A widely discussed topic among vegans and not is B12
First of all what is B12 exactly?
Let's make it very clear that vitamin B12 is not made by plants or animals but by microbes that blanket the earth. The only organisms that produce B12 are certain bacteria found in soil and streams a.k.a. rivers. The reason B12 is widely discussed in the vegan community and in general as a common argument between vegans and not is because everywhere it is claimed that B12 isn't found in the plant kingdom and only in beef, animal liver, kidneys and clams.
"The only organisms to produce vitamin B12 are certain bacteria found in soil and streams a.k.a. rivers."
In today’s modern age the water supply is commonly chlorinated to kill off any bacteria. Which means we don't get much B12 by drinking water. If you still believe that eating animal products is the "natural" way of absorbing this vitamin into our bodies think again.
90% of B12 supplements produced in the world are fed to livestock. Cattle or cows no longer feed on grass and chickens do not peck in the dirt on factory farms. Even if they did, pesticides often kill B12 producing bacteria and insects in soil. Heavy antibiotic use kills B12 producing bacteria in the guts of farm animals. Even if you only ate grass-fed organic meat you may not be able to absorb the B12 attached to animal protein.
Let's take this study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture - they found that nearly 40% of the U.S. population are close or at deficiency levels of vitamin B12. The researchers also found no association between higher B12 levels and meat, poultry or fish intake. They concluded “It’s not because people aren’t eating enough meat, the vitamin just isn’t getting absorbed”.
It may be more efficient to just skip the animals and get B12 directly from supplements.
What is the daily recommended intake for each age group:
- Infants up to age 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- Babies age 7-12 months: 0.5 mcg
- Children age 1-3 years: 0.9 mcg
- Kids age 4-8 years: 1.2 mcg
- Children age 9-13 years: 1.8 mcg
- Teens age 14-18: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
- Adults: 2.4 mcg (2.6 mcg per day if pregnant and 2.8 mcg per day if breastfeeding)
Why is B12 so important?
It is necessary for keeping our nerves healthy and supporting the production of DNA and red blood cells, as well as maintaining normal brain function. Experts suggest that if one becomes deficient it's quite hard to get enough of it in your system back after. So it's a very important vitamin to keep track of and make sure you consume regularly.
In conclusion, vegans and non-vegans alike should be supplementing with B12. Getting it from fortified cereal and plant milks is also possible yet amounts need to be monitored so you'd be better off supplementing to stay on the safe side.
B12 supplements, are they expensive? The price on Amazon is 32 EUR or 37 USD - lasting you about a solid 1 year. Dirt cheap.
If you're supplementing it means veganism/ plant-based living isn't natural right? Wrong, you actually should be supplementing whether you're vegan or not based on the above information. Everything can be found and consumed naturally without any "pills" as a vegan except B12, for which everybody should be doing so.