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Vitamin B12 to the Rescue!

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Vitamin B12 to the Rescue! Vitamin B12 to the Rescue!

Vitamin B12 to the Rescue!






By Jack Norris, Registered Dietitian, Executive Director

I’m pictured above in the B12 jersey that VO’s Director of Outreach, Vic Sjodin, recently bestowed upon me.
If you’re new to veganism, or VO’s work, you may not know the history of vitamin B12 and its importance for vegans. This article will bring you up to speed!
Vitamin B12 is the one nutrient that can’t be supplied by plant foods. That’s an inconvenient fact, but the good news is that vegans can easily get enough vitamin B12 from fortified foods or supplements?and if you follow the recommendations (below) you can have even better vitamin B12 status than meat-eaters.
Like many nutrient deficiencies, B12 doesn’t present itself suddenly?in fact, people who’ve eaten animal products their entire lives typically have a store of vitamin B12 that will last them for a significant amount of time. It can be years before a vegan shows signs of deficiency. Due to this slow progression, a controversy has always surrounded whether vegans actually need a dietary source of vitamin B12.
All vitamin B12 is produced by some specific strains of bacteria and the vitamin B12 found in supplements is made from bacteria cultures?it’s not obtained from animals. But animals collect it in their tissues while plants don’t. And before vitamin B12 was discovered in the late 1940s, people’s attempts to be vegan often ended in a state of fatigue or neurological damage. Once discovered, vitamin B12 quickly became available in supplement form and the final piece of the nutrition puzzle was in place for a vegan lifestyle to spread.
The term “vegan” was coined by Donald Watson, one of the founders of the U.K. Vegan Society. The Vegan Society formed in 1944, but it’s not clear to me when they started pushing B12. One of the earliest studies on U.K. vegans from 1955 (1), described significant B12 deficiency with some vegans suffering from nerve damage and dementia.
In 1976, the BBC television show, Open Door, ran an episode on the Vegan Society and interviewed Dr. Tom Sanders who said a vegan diet should be supplemented with vitamin B12.

I became involved in animal rights advocacy and veganism in the late 1980s. Although the American Dietetic Association’s position was that a vegan diet could be healthy if supplemented with vitamin B12, that news didn’t seem to be reaching most of the U.S. animal rights movement. To the extent that movement leaders realized the need for vitamin B12, it was played down so as not to make the vegan diet appear unnatural.
My activism was focused almost solely on spreading veganism, and I started to come across ex-vegans who had failed to thrive on a vegan diet. In my attempt to understand this problem, I started reading the scientific literature and writings by vegan dietitians like Ginny Messina. These writings stated that vegans should supplement with vitamin B12. At the same time, I was alarmed b...


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Source of the news: veganoutreach
Publication date: 21-07-2017 22:04
visto: 45

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