I have spent a fair share of my life gulping down giant vitamin pills and chewable vitamin C tabs in an attempt to micro-manage my health and prevent communicable illness. When my children were young, they were also subject to my "pushing" of chewable vitamins in fun shapes and colors. Even until just recently (this morning) I thought that I needed to take vitamin B-12 from a safe and trustworthy supplier. Everything I have read and studied about the vegan diet has pointed me in the direction of supplementing B-12 as it is presumed to be absent in plant-based foods.
Here is a good article regarding B-12, B12 Breakthrough - Missing Nutrient Found in Plants by T. Colin Campbell, PhD,
Dr. Campbell states in the following excerpt:
1. Contrary to the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, B12 can be found in plants.2. Organically grown plants contain higher levels of B12 than plants grown non-organically with chemical fertilizers.
3. Plant roots are able to absorb certain vitamins produced by soil microorganisms, thus suggesting that plants grown in healthy soil, full of microflora and microfauna, are more nutritious.
4. Vegans - and anyone else - should be able to obtain B12 by consuming organically grown produce.
5. Evidence that plants obtain vitamins from the soil has been available for several decades.
Colins continued to site an investigative research project by Dr. Mozafar who found that vegetables grown with organic matter contained more B vitamins than those grown with chemically fertilized soil. B vitamins are taken up through the roots of vegetables where the soil's microflora manufacture B vitamins. Wild herbs and fruits are thus higher in B vitamins than their commercially grown cousins.
Another good article, The Vitamin B12 Issue, sites several resources regarding B-12. It is clear that people need to support healthy gut flora through diet and organic raw foods. In defense of a vegan diet, the author points out that meat eaters have been known to be more likely to have vitamin B-12 deficiency - medically understood since 1959. This is true because animal based foods (meat and dairy) contribute to a very acidic and toxic intestinal condition which kills off the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Grains, junk food, sugar and artificial sweeteners also create an acidic environment in the GI tract. On the contrary, fruits, vegetables beans and legumes promote a more alkaline pH promoting a healthy gut.
The gut health is an interesting topic and, I feel, could be the very link to health that is being missed by conventional medical treatments. Recommended daily values of vitamin needs have been established, but what type of diet is the person supposed to eat for the estimated values? Could it be that a vegan would require far less Vitamin B-12 than a meat eater? If the GI tract is very acidic, then B-12 cannot be adequately absorbed - requiring more B-12. This is comparable to a car's engine with a vacuum leak. The engine is meant to be closed in order to run most efficiently; but with a vacuum leak, it requires more fuel to keep it running. Perhaps the Vitamin B-12 issue is more about the condition of our gut than it is about the "fuel" we eat.
For more information on gut health, see my posts on probiotics, vegetable-ferments-and-probiotics, some-bugs-you-need-to-catch, pre-biotics-and-gi-health-2nd-brain.html
Here are three videos by Dr. Pam Popper that include talks on vitamins and supplements. Micro-managing nutrition with vitamins and supplements is ineffective, dangerous and really expensive. The most efficient way to provide your body with the vitamins that it needs is to get your nutrition from fresh, organically grown, plant-based foods.