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Vegans need Vit B12 supplementation, says the German Nutrition Society

 The German Nutrition Society (DGE) has said in a position paper  that it is difficult or impossible to consume adequate amounts of Vit. B12 on a purely plant-based diet. The German government agrees with this position.

Vit B12 is usually not present in plants.  It is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, eggs, and milk and milk products.

Vit B12, which is also called Cobalamin (because it contains the mineral cobalt), is required for proper production of red blood cells, for normal function of nerves, and DNA synthesis.

In the human stomach, vit B12 is released from proteins by hydrochloric acid and and a digestive enzyme called protease.

Excess Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and this can compensate for a while, in the absence of adequate intake.

Blood values below approximately 170–250 pg/mL (120–180 picomol/L) for adults indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, constipation, megaloblastic anemia as well as to neurological changes, such as  tingling in the hands and feet and  numbness  . Other symptoms may include depression,  dementia-like symptoms, confusion, poor memory,difficulty maintaining balance and soreness of the mouth or tongue .

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin B12 in Micrograms (mcg)
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months* 0.4 mcg 0.4 mcg
7–12 months* 0.5 mcg 0.5 mcg
1–3 years 0.9 mcg 0.9 mcg
4–8 years 1.2 mcg 1.2 mcg
9–13 years 1.8 mcg 1.8 mcg
14+ years 2.4 mcg 2.4 mcg 2.6 mcg 2.8 mcg

* Adequate Intake

 

Good sources of vit B12

Food Vitamin B12 in 100g
Shellfish 98.9μg (1648% DV)
Liver (Beef) 83.1μg (1386% DV)
Fish (Mackerel) 19.0μg (317% DV)
Fortified Soy Products (Silken Tofu) 2.4μg (40% DV)
Red Meat (Beef) 6.0μg (100% DV)
Low Fat Dairy (Skim Milk) 0.5μg (8% DV)
Cheese 3.1μg (51% DV)
Eggs (Chicken) 2.0μg (33% DV)

 

References:

  • Watanabe F, Yabuta Y, Tanioka Y, et al. Biologically active vitamin B12 compounds in foods for preventing deficiency among vegetarians and elderly subjects. J Agric Food Chem 2013;61:6769-75.Ray JG, Vermeulen MJ, Langman LJ, et al. Persistence of vitamin
  • B12 insufficiency among elderly women after folic acid food fortification. Clinical Biochemistry, Volume 36, Issue 5, July 2003, Pages 387-391.
  • Pawlak R, Parrott SJ, Raj S, et al. How prevalent is vitamin B12 deficiency among vegetarians? Nutr Rev 2013;71:110-7.
  • https://ndb.nal.usda.gov//
  • Aslinia F, Mazza JJ, Yale SH. Megaloblastic anemia and other causes of macrocytosis. Clin Med Res 2006;4:236-41.
  • Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary reference intakes for thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1998;58-86.
  • Fulgoni VL, Keast DR, Bailey RL, et al. Foods, fortificants, and supplements: where do Americans get their nutrients. J Nutr 2001;141:1847-54.
  • Gilsing AM, Crowe FL, Lloyd-Wright Z, et al. Serum concentrations of vitamin B12 and folate in British male omnivores, vegetarians and vegans: results from a cross-sectional analysis of the EPIC-Oxford cohort study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2010;64:933-9.
  • Gueant JL and Alpers DH. Vitamin B12, a fascinating micronutrient, which influences human health in the very early and later stages of life. Biochimie, Volume 95, Issue 5, May 2013, Pages 967-969.
  • Halsted JA, Carroll J, Rubert S. Serum and tissue concentration of vitamin B12 in certain pathologic states. New Engl J Med 1959;260:575-80.

 

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