5 Steps to Never Being B12 Deficient, Ever.

Tuesday Oct 2 | BY |
| Comments (43)

figs b12

I‘ve heard plenty of theories about where you can get your B12…

You can get it from meat.

You can get it from eating ripe figs.

You can get it from algae.

You can get it from not washing vegetables.

You can get it from yeast.

You can get it from eating dirt.

You can get it from the bugs in your broccoli.

I’m sure you could chime in with dozens more.

Ultimately, you may be able to get B12 from doing just about anything — like petting your cat or licking a plastic bottle (not advised) — but the question is can you absorb it?

A Tufts study says 40% of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have B12 levels in the low/normal range.

What this means is either everyone needs to eat more dirty meat, figs, yeast, bugs and algae to raise their levels — or — there’s something happening inside of nearly 40% of us that isn’t allowing the nutrient to be absorbed and assimilated from these food sources — or — these food sources just aren’t enough.

If I had to pick, I’d choose the last two.

What’s shocking is that I’ve encountered so many people who fight their own need to take B12. They fish around endlessly for solutions given by experts who’ve never tested their own levels without addressing the reality of the situation — if they’re in a room with 2 people, one is likely deficient. And it may be them. (Please note: this is for meat eaters and vegans alike.)

B12 deficiency is ugly. Nervous system damage. Agitation. Irritability. Lack of mental clarity (read: crazy.)

Why mess around with these facts, never get tested, and rely on some nutter who’s likely making up crazy-B12-deficient theories because they’re B12 deficient themselves?

For me, I used to get involved in the arguments too. I didn’t believe in blood testing until it saved my life.

Now, I’ve transcended those arguments that I used to make about B12 — other nutrients as well — to say and do these 5 simple things.

  • Don’t listen too closely to experts who don’t believe in any type of scientific testing.
  • Get your B12 tested (Methylmalonic Acid Test and/or B12 Serum.)
  • Get B12 shots if the results are very low.
  • Take a maintenance supplement. I use B12 patches which use methylcobalamin — the non-synthetic active form in the body.
  • Repeat the tests once a year (more if you have a health challenge.)

That’s it.

I no longer spend hours digging through research I can hardly understand — most of which would make me a healthy rat, not human.

Now, I spend about 5 minutes a year thinking about B12 when I’m on my way to the lab to get tested or ordering the patches from our store. That’s it.

This leaves a lot more time to think about things that really matter to me.

Your question of the day: Where do you get your B12? (And have you been tested lately?)

Live Awesome!

P.S. We’ll be having a special on B12 patches all week, so be sure to head over to the store and get a great deal on them now here.

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Brianna says:

    It’s exactly how I feel about B12 supplementation, Kev. Get tested. You will most likely be low. Supplement on a regular basis and continue to get regular testing. End of story! Great article, once again.

  2. sharon says:

    My blood tested adequate for B12, but I’ve been told that the B12 I’m getting from blue-green algae is not absorbable in the cellular level. ??

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Yes, Sharon, that is correct. B12 from blue-green algae is called an analog form of B12. This is it may be necessary to take the MMA test to fully understand if your body is using the B12 or not.


  3. Dana says:

    I had my B12 level tested 1 year ago for the first time after purchasing “How to read your own blood test”. I have not eaten any meat for 6 years. My B12 was 280, optimal is 600-1000. My MMA was 495, optimal is 73-376 and my Homocysteine level (also an indicator) was 10.9, optimal is .0-6.0. For a while I was doing the injections myself but they only came in 1000 mg dose and I didn’t feel good about it being the Cyanocobalamin. I am now supplementing with Jarrow’s 5000 mg lozenges. I will have my tests re-done this month. Can’t wait to see if this has made any difference. The interesting thing is that I don’t think I feel any different, if so it’s very subtle.

    Wishing everyone well,

    • Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

      Thanks for sharing, Dana!

      Glad you were motivated enough to truly find out what was happening in you body. Please share the new results when you get them!


    • Autumn says:

      Thank You Dana for mentioning what the optimal range-level of B12 is. Throughout this whole discussion that was the main thing I kept wondering!!

  4. Gen says:

    Excellent article. Thanks. I love dark figs and eat a lot of them at this time of year. Right now the ones we have in Canada are from Turkey and they are sooooo good. I don’t think I’ve ever been tested, but it is a good idea.

  5. Jonathan says:

    I buy injectible B-12, 1000 mcg/ml plus disposable syringes online and inject 1.0 mg every 2 weeks.

  6. Dede says:

    LOVE the new format!! Love your new writing style – – great job – – – keep it up 🙂

  7. judyutah says:

    Hey Kevin,

    I would love it if you could, like right away, cut to the chase in descriptors… I mean, what I always want to know, immediately, is how expensive is your stuff, and how often do you reco I take it…… as my monthly budget, with all the good things i buy to put in my body, is DEFINITELY more than it used to be when I wasn’t nearly as careful and conscious about my health. Soooo, (like with this B12 article) had to scan and scan… to get to the once a week part…. then a bit confusing about ‘even while your asleep’… ‘behind the ear’…. ‘3 x’…. I find it uuubbberly helpful (especially when I’m reading online stuff that NO UI Engineer has as yet fixed) for web owners, when they’re delving out data, to make it super clear:

    ~~ quantity
    ~~ cost
    ~~ frequency

    It is super appreciated by your audience and when we all have such busy lives, and are bombarded by data constantly, it is really nice to not have to re-read something to get the facts, ma’am, just the facts. Clear and simple. THanks! judyUtah

    • Kevin Gianni says:

      If just maintenance:

      – 8
      – $19.95 (on special)
      – 2 months.


      • Kevin Gianni says:

        Also, I know you say you want that, but I can’t imagine anyone would read a post like that. LOL

        B12 Patches

        2 months.

        Your question of the day: What do you think?


        • Velda says:

          You are so right, Kevin. I don’t think anyone would read an article like that. Also, if one does not want to read through the verbage, just skip a little. Anyone can do that 🙂 Thank you,

        • Britt says:

          Well stated! I think the detail is what makes your blog more interesting, credible and informative. Plain and simple, people can’t always believe everything they read but the research, experimentation, experience, review, conclusions, interviews, etc that you provide make the information you present understandable to everyone. Thanks for all your dedicated work!

  8. Richard Frans says:

    Low stomach acid will definitely cause mal-absorption of B12 according to Johnathon Wright in his book “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You”. If that is cause of the lack of B12 then injections of B12 should be used to bypass the stomach problem.

  9. Veronica says:

    I supplement. I didn’t use too, Kevin, until last year when you began to implore us to get tested and supplement. I went raw about 3 years back, and was very rigid at the time about what I (and my family ate). I was determined get all of my nutrients from foods, so I didn’t supplement. I started by having my blood work done, and everything was fine. But last year, when I was tested, my blood work was normal, but everything was very low, on the lowest end, (except iodine and white blood cell count, which was below normal). So I decided that I would take supplements this year, and I will get my blood work done soon and will see how things are. So I now take a multi-vitamin, B complex nearly everyday, and various other supplememnts. And on days when I know I haven’t had foods with B12 in them (nutritional yeast, spirulina, or sea vegetables), then I take B12 drops. Now, am mostly raw, but not rigid about what I or my family eats, and we are much happier together!

  10. Nicole says:

    I was tested & my B12 was so high (1339pmo/L). I would like to know any info on this end of the scale???

  11. LynnCS says:

    Very interesting, Kev. I use the patches. Mostly every day, unless I forget. I think they recommend 2-3 times a week, but since I learned there is no high limit, that taking more won’t hurt, I decided to take one every day. I feel well, but recently went back on Armour Thyroid too. I will check to see if I’ve been tested in the last testing, but testing doesn’t always satisfy me. They are a guage and can catch some glaring problems, but may not be the whole story. I have been on thyroid before and now my basic test shows ‘normal’ so my doc felt it wasn’t necessary to test further. I was getting very sick, cold, losing hair, etc. Had to find a new doc that would listen to my concerns. It could be more complicated than simply hypothyroidism. A new doctor who understands our life style and is more alternative than most around here is running more tests and meantime prescribed the Armour thyroid I have taken before. Because of you, Kevin….I have had the courage to learn about the B12 issue and take charge of making sure I get enough. Courage to change doctors and not take no for an answer. Courage to take charge of my own health and pursue more information when I could tell I wasn’t getting all the information I could and needed. You gave me courage. It has taken way too long for me to get what I needed and meantime, I was pretty sick and getting sicker. The best part is that I did it and am doing it. I’d say that is pretty awesome. Thank you so much, Kevin

  12. Linda P says:

    I’m curious to know what the symptoms of not having enough B12 are? How did not having enough affect you?

  13. Zyxomma says:

    I take Max Stress B Nanoplex liquid a couple of times a week. It’s not just B12, it’s a living food multi-B supplement. As a vegan for decades, I understand the need for supplementing B12. It’s one of the three liquid supplements I take quasi-regularly (the others are liquid ionic trace minerals and iodine).

    I’m a colonic hydrotherapist (not practicing at present) who studied with a naturopathic doctor. When we were studying the digestive system, we learned that friendly bacteria living in our large intestines make our B vitamins for us, which hitch a ride out of the colon in the water we recycle. It’s an elegant system. However, with our high stress lives, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

    I haven’t had any medical tests in a few years; it’s approaching the time I did. Health and peace.

    • Claire says:

      i noticed the one zyxomma write’s about has 5-deoxyadenossylcobalamin as the B12 ingredient – haven’t heard of this before. kevin, thoughts? thankyou and best wishes, claire

  14. claire says:

    hello. i’d heard about the cyno-B12 being an issue so have methyl-B12 in tablet and drop form. was pretty easy to come by (i can send you details if you like). so why would i switch to the patch-form? the tablets/drops are less expensive. best wishes, claire

  15. Claudia says:

    I was short in B12 so my doctor put me on 1,000 mgs. twice a week in a subllingual (dissolves under your tongue) tablet. My only problem is that I get an irritation to my mouth. I forget to move it around as it’s dissolving. So I think I’ll ask for the patches if my doctor thinks they’ll work.

  16. Richard says:

    Raw meat, egg yolks and fish. From what is the methylcobalamin in B12 supplements sourced from?

  17. Caroline says:

    Dirty Maitake’s mmmmmmm, actually now that I think about it I get fresh, organic produce from the farm where I work and hardly ever wash anything, in fact my favorite treats are picked while working, carrots wiped on pants, potato wipes on pants with sprinkle of sea salt and unwashed kale…..no testing, I feel grrrrrreat! Thanks for blogging Kevin. much love 🙂

  18. Sarah says:

    If your gut bacteria and digestive system is healthy, you are supposed to be able to make your own B12. But I still supplement for extra insurance as I don’t eat meat and very little dairy. But as far as I’m aware, whether or not you are a meat-eater, you are still vulnerable to B12 deficiency because of poor food quality, refined foods, chlorinated water, digestive irritants etc etc.

    What I loathe is someone telling me that unless I eat meat I will become deficient, as though the human being HAS to eat meat to survive.

    The very fact that we NEED B12 but that our guts only produce small quantities, doesn’t this suggest that we actually don’t NEED that much?

  19. RobG says:

    I use the sub-lingual B-12 and vitamin D from Dr. Mercola. It is very convenient in the morning to just spray it on.

  20. Isabelle says:

    Hello Kevin!
    I am very glad that someone in the raw food community has finally taken a sensible approach to talking about B12 and underlining that B12 defiency is nothing to be taken lightly.
    I heard an interview online by Sally Pacholok author of “Could it be B 12” an epidemic of misdiagnosis….thank God I heard her speak, bec I got tested right away and found out I was very severely deficient (218pg/ml)
    I am pretty much raw vegan except that I eat eggs…..12 friends have also since been tested, meat eaters as well as vegetarians and no one had a level above 300pg/ml. ie, all of us we’re severely deficient…..I have been giving myself 1000mcg shots of hydroxocobalamin, and taking Mercolas 1000mcg MeB12 spray but some of my friends are not in a hurry to fix this problem which, as I see it, will only get worse.
    I plan to forward your article to those who do not receive your emails….
    thanks again and big hug to you, Annmarie and baby Hudson!
    Love and light from

  21. Hi Kevin, I did not read the article until now, it was very good, thank you. I have bought patches from you but have not tested the B12. I am saving money to consult Dr Williams in some matters so maybe it will be then. I do wonder though, I have a friend who turns more and more mentally ill, she sees entities in her home and they are very nasty and she fears them much and she goes in and out of mental hospital, she is ca 70 years old I think. Could that be B12 deficiency???
    Thanks a million for everything!!!

  22. June Dean says:

    over 20 years ago my dad was in a cancer study where they tested for all kinds of things and found he did not have an enzyme that helped him absorbe b12. So I tested and was found to be very low. I use a gel up the nose called numbasol (not sure I spelled it correctly) which is red (looks great) and has brought me from 250 range up to 480 range. I’m not happy with the numbers but the doctors are so I also use otc tablet under the tongue.

    Glad you said to be tested Kevin because so many will say “just take it” and before you know it we have a boat load of bottles that may or may not be good for us in the long run. Good read. Keep it up.

  23. Mike Berman says:

    Another good specific test which is on the rise recently is the trans-cobalamin protein assay. This protein is the actual binding protein which delivers the B12 complex to our cells. It comprises of about 20% of the total binding proteins which also binds to the B12 complex. Finally it is also important to note that the methylmalonyl Co A or MMA assay can give a false positive result or a false indication of B12 if kidney disease is present. In these cases, or if you suspect this to be the case, one should get their creatine levels checked as well to verify whether a sufficient MMA level corresponds to either or both kidney disease and B12 levels.

  24. Mary Lynn says:

    A neurologist told me that my b12 level was severely low; however after taking many series of B12 shots and still no change, I just never went back to Kaiser for more shots.

    I have Morgellons, so maybe that messes up my absorption process of B12. Will try your patches.

    Thanks for the info.

    Mary Lynn

  25. elinor says:

    Could you please cite the reference as to where it states that figs contain B12. No plant matter contains B12 except it may possibly be found in vegies grown in very manure-rich soils and even then it’s minute, trace amounts and not enough to maintain or increase B12 levels.

  26. Sarah says:

    What about the B12 that we produce in our gut from bacteria?

  27. Dean says:

    How where and when should i get tested for b12 deficiency?

  28. I was struggling with Chronic Fatigue and went for the blood tests at the docs, I eventually got the results and my B12 was was so low it was almost off the scale! Doc didn’t want me to take supplements until they had done further tests to try to determine if I was absorbing the B12 (I think its obvious I wasn’t!) I didn’t want to take supplements of have the threatened injections, so after much research I began eating all the foods that had B12 in it. My friend has the Quantum Energy Scan machine and after a visit before the change of diet (I had a good diet before) and then subsequent visits within 3 months my B12 was back to where it should be. (Doc said it couldn’t be done through eating the right food-always up for a challenge!!) Having been on the Quantum machine it showed up various other deficiencies all of which I have addressed without taking supplements. They included not only vitamins, but minerals, amino acids etc. I balanced my diet out again but then found my B12 levels slipping again. I do now take a supplement of B12 as it is not easy eating the quantity of food that is B12 rich that I needed to maintain my level as my adrenals were totally drained, they are gradually coming back to life and a year on I am more or less free of Chronic Fatigue I just listen to my body and don’t push myself anymore, which is what I have always done wrong, (a manual job working up to 18 hrs a day 7 days a week- not healthy, now I pay the price) The supplement I take is an oral under the tongue, it is the Methylcobalamin 5000mcg, by Swanson. I’m pleased to say it works a treat and is very low cost at £6.99 for a 2 month supply! A small price to pay for something that has made so much difference to my life……….

  29. Linda Murphy says:

    Hi Kevin
    I agree. As a Registered Holistic nutritionist I have clients all the time who said they have been tested and are low in B12. My concern with just giving them shots or patches, is for the fact, that in most cases people have compromised digestion, which prevents absorption of b12, as well as other vitamins and minerals. We have to get to the root of the problem. Why are they not absorbing. They may need to food combine. Add digestive enzymes, probiotics, HCL. Eliminate muscous causing foods. Foods that cause inflammation. When I have had people do these things, they are better able to absorb the nutrients they need. But I do agree with supplementing as you can’t get everything you need in the food you eat.
    Just food for thought!
    Linda Murphy
    Registered Holistic Nutritionist

  30. Karen says:

    I have been giving myself B12 shots for about 20 years. My husband and I thought I had early-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s, but, after finally going to a doctor who was knowledgeable about such things, I was diagnosed with a severe B12 deficiency and an inability to absorb B12 orally. Headaches, mood swings, memory loss – all were obliterated with a simple little shot. I had to start with 3-100ml injections a week, then slowly worked down. I now do 50ml every 2 weeks and I’m just great!

  31. Christine says:

    I had bloodwork done and found that my B12 is almost non-existent. I am currently taking the methyl-B12 lozenges. I also have extremely low WBC & have had for about 3 years now – 3yrs ago I rec’d chemo – radiation – surgery “therapy” for cancer (yes, I know better NOW & would never do it again) & suspect this is the reason for the low WBC. 3 yrs ago I also changed my diet to 100% organic vegetarian (90% raw) and have been de-toxing all along. Could the low B12 also contribute to the low WBC? what can I do to bring the WBC up to normal range? If anyone has any answers I would really appreciate it to read them – thanks.

  32. Carrie Ediger Krehbiel says:

    Your article on Vitamin B12 was right on. Thank goodness my doctor did a blood test for B12 on me without my asking and saved my life. Test came back that I was dangerously low in Vitamin B12. I am now on shots that I give myself. So happy to see the patches they are half the cost of my shots. I now get tested every 3 months.

  33. sasasa says:

    I’ve been vegan only for a year (before that I was mainly vegetarian for about 3 years) with very little consumption of dairy, and recently I was tested for b12, and it was low, just on the verge. But the thing is, that in my country (Latvia) the verge is lower than what I read in internet (187 pg, and 200pg=145pM, I had 188pg). Also I gave birth four months before going vegan. and now my son (1y5m) is also b12 deficient (152pg, which apparently would be very low in pM, judging by comments that I read here). I guess I have some symptoms – I can be very irritable at times, I frequently feel weak (but I associate this with eating the wrong foods in wrong amounts, e.g. too much sweets or overeating in general, and actually, this was more common before I went vegan), I’ve always had bad balance. As for my son – he is too young to notice symptoms, but his development so far has been very normal. The only thing I can notice is irritability and periodically low appetite (but from what I know these two aren’t uncharacteristic for small children). Now I take 500pg b12 few times a week (mouth spray) and I’ve recently started giving this to my son also. Actually, I think I’ve become less irritable, the same goes for my son, but it might be just a phase. Also, we both have elevated levels of RDW (red cell distribution width), which is a sign of anemia. Mine became slightly elevated only recently (before I started taking b12), my son’s have been more elevated for a longer period of time, but it was thought that there was another reason for that. I can only say that I regret that I didn’t get tested earlier and didn’t start supplementing earlier, because apparently my lack of b12 has also made my milk b12 levels low. I also don’t give my son any meat and only recently started giving him dairy and eggs (I became frightened after finding out he’s deficient, but before that I was constantly putting off the introduction of these foods). I hope that other vegan mothers will learn from my mistake. Fortunately, it seems that no damage is done to my child’s health, but from what I’ve read, consequences can be severe.

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