B12 Breaking News: Old fermentation method rediscovered

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B12 Breaking News: Old fermentation method rediscovered

Postby Ava Odoéména » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:19 pm

I felt the urge rising in me, somehow, to write another post about our all time favorite topic B12.

A couple of months ago in my strolling the web for more knowledge around vegan nutrition, I stumbled upon a fascinating study by an equally fascinating professor Bärwald, or, to name correctly, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ing. Günter Bärwald. www.baerwald-prof.de . He is an expert on fermentation technology.

Infact, Professor Bärwald has his office about 15 bike-minutes from where I live in Berlin, though I haven't had the chance to meet him in person, we engaged in email communication and he answered all my questions very patiently.

You see, Professor Bärwald and his team in the 1940s were one of the first people to ferment Vitamin B12 with the help of bacteria. The interesting difference was to the standard way B12 is produced today, they fermented it in foods, that is, the foods they created contained active, good B12 simply because the process of fermentation that was used and the type of bacteria.

In case you're wondering what the significance of this is, well, this makes him almost as important to veganism as late Donald Watson.

It means, out there, forgotten, is a method to get vegan B12 in a food production method of fermentation, which eradicates one of the most dominating perceived weaknesses of the vegan diet: That it doesn't contain relevant amounts of bioactive B12.

Yes it does, it *can*. _IF_ you ferment with the right method and use the right bacteria, namely Propionibacterium Freudenreichii and Pr. Shermanii. Most of us will have consumed foods that were fermented, like sauerkraut, beer, miso, soy-yogurt or a newer one, the Bionade beverage which unlike beer is fermented not with yeast but with bacteria as well.

The fact that bioactive B12 can be fermented in a food, rather than as a supplement which follows a different route of production, is of huge importance, because it takes the taint off the vegan diet that it is not complete.

Now the observant reader will now ask her or himself, well, where are these foods, and why, if such foods are possible, feasible, cheap, doable, out there buried in the desk of a friendly German professor, do I have to pop a pill for B12 and feel inferior about it?

Well, because nobody cares. The standard way of producing supplemental B12 is so easy and cheap and well-implemented, only us crazy vegans would ever have the odd desire to consume some fermented soymilk with, careful, here is the word: natural B12 in which the B12 was fermented directly.

Professor Bärwald has gone to exhibit his method at a time when our parents were Hippies but the food producers just shrugged and mentioned that "synthetic" B12 is abundant, why would anyone care for your method?

The vegan market is small, and so there has been no demand for Professor Bärwalds idea, it's demand and supply.

He is willing and ready to work with any entrepreneur seeking to launch a brand of fermented vegan beverage, for example, given the process can't be patented you'd have to pay his hourly rate as an engineer I presume. A health drink with the holy radiance of vegan approval can easily be marketed to nonvegans as well, right now, vegans are hot. We are the IT-people. Our vision rules supreme so to say.

Now why, and here I arrive at the headline, you might ask yourself, do I need to consume B12 at all? Well, because if you can read this, chances are you are human and humans need to have B12. You do have bacteria in your gut which make B12, but they are too far down and no absorption takes place so far down, close to the exit. Now since B12 is interestingly produced by bacteria, and you are vegan, you need to ask yourself, if you're capable of rational thought, where does my B12 come from?

For nonvegans the answer is easy: They shoot an animal in the head and eat its body. In the victim, the bacteria usually reside further up in the digestion tract, like the rumen in cows, there the B12 is absorbed into the bloodstream and ends up in the flesh. So their bacteria source of B12 is by exploiting and or killing another animal.

Since we don't do that, where do our B12 bacteria reside? Well, so far, nowhere acceptable. You could drink from old water puddles, plenty of bacteria there. Problem is that there are plenty of bacteria you do not want to ingest... You could do it like gorillas and rabbits, who both practice different forms of Coprophagia, because shit is, well, amongst others a rich source of B12 and other Vitamins all produced by bacteria in the gut. For rabbits and gorillas not being as fortunate as cows, the bacteria are too far down the tract to be absorbed, thus the need to recycle some food.

If you are serious about being natural, that certainly is an option to source B12 as natural as it gets. As a vegan your chances are very low to infect yourself with bad bugs like salmonella and other nastiess, so, enjoy.

Everybody else will resort to supplements, whose B12 also starts out with bacteria. We are human, we simply need B12. Plants don't need B12, so they have not evolved with a method to absorb or produce it. All claims of plant/algae based foods containing B12 are either false or contain evil added B12 which was produced by people in white coats and funny cloth covering their mouths.

So, to sum it up. There is a method to get vegan foods containing good B12 simply by a special fermentation process that has been in the drawer since WWII, but until a willing entrepreneur is found to build upon that, you better pop your pill. Very simple.

However, next time someone claims the vegan diet can't "naturally" contain Vitamin B12, send them to the study section of Professor Bärwalds website.

And so I vanish again....
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Postby V VII Hero » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:27 pm

how do you naturally ferment B-12 in sauerkraut?

I eat sauerkraut like candy. and have been eating it ever since i was a toddler.
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Postby puppydog » Mon Jan 12, 2009 10:57 pm

thanks and if you get more info please send it along i love fermenting my own shiznit,.
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Postby Ava Odoéména » Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:01 pm

[quote="V VII Hero"]how do you naturally ferment B-12 in sauerkraut?

I eat sauerkraut like candy. and have been eating it ever since i was a toddler.


You don't. The bacteria in sauerkraut would not allow the competition from the B12 bacteria. B12 bacteria like liquid environments, a special temperature, pressure and so on; regardless if the food ends up dense like a vegan soy-cheese. (A real vegan soy-cheese, not like the bricks of soap they sell as vegan cheese.) How the fermentation happens, well, that is Professor Bärwalds secret, which he is willing to share with anyone able to afford his fees as an engineer.

I too like sauerkraut, I enjoy freaking out nonvegan acquaintances by inviting them and serving that with vegan bratwurst.
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Postby puppydog » Tue Jan 13, 2009 2:32 am

wait a second - this is a guy that . . . ah forget it.
at the end of the day there's no help this guy is offering?
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Postby Ava Odoéména » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:08 pm

[quote="omar tan"]wait a second - this is a guy that . . . ah forget it.
at the end of the day there's no help this guy is offering?


No, "help" was never an element of this subject, why would you think so?
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Postby puppydog » Tue Jan 13, 2009 7:17 pm

well you mention that if somebody says b12 cant be found naturally in a vegan diet, send them this study. but then you say that only people willing to pay the dr.s fee can find out what that technique is.
so that's where i was confused. many apologies.
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Postby V VII Hero » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:01 pm

isnt B-12 naturally found in fermented Kombucha?
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Postby Ava Odoéména » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:08 pm

[quote="omar tan"]well you mention that if somebody says b12 cant be found naturally in a vegan diet, send them this study. but then you say that only people willing to pay the dr.s fee can find out what that technique is.
so that's where i was confused. many apologies.


So if I tell a nonvegan that he or she could try a vegan meat alternative, the producer is required to release his recipe for making that alternative into the public domain?

Bizarr logic. Please elaborate.

In any case, refuting the claim that B12 can't be contained "naturally" in the vegan diet is totally unrelated to the fact that the actual process would be commercial of nature. It's just stating a fact. Someone says that the vegan diet can't contain any B12. You then point them to the study where exactly that procedure is described which does, indeed, create B12 foods with vegan ingredients. Period. That's that.

Now if you seek to shift the focus away by inventing an invisible person who is in actual need of B12, thus weaving something into the subject that is irrelevant to it (there are a plethora of supplement companies which are willing to sell you B12 in pure form), you stand to be suspected to prepare a discrediting attack which seeks to grab the attention away from the actual significance.

The actual significance is: It's no longer possible to claim that the vegan diet is doomed to be devoid of B12 and thus dependent on "enrichment." Not that I personally have a problem with enrichment, or B12 in pure form that I take as a supplement, but many many people view this as the Achilles tendon of the the vegan diet. So the help in this discovery, is containted by the fact that it provides psychological comfort to those vegans who have pantheistic tendencies and want things natural. Just the fact that the option exists, would create a portal for their reasoning.

Now the interesting part for me is this: As that the rabbit is out of the box, let me see *how* serious the naturalists are. Because starting a cooperative social entrepreneurship to acquire the knowledge of the process, develop a product and do the marketing would be easy and if costs are split the starting capital can be raised by 10 people. This is not a real hurdle, the naturalists have now a means to prove how serious they are about wanting a "purer" B12.
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Postby Ava Odoéména » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:11 pm

[quote="V VII Hero"]isnt B-12 naturally found in fermented Kombucha?


No fermented food exists, within the circle of about 4 lightyears, in which bioactive B12 resides. There isn't such thing. Nichts, nothing, nada. All these products have been wet dream memes by naturalists and these memes have only resulted in one thing: dead children.
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Postby ghost » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:32 pm

I also thought chlorella had b12 or is it only the analogue?
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Re: B12 Breaking News: Old fermentation method rediscovered

Postby kallefs » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:36 pm

[quote="Ava Odoéména"]

You see, Professor Bärwald and his team in the 1940s were one of the first people to ferment Vitamin B12 with the help of bacteria. The interesting difference was to the standard way B12 is produced today, they fermented it in foods, that is, the foods they created contained active, good B12 simply because the process of fermentation that was used and the type of bacteria.


Why did they not try to publish an article about this? Or was it during the war? Kind of strange thing to get funding for during a war though.

[quote="Ava Odoéména"]

It means, out there, forgotten, is a method to get vegan B12 in a food production method of fermentation, which eradicates one of the most dominating perceived weaknesses of the vegan diet: That it doesn't contain relevant amounts of bioactive B12.


I really do not think the question among the people I meet is whether I get my B12 via bacteria that fermented the food I eat now or bacteria in a lab. Either way I am crazy for not eating "natural" food.

[quote="Ava Odoéména"]
The fact that bioactive B12 can be fermented in a food, rather than as a supplement which follows a different route of production, is of huge importance, because it takes the taint off the vegan diet that it is not complete.


I think that this only is a debate in vegan circles. Basically. if it does not contain meat it is not a complete diet in most peoples eyes.

[quote="Ava Odoéména"]
right now, vegans are hot. We are the IT-people. Our vision rules supreme so to say.


I would like that to be true but I haven't really been getting those vibes yet :)
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Re: B12 Breaking News: Old fermentation method rediscovered

Postby Ava Odoéména » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:23 pm

["kallefs"]

> Why did they not try to publish an article about this? Or was it during the
> war? Kind of strange thing to get funding for during a war though.

Yes they did publish, but much later. If you go to the page and look for his work at http://www.baerwald-prof.de/fach_chrono.htm you'll see that the two B12 studies have been published in 1991 and 1994. It's in German, just search the page for B12 with your browsers text finder.

I guess it's just one of the thousands of studies that don't get much attention.

> I really do not think the question among the people I meet is whether I get
> my B12 via bacteria that fermented the food I eat now or bacteria in a lab.
> Either way I am crazy for not eating "natural" food.

Oh sure, the B12 issue is biggest within the vegan community. And it's important to address it, and to address it with those fixed on the natural thing. Because as irrational as that may seem, it's something we have to deal with "internally" to become stronger as a group.

As for nonvegans, well, it depends. I remember the very first question my brother asked me when I told him that I'm vegan was "what about B12?"

> I think that this only is a debate in vegan circles. Basically. if it does
> not contain meat it is not a complete diet in most peoples eyes.

Yes I agree. However the time has come to stabilize as a group and to become a social force, so we need to strengthen or ideological foundation as a politically identifiable group, which we haven't been so far. It was all very embryo stage.

> > The fact that bioactive B12 can be fermented in a food, rather than as a
> > supplement which follows a different route of production, is of huge
> > importance, because it takes the taint off the vegan diet that it is not
> > complete.

> I think that this only is a debate in vegan circles. Basically. if it does
> not contain meat it is not a complete diet in most peoples eyes.

True, but the "argument" nonvegans use to justify that claim, is missing nutrients.

> > right now, vegans are hot. We are the IT-people. Our vision rules
> > supreme so to say.

> I would like that to be true but I haven't really been getting those vibes
> yet

Oh getting attention doesn't mean you're getting positive attention:-) We're still in the phase where the whole concept of veganism is derided, discredited and ridiculed, but beneath that is admiration. People want to be like us but realize their weakness. So the admiration comes out as a sort of projected self-hatred.
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Postby Ava Odoéména » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:29 pm

[quote="ghost"]I also thought chlorella had b12 or is it only the analogue?


Well, no definite proof exists that the B12 in chlorella is bioactive, so it's currently save to assume that it's indeed analogue. I thought the British Vegan Society was conducting some research with a Japanese producer of Chlorella, anyone aware whatever happend with that?
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Postby Gelert » Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:39 pm

Tell you what might be even more curious, is that the two species you mention there are Propionibacterium. Given the wider distribution of B12 production in bacteria

Most microbiologists are only really familiar with Propionibacterium as one of its species, P. acnes is partly responsible for acne. It's a natural inhabitant of humans, particularly skin.

Which leads me to wonder whether it produces B12 too. It's a question I might be able to partly answer myself, as its genome sequence is available to look up its metabolic pathways.

Ava, our fount of all things B12, can you tell us if human sweat and zitjuice contains B12 :wink:

I'll leave that mental image there and quit being facetious.

But propionibacteria can also live in the mouth. They're aerotolerant anaerobes. I wonder whether they could even be very happy sublingually?

Maybe you could shortcut dosing food with B12 producing bacteria (why is that so much better than fortifying food?) and administer the organisms as probiotics, to live happily on a major site of B12 absorption.
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