Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Any queries about vegan diet, nutrition, dieting, bulking and healthy eating in general. Diets and food from vegan perspective.

Moderators: hardcore iv, fredrikw, JP, stateofflux, bronco

Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby ratfan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 11:14 am

Someone sent me this link, a typical Paleo-type rubbishing vegan diets. I know this diet has been discussed on here before and I apologise if this link has been up here already.
http://chriskresser.com/why-you-should- ... s=og.likes
At first it made me angry and I'm tempted to just ignore it. Then I started to think about all the vegans I know who don't really pay attention to what they eat or to getting the right nutrients/supplements. (not the case for vegans on this forum I expect)
Can this be true: 83% of vegans are B12 deficient? ie most vegans?
And all the stuff about bio-availability re oxalates and phytates and poor absorption of nutrients.
It was passed to me by an ex-vegan and I find they often use the nutritional excuse for going back to being omnivores. How would you respond?
Thanks,
Ratty. (esp now I've read this)
ratfan
Member
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:26 pm
Location: UK

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby blinki » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:22 pm

I've not read the link, just checked for references.

The reference for 83% is 24 of 29 vegans had elevated methylmalonic acid levels which according to wiki may indicate B12 deficiency. Google scholar (with a fairly quick search) doesn't throw up any other articles offering a stat on % of vegans with a deficiency so I wouldn't take it has undoubtedly accurate. I believe the vegan society say something to the effect of most vegans get enough B12 for it not to be particularly dangerous but not an ideal amount. It could well be true that 83% don't get an ideal amount. The study is of people who don't take vitamins so finding most of them don't get enough B12 isn't really surprising. I don't think there's any debating that vegans who don't think about what they eat are likely to have low B12.

I think you need to compare that if you take someone of any sort of diet who doesn't think about what they eat then they will almost certainly be deficient in something. Even if you were to conclude that being vegan makes it harder to eat an ideal diet, that's not an argument that dismisses being vegan as a good idea. It dismisses being vegan for health reasons fairly well but I think being vegan for health reasons is silly anyway. Being vegan for ethical reasons isn't dismissed by it being harder since it is still entirely possible to be healthy and taking a vitamin or drink 1l of soy milk isn't that hard.
User avatar
blinki
Active Member
 
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:26 am
Location: Manchester

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby ratfan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:48 pm

Thanks Blinki - I shouldn't be surprised that the stats are so questionable!
It is true that most people don't pay enough attention to their diets - and that's probably why 33-50% of people in the developed world are now overweight/obese. I expect that a far lower % of vegans are overweight. So I still think overall we tend to be healthier than omnivores. And B12 deficiency is very common in older omnivores.
It really riled me, I think be bloody paloe if you like but stop attacking vegans - what's their problem with us?
I agree that the ethical argument is harder to rubbish and that 's my reason for being vegan.
Thanks again.
ratfan
Member
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:26 pm
Location: UK

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby Linnéa76 » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:04 pm

I think he may very well be right and that the potential deficiences that are mentioned are the
same ones that even vegan nutrition experts usually adress and recommend supplements to avoid.
83% sounds like a very high number and it's not like a majority of vegans have health problems,
quite the opposite. But it's a shame that so many vegans fail to take b12 supplements, often because
they don't think it's "natural". Omnis also say they could never go vegan because they don't want to
have to be taking pills. One response to that is to compare cultivating b12-producing bacteria in factories
with keeping animals who have the same bacteria in their intestines in factories. Neither is "natural" but
there's no arguing which is more sustainable and ethically defensible.

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/vitaminb12
-Talk is cheap-
User avatar
Linnéa76
Moderator
 
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:34 am
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby ratfan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:44 pm

Ohh.... it is complex, as you say most vegans are - or appear to be - healthy. I have 1 vegan friend who has never supplemented and his B12 levels are good and I have 2 others who have had to have injections (who do supplement now). But it seems to vary, as you'd expect I guess. I supplement and had my blood checked about 1 year ago and it was all fine, B12, iron and everything. A small price to pay, taking a couple of pills each day, to avoid having blood on my hands.
Are lots of vegans getting heart disease? You'd think we'd hear about that - lots, esp from the paleo brigade. Or maybe it's a ticking time bomb?
ratfan
Member
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:26 pm
Location: UK

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby blinki » Thu Feb 27, 2014 12:52 am

The risk of B12 in heart disease isn't certain and if it is then there are still a lot more significant factors. But if it does turn out that B12 is a more significant factor then we probably will need to wait a few more decades for there to have been more vegans getting older so other risk factors kick in since it's never really just one thing.
User avatar
blinki
Active Member
 
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:26 am
Location: Manchester

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby Linnéa76 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:11 am

Regarding heart disease, I've seen studies where vegans and vegetarians had much better cardiovascular health than omnivores,
but vegans did slightly worse than vegetarians. These where long-term vegans that probably didn't supplement omega-3 during
their early "career". Now that (almost) everyone is taking linseed oil or algae supplements (and b12) vegans should have the edge over
vegetarians who consume saturated animal fat.
-Talk is cheap-
User avatar
Linnéa76
Moderator
 
Posts: 1885
Joined: Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:34 am
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby sergio » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:19 am

[quote="ratfan"]
It was passed to me by an ex-vegan and I find they often use the nutritional excuse for going back to being omnivores. How would you respond?


That's a respectable thing. I'd encourage them to keep reading things on the subject. People gather info and experiences from other people, read different things and opinions and finally made a decision according to their own criteria. I don't think all the paleo criticism is a "they're attacking us" thing. I'm actually glad the debate is open. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. That's how it seems to work.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not encouraging people quitting veganism just because one day they read 4 o 5 articles in a row and they get paranoid. It's not about that.
I accidentally replaced all of my blood with coffee.
User avatar
sergio
Active Member
 
Posts: 512
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:43 am

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby sergio » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:55 am

And about the particular study throwing the 83% statistic, I honestly don't have the scientific background to call into question but the conclussion (Vitamin B-12 status should be monitored in vegetarians. Health aspects of vegetarianism should be considered in the light of possible damaging effects arising from vitamin B-12 deficiency and hyperhomocysteinemia) is pretty much the same thing you'll read in most vegan nutrition guides.

I must confess I wouldn't think a 2003 study is the most recent and a 29 people sample is the most accurate research ever done.
I accidentally replaced all of my blood with coffee.
User avatar
sergio
Active Member
 
Posts: 512
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:43 am

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby Lordmuppet » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:28 pm

So my non-vegan (though never a big meat eater) father has problems absorbing B12 that are apparently hereditary (he forgot to tell me for several years ...). Anyway um I'm okay :)

But yeah B12 deficiency is not something to be messed with! My dad fell asleep at the wheel at least twice because of it.
JS - They think it will open the door to folk like LordMuppet campaigning for a threeway?
User avatar
Lordmuppet
Muppet Moderator
 
Posts: 1994
Joined: Mon Aug 03, 2009 7:19 pm

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby sergio » Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:31 pm

I accidentally replaced all of my blood with coffee.
User avatar
sergio
Active Member
 
Posts: 512
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:43 am

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby mabli » Fri Mar 28, 2014 6:47 am

My former doctor told me my symptoms of pins a needles and shortnessof breath was down b12 deficiency. She probably wouldn't said that had I not told her I'm vegan. I went to a different doctor who tells me I'm not deficienct nor have I ever been deficienct enough for symptoms. Now waiting to see a neurologist and being tested for diabetes.

Shows me that one of the most dangerous health risks in being vegan is doctors assuming your health issue is due to deficiency in the diet even when the evidence is contrary. I've had this problem for a couple of years now getting steadily worse. I was even having B12 injections :-(
mabli
Active Member
 
Posts: 1342
Joined: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:05 pm

Re: Are most vegans deficient in B12?

Postby ratfan » Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:59 am

Hi Mabli
I'm sorry to hear you're having problems - best of luck with the further investigations. Some doctors are not helpful with vegans, it's a shame and a worry!
Ratty
ratfan
Member
 
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:26 pm
Location: UK


Return to Vegan Diets, Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron