What is the Biggest Raw Food Pitfall? : The Renegade Health Show Episode #823

Monday May 16 | BY |
| Comments (42)

More from Brenda Davis today…

In this interview, she explains where vegans and raw foodies get their protein, plus she talks about the biggest deficiency that raw foodists run into.

Check it out…

Your question of the day: Have you ever been deficient in Vitamin B12? Do you know if you ever were / or are?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your comments now!

To find out more about Brenda Davis, please click here: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/

Live Awesome!

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.


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  1. Donaji says:

    I’m surprised there are no comments. Great interview. I pretty sure I’m deficient in B12 although I’m taking a supplement, I don’t think it’s a good one, so I’ll be going to a doc soon and hopefully I can get a great blood analysis and find good supplements. Thanks Kevin!

  2. Beth says:

    Never been tested, so I don’t know if I am / have been B12 deficient.

  3. Thomas says:

    It’s (B12) never shown low in a test. The only thing I have tested low for was sodium. 🙂 I had to work at it to get it up to 134, which is below the 135-146 norm, but is ok with me.

    Why did you change the file names (the dates) of your videos? This one says “May 16” and came out the 17th. Yesterday’s with Brenda was the 16th yesterday, but is May 14 today. Yesterday’s link now gets a “404 file not found”.

    I think changing all the file names and URLs is throwing people off seeing them.

  4. Tara Burner says:

    I haven’t tested my blood in years so honestly have no clue
    I don’t ‘feel’ like I do, but who knows! LOL

  5. I ended up with a ton of deficiencies due to mercury and lead poisoning. I had no idea I had heavy metals and raw foodists kept telling me I needed more fasting, more cleansing. It made me sicker and sicker. Now I am injecting B12 once a week as recommended by my ND. After the first 3 injections I started to feel human again and can’t wait to finally get my life back!

  6. sharon says:

    Am waiting to go get my B12 tested. I ordered one from DirectLabs, but haven’t gotten down to have my blood drawn yet. Guess there are different kinds of B12 supplements…good ones and not-so-good ones. Seems the B12 from methylcobalamin is better than from cyanocobalamin. yes?

  7. steph says:

    Wow, timely subject for me. I’ve always surprised myself in NOT being deficient until this month when my platelet count and immunoglobin came back low. My doc. said first reason could be that my B12 was low. So i’m working to get it up.

    I’m curious what brand you take Kevin?

    Others out there?


  8. Wendy says:

    I’ve been going to videos and the page doesn’t have a video thingy where I click on the triangle. I’m not a techie. I don’t think I’ve ever been tested for B12. I have to insist on checking my Vitamin D level.

  9. lola says:

    Never had my B12 tested, however, I take pure Klamath crystals from Klamath Lake. Is that a good source?
    Good interview.

  10. Joel says:

    Yes Sharon, Methylcobalamin is WAY better than Cyanocobalamin. Get a liquid form or a pill that dissolves so you can take it sublingually.


  11. Jackie says:

    Yes, I was vegan for 7 years, but not raw, and didn’t understand how to keep enough protein in my diet. I removed the animal proteins, dairy products, etc, but never replaced them with other protein sources, other than a tofu dish once in a while. So I became protein deficient and at the recommendation of my homeopathic doctor, started eating meat again (was VERY hard to do!)…Got rid of the protein deficient problem and became obese (sigh). So now I’m leaning toward raw (went totally raw for 4 months, lost 90 lbs, started eating some cooked again, gained 15 lbs, now am about 75% raw and struggling to lose more.

    Eating plenty of protein and feeling good, generally. Felt better totally raw! Working my way back to it. Thanks for listening!


  12. Jules says:

    Fantastic discussion. I feel better than I ever have eating mostly raw vegan, and still full of energy, great skin, healthy hair etc. This interview goes a long way to explaining why, despite the worries from others about protein etc etc.

  13. Ellen from Davis says:


    I know that I used to be deficient, and feel as if I still might be even though I started eating poultry and fish again at my doctor’s urging. My B12 deficiency was caused by lack of intrinsic factor, so no matter how much I took I couldn’t absorb the B12! Do you know how one might fix this?


  14. Laura says:

    Several years ago when I was eating a vegetarian diet (with dairy and eggs), my B12 was low. Not terribly low, but low enough that my doctor gave me a round of B12 injections. I’ve been vegetarian on and off since then, and am currently not eating meat, but do occasionally eat fish. I take a sub-lingual B12 supplement daily. The one I’m using now is a liquid made by NOW Foods. I just had a blood test last week and I made sure to ask my doctor to test my B12 since it was low in the past. Thankfully, it was fine.


  15. Hal says:

    Yes, I was major deficient in B12, and my level was dropping. Solved this problem by taking F3, a superfood algae authored by Dr. Kiriac. My level has more than doubled since taking F3 for close to 3 months.

  16. Brooke says:

    Great to see the use of such a reputable resource – a Registered Dietitian! I am also a Dietitian and do have some concerns about the lack of knowledge of potential for vitamin/nutrient deficiencies (particularly B12, iron, vitamin D, calcium) amongst those who follow a vegan or raw food diet. They CAN be very healthful diets, but just like a carnivorous diet, too much or too little can lead to an unhappy body. Great post, very informative and although I am biased, great to see the Dietitian’s represent!

    Brooke, RD
    Saskatoon, SK.

  17. myshell says:

    Greetings Kevin I have been a vegan for 20 yrs and Raw plant based for 5 years. I have my B12 levels checked once a year via blood work and they have always been very good. I take Max Stress B from the company called Premier Research Labs. It is a Live-Source B Vitamins and works really well. It is also in a liquid Nano form so you just add it to some water and drink away. By the way I applaud your advice about having regular blood work done as I have been doing, it is a SMART way to live…

  18. fatima says:

    Fantastic and very helpful interview.
    I have been on a vegetarian diet since 1982 and on a 100%raw vegan for the past 10 years,had my vitamin B12 tested last year for the first time and it was very good.I have been taking a B12 supplement so I must be doing something right.
    Annmarie and Kevin may this be everything you want it to be and may there be a 100% improvement is your Spanish.

  19. Niraja Golightly says:

    I have a high B-12 level after being tested, and I do take a Hippocrates Institute product. I also am challenged with Stage 3 breast cancer, so B-12 is one less thing for me to worry about right now. Matter of fact, all my blood work so far is good to excellent/optimal. Hmm…

  20. Jasmine says:

    yes, I was deficient in B12, and iron, and Vit D and thanks to you I requested these tests from my doctor who reluctantly authorized the tests and I was able to supplement myself back to higher levels. At first my B12 shot up way to high with too many injections but we soon figured out the right amount with follow-up testing. Also, one type of injection caused a bit of a red rash around the injection site (not sure why)…. In a funny (?) twist, I also learned I had Hashimoto’s and had to watch the cruciferous/thyroid contradicting foods and therefore reduced my consumption of kale, broccoli sprouts, and so on and lay off the sea products, my TSH improved, my TPO reduced somewhat but now I am deficient in calcium! I miss my greens but what am I to do? 🙂

  21. florencia says:

    hi all,
    how about protein needs for heavy-duty exercisers? some friends that exercise a lot feel that they just don’t get enough protein from vegetarian/vegan/raw. they’ve read “thrive” but felt it was too carby and nut-based for them. any suggestions??

  22. Guylaine says:

    This is a great interview. Brenda Davis is very knowledgeable. You should have her more often on the show, even do a program with her.
    I don’t have any symptoms of B12 deficiencies even after being vegan for many years although there can be seldom the occasional dairy. I started taking Vitamin B12 a couple years ago. I don’t see any difference since in my energy level but I think it prevents future deficiency. I prefer to rely to some supplements than animal products for various reasons, ethical, environmental and health.

  23. Jaz says:

    When I learned my B-12 was low 1 1/2 years ago, I took sublingal in 2-3 times the norm dose. When re-tested, there was no improvement & had to start injections. My body, mood and personality had been effected by the long term low level. This can be a serious deficiency. DON’T IGNORE THIS.

  24. I’ve never had my blood tested so I’m not sure if I am deficient. Will get my blood tested soon as I’m able. Since I’m not 100% raw I do get some B12 in my diet but I don’t know if it is enough. Great interview.

  25. casey says:

    well kevin, i finally broke down and got a blood test a couple weeks ago, got the results this weekend, so i now can say. Yes I am deficient. I’m 303

  26. Elo says:

    I have my annual medical in June and I will ask the Dr. to check my B-12 levels. I have no idea where they are at. Thank you.

  27. Sib says:

    Natural, whole foods that contain the most vitamin B12 are clams, oysters, mussels, liver, caviar (fish eggs), octopus, fish, crab, lobster, beef, lamb (mutton), cheese, and eggs (especially raw yolks). Not a vegetable, grain, nut or seed in sight. We are omnivores and need animal products (from pastured animals raised in humane conditions) as well as organic, pesticide- and chemical-free plants for optimal health and reproductive continuity over generations.

    If we in modern civilization were to get back to eating natural, local foods as strong, indigenous peoples have done for thousands of years, we wouldn’t have to take so many supplements (many are synthetic) and be so worried about adequate vitamins and minerals. Some vegetarian societies ate and still eat some animal foods in the form of milk, ghee, cheese, yogurt, and inadvertently consuming insects that happened to be on leaves for lunch (we obsessively wash our foods).

    We also need to realize that death is a part of life. In large-scale, mono-crop culture, hundreds if not thousands of small animals get killed in fields where our veggies are planted and harvested. The real solution is to do small-scale, biodynamic farming where domestic animals and plants co-exist in a natural cycle for the betterment of the animals’ lives, the plants, the farmers, the environment, and the person consuming the end product — be it plant or animal or animal product.

    You start with healthy, fertile soil enriched with composted animal manure and biodegradable plant materials, which naturally grows healthy nutritious grasses and plants, which the pastured animals can eat (humans can jump in at this point and enjoy the plants too)…and so on. It’s a closed system that is self-sustainable and healthy for everyone involved. Farmers won’t need to buy synthetic fertilizer so neither animal nor human nutrition and safety would be compromised.

    Notice that no part of this cycle involves CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) or massive food processing factories or agri-business chains or corporations or government intervention — just farmers and citizens. We need thousands of small, local farms to feed people who live in nearby towns and cities.
    Perhaps it’s time to slow down, think logically, locally and long-term, and return to old methods of animal and plant care for our own survival.

    This is not a paleo versus raw vegan debate – it’s about balancing a variety of nutrient-dense foods for optimal human health. We each occupy a physical body with trillions of cells that require specific macro- and micro-nutrients which have to be absorbed and assimilated to be of any use. As far as I know, these cells function the same way our ancestors’ cells did for millennia.

    Human bodies need animal products AND plants. But we should also take the time to appreciate them because every natural thing on the earth that we eat or drink comes about because an animal or plant has sacrificed its life. Now pass me a slice of humble pie.

  28. oreganol says:

    I got my B12 levels tested last October, for the first time in my life. I was deficient. I have since been taking 500mg of B12 daily. It can be very dangerous to assume your B12 levels are ok, without actually finding out. B12 deficiency can cause irreversible damage, and you may not notice anything is wrong until it is too late. A B12 test is relatively cheap and I would advise everyone to get tested. If you don’t want to get tested, then at least take a B12 supplement, especially if you are raw, vegan, veggie, or elderly.

  29. Susan Laing says:

    Hello guys;)
    Yeah I was Vit B12 deficient big time. But I had normal blood tests taken which showed up just borderline ok. But I got myself on sublingual AOR methylcobalamin, which is shown to pass thro. the blood brain barrier, and my nervous system was amazingly different! I slept better than ever, I felt less wired, I could concentrate better, and less symptoms of breathlessness and so on;) And I took quite a dosage too. So this blood test evidence is very much down to your own bioindividuality as GC talks about. Also any methyl group type foods supplements helps to get rid of those unwanted ‘bad’ oestrogens too. Another bonus. So for some folks they are ok on raw and for some it may be different issue. My HCL levels were and used to be non existent so I have to take lots of HCL and enzymes too. So important for a good digestion on a raw vegan diet;) Thanks again Kevin. Have a great week!

  30. Kuru says:

    Just last week my sister’s cat had become lethargic stopped eating. The doctor said he didn’t know if his remedy would work, but he tried a B-12 shot and the cat was back to his normal self, interested in life, eating well. He is not a hunter, so doesn’t get natural protein from rats or birds; his whole diet is the junk they call cat food. 🙁 Still curious what you feed Jonny 5. Also, are you reading the comments while you’re away?

  31. JT says:

    Thought I would be low in B12 so I got tested. I was surprisingly fine and in the normal range. Even tho Brenda suggested 10-15% of the diet being protein, how much protein should the average adult have each day. You hear stories of vegans not getting enough protein along with B12. If someone were to keep a food diary, they might be more conscious of getting the right amount of diversity of nutrients, including protein, if they knew what to shoot for. How much protein should the average adult consume in a day?

  32. Rachael says:

    The last time i checked my B12 (a year ago) it was good but i do eat raw honey, bee pollen and eggs so i might be getting some from that.
    I wanted to ask Kevin and Anne if you know what your blood type is…i know this is irrelevant to your question but i am doing a research at the moment and your participation would help alot. 🙂 i would be happy to get to back to you on this 🙂

  33. Derek says:

    I was wanting a test for B12 deficiency and see that most tests are by a blood sample from the arm. I understand from a reliable source that a cerebial test is the only way to test for B12. Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient in nervous tissue, helping to build myelin sheaths around nerves by carrying methyl groups to the nerve tissue. It is a potent brain detoxifier and the natural protective agent against the negative effects of the neurotransmitter glutamate which otherwise leaves nerves in a hyperactive state. The only form of the vitamin used in the nervous system is methylcobalamin. The Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) is a highly selective membrane protecting the delicate nerve tissues of the brain from mineral ions and other substances which would disturb its function. B12 does not easily cross the BBB. It is thus possible to have normal B12 levels in the body in general but a deficiency in nervous tissue. A test of homocysteine levels in the cerebrospinal fluid is a reliable test for nervous system deficiency, whereas the MMA urine test is not.Around 5mg of vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and, in the absence of intake, stores can last between 5 months and 30 years (due to recycling of the vitamin) before deficiency symptoms become apparent. Early deficiency symptoms include unusual fatigue, faulty digestion, no appetite, nausea, or loss of menstruation.”

  34. LeeH says:

    Potential vitamin B12 and D deficiency are usually the last holdout criticisms from the meat-eater, after we have killed off the protein myth. That’s assuming they know anything about nutrition. So which is worse, getting these from food additives in processed foods or from sunshine exposure [D] or dirt on your food [B12]?

    As a raw foodist for 2 years, and vegetarian for > 20 years, I have never known anyone who is protein-deficient. And most people have no clue about their D and B12 conditions. Are we over-worrying here?

  35. Thanks for the information, excellent.
    I was vegetarian and then was a strict vegan for 5 solid years, had my b-12 tested after the 4th or 5th year and it was healthy and normal.
    Have not had it tested since then but I honestly do consume some raw goat cheese and surely that does help.
    There is a raw supplement company making “raw” vitamins and their b-12 seems excellent.
    Also Dr. mercola makes a b-12 spray.
    I believe folic acid is also an important vitamin to have enough of and my mom (a meat eater) take large supplemental amounts.
    My question is, can meat eaters become b-12
    deficient? my guess is yes and they can also be
    low in iron as well.
    namaste’, rachel

  36. Yes, am deficient and have done shots etc, but those don’t really build up in your body. Still trying to use the sublingual variety.

  37. Valerie says:

    I’ve been told that upping the stomach acid helps the intrinsic factor; hope that is correct. Take a little cider vinegar in water before meals. It is possible to obtain capsules of hydrochloric acid but not easy. People who believe they have a problem with acid often do, but it is more often a deficiency than surplus.yet folks are often guided to make the problem worse with antacids.

  38. Linda says:

    I was pretty deficient in B12 and the funny thing was that it happened within a 2 year time frame. I get a physical with blood work done every two years – it helps me get a baseline for health. Last year was the time for another check up. I felt pretty good although the only thing I could describe what I was feeling was like I was a great big tuning fork. I felt very sensitive to everything energetically.

    I got the test results and my ND called to tell me that all the numbers looked incredible – she had never seen numbers look so great in all of her time practicing. However she also wanted to note that my B12 was also very low. And the lowest she had also ever seen. She advised that I come in for a series of B12 shots. I started being more diligent in taking B12 sublinguals. I never thought about them before and I was being devoutly vegan for those 2 years – not even honey or bee pollen. The B12 sublinguals seemed to instantly soften my sensitive nerves. I went in for a few shots but really just kept taking the sublinguals. I got retested about 4 months later and my B12 was back in the normal range and I don’t feel so tuning fork like! LOL

    I’m also back to having bee pollen and I’m not so strictly vegan anymore. It was a good experiment and I’m grateful that I didn’t have more severe possible damage from being B12 deficient for a long period of time. I still take my B12 daily. I also eat fermented/cultured foods with every meal too to help with digestion and assimilation of nutrients. I can say that the 2 years that I was strictly vegan, I was also under a boatload of stress with starting a new business. In retrospect, I think being vegan helped me greatly and if I had taken the sublinguals, I think things would have been even better. I only mention the stress, however, because it seems like the B vitamins get used up pretty quickly with stress and I was using them. It’s why I think I went from having normal B12 levels to very low levels in less than a 2 year time frame…

    So that’s my story in a nutshell…

  39. June says:

    Hi guys!

    I’m not sure if i was getting deficient in B12, But i add b12 (pills or spray) in my diet, just in case and I feel great!

  40. Rebecca Cody says:

    Several of you mentioned having trouble bringing up your B12, and someone else talked about heavy metal toxicity. I recommend any of you with these troubles or with any chronic ailment like fibromyalgia, cancer, and many others may want to have a genetic test for MTHFR. Many people unknowingly have this, and it subjects them to high homocystiene levels and many other problems because they don’t methylate folate, therefore they can’t clear heavy metals. I had no idea I had this defect, but one doctor tested me. He, then, didn’t seem to know what to do about it! So I started researching, and wrote the following article:

  41. linda says:

    I was very low on my b-12 and my doctor told me I had to eat meat. I did not.
    Instead I took vitamineral green. came up within 2 months and has maintained for one year.

  42. Rhonda says:

    It is amazing that we continue to hear of concerns people have about getting enough protein in their vegan, vegetarian or raw diets. I recently interviewed Dr Michael Greger MD and he stated that even he is surprised that people continue to wonder about enough protein in the diet. He said you can get it eating the 4 food groups = fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, nuts and seeds. I have read that there really is no such thing as a protein deficiency, that was a theory from the early last century and has been dis-proven.

    Like Brenda Davis stated, the above diets do require that you make sure to supplement B-12 and make sure to get enough Vitamin D.

    I love this a vegan lifestyle for my health, maintaining an ideal weight, compassion for animals and the environment.

    Thank you for a great interview with Brenda.


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