I'm thinking about going Vegan. Some issues during my research so far! Why do Vegans need science to stay healthy by creating B12 themselves if this is a truly natural lifestyle?

I've been vegetarian for over 2 years and recently been thinking about cutting out all animal products from my diet for a number of reasons but I am extremely interested, above all, to stay very healthy! So a great balanced vegan diet is what I am looking for.

So far everything is looking great! But then comes along the Vitamin  called B12

Oh, I know about this vitamin, I used to eat loads of eggs to make sure I don't get a lack of that one! But I've given up on eggs recently... so now what? I do a bit of digging and I'm hitting a brick wall.

Here is my problem.

I am a great believer in NATURE. I think that we are created in a way that doesn't need us to modify foods or kill animals to live. I think everything we need to live healthily is available with NO need to modify other foods to give us what we need. So why does every vegan site recommend vitamin B12 "fortified" foods!??

I had to look up fortified to make sure I am getting this 100% right [Fortified - To reinforce by adding material]

"Adding" now that's a big issue for me. There may be no down side to "adding" B12 to my food but my issue is why do we need to add it there!? Obviously nature didn't decide that we need to add B12 to corn flakes!

I can't begin to tell you how much I am against modified foods, I don't give a damn about any research showing benefits or down-sides. I want my food as nature intends, end of story, no if's or but's.

So that's my dilemma... It seems a vegan CAN'T get enough B12 without some tricks first, so is it really a diet of "nature"? 

My second dilemma is I don't want to go back to vegetarian but my health is important to me so it seems I will have to get some of this "fortified" food.

*disclaimer* I am a vegan noob, please forgive any idiot statements from me, I am just trying to learn how to do this the right way. Thanks

*UPDATE* A lot of people have started to post on this topic recently so here's a quick update from things that have changed/found out in the 10 months that have gone.

As a lot of you have recently been posting, B12 is not something that Vegans actually need worry about, it turns out that the recommended amount is grossly exaggerated and simply eating fortified cereals a few times a week will satisfy your B12 requirements BUT if you feel more comfortable taking supplements then keep taking them, there is no harm in that. And please don't misunderstand me, B12 is important to everyone's bodies, so don't brush it aside and forget about it. Remain active in ALL of your nutritional intakes.

As for the nature side of the vit B12 subject, lots and lots of people have said here and I agree with them that it still can be found naturally in the ground on our fruit and veg but these days the use of chemicals and environmental pollutions make getting your B12 this way a little risky if you don't know exactly how they have been grown.

And lastly, the sanitation of our daily lives and foods have also played a big part in the demise of naturally consumed B12. As well as the fact that our organism was not intended to eat cooked food, which kills B12 many times and reduces our chance of getting enough B12 naturally.

The good thing about this thread is that there is A LOT of great info gathered here in one place so if anyone does want to learn for themselves about B12 then the good people of VegFriend have stepped up and posted some great info and links so thanks to everyone for contributing! And a very big thanks for helping me get to where I am now... Fully Vegan and Fully Happy with it.

Much love to you all. A happy ending

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Hi there. Well I did a bit of research and found some sites with information on where else to find vitamin B12. I found information about the vitamin being found in mushrooms, soy beans and seaweed, for example. 


If you scroll down a bit and look on the right side, there are tons of related links. Hope that helps, good luck on your decision.

Thanks for the link but after going though it thoroughly, including it's citations, it further muddies my view! I come across this quote which, for me at least, is extremely alarming!

"If for any reason you choose not to use fortified foods or supplements you should recognise that you are carrying out a dangerous experiment - one that many have tried before with consistently low levels of success."

That livestrong.com site you gave a link too conveniently left that part out! While only citing the positive news... I don't like that one bit, that smacks of dishonesty! The more I'm looking into this the more suspect this is getting.

There is a lot of information saying there is inadequate B12 from mushroom, seaweed, soy beans etc and in many cases it's the wrong type of B12 if I understand it correctly.

I'm gonna keep looking into this but right now I have some big doubts about the vegan choice....

It also goes on to say this!

"Reports that B12 has been measured in a food are not enough to qualify that food as a reliable B12 source. It is difficult to distinguish true B12 from analogues that can disrupt B12 metabolism. Even if true B12 is present in a food, it may be rendered ineffective if analogues are present in comparable amounts to the true B12. There is only one reliable test for a B12 source - does it consistently prevent and correct deficiency? Anyone proposing a particular food as a B12 source should be challenged to present such evidence."

So based on that reading I challenge you to present evidence regarding mushroom, soy beans and seaweed that they "consistently prevent and correct deficiency". And that they contain true B12.

I'm not trying to be argumentative to anyone here. I really want to learn

B12... I think the only issue to vegans. 

There is evidence that suggests our bodies are perfectly able to create it themselves. This also explains why vegan animals have it in their meat. We also do. 

The problem can just be that we may not produce enough of it. My Dad participated in a study on the subject here they examined the B12 levels in people who took supplements or not. Some people stayed fine, others went a bit low. Maybe it's a conditioning thing. Over the centuries that people have eaten meat - unlike a cow - our bodies haven't needed to produce it, so they have stopped or reduced production. It could be similar to the enzyme to digest milk that we stop producing when no longer babies. 

Now the thing is, is it so bad to eat fortified foods? It may not be necessary, but I see nothing bad in it. You probably do anyway because loads of things are fortified these days. Cereal and all vegan milks are definitely fortified - apart from the organic ones. 

Personally, I eat/drink fortified foods regularly because I love cereal. I also use nutritional yeast very frequently, which is packed with B vitamins. So long as you make a point of eating healthy food, you should never lack anything, fortified food just ensures that it doesn't happen - whether it be necessary or not. 

My issue is not that food is fortified per se. More that if Veganism is truly the diet of a human then why do we need to make these changes to our food, I believe nature should take care of all that, not us. So it gives me a huge doubt from that perspective. I am not against fortified food.

That's for the information also, it kind of makes thing even more confusing for me though because even on this thread there is conflicting information. :(

In nature, you would have received your B12 from the soil and whatever insect residue left behind when consuming vegetation. I believe the B12 dilemma is a result of humans not eating as naturally as we are meant to be (raw and unsanitized). We clean everything nowadays washing off all the bacteria that produces this vitamin. So, you must find means to supplement this lack in some other way. Personally, I like to believe I receive enough from eating fortified foods, however, I do have a bottle of Vegan B12 sublingual tablets just in case, though I rarely use it.

That is, at least, a fair explanation of why nature is not providing this vitamin through an unfortified diet. Thanks!

Do you have any reliable sources to verify this?

It's a good explanation but I would really love to know if it's true

To be honest, I formulated this explanation off the top of my head while remembering some of the many things I have read in the past when I started vegetarianism. As I don't remember all of the webpages at this time (I'll actually have to fish around) I did take much of the information with a "grain of salt" myself. So, with that said I'm not too sure how reliable any source is. I personally eat fortified foods and sometimes would use a sublingual tablet so I don't tend to worry about it. If I find some sources I will post for you...

Here is one source I read.

Vitamin B-12: Rhetoric and Reality

Thanks and thank you for your honesty. 

I've gone through it and can't see where they show any research done to prove that because we don't eat naturally as nature intended and that is the reason why B12 is not found in sufficient amounts through a normal vegan diet... Did I miss it?

Mugan is right. B12 is a bacteria found in nature, in soil (and hence the silt in fresh water), etc. and it is lost through modern filtration and cleaning practices.

B12 bacteria flourish in rotting flesh, hence its prevalence in meat (an animal starts to decompose the minute it is slaughtered).

We are born with a store of it (it is not something we can make in our bodies), so we need to consume it in small quantities in our diet to keep levels topped up. Something which would happen if we still ate foods with soil contamination and drank water from streams, as part of a 'natural' diet.

A quick look at Wikipedia will give you more sources of information than I can...


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