Vitamin B-12 - What, Why, Where?
What is Vitamin B-12, and why do we need it?
By guest blogger: Asia Tuitasi
Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin produced by bacteria found in soil, and in the guts of animals and humans. The B-12 produced within our guts is too far down our digestive system to be absorbed, hence why we need to get it from other sources. B-12 is important for the maintenance of the nervous system and in the formation of red blood cells.
Where can we get Vitamin B-12?
Our soil is no longer a reliable source because of modern hygienic practices and being exposed to toxic pesticides. Some try to get this vitamin through unwashed vegetables and unfiltered water but this can be unsafe. Why? There are other less desirable bacterias present in these places, such as E. coli and salmonella. Unfortunately, this rules out plant foods, except some mushrooms and seaweed.
Some look to animal products for B-12 because they accumulate this bacteria during their lives by being exposed to manure in their living conditions, and often times being fed manure. The FDA has even reported that most meats are contaminated with fecal bacteria.
Other reasons why animal foods are not a reliable source of B-12:
The protein found in B-12 in animal foods can be difficult to absorb.
Consuming animal products increases our levels of IGF-1 (a hormone associated with increased cancer risk and tumor growth) and TMAO (a substance that injures the lining of our blood vessels and promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques).
More than 95% of B-12 manufactured is fed to farm animals. So why not cut out the middle-man and take a B-12 supplement ourselves?
So what is a good source of Vitamin B-12?
The crystalline form of vitamin B-12 is the easiest to absorb. This is because the crystalline form is not attached to proteins and therefore does not require gastric acid for digestion, unlike the protein-bound form of B-12 found in animal foods. The crystalline form is present in vitamin B-12 supplements and B-12 fortified foods, such as nutritional yeast.
In summary, due to environmental deficiencies, neither plants or animals provide an adequate supply of vitamin B-12. It is best to consume B-12 as a supplement. It is directly absorbed by our bodies. It's easy, safe, and convenient.
The B-12 supplement that I've been using can be found HERE