Why Is B12 Needed?

Monday Jun 22 | BY |
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One reader asks me, “Why is B12 supplementation required to thrive on a vegan diet? Is it a biologically appropriate diet?”

What the reader is asking is that if a plant-based diet is so healthy, why are there some supplements that are needed to make this diet complete?

It is generally recognized that plant-based diets can be very healthy as long as they are well balanced, containing foods coming from the following categories: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Consuming adequate calories from a wide variety of these foods will provide all the nutrients you need, without many of the toxins commonly found in a meat-based diet.

There’s a lot of confusion in the raw food and vegan world about vitamin B12.

On the one hand, you have some experts saying “don’t worry about it” and recommending only to supplement if you experience deficiency symptoms.

On the other hand, you have the vast majority of experts on the plant based diet who recommend supplements.

This includes Dr. McDougall (and this is the ONLY supplements that he recommends), Dr. Michael Greger, and many others.

Then you have a bunch of anti-vegan bloggers who use B12 as their argument as to why a plant-based diet isn’t “natural” or even “healthy.”

“If your diet is so healthy,” they say, “then why do you have to use a supplement?”

The reality is that eating a healthy diet has nothing to do with what’s “natural” for human beings.

What was “natural” for human beings for the vast majority of humans who have ever lived on this planet was to die before the age of 40 of a violent death or as the consequences of starvation. And those who survived any anything with calories they could get their hands on, including animal products.

In modern world, our problem is not scarcity. It’s over-abundance.

In a “normal” world, we got our B12 from consuming decaying flesh or vegetables that were soiled with fecal matter.

Thankfully, we live in a much cleaner environment now. As a side-effect of this, it’s now actually possible to run low on B12.

According to a study done in the UK, 51% of all vegetarians were deficient in B12, and another 21% were severely depleted!

This need not happening. Supplementation can solve this.

But do supplements always work?

I’ve tested them and they don’t always work as advertised. A couple of years ago, my B12 was on the low side, and supplements were not correcting the situation.

I did some research and found that B12 patches were a great alternative to shots. I tried them and they worked at raising my B12 to an optimal level. I now take use one B12 patch every 3-4 weeks for maintenance (at first, I use them twice a week to raise my B12 levels quickly).

I urge you to supplement with vitamin B12.

If you’d like to find out more about B12 patches, check it out here.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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