What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12

bowl-of-fortified-granola-or-muesli-cereal-with-strawberries-and-blueberries-with-soya-plant-milk-being-poured-on-top

 

vegansociety.com
15-19 minutes

Below is an Open Letter containing detailed information on vitamin B12 from the health professionals and organisations listed at the end. If you simply want to know what to do, read ‘Vitamin B12 : your key facts’.


The information below was prepared by Stephen Walsh, a Vegan Society trustee, and other members of the International Vegetarian Union Science Group (IVU-SCI), in October 2001. This information may be freely reproduced but only in its entirety.
Recommendations

Very low B12 intakes can cause anemia and nervous system damage. The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 (including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals) and B12 supplements. Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from micro-organisms. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimize potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.

To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following:

Eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (mcg or µg) of B12 a day
OR Take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms
OR Take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

If relying on fortified foods, check the labels carefully to make sure you are getting enough B12. For example, if a fortified plant milk contains 1 microgram of B12 per serving then consuming three servings a day will provide adequate vitamin B12. Others may find the use of B12 supplements more convenient and economical.

The less frequently you obtain B12 the more B12 you need to take, as B12 is best absorbed in small amounts. The recommendations above take full account of this. There is no harm in exceeding the recommended amounts or combining more than one option.

Good information supports vegan health, pass it around.

If you don’t read another word about B12, you already know all you need to know. If you want to know more, read on.
Vitamin B12 and vegan diets – Lessons from history

B12 is an exceptional vitamin. It is required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin. Ten micrograms of B12 spread over a day appears to supply as much as the body can use. In the absence of any apparent dietary supply, deficiency symptoms usually take five years or more to develop in adults, though some people experience problems within a year. A very small number of individuals with no obvious reliable source appear to avoid clinical deficiency symptoms for twenty years or more. B12 is the only vitamin that is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a varied wholefood, plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, together with exposure to sun. Many herbivorous mammals, including cattle and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria in their own digestive system. B12 is found to some extent in soil and plants. These observations have led some vegans to suggest that B12 was an issue requiring no special attention, or even an elaborate hoax. Others have proposed specific foods, including spirulina, nori, tempeh, and barley grass, as suitable non-animal sources of B12. Such claims have not stood the test of time.

In over 60 years of vegan experimentation only B12 fortified foods and B12 supplements have proven themselves as reliable sources of B12, capable of supporting optimal health. It is very important that all vegans ensure they have an adequate intake of B12, from fortified foods or supplements. This will benefit our health and help to attract others to veganism through our example.
Getting an adequate amount of B12

National recommendations for B12 intakes vary significantly from country to country. The US recommended intake is 2.4 micrograms a day for ordinary adults rising to 2.8 micrograms for nursing mothers. The German recommendation is 3 micrograms a day. Recommended intakes are usually based on 50% absorption, as this is typical for small amounts from foods. To meet the US and German recommendations you need to obtain sufficient B12 to absorb 1.5 micrograms per day on average. This amount should be sufficient to avoid even the initial signs of inadequate B12 intake, such as slightly elevated homocysteine and methylmalonic acid (MMA) levels, in most people. Even slightly elevated homocysteine is associated with increased risk of many health problems including heart disease in adults, preeclampsia during pregnancy and neural tube defects in babies.

Achieving an adequate B12 intake is easy and there are several methods to suit individual preferences. Absorption of B12 varies from about 50%, if about 1 microgram or less is consumed, to about 0.5% for doses of 1000 micrograms (1 milligram) or above. So the less frequently you consume B12, the higher the total amount needs to be to give the desired absorbed amount.

Frequent use of foods fortified with B12 so that about one microgram of B12 is consumed three times a day with a few hours in between will provide an adequate amount. Availability of fortified foods varies from country to country and amounts of B12 vary from brand to brand, so ensuring an adequate B12 supply from fortified foods requires some label reading and thought to work out an adequate pattern to suit individual tastes and local products.

Taking a B12 supplement containing ten micrograms or more daily provides a similar absorbed amount to consuming one microgram on three occasions through the day. This may be the most economical method as a single high potency tablet can be consumed bit by bit. 2000 micrograms of B12 consumed once a week would also provide an adequate intake. Any B12 supplement tablet should be chewed or allowed to dissolve in the mouth to enhance absorption. Tablets should be kept in an opaque container. As with any supplement it is prudent not to take more than is required for maximum benefit, so intakes above 5000 micrograms per week should be avoided despite lack of evidence for toxicity from higher amounts.

All three options above should meet the needs of the vast majority of people with normal B12 metabolism. Individuals with impaired B12 absorption may find that the third method, 2000 micrograms once a week, works best as it does not rely on normal intrinsic factor in the gut. There are other, very rare, metabolic defects that require completely different approaches to meeting B12 requirements. If you have any reason to suspect a serious health problem seek medical advice promptly.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency

Clinical deficiency can cause anaemia or nervous system damage. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid clinical deficiency. Two subgroups of vegans are at particular risk of B12 deficiency: long-term vegans who avoid common fortified foods (such as raw food vegans or macrobiotic vegans) and breastfed infants of vegan mothers whose own intake of B12 is low.

In adults typical deficiency symptoms include loss of energy, tingling, numbness, reduced sensitivity to pain or pressure, blurred vision, abnormal gait, sore tongue, poor memory, confusion, hallucinations and personality changes. Often these symptoms develop gradually over several months to a year before being recognised as being due to B12 deficiency and they are usually reversible on administration of B12. There is however no entirely consistent and reliable set of symptoms and there are cases of permanent damage in adults from B12 deficiency. If you suspect a problem then get a skilled diagnosis from a medical practitioner as each of these symptoms can also be caused by problems other than B12 deficiency.

Infants typically show more rapid onset of symptoms than adults. B12 deficiency may lead to loss of energy and appetite and failure to thrive. If not promptly corrected this can progress to coma or death. Again there is no entirely consistent pattern of symptoms. Infants are more vulnerable to permanent damage than adults. Some make a full recovery, but others show retarded development.

The risk to these groups alone is reason enough to call on all vegans to give a consistent message as to the importance of B12 and to set a positive example. Every case of B12 deficiency in a vegan infant or an ill informed adult is a tragedy and brings veganism into disrepute.
The homocysteine connection

This is not however the end of the story. Most vegans show adequate B12 levels to make clinical deficiency unlikely but nonetheless show restricted activity of B12 related enzymes, leading to elevated homocysteine levels. Strong evidence has been gathered over the past decade that even slightly elevated homocysteine levels increase risk of heart disease and stroke and pregnancy complications. Homocysteine levels are also affected by other nutrients, most notably folate. General recommendations for increased intakes of folate are aimed at reducing levels of homocysteine and avoiding these risks. Vegan intakes of folate are generally good, particularly if plenty of green vegetables are eaten. However, repeated observations of elevated homocysteine in vegans, and to a lesser extent in other vegetarians, show conclusively that B12 intake needs to be adequate as well to avoid unnecessary risk.
Testing B12 status

A blood B12 level measurement is a very unreliable test for vegans, particularly for vegans using any form of algae. Algae and some other plant foods contain B12-analogues (false B12) that can imitate true B12 in blood tests while actually interfering with B12 metabolism. Blood counts are also unreliable as high folate intakes suppress the anaemia symptoms of B12 deficiency that can be detected by blood counts. Blood homocysteine testing is more reliable, with levels less than 10 micromol/litre being desirable. The most specific test for B12 status is MMA testing. If this is in the normal range in blood (<370 nmol/L) or urine (less than 4 mcg /mg creatinine) then your body has enough B12. Many doctors still rely on blood B12 levels and blood counts. These are not adequate, especially in vegans.
Is there a vegan alternative to B12-fortified foods and supplements?

If for any reason you choose not to use fortified foods or supplements you should recognise that you are carrying out a dangerous experiment – one that many have tried before with consistently low levels of success. If you are an adult who is neither breast-feeding an infant, pregnant nor seeking to become pregnant, and wish to test a potential B12 source that has not already been shown to be inadequate, then this can be a reasonable course of action with appropriate precautions. For your own protection, you should arrange to have your B12 status checked annually. If homocysteine or MMA is even modestly elevated then you are endangering your health if you persist.

If you are breast feeding an infant, pregnant or seeking to become pregnant or are an adult contemplating carrying out such an experiment on a child, then don’t take the risk. It is simply unjustifiable.

Claimed sources of B12 that have been shown through direct studies of vegans to be inadequate include human gut bacteria, spirulina, dried nori, barley grass and most other seaweeds. Several studies of raw food vegans have shown that raw food offers no special protection.

Reports that B12 has been measured in a food are not enough to qualify that food as a reliable B12 source. It is difficult to distinguish true B12 from analogues that can disrupt B12 metabolism. Even if true B12 is present in a food, it may be rendered ineffective if analogues are present in comparable amounts to the true B12. There is only one reliable test for a B12 source – does it consistently prevent and correct deficiency? Anyone proposing a particular food as a B12 source should be challenged to present such evidence.
A natural, healthy and compassionate diet

To be truly healthful, a diet must be best not just for individuals in isolation but must allow all people all over the world to thrive and achieve a sustainable coexistence with the many other species that form the “living earth”. From this standpoint the natural adaptation for most (possibly all) humans in the modern world is a vegan diet. There is nothing natural about the abomination of modern factory farming and its attempt to reduce living, feeling beings to machines. In choosing to use fortified foods or B12 supplements, vegans are taking their B12 from the same source as every other animal on the planet – micro-organisms – without causing suffering to any sentient being or causing environmental damage.

Vegans using adequate amounts of fortified foods or B12 supplements are much less likely to suffer from B12 deficiency than the typical meat eater. The Institute of Medicine, in setting the US recommended intakes for B12 makes this very clear. “Because 10 to 30 percent of older people may be unable to absorb naturally occurring vitamin B12, it is advisable for those older than 50 years to meet their RDA mainly by consuming foods fortified with vitamin B12 or a vitamin B12-containing supplement.” Vegans should take this advice about 50 years younger, to the benefit of both themselves and the animals. B12 need never be a problem for well-informed vegans.

https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-and-health/nutrients/vitamin-b12/what-every-vegan-should-know-about-vitamin-b12

Good information supports vegan health, pass it around.
Further information

Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline, National Academy Press, 1998 ISBN 0-309-06554-2
Vitamin B12: Are you getting it? by Jack Norris
Homocysteine in health and disease, ed. Ralph Carmel and Donald W. Jacobsen, Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-521-65319-3
this open letter is available on many other websites too, including here, here and here.

Endorsers of the above information include:

EVA Ethisch Vegetarisch Alternatief, Belgium,
Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM)
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
Vegan Action, US
Vegan Outreach, US,
The Vegan Society, UK
Paul Appleby, medical statistician, UK
Dr Luciana Baroni, MD, Neurologist-Geriatrician, President of Società Scientifica di Nutrizione Vegetariana, Italy
Amanda Benham, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dietitians Association of Australia’s nominated expert on vegetarian nutrition
Dr Glynis Dallas-Chapman, MB, BS, UK
Brenda Davis, RD, Co-author of Becoming Vegan and former Chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association
Michael Greger, MD, USA
Dr William Harris, MD, USA
Prof. em. Dr. Marcel Hebbelinck, Belgium
Alex Hershaft, PhD, President, FARM, USA
Sandra Hood, State Registered Dietitian and UK Vegan Society dietary consultant
Dr Gill Langley, MA PhD MIBiol, author of Vegan Nutrition, UK
Stephen R. Kaufman, MD, USA
Vesanto Melina, MS, RD, Co-author of Becoming Vegan, http://www.nutrispeak.com
Reed Mangels, PhD, RD, Nutrition Advisor, The Vegetarian Resource Group, USA
Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, Co-author of the Dietitians Guide to Vegetarian Diets
Jack Norris, RD, Vegan Outreach director
Dr John Wedderburn, MB, ChB, Founder of the Hong Kong Vegan Society
Portuguese Vegetarian Association (Associação Portuguesa Vegetariana)
French Société végane

This information sheet was prepared by Stephen Walsh, a Vegan Society trustee, and other members of the International Vegetarian Union science group (IVU-SCI), in October 2001. The information may be freely reproduced but only in its entirety (list of endorsers may be omitted).
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The FBI is on the hunt for a man who allegedly killed a woman and disappeared with their 3-year-old son

fox43.com CNN Wire
The FBI has asked the public’s help in locating 32-year-old Jorge Ernesto Rico-Ruvira. They say Rico-Ruvira is on the run with his 3-year-old son after allegedly killing the boy’s mother.

The FBI has asked the public’s help in locating a 32-year-old man they say is on the run with his 3-year-old son after allegedly killing the boy’s mother.

The boy is believed to be in danger, police said.

A state felony arrest warrant charges Jorge Ernesto Rico-Ruvira with one count of murder after he allegedly killed a woman in New Mexico and took off with their toddler son, the federal agency said in a January 10 news released published by the Roswell Police Department.

Officers found the 27-year-old victim, identified by the police department as Isela Mauricio-Sanchez, on January 7.

A federal arrest warrant was also issued for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, according to the news release.

Authorities described Rico-Ruvira as a Hispanic male with brown hair and brown eyes, 5’8″ tall and about 150 pounds.

He is a Mexican citizen, the release said, and “may have fled to Mexico, where he has family in the areas of Zacatecas and Jalisco.”

Police say he is believed to have been in a maroon GMC Yukon.

The young boy is also described by the Roswell Police Department as a Hispanic male, about 2’6” with brown hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen January 5, according to a news release by Amber Alert.

“It is unknown what Osiel was last seen wearing,” the release said. “Osiel Ernesto Rico is missing and is believed to be in danger if not located. It is believed he is in the company of Jorge Rico-Ruvira.”

“(Anyone with information) can now call the New Mexico Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Clearinghouse at 1-800-457-3463. Information can also be called in to the Roswell Police Department at (575) 624-6770,” the police department said.

https://fox43.com/2020/01/12/the-fbi-is-on-the-hunt-for-a-man-who-allegedly-killed-a-woman-and-disappeared-with-their-3-year-old-son/amp/?taid=5e1beb6f2f31770001c275af&amp;utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A%20Trending%20Content&amp;utm_medium=trueAnthem&amp;utm_source=twitter&amp;__twitter_impression=true

The alert was sent in error!

The Times They Are A-Changing…. For The Better

Sign the Petition: Save Australia’s Camels

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change.org

Liat Kisos started this petition to Australia’s Government

Do you believe the Australian government has the right to slaughter 10,000 camels this Wednesday?

“Australia: More than 10,000 camels to be shot from helicopters because they drink too much water”

Please sign this petition to save innocent lives! This is in no way a legitimate response to the millions of animals already burnt to death in the fire. Instead of taking the innocent lives of these poor camels, the government needs to own up and take responsibility.

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION AND HELP SAVE THE CAMELS!

https://www.change.org/p/australia-s-government-save-australia-s-camels

Read more: https://www.indiatimes.com/trending/social-relevance/solution-to-bushfires-australia-to-kill-10000-camels-because-they-drink-too-much-water-503700.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/australia-wildfires-camels-shot-killed-helicopters-water-drought-bushfires-a9273366.html

Petition: Insurance Should Cover Diabetic Alert Dogs | Take Action @ The Diabetes Site

diabetic-alert-dogs

thediabetessite.greatergood.com
Insurance Should Cover Diabetic Alert Dogs | Take Action @ The Diabetes Site
Sponsor: The Diabetes Site

These dogs can save lives, but prohibitive costs keep many from acquiring them. Insurance companies should cover them!

These dogs can save lives, but prohibitive costs keep many from acquiring them. Insurance companies should cover them!

Service dogs transform the lives of their charges. From assisting the blind and deaf to helping returning veterans cope with PTSD, the positive impact of their help upon their owners cannot be denied.

People with diabetes can also benefit from being paired with a service dog. With the proper training, dogs can use their superior sense of smell to alert their owners to fluctuating blood sugar. This is especially important among Type 1 diabetics who suffer from a condition known as Hypoglycemic Unawareness. This condition prevents a person from feeling when his or her blood sugar is rapidly falling or is dangerously low. Other symptoms, such as stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, or even seizures, are the only hints sufferers receive without testing their blood sugar. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can even result in unconsciousness, coma, or death in as few as twenty minutes.

For those with Hypoglycemic Unawareness, an alert dog might mean the difference between life and death.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained to recognize symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar, sometimes both highs and lows, and alert their charge to their condition, even waking a sleeping person should the need arise.

There’s no denying a diabetic alert dog could save countless lives and improve the quality of life for their owners. So why don’t more people have them?

Their cost.

According to Dogs4Diabetics, a diabetes alert dog typically costs around $20,000, but other sources cite the price tag as high as $50,000. For the average person, this enormous price tag can prevent people with diabetes from acquiring the service dog assistance they require.

People with diabetes shouldn’t be asked to shoulder this financial burden on their own when they pay insurance premiums! Tell the U.S.’s top five Insurance providers and Obamacare to cover the costs of these dogs for any diabetic whose doctors’ recommend them.
The Petition:

To U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and the CEOs of WellPoint Insurance, CIGNA Health Insurance Company, Aetna, Humana, and United Healthcare

I am writing to urge you to add diabetic alert dogs to your insurance policies. I am dismayed that these effective assistants to managing and maintaining awareness of blood glucose levels are effectively uncovered by the insurance industry.

These alert dogs provide life-saving care to people with diabetes, especially those who suffer from Hypoglycemic Unawareness. This condition prevents diabetics from feeling when his or her blood sugar is rapidly falling or is dangerously low. Other symptoms, such as stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness, or even seizures, are the only hints sufferers receive without testing their blood sugar. If left untreated, hypoglycemia can even result in unconsciousness, coma, or death in as few as twenty minutes.

Diabetic alert dogs are trained to recognize symptoms of fluctuating blood sugar, sometimes both highs and lows, and alert their charge to their condition, even waking a sleeping person should the need arise.

But, as you are no doubt aware, the cost of training a diabetic alert dog can be massive. According to Dogs4Diabetics, a diabetes alert dog typically costs around $20,000, but other sources cite the price tag as high as $50,000. For the average diabetic, this enormous price tag can prevent them from acquiring the service dog assistance they require.

As the nation’s most prominent health insurance providers, I’m asking you to lead the charge on making diabetic alert dogs more accessible to your clients. Lives are on the line. And an alert dog could make lived with diabetes easier for so many.

Please, help defray the costs of acquiring a diabetic alert dog. Add these life-saving companions to your policies.

Thank you,
https://thediabetessite.greatergood.com/clicktogive/dbs/petition/diabetic-alert-dogs?utm_source=dbs-reminder&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=01122020&amp;utm_content=reminder-A0&amp;utm_campaign=diabetic-alert-dogs&amp;oidp=0x4a568a63ec7cab2cc0a82937

Petition: Don’t Hang Fulbright Scholar for Teaching Women’s Rights: Repeal Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws

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Helen Haft started this petition to Prime Minister Imran Khan and 4 othersOn December 21, Junaid Hafeez, a Pakistani academic, was sentenced to “be hanged by neck till his death” for blasphemy. After returning to Pakistan from Mississippi, where he was a Fulbright scholar, Junaid wanted to bring back his passion for literature and social justice to his students. Junaid was charged with blasphemy after inviting and teaching the works of women’s rights activists. After one lecture, with a female novelist, Junaid was accused of having made blasphemous remarks. This sparked protests by religiously-conservative students, leading the authorities to claim that Junaid had defiled the Prophet Muhammad on social-media. He was arrested in 2013 and has been held in solitary confinement ever since. His lawyer, Rashid Rehman, was murdered in his chambers in 2014 for taking up the case.Junaid and I are both alumni of the Fulbright program. As a fellow Fulbrighter, Junaid’s case hit close to home. Days before I learned of his death sentence, I had published a piece on blasphemy in Pakistan.Pakistan’s penal code prescribes death to “whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).” Since the introduction of the death penalty for blasphemy in the late 1980s, there have been approximately 1500 blasphemy charges. A blasphemy accusation in Pakistan is equivalent to a death sentence, as extremist mobs take it upon themselves to carry out the law. Lawyers, judges, and politicians who criticize the law face death threats and murder. The governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was murdered in 2011 by his bodyguard for speaking out against the law.Asia Bibi, a woman who spent ten years on death row before being acquitted in 2018, galvanized the international community to push for her release. This social outcry put pressure on the Pakistani Supreme Court, which acquitted her, at serious risk to themselves. Asia Bibi herself has been forced into exile. While the Asia Bibi acquittal was a step in the right direction, Junaid’s conviction shows that there is still a long way to go.Junaid’s case will undoubtedly be appealed, but he risks assassination between now and then, as do those associated with him. There is no guarantee that his conviction will be overturned, and it is imperative that the global community speak out against this appalling human rights abuse.As a former Fulbright scholar who has been engaged in research on worldwide blasphemy laws, I am writing to urge the global community to stand in solidarity with Junaid and stand for free speech. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are a weapon that can be used against anyone at any time. The laws prevent individuals from speaking out not only against religion, but also on issues related to women’s rights, curtailing challenges to Pakistan’s conservative status quo. The laws have silenced women’s rights campaigners, human rights activists, journalists, academics, and everyday citizens. While religious minorities, political dissidents, free thinkers and intellectuals are frequently targeted, the most common victims of the laws are Muslims themselves.Pakistan has the largest Fulbright program in the world and thus, one of the largest alumni networks. Many Pakistanis have spoken out on social media at great personal risk. The vast majority cannot. If they do, they could face Junaid’s death sentence. As an international community, we must stand with the brave Pakistanis calling for justice and be the voices for those who cannot.Please sign this petition to demand #JusticeforJunaidHafeez and call for a repeal to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.https://www.change.org/p/the-fulbright-program-don-t-hang-fulbright-scholar-for-teaching-women-s-rights-repeal-pakistan-s-blasphemy-laws/sign?cs_tk=AkQOahSYAQ-jAk4AH14AAXicyyvNyQEABF8BvFVFweFpF5QOXS_EcEDH_KI%3D&amp;utm_campaign=907676712ae7421796301db7bb52df07&amp;utm_content=initial_v0_0_2&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_source=aa_sign_ask&amp;utm_term=cs