Vitamin B12 & Your Gut
Getting to the Truth
Oftentimes, I hear the comment, “Vegetarians are deficient in B12 because they don’t eat meat.” But why say that when majority of people, who happen to be omnivores are also deficient in B12 among other essential B-vitamins?
It’s important to look at the whole picture. The truth is that we haven’t really been paying close enough attention to what choices we have to gain optimal health.
For many years now, we have relied on the medical community to give us answers regarding our health but when it comes to nutrition, do you go to a personal nutritionist? Well, most of us don’t.
Unfortunately the medical community including well-trained doctors and nurses receive very minimal education on nutrition, if any. Most learn about these things through articles and media if they choose to do that on their own time. When it comes to good scientific research on the field of nutrition…I personally would not rely on M.D.’s to provide me with this information. It’s not that I don’t respect doctors. They could and have saved my life. But the truth of the matter is that they have not been given the proper training to give you the best information when it comes to nutrition.
As we evolve as a race and as our environment changes, our dietary needs also change.
With modern times we’ve created not only stress in our daily lives, but also the use of prescription drugs like antibiotics and processed foods.
Those three things contribute to lowering of our healthy bacteria a.k.a. healthy flora in our intestinal tract, oftentimes referred to as our ‘gut’.
According to the latest research from scientists, we see that the human microbiome is effected by the foods we eat which causes nutritional deficiency including Vitamin B12 deficiency which then leads to disease.
Even back in 1885, Louis Pasteur , a well known French biologist, microbiologist and chemist, discussed the benefits of gut microbes in regards to health.
Most of us don’t realize where Vitamin B-12 actually comes from. It is created as a result of “microorganisms mostly bacteria that live in soil, water, and the digestive tracts of animals.”
Best Sources of Vitamin B12
“Experiments quickly indicated that one fundamental service of the gut microbiota is production of vitamins for the host. Indeed, early studies emphasized the requirement for increased dietary vitamin K, B1 (thiamin), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin) for the health of germ free animals.” – NCBI (the National Center for Biotechnology Information)
The theory that the best source of B12 is from eating animal products like eggs is a poor one because it order to get enough B12 from eggs, for example, we would have to eat a ton, resulting in too much cholesterol in our diet.
As humans, we already have enough cholesterol in our own bodies to survive while at the same time we are deficient in the nutrients from plant foods, as well as, fiber.
I mean, eggs receive B12 and other nutrients from the gut bacteria of it’s source – poultry.
Is it possible that we’re trying to gain nutrients from animals but we should instead gain those nutrients the same way that they are? Let’s look at calcium for example.
Science based research proves that calcium intake for humans is much safer and effective when ingested from plant foods rather from dairy products. Where do cows get calcium? Plants foods. So wouldn’t it be easier to get it the same way that they do?!
It is scientifically proven that it could be harmful to our health to continue to rely on animal based proteins to get nutrients such as vitamin B12. The popular site: Forks Over Knives discusses this topic with Sofia Pineda Ochoa, MD, who explains that protein bound (animal sourced) vitamin B12 is difficult to absorb unless you have strong gastric juices. She further explains that a substance known as TMAO which worsens cholesterol levels and the hormone IGF-1 are found only in animal meat, dairy and eggs increases the chances of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
What to Avoid & Dosage
My belief is that focusing your daily food intake on whole foods, especially plant-based foods while also incorporating fermented foods will significantly help protect our colons by creating a strong and ‘regular’ digestion process.
It is also essential to limit and at best, completely avoid antibiotics (unless medically necessary, of course).
Dr. Michael Greger of the popular site NutritionFacts.org discusses how we can supplement with Vitamin B12. I found it very interesting that simply taking it once a week is more beneficial than everyday, unless you are ingesting very low doses, say about 250 mcg per day (click the above link to understand why).
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Until then be well!