The Vitamin B-12 Debate - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 10-14-2004, 02:15 PM
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Whenever vitamin B-12 is discussed in other forums it seems like a debate usually erupts...so let's have it out here! For me, Vitamin B-12 was the make-or-break issue that caused me to go from vegan back to lacto-ovo vegetarianism.



Here is the logic that it boils down to for me:



A: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for human growth/development/life.

B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.



Since I do not want to take part in the consumption of animal flesh, for which killing is a necessity, I choose to consume small amounts of eggs and dairy products from the most humane farms that I have reasonable access to.



Anyone else care to voice an opinion on the subject of Vitamin B-12?
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#2 Old 10-14-2004, 03:19 PM
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Yeah, I once used to think like that...



I won't challenge A, but maybe B and C:

B: As you probably know, to some people keeping cows and chickens for their milk and eggs are just as unnatural as producing B-12 artificially. And how do you define 'natual'?

C: I'm not sure if I see the link between 'natural' and 'ethical'. Is everything 'natural' necessarily ethical?



That said, I respect your choices.

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#3 Old 10-14-2004, 04:00 PM
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I hesitate to post here becuase of my current omni status but I am doin' it anyway.



I thought that B-12 could be gained from eating nutritional yeast and some algea products. Am I wrong?



Sunny
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#4 Old 10-14-2004, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by renaissancesun View Post

I hesitate to post here becuase of my current omni status but I am doin' it anyway.



I thought that B-12 could be gained from eating nutritional yeast and some algea products. Am I wrong?



Sunny

I hesitate to poste here because of the anticipated heated discussion...

Algea products: You might get B-12, but not the 'active' kind, which is the kind we need.

Nutritional yeast: Only if it has been fortified.

I no longer post here after VB was sold in 2012. (See my profile page for details.)
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#5 Old 10-14-2004, 04:11 PM
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Sunny,



If I'm not mistaken, only Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula Nutritional Yeast has B-12...and that is because it is fortified with it (which in my mind is the same as taking a supplement).



Sea algae has an analog of B-12 which is not the same as the B-12 humans need...and nutritionists now believe that consumption of this B-12 analog might interfere with absorption of the B-12 we need. So eating too many sea vegetables could actually make your B-12 levels go down.
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#6 Old 10-14-2004, 06:51 PM
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I was thinking about this awhile back and I checked the nutrition content on my egg and dairy products. The box of eggs said 1 egg contained 8% of the recommended daily intake of B12. Some internet sites say that 1 egg contains 25% of your RDI of B12, so maybe these were just small eggs. The dairy products didn't say anything about it, but I later found that B12 content is not required to be labeled. Anyway, it seems to me that the body's needs for B12 cannot be met by eggs alone, unless you eat 4 per day which would give you like 300% of your max daily cholesteral intake. I can't find any info on how much B12 dairy products contain. But I can't stand milk and I don't eat much dairy. I take a multivitamin anyway, for insurance. I don't have the time to calculate if what I eat each day has the required nutrients. Personally I would not want to be depending on eggs/dairy alone for B12 unless I was consuming large amounts of these products.
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#7 Old 10-14-2004, 07:37 PM
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Remember, you asked:



1. Your item "B" is wrong. B-12 is made from bacteria that blankets the planet. The reason why it is only available in animal products is a byproduct of modern food production and water treatment.



2. Even vegetarians are short on B-12. Watch the streaming video that is described in the top paragraph on the web site in my sig. Other people who are

short on b-12 are most omnivores over 50 ( Israel has a law saying that most foods have to be fortified with b-12 ), heavy drinkers, heavy smokers, and people who used to do those things.



3. B-12 from supplements is more absorbable then b-12 from animal products where it is tightly bound to proteins.



4. No offense, but the "natural diet" concept is the hobgobblin of little minds in nutrition debates. Humanity stopped having a "natural diet" once it started using fire and tools. Our bodies continued to evolve after fire and tools.......becoming dependant on what we could produce with them. I invite you to watch the film

Peaceable Kingdom ( http://www.tribeofheart.org/pk.htm ) . Take some time to think about it. Is factory farming and the type of meat produced from it a "natural product"? How about plant agriculture with patches of corn miles wide? Oil as fertilizer? Take a look at your grocery cart the next time you go to the market. How many of the things do you eat could you pick from a tree or dig up from the ground with your hands.....as is? Forget about "natural" focus on what has been proven to be healthy.



You might enjoy this site



http://www.veganhealth.org

My Blog: beforewisdom.com
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#8 Old 10-14-2004, 07:47 PM
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"B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources."



Not so. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in all kinds of stuff that iw being metabolized by bacteria. It is a metabolic product of the life-processes of the bacteria. This includes the blue-green bacteria that "make" soil from rocks, and the bacteria that life in our intestines, and the bacteria that are present in fecal matter.



You can presumably get b12 by eating a small amount of soil. You can also get it by eating a small amount of your own feces. It may not be in an "appetizing" foods, but it certainly is not "naturally found only in animal sources. All animals that have it in their flesh -- guess how it got into their flesh? From eating soil, feces, or from the bacteria living in their digestive tracts. If they can get it from natural sources so can we. Of course, if you eat dairy or eggs, it is certainly possible that the source of the b12 in that dairy or eggs -- is the very same "industrially" produced b12 that one might purchase for direct consumption -- it is conceivable that such b12 is added to feed. Not that I know whether it is or not.



Industrially produced b12 is not really an "unnatural" product. It is simply an extract of starches that have been fermented with a bacteria cultivar.
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#9 Old 10-14-2004, 08:16 PM
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"Industrially produced b12 is not really an "unnatural" product. It is simply an extract of starches that have been fermented with a bacteria cultivar."



Exactly. Where it comes from does not matter its the same.



Absorption is enhanced or detracted by external factors and not the "quality" or origin" of mico orginisms supplying the B12. For example, iron and calcium enhance the absorption while low amounts of stomach acid (hydrochloric acid which breaks down the B12 from the proteins) which can come naturally or from the use antiacids.



The below links provide everything you need to know about B12. The amounts required are ridiculously low (.002grams per day) and the body stores excess that can last up to 5 years.



http://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/EVM/00/20/P

- Recent summary overview of B12 from 2003



http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12.asp

- National Institute of Health report on B12 (includes table of consumables and their B12 levels).
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#10 Old 10-14-2004, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soilman View Post


You can presumably get b12 by eating a small amount of soil.



No, you cannot:

http://www.veganhealth.org/everyvegan/

My Blog: beforewisdom.com
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#11 Old 10-14-2004, 08:35 PM
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beforewisdom, the article you linked to mentions the word "soil" only once. It says "B12 is found to some extent in soil."



Whether any old soil is a reliable source, is another question, but it is present in soil. The blue-green bacteria that convert rocks to soil, prodcuce b12. Of course the sand with industrially-produced plant food added to it, filled with insecticides and fungicides, the some agriculturalists call soil, may not be a good source. Nor do I know how much soil you have to eat. And I would not want to rely on soil unless I had it tested for b12 and tested for possiblity of other things that might be dangerous. But it is in soil.



You can see a blue-green film forming on the top of newly turned soil, starting a few weeks after it is turned, and kept moist, but not re-turned. That is blue-green bacteria (once called blue-green algae) -- and it produces vitamin b12. It is the bacteria that is primarily implicated in converted rock and sand into soil, such as the rock of volcanic lava fields, so that the the first green plants can get a roothold in it.
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#12 Old 10-15-2004, 12:21 AM
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oops. Sorry. I thought this thread was about the Vietnam B-12 debate.



Nevermind.
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#13 Old 10-15-2004, 03:58 AM
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beforewisdom, the article you linked to mentions the word "soil" only once. It says "B12 is found to some extent in soil."



Check out the other article on the site:

http://www.veganhealth.org



Let me know if you don't find it.



Since the summer I have read/heard from a lot of RDs and MDs ( vegan ones ) that "dirty vegetables".........or anything besides supplements or fortified foods are not reliable vegan sources of b-12

My Blog: beforewisdom.com
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#14 Old 10-15-2004, 07:00 AM
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Check out the other article on the site:

http://www.veganhealth.org



Let me know if you don't find it.



Since the summer I have read/heard from a lot of RDs and MDs ( vegan ones ) that "dirty vegetables".........or anything besides supplements or fortified foods are not reliable vegan sources of b-12



just because something is not a "reliable" source doesn't mean you can't actually get it there. i would think most doctors don't want to tell people, oh you don't need to worry about B12--just don't wash your vegetables because that could be very dangerous for MANY reasons (hep virus on dirty veggies, veggies that have already been cleaned before you buy them, etc). but bacteria are definitely present in soil and all bacteria have B12.





going back to the original arguement-- i agree with most other people. your "B" assumption is incorrect. animal products have B12 for the same reason that humans have B12--they need it. animals get it from bacteria. we can too. vitamins are just a way of concentrating what the bacteria would give us.



in the same token, according to your logic: a. B12 is naturally found in excrement then B. we should start eating excrement. i'm not trying to be mean or facetious here but you site this "natural" arguement frequently. but "natural" diets probably did have small amounts of excrement in them: from lack of hand washing and as fertilizer of plants. knowing what we know about the meat handling and packing industries i don't even think it is too far to say that in a lot of cases meat is just as dangerous as excrement. so that's always an option too.



(again i'm not trying to be mean, but just demonstrate why i think the original arguement is wrong-headed.)



with that being said, i'll continue to get my b12 from supplements instead of animal products.
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#15 Old 10-15-2004, 07:27 AM
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I suppose it's also "natural" to allow animals to be abused, tortured, and killed so selfish humans can drink cow milk (another species' milk, might I add) and take eggs from hens.



I hope for all of the people that eat animal products supposedly for B-12 get their cholesterol levels checked frequently and take additional steps to prevent the cancer and heart disease that animal products cause. All of that extra protein, cholesterol, and fat goes somewhere, and your body doesn't want it nor need it.



Oh, and ditto to what others have said about the reasons why B-12 is found in animal sources, and that it IS available from nonanimal sources, which we vegans obviously know, understand, and live our lives by, abstaining from the cruelty industries.
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#16 Old 10-15-2004, 07:46 AM
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I'm still trying to figure out why you and others are so against supplements. I have done tons of research over the last decade or so on supplements, starting when my dog was diagnosed with phemphigus (an autoimmune disorder) and all the medical treatments (and there were more than I can remember now) just weren't bringing the results I wanted. I know what the supplements did for my dog and there's no way she could have have eaten enough to get those doses - even though she ate like a horse until the very end.



I've also done a fair share of reading about supplements for specific health conditions in humans and I won't bore everyone with the details, but again I've seen vitamin and mineral supplements, in doses it's not possible to get from food alone, improve my family's health.



My dad has Alzheimer's disease and the neurologist has him on a dose of vitamin E that there's no way he could get w/o a pill. He's also recommended that we kids take vitamin E as a preventative since AD can be inherited in some cases.



I didn't mean to turn this in to a discussion on supplements. I'm just trying to figure out why some here think supplements are evil.



I think it's great you don't eat meat and that you look for dairy and eggs that might be a little less cruel than the norm. I just hope you're not giving others the idea that the only proper way to get B12 is from animal sources.



And I agree with Indian Summer that natural doesn't automatically equal ethical.
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#17 Old 10-15-2004, 07:55 AM
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Quote:
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A: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for human growth/development/life.

B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.



That presupposes, among others, the premise "'Natural' is relevant in ethical discussion", which I find to be an extremely implausible premise which makes me see your argument as rubbish. (No offence.)

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#18 Old 10-15-2004, 11:31 AM
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Okay, looking back at my argument, I think I actually skipped a step. I should break it down into two arguments. Here's a more accurate description of my viewpoint:



A: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for human growth/development/life.

B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



Therefore



C: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.





which leads to...



A: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.

B: If something is necessary for good health, it cannot be unethical.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.
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#19 Old 10-15-2004, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by colorful View Post

Okay, looking back at my argument, I think I actually skipped a step. I should break it down into two arguments. Here's a more accurate description of my viewpoint:



A: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for human growth/development/life.

B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



Therefore



C: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.





which leads to...



A: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.

B: If something is necessary for good health, it cannot be unethical.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.



Youre wrong read my post and the links, unless youre just going spout the same rhetoric over and over until we all give up trying to inform you.
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#20 Old 10-15-2004, 11:43 AM
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I'm still trying to figure out why you and others are so against supplements.



I am not against supplements, per se...as long as their purpose is truly to supplement the diet...that is, provide a person with additional amounts of vitamins and minerals they are already eating in their food. What I have a problem with (for myself and my children) is relying solely on a supplement for a particular vitamin or mineral. Personally, I don't have enough faith in the manufacturers of vitamins, and in human knowledge in general, to believe 100% that a synthetic form of a vitamin is sufficient for my needs, and especially the needs of my children.
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#21 Old 10-15-2004, 11:53 AM
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I think the first flaw is here.



B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



It is all over this thread. It isn't the only natural source, just the only concentrated sanitary "natural" source in todays society. If you lived away from polution and used manure and compost to fertilize your ground and you didn't wash or cook the food from it, you would be getting alot more B-12. I think you would agree that the above is how food grows naturally, and how it would have been eaten. I don't know if there is anything that states you would get enough or not, I just haven't seen data.



If you did everything above, you would be getting the B-12 from the same source that supplements get it from. So, natural is a relative term.



That said, I am not vegan. But B-12 doesn't seem to be an argument against being vegan, imho.
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#22 Old 10-15-2004, 11:56 AM
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I am not against supplements, per se...as long as their purpose is truly to supplement the diet...that is, provide a person with additional amounts of vitamins and minerals they are already eating in their food. What I have a problem with (for myself and my children) is relying solely on a supplement for a particular vitamin or mineral. Personally, I don't have enough faith in the manufacturers of vitamins, and in human knowledge in general, to believe 100% that a synthetic form of a vitamin is sufficient for my needs, and especially the needs of my children.



first of all, your "B" assumption is still incorrect.



second of all: if you don't have "faith", test it. get your B-12 levels checked regularly. it's a simple, easy blood test.



third of all: it is a "supplement". you ARE going to get trace amounts of bacteria on your food (fruits and veggies esp). you're just not making that your only source.
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#23 Old 10-15-2004, 12:29 PM
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Okay, looking back at my argument, I think I actually skipped a step. I should break it down into two arguments. Here's a more accurate description of my viewpoint:



A: Vitamin B-12 is necessary for human growth/development/life.

B: Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources.



Therefore



C: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.





which leads to...



A: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.

B: If something is necessary for good health, it cannot be unethical.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.



It's not clear to me how your alterations to your original argument add to its strength, especially in light of the arguments others have posed in this thread. As others have eloquently pointed out, the B part of your argument is flawed because "natural" is a flawed concept, which would make C false as well. I could just repeat the points others have made in more detail, but that would be a waste of my time and yours.
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#24 Old 10-15-2004, 12:48 PM
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I am not against supplements, per se...as long as their purpose is truly to supplement the diet...that is, provide a person with additional amounts of vitamins and minerals they are already eating in their food. What I have a problem with (for myself and my children) is relying solely on a supplement for a particular vitamin or mineral. Personally, I don't have enough faith in the manufacturers of vitamins, and in human knowledge in general, to believe 100% that a synthetic form of a vitamin is sufficient for my needs, and especially the needs of my children.





Who's to say, I mean REALLY say, that the animal form is then better? You are still relying on heresay of researchers, etc. With all the CONS to ingesting animal products, I just don't get how it would be worth it for some B-12.
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#25 Old 10-15-2004, 01:08 PM
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How about if human flesh were the only way for you to get "natural" B-12? It certainly is a "natural" form, by your definition. Would using unconsenting humans' bodies like we use non-human animals' not be *unethical* then? The fact remains that there IS a non-animal way to get it (just not a way that you prefer). The argument that "it *can't be* unethical if this is what I think is best for me" doesn't really hold, especially since there are other ways to get it.



Nature did not design us to require animal products for B-12, human hygiene and farming practices changed that balance.



And, since your argument rests on it, I haven't seen any evidence yet that there is appreciable difference in health if one gets their B-12 as a vegan or as an omnivore https://www.veggieboards.com/boards/s...ad.php?t=25441. You seem to *feel* that B-12 from animal sources is the only way to really be healthy, but where's the actual evidence for it? I think that's a legitimate question.

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#26 Old 10-15-2004, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
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A: If one is to eat a natural diet and be healthy, it is necessary to eat certain animal products.

B: If something is necessary for good health, it cannot be unethical.



Therefore



C: It cannot be unethical to consume certain animal products.



You haven't showed that animal products would be necessary for good health, so C does not follow from A and B. (That animal products would be required for a combination of "natural diet" and "good health" would not mean that they would be required for a part of this combination - that is, good health.)



And, of course, I don't think that having a good health automatically justifies the reduction of innocent individuals to tools used in securing one's well-being, even though that is a more plausible approach than something having anything to do with "natural" as a relevant concept.

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#27 Old 10-15-2004, 02:02 PM
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Since I do not want to take part in the consumption of animal flesh, for which killing is a necessity, I choose to consume small amounts of eggs and dairy products from the most humane farms that I have reasonable access to.



What kind of farms do you go to to get these forms of dairy products? I'm guessing it wouldn't be the local safeway or grocery store, am I right?
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#28 Old 10-15-2004, 03:32 PM
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I'm close to vegan now because of my wish not to harm animals. I believe human health is more important than animal welfare, but I'm not sure "natural" is really a necessity...



I've had two of my 4 wisdom teeth removed because they were causing problems. (Something to ponder: does that make me a half-wit? ) I've had my tonsils removed, I wear glasses because I'm nearsighted, and had a hernia repaired.



None of this is "natural", in my view.



Maybe the tonsils could have stayed- I think there's been some reconsideration about that. I could make do without glasses- I'm not blind. But my wisdom teeth were impacted and made it painful to eat, while the hernia could eventually have strangulated and killed me. All these technological benefits have made my life easier- and probably longer.



Perhaps someone could make the case that clothing is not natural, and that the Northeastern US is not a natural habitat for humans- but that's where I live.



I mentioned (back in Mountainvegan's "Animals for food: a necessity?" thread) that I take a B-12 supplement. It may be unnatural- but so long as it does the job and keeps me healthy, that's enough for me. In this case I'm using an unnatural technological scheme to avoid harming animals, whereas in the examples I gave above, I was the one who benefitted.

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#29 Old 10-15-2004, 03:43 PM
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At the risk of repeating myself, the assumption, B " Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources" is an erroneous assumption. B12 is clearly found in many kinds of naturally occuring bacteria -- bacteria are not animals. Further, among the foods that you have to feed the bacteria, to keep them alive, and productive of b12, are naturally-occuring vegetable matter and rocks.



What is in question is not whether b12 is found naturally in non-animal sources. What is in question is (1) how identifiable and how available are such non-animal sources of b12. (2) How safe to eat are they. Since soil contains b12, yet not all soil contains sufficient amounts, if one wanted to be strictly natural, it would behoove one to find a test to identify the presence, and quantity, of b12 in any sample of soil. One can easily be a "natural vegan" once one quantifies soil this way.



If you are going to try and counter that argument by saying that we don't have to test our other food for the presence of macro and micro nutrients, I think you would not be making a very valid counter argument. Perhaps it is wize not to rely on chance in regard to getting one's b12. But it is also wize not to rely on chance in re to getting many of the macro and micro nutrient we need. If we hadn't measured what food contains what quantity of iodine, or iron, we might easily neglect to eat enough of such foods.



This is true whether one's diet is western, vegetarian, or vegan. Iodine, in particular, can easily be inadequate in one's diet, unless one either is "unnatural" and uses iodized salt -- or unless one anylizes their food for iodine quantity.
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#30 Old 10-15-2004, 04:50 PM
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Youre wrong read my post and the links, unless youre just going spout the same rhetoric over and over until we all give up trying to inform you.



Frost, I did read your post, and the links. Actually, let me quote from one of your links that seems to support my premise B ("Vitamin B-12 is only naturally found in animal sources"):



"Strict vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency than lacto-ovo vegetarians and non-vegetarians because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods [7]. Fortified cereals are one of the few sources of vitamin B12 from plants, and are an important dietary source of B12 for strict vegetarians and vegans. Strict vegetarians and vegans who do not consume plant foods fortified with vitamin B12 need to consider taking a dietary supplement that contains vitamin B12 and should discuss the need for B12 supplementation with their physician."



http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12.asp





Since most of you seem to disagree with my premise B, here is a portion from the ADA's position paper on vegetarian and vegan diets, which I think supports that animal sources are the only natural sources of B-12:



"Unless fortified, no plant food contains significant amounts of active vitamin B-12. Foods such as sea vegetables and spirulina may contain vitamin B-12 analogs; neither these nor fermented soy products can be counted on as reliable sources of active vitamin B-12 (29,88). Lacto-ovo-vegetarians can get adequate vitamin B-12 from dairy foods and eggs if these foods are consumed regularly."



http://www.eatright.org/Public/Nutri...n/92_17084.cfm
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