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It Could Be Old Age, or It Could Be Low B12
Posted December 4th, 2011 - 10:05 am by from Guangfu, Taiwan (Permalink)
B12 Deficiency Can Cause Symptoms That Mimic Aging. "Natural plant
sources are meager at best in B12, and the vitamin is poorly absorbed
from them. Many strict vegetarians and all vegans, as well as infants
they breast-feed, must consume supplements or fortified breakfast
cereals to get adequate amounts."

A severe B12 deficiency
results in anemia, which can be picked up by an ordinary blood test. But
the less dramatic symptoms of a B12 deficiency may include muscle
weakness, fatigue, shakiness, unsteady gait, incontinence, low blood
pressure, depression and other mood disorders, and cognitive problems
like poor memory.
For more info. please check the New York Times, health section, Nov. 28 article on Vit. B12 and aging by Jane Brody. Sorry, as a comouter idiot, my computer won't allow me to post the link to article here.
Also note that baterium Spirulina contain psudo-B12 that our body can't utilize, so it's actually bad for vegetarians.

Posted December 4th, 2011 - 10:11 am by from Klagenfurt, Austria (Permalink)
This is a topic I'm very interested in as I am not fully vegan but I mostly prefer vegan food and generally don't have milk products at home.
If it is true that non-animal Vitamin B12 sources are insufficient or useless, than supplements are either: useless or not truly vegan.
I wonder if someone in this group has some more scientific information about B12 to share with us.

Posted December 4th, 2011 - 10:37 am by from Vienna, Austria (Permalink)
Fortunately that subject is relatively well researched and covered in all FAQs and websites of vegan societies. As for the health aspects of B12, homocystein, and folate, Stephen Walsh's book "Plant Based Nutrition And Health" will give you a good overview. To make it short, B12 is necessary for cell synthesis and a lack is usually noted first in neurologic deficiencies (due to problems in the swann/glia cells synthesizing the myelin sheaths) and macrocytic anemia (cells have lots of hemoglobin/iron but not enough cells can be formed) as opposed to iron deficiency, where microcytic anemia (many small erythrocytes) is more common.

It is true that plants don't produce B12, but neither do animals. Virtually the only source available is from bacteria, and you can either use B12 (*cobalamines) from bacterial cultures as is ubiquitous in supplements and can be purchased in pure form as well or you can eat products of animals that extracted B12 from bacteria (probably taken up together with plants). Unfortunately the alternative of eating lots of unwashed vegetables brings other risks.

(And don't make the mistake I made first dosing the supplements too low)

See e. g.

Posted December 4th, 2011 - 11:07 am by from Istanbul, Turkey (Permalink)


I heard that B12 is a vitamin that healthy body produce by itself. when someone start to take artificially B12 (from meat or pills) the body stops to produce it naturally. Another point is the body can create it in our intestins, we just need to be healthy. Some people start to get vegetarian and complain of being weak when they are still smoking and drinking everyday. conclusion, if you want to go veg, dont take pills, you may have to take them for life, smoke less or not at all. Be happy in the sun, it helps too!
There is something very wrong that westerner believes that vegetarian or vegan must live on pills when there is over a billion indians who are vegetarians and a small percentage of jains who are vegans. if i was paranoid, i would say that it is a strategy to sell useless medicafood... :)

Posted December 4th, 2011 - 12:31 pm by from Vienna, Austria (Permalink)
Julien, when you hear rumors, please be careful whom to believe. It is true that some people can live years or even decades without obvious B12 sources. It is not true that animals including humans can produce B12 - the liver stores huge quantities, and like I wrote farther above, bacteria would provide more than enough, encluding the ones in your intestines. Unfortunately the human digestion system is not suited for using that since it needs intrinsic factor that is only produced in the stomach (parietal lining cells). With good reason feces is not considered fit for human (or animal) consumption, so it is better to breed only the cobalamin producing bacteria without the pathogenic ones.

Being happy in the sun is good for your vitamin D (*Calciferol) supply, unfortunately hereabouts there is not all that much sun most of the year, so most central and northern Europeans are deficient in that, too. Besides, draw your own conclusions in the light of the correlation between sunburn and melanomas (skin cancer).

Civilization may have its drawbacks, but I wouldn't number health care, food supplements, and long life among them.

Posted December 4th, 2011 - 4:48 pm by from Linden, Germany (Permalink)
Michelle and everybody: Thanks a lot for bringing up this important topic!

And I'm happy everyone here is recommending B12-supplements =)

Julien, there are as far as I know no such studies showing adequate B12-levels in Indian vegetarians. There have been many cases, particularly in France of B12-deficiency in babies - we really need to take this serious.

We should always look for scientifc sources:

www.veganhealth.org is the most complete source of vegan nutrition info

I also recommend:

www.theveganrd.com (Ginny Messina)

www.jacknorrisrd.com (Jack Norris)

"Plant Based Nutrition and Health" (Stephen Walsh, Vegan Society) --- a brochure that is a summary of this book also exists in French, please help promote it! (also in Spanish, German, and Indonesian) French: www.vegansociety.com/booklets/nutrition_vegetale.pdf

www.drgreger.com (Michael Greger)

www.nutritionfacts.org (Michael Greger)

"Feeding your vegan infant with confidence" (Sandra Hood)

"The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book" (Reed Mangels)

www.brendadavisrd.com (Brenda Davis)

www.nutrispeak.com (Vesanto Melina)

www.alimentacaosemcarne.com.br (Eric Slywitch - in Portuguese)

These are all vegans and vegan nutrition experts who base their recommendations on the latest scientific findings.

PS: I'm currently working on translating VeganHealth.org into German http://ellwangen.blogspot.com/p/veganhealthorg.html

For information in Spanish see http://www.fuentevegana.com/

Posted March 4th, 2012 - 10:17 pm by from Tarragona, Spain (Permalink)
I like yeast extract (Marmite/Vegemite) for B12. It's not bad on toast or rice crackers, but it's an acquired taste. :)