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Seven points debunking some B12 myths
by Gosia
(read an important update here)

1.    Debunking scare-“facts” on B12:

Quotes from (scroll down to the part on B12):

“There is far more unknown than known about B12 and its metabolism in the body.”
(Hence, do not blindly rely on scientific “facts”.)

“It is difficult to avoid vitamin B12.”
(Multiple vegan sources are listed.)

“A group of French investigators reported a series of cases suggesting that B12 may stimulate multiplication of cancer cells and aggravate the disease.”
(Advice against routine supplementation.)

3.    Quotes from:

(Raw vegan sources of B12:)

Fresh garden pricked vegetables, particularly root vegetables, that are not overly scrubbed cleaned or pealed will have some b-12 on their surface.  Boiling such vegetables and then throwing
out the water would make for a loss of this B12.

Since B12 is predominantly produced by bacteria (no animal produces its own), then foods grown in soils where the bacteria flora is rich would presumable have more B12 on their surface. Hence, organically grown foods will probably be richer in B12.

There is now some recent evidence (Combs, 1991) that some peas and bean actually produce their own B12.  It was previously thought that the only source in nature was bacteria.  This would
suggest that such peas and beans would have their B12 throughout rather than just on the surface.  Still, this probably will not suffice as a single plant source to provide sufficient B12.

A simply but useful recommendation is to chew one's food properly and leave plenty of time between meals helps absorption.  The r-binders in saliva help to hold onto the B12 in the food until it reaches the small intestine where it absorbed (Fleming, 1978).”

(Caution against routine supplementation:)
“For healthy adult vegans I do think we should be careful about recommending routine B12 supplements.  Even though complete absorption is not likely, the dosages are probably still too high
(1200 mcg).  There is some case studies and experimental evidence that an excessive B12 consumption encourages cell division in general and certain tumor cells in particular (bergevin et al.,1976; chauvergne, 1970).

Bergevin et al, (1976). 
Pernicious anemia terminating in acute myeloblastic leukemia. 

Chauvergne, J.  (1970). 
The risk of administering vitamin B12 to cancer patients. 

Combs, Gerald (1991). 

Fleming, A. (1978). 
Serum vitamin B12 levels and vitamin B12 binding proteins of serum and saliva of healthry Nigerians and Europeans. 

(Questioning the true required levels of B12:)
“If one has been a vegan for a many years, it might be a good idea to have one's serum B12 levels checked.  The normal range is about 150-750 pg/ml according to the merck manual.  Others put it at 100-900 pg/ml.  There is no exact cutoff.  Vegans, of course, will have levels at the low end but this by itself is not a cause for alarm.  After all, the "normal" range is based upon research from an omnivorous population and vegans do have a lower need for B12 and are more efficient at preservation of extant stores. indeed, it could be argued that the "true normal" range might well closer to that of vegans.  The "ideal" physiological functioning has yet to be determined, but we do know that almost all investigators reporting on vegans report them as being above average in health and more active.”

4.    29 must-read short statements about B12 from:

Junior Member
Member # 405

 posted March 05, 2004 11:38 AM                           
It is possible to develop a B-12 deficiency if your diet and lifestyle are not optimized as much as possible, whether you are a vegan, a vegetarian, or a meat eater. B-12 deficiency is in no way vegan specific.
1) It's impossible to cause a B12 deficiency in animals (primate especially) , even when they're fed for several years in a purified diet without B12.
"Siddons, F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
"Siddons, R.C at al. The experimental production of vitamin B12 deficiency in the baboon"
"F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
2) It's possible to lower the level of B12 in chimps and other animals fed in a purified diet without B12 sources when they're injected with ampicillin and other antibiotics.
"Siddons, F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
"Siddons, R.C at al. The experimental production of vitamin B12 deficiency in the baboon"
"F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
3) Studied vegetarian men have more haemoglobin than meat eaters, and vegan had even more than vegetarian as they had lower values for erythrocyte and higher values for corpuscular volume.
4) No serious study in medicine literatures showed that there were B12 deficiency in non-smoker that has been vegan for more than 15 years.
5) No serious scientific studies in medicine literature showed that vegan children had lower vitamin B12 (while the wrong misleading conclusions showed this).
6) All the vegan has higher erythrocyte folate concentration and normal vitamin B12 level.
7) The non supplementing vegan showed no macrocytosis or microcytosis, no poly-segmented neutrophils and the level was 180 ng/l were deficiency is seen only under 85 ng/l .
"Shane B, Stokstad et al. Vitamin B12-folate interrelationships"
"Ellis,Montegriffo et al. Veganism, clinical findings and investigations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"
"Ellis, F.R.; Mumford, P. ~ The nutritional status of vegans and vegetarians"
8) The time studied people had been on the vegan diet range from sever years to 35 years.
9) Ten vegan subjects that showed normal or higher level of B12 had been breast fed by vegan mothers.
10) The B12 level of those taking B12 supplements was not much more higher than those that has never taking supplements (321M + 60SE ng/l > 253M + 19SE ng/l) .
"Chanarin et al. Vitamin B12 studies in total vegetarians"
"Shane B, Stokstad et al. Vitamin B12-folate interrelationships"
"Ellis,Montegriffo et al. Veganism, clinical findings and investigations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"
"Ellis, F.R.; Mumford, P. The nutritional status of vegans and vegetarians"
"JE Cotes, JM Dabbs, AM Hall et al. possible effect of a vegan diet upon lung function and the cardiorespiratory response to submaximal exercise in healthy women"
10b) They failed to find any clinical or haematological evidence of vitamin BI2 deficiency in their studies. None of the vegan people studied had vitamin B12 deficiency. The studies found no lack of B12 in vegans. The studies found no deficiency of B12 in vegans = 80 ng/dl after 5 years of monitoring.
11) There have been few cases in which B12 deficiency in a vegan caused damage to the nerves and spinal cords and they were showed to be due to gastro-enteritis and other pathological conditions, some meat eater relatives showed the same problem and the same low B12 level.
12) Gastric, intestinal, liver organic substances of both primates animals fed for more than three years in a diet without source of vitamin B12 and vegan human had been extracted and showed high content of vitamin B12 and in vitro the extracted organisms showed to manufacture vitamin B12.
Both the men and the primate animals had high/normal level of B12.
13) Primates animals fed with a purified diet with B12 supplements showed no differences in folate, and B12 level from chimps fed without B12 sources.
"Siddons, F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
"Siddons, R.C at al. The experimental production of vitamin B12 deficiency in the baboon"
"F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
14) Cow and other mammals don't take B12 form the soil. Experiments conducts on these animals showed that their B12 level was still high after three years on a purified diet without B12 sources.
Their intestinal compounds showed to contain organisms that in vitro produced B12.
15) Both in man and animals not eating vitamin b12 sources micro-organisms able to produce B12 had been isolated.
16) Those not taking B12 supplements showed more micro-organism concentration able to produce in their stomachs and intestines than those taking B12 supplement.
"Mickelsen et al - Intestinal synthesis of vitamins in the nonruminant"
"F. Jacob et al. Vitamin B12 nutrition and metabolism in the baboon"
Albert, M.J et al. - Vitamin B12 synthesis by human small intestinal bacteria"
17) Experiments carried out on vegans showed that B12 manufactured by bacterial flora in the stomach and intestines (not colon) are highly absorbed in the ileum.
"Albert, M.J.; Mathan, V.I.; Baker, S.J. ~ Vitamin B12 synthesis by human small intestinal bacteria"
18) Anaerobic Ci perfringens produced the highest level of B12.
18a)Only 10% of yeast microorganisms produce 1.0 ng/ml of B12.
18b)49% of anaerobic bacteria produce 10ng/ml of B12.
19) Anaerobic bacteria in the mouth produce high level of B12 also.
20) Cobamides cultures have been isolated from the liver of primates.
21) Specker Radioessay is known to be ineffective when need to individuate the TRUE B12 from ANALOGUE USELESS B12.
22) All the studies that showed that meat, eggs, milk and cheese are high source of absorbable vitamin B12 have been carried out using Specker Radioessay method.
23) Ochromonas malhamensis is the most precise and accurate method to trace B12 in food and individuate the analogue from the human utilisable.
24) Laboratory head Dr Fukuoca and H Barker, found that B12 content of meat, liver, eggs, cheese, milk was 99% less than what SP showed and found zero human utilisable B12 in all these foods once they were tested with Ochromonas malhamensis instead of SP.
Ochromonas malhamensis is rarely used because it's not easy to manage and it costs too much, that's why every food composition table of utilisable by man B12 in food is wrong and false
25) Vegetables and many fruits (even when washed) show to contain B12.
Usually plant food have cobamides ATCC 9614 cultures producing this vitamin.
25a) When tested, these food are processed in acid, added cyanide and exposed to heat, doing so all the anaerobic bacteria are destroyed.
That's why we are told that plants food do not contain B12 wile they do contain it.
25b) As G Ruth stated the medium becomes too acid for accurate resulting when testing B12 content of plants food.
26) It's impossible to find B vitamins in isolation. Where there's vitamin B1, there also vitamin B6 and B12. All plants containing vitamin B contain B12 as well.
27) The B12 found on vegetables when proper method of finding are used is not analogue, but utilisable by man.
28) Mt. Sinai showed that when a diet is too high in fat and protein the B12 need is triplicated.
29) It was possible to induce mild vitamin B12 deficiency in primate animals, by raising their fatty acid level over 30%”.

5.    Warning. All quotes from:

Roy, A.N.
Death after an injection of vitamin B12.
Journal of the Indian Medical Association. 1961; 36: 262

"Cyanocobalamin should not be used in patients with early Leber's disease (hereditary optic nerve atrophy), since rapid optic nerve atrophy has been reported following admin of the drug to these patients. Vitamin B12 is contraindicated in patients who have experienced hypersensitivity reactions to the vitamin or to cobalt."
McEvoy, G.K. (ed.).
American Hospital Formulary Service - Drug Information 2000.
Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.
2000 (Plus Supplements)., p. 3326

"Vitamin B12 is usually nontoxic even in large doses; however, mild transient diarrhea, peripheral vascular thrombosis, itching, transitory exanthema, urticaria, feeling of swelling of the entire body, anaphylaxis, and death have been reported. Although allergic reactions to vitamin B12 have generally been attributed to impurities in the preparation, a few patients have reacted positively to skin testing with purified cyanocobalamin ... . "
McEvoy, G.K. (ed.).
American Hospital Formulary Service - Drug Information 2000.
Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.
2000 (Plus Supplements)., p. 3326

"(...)doses of cyanocobalamin exceeding 10 micrograms daily may improve folate-deficient
megaloblastic anemia and obscure the true diagnosis."
McEvoy, G.K. (ed.).
American Hospital Formulary Service - Drug Information 2000.
Bethesda, MD: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.
2000 (Plus Supplements)., p. 3326

6.    On a more humorous note, to
read the complete article, go to:

“Where's the B12?
by John David Mann, Mark Nathaniel Mead and David Yarrow
reprinted from SOLSTICE magazine #39, February 1989
"Zero...      Zero...      Zero..."
Sylvia Ruth Gray stared at the test results in disbelief.
      Swiss cheese...          Zero...
      Chicken breast...        Zero...
      Beef heart...
           —considered second only to liver in B12 richness...
           —surely this must register...
Three samples purchased in normal stores at random by the lab director himself, tested, and retested for vitamin B12 content. All would be expected to show at least some B12 content.
Here, so to speak, was the beef.
Where's the B12?!
The figures had the eerie chill of a flat EKG reading in a hospital emergency room.
To Sylvia Ruth Gray, their meaning was just as ominous.”

Why the claim that  80% of vegans become B12 deficient (G.Cousens)  is false, from:

“Author: Gosia
Date:   07-12-04 17:46

 I will try to give a short answer. The only way you can be certain that, specifically "80%" of vegans become B12 deficient is when you test ALL of them. Otherwise, you can only make statements that ALWAYS involve PROBABILITY. (...) It is a very common mistake made by those who do not understand statistics and make generalizing statements (that do not involve probability and therefore are false). The truth is that we DO NOT KNOW how many vegans become B12 deficient. We can speculate on what this number could be. Such speculation always involves probability. Probability, in turn, means that we estimate the chance that our hypothesis is correct. For example (I simplified it, but more than just one number are usually involved. "Confidence intervals" and "p" are needed, but I do not dare to go into such details), we may estimate that Bush has 25% or maybe 95% of winning in the upcoming election. No matter what our estimate is, even if it was 99.9%, it is only an estimate. Bush could still lose. Yes, surprise surprise, our estimate is NOT a guarantee!

As far as making an estimate about the WHOLE POPULATION, there are a number of rules that have to be satisified, before we even can make up any numbers. I listed them in my previous posts. I will mention only one here: the sample has to be selected in so called STANDARD RANDOM TEST. Unfortunately, this is a specific statistical name, no use for you, as you are not familiar with it. However, let me just tell you that, for example, going to a retreat to interview vegans, is an example of what is NOT a standard random test. A sample has to be randomly drawn from the whole population. The point here is that NO STUDY done on vegans has ever satisifed this very basic condition! This means that there cannot be even an estimate of B12 deficient vegans in the whole population of vegans!!! If we cannot even make an estimate, we certainly cannot claim that we know what that number is!

Cousens could say that he is concerned about B12 status of vegans, or that he has met many who displayed symptoms of B12 deficiency. But, he cannot say (without making a serious error) that "80%" of vegans become B12 deficient, as it is a totally FALSE statement. Furthermore, he cannot say that scientific community came to a conclusion that "80%" of vegans become B12 deficient, as it is a VERY false statement. There does not exist a single journal-published paper that claims that "80%" of vegans become B12 deficient. Of course, it does not exist! Scientific community knows statistics and would not make such a false statement. (...)

PS I spoke about the very issue that I am discussing here (common mistake made by those who make generalizing false statements), at the conference that I recently attended, to a number of professors from different parts of world. Not surprisingly, we all agreed that it is a very common problem. Unfortunately, even TV and newspapers do it too. Some better quality magazines make an effort and hire statisticians to make sure that what they put in print is correct. But most don't. The result is mislead public who think that if some survey said that there is a correlation between eating icecream and the number of drownings in a month, then eating icecream must be causing drownings. Or, think that if a respected raw foodist who wrote a number of books says that "80%" of vegans become B12 deficient, then it must be the truth.”

Updates on B12

I highly recommend that you read the following article by Dr Vetrano (a highly reputable health scientist, with about 40-50 years of experience, background in biochemistry, physiology and over 45+ years of clinical experience). I recommend this article, because, although it contains all the important scientific information, it is easy to understand and will alleviate most fears that new raw foodists may experience on the topic of B12:

Rethinking & Clarifying the B12 Issue
(By Dr Vivian V. Vetrano. Also, check out this article.)

Another interesting read: here

If you still worry about B12 read the blog entry dated 7/12/06 by Storm who has been raw for over 30 years and never took any supplements:

Also, I highly recommend this audio interview with Doug Graham (who talks about a lot more than just B12) at:

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.
(Stacia Tauscher)

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
(Franklin P. Jones)

A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.
(Bill Vaughan)

Kids: they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.
(William Stafford)

Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
(Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981)

Every child comes with the message that God is not yet discouraged of man.
(Rabindranath Tagore)

In the United States today, there is a pervasive tendency to treat children as adults, and adults as children. The options of children are thus steadily expanded, while those of adults are progressively constricted. The result is unruly children and childish adults.
(Thomas Szasz)

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next.
(Franklin P. Jones)

Children seldom misquote. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything.
(Giacomo Leopardi, Zibaldone Scelto)

Women gather together to wear silly hats, eat dainty food, and forget how unresponsive their husbands are. Men gather to talk sports, eat heavy food, and forget how demanding their wives are. Only where children gather is there any real chance of fun.
(Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960)

Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.
(Robert Gallagher)

There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million.
(Walt Streighttiff)

A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.
Copyright © Dr Gosia O'Reilly. All Rights Reserved.
Acknowledgements: Maura (logo).
Quotes on raw foods by fellow raw foodists.
Other quotes from The Quote Garden.
Photos: Free Stock Photos