relatively healthy diet/with a "pure" lifestyle don't need more than "0.2-0.25 micrograms per day absorbed from food" (as suggested by Dr. Victor Herbert )? He wrote

    the minimum daily requirement (MDR) for vitamin B12 to sustain normality is probably in the range of of ~0.1 mcg. 0.2-0.25 mcg absorbed daily from food is probably adequate for anybody. There are no objective published data that larger amount of vitamin B-12 have any added value for greater health or longer life'. In the same article, 'Vitamin B12, sources and requirements', he also writes that 'We (the 1980-85 RDA Committee) reduced the RDA for vitamin B12 to 2mcg for adults (which is still more than more than anybody needs) because there was no scientific basis for higher amounts. As delineated above, nobody needs that much, there is no evidence that it has any value whatsoever for humans and, as we discover more and more about the excess of any nutrient, we discover harms we did not know existed. It will probably turn out eventually that too much vitamin B12, like too much of everything, is harmful
    How would the (very few) pro-vegan sources which suggest that we need extremely high supplementation of B12 feel if 1) this information is correct, and 2) Vegan Society is correct about most vegans most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anaemia and nervous system damage/this info is correct, and 3) the theory that we need B12 to avoid heart disease is wrong?

    In short, what happens with someone's healthy body if they only need 0.25 mcg (or less) B12 daily, but and take 25-100 mcg B12 every day?

    These links may also be interesting for you:
    50 ways to develop B12 deficiency
    Food for thought: At what levels is B12 absorption best?
    High B12 levels and increased cancer risk

    How strong are the B12 supplements you take daily, Kat?

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Hi,
    I know here in Devon a lot of vegan who never take supplements. You can contact them here:

    http://effa-uk.org/effa/effa.aspx

    There are people without supplements for 30 years.
    Also, there is a vegan since birth who thinks supplements are not necessary. He is in his late forties and has a vegan family. Here you are his web site:

    http://evolvecampaigns.org.uk/evolve/default.aspx



    I have to say they all think that only with fortified food it is enough, but they don't have it every day and don't pay to much attention to it either.
    There is as well someone in Venezuela who claims being for 55 years without any supplements. He is a 70 years old naturopath:

    http://germanalberti.com/


    I hope this could be of any help.
    Last edited by Jara; Sep 9th, 2012 at 05:25 PM.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    they all think that only with fortified food it is enough
    Fortified food = food + supplement, isn't it?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    It is true, I mean they don't have any pills. But they just put some marmite in their toasts or sprinkle engavita in the food, without thinking in the amount they're taking dayly, and they don't do it every day, whereas other people think you must take 2000 mcg weekly, even if you are having fortified food.
    The guy in Venezuela doesn't have any fortified food.

    And the one who is vegan since birth I suppose hasn't had any fortified food in his childhood.
    Last edited by Jara; Sep 9th, 2012 at 08:45 PM.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    Thanks for the links. This guy who states that neither he or his children or grandchildren ever have been taking any B12 should let someone obesverve their diet/lifestyle for a while and take blood tests (MMA and B12).

    I know there are some people around who has been eating vegan for decades without any supplements (with no signs of B12 deficiency), but so far, they ony serve as 'teasers' for the medical community. Once they can prove that their levels of active B12 are stable, they represent groundbreaking research - but until then, some will only say that they may slowly develop neurological damage which can takes decades to manifest itself.

    As you can se in this section, various studies already have reported about vegan B12 sources which they consider bioavailable/useful for vegans, but a lot more studies are needed; studies which test people using these products without any sign of decreased B12 leves or negative change of MMA values.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Default Re: Long time no B12 supplement stories?

    About the naturopath, he always says his hemoglobin and b12 are alright, I don't know whether the hemoglobin is reliable or not in this case.
    Thank you for the information.
    Last edited by Jara; Sep 9th, 2012 at 08:44 PM.

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