Vitamin B12: Critical Nutrient Found Only in Animal Foods

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 12, 2013

Modern dietary propaganda consistently gets it wrong – very very wrong, when it comes to the critical nutrient Vitamin B12.  The false notions pertaining to proper food sources of B12 has resulted in epidemic numbers of people being deficient in this all important nutrient and suffering the sometimes devastating health consequences.

Deficiency of B12 is extremely dangerous to health and can lead to dementia and even death if not rectified. While early symptoms include paleness and overall weakness and fatigue, as the anemia caused by B12 deficiency progresses, symptoms can mimic the signs of aging and so can easily be dismissed as a somehow natural or “normal” occurrence:  shaky hands or spastic movement in general, sleeping disorders, unsteady gait, easy bruising, incontinence, and memory loss.

Nervous system, reproductive, and digestive problems such as depression, tingling hands/feet, stomach upset, constipation (or diarrhea),  and infertility are also warning signs of low B12 status.

Children with B12 deficiency are particularly at risk with permanent damage to development a very real possibility.  Growth retardation, delay in motor skill development, and significantly reduced problem solving, spatial ability, and overall ability to learn are the consequences of low B12 in the developing years.

The real culprit in the B12 deficiency epidemic (by some estimates, about 40% of people are deficient and most are completely unaware of the situation), is the demonization and consequent avoidance of B12 rich foods by a duped public.

B12 Rich Foods ALL of Animal Origin

The very foods highest in B12 – particularly organ meats and eggs, are the very same ones erroneously labeled as unhealthy by conventional nutritional circles.  Ironically, these very same foods were revered and regarded as sacred by Traditional Societies as they imparted vibrant health, vitality, fertility and healthy babies and children to those that consumed them:

  • liver
  • kidney
  • meat (cooking meat only destroys B12 on the surface, not interior of the meat)
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • dairy products (raw dairy has more B12 than pasteurized dairy and the milk proteins that assist with absorbing the B12 are not denatured like happens when milk is pasteurized)
  • egg yolks

Gut Bacteria Do Not Produce a Usable Form of B12

Because the original source of B12 in nature is bacteria, some nutritional sources confuse the issue by maintaining that beneficial B12 is synthesized by gut flora in the colon of humans.

While this may be true, the B12 that is produced this way is not in a usable form as very little if any of this B12 is able to be absorbed across the walls of the large intestine or colon.  The reason is that the bacteria produced B12 in the gut is not attached to the “intrinsic factor” (IF), a special protein that is secreted in the stomach.

B12 must attach to an intrinsic factor protein to be absorbed effectively. This happens when B12 that is consumed binds with the intrinsic factor that has been broken down by pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine.  The tightly bound B12-intrinsic factor complex then moves through the gut to the Ileum or lower portion of the small intestine and attaches to cell receptors for absorption.

B12 Not Available in ANY Plant Foods

Contrary to claims by the vegan community, usable B12 is not available in algae like spirulina or tempeh (a fermented soy product).  The B12 found in these foods is similar to true B12 but not exactly the same thing.   The B12 in Brewer’s yeast is due to factory fortification, in other words, it is not naturally occurring in the food.

Studies have indicated that the B12 analogues in algae and tempeh are not bioavailable to the human body – blood levels of the nutrient did not change even after algae or tempeh were added to the diet.

Even worse, these B12 imposters can actually inhibit the absorption of true vitamin B12 as the result of a competitive situation in the digestive system.  This puts those that avoid animal foods at an even greater risk for deficiency!

What About Hindu Vegans Who Have No B12 Deficiency?

Proponents of the B12 in plant foods myth like to point out that Hindus from India do not seem to suffer from any B12 deficiency despite their diet which includes no animal foods.

However, what is conveniently left out of the discussion is that vegan Hindus that move to England quickly develop B12 deficiency symptoms with no change in diet.

Why?

This is because in India, the plant foods consumed by vegans include many insects and insect larvae due to the lack of pesticide use and and inefficient cleaning methods.  In England, insects and their residues are completely removed from plant foods before they are consumed, thus removing the tiny and yet plentiful animal foods that were serving to preserve the Hindu vegans’ health in their homeland.

What About B12 Supplements?

It is always best to seek nutrients from whole food sources first. However, in the case of B12, there are many ways absorption can be inhibited and so sometimes supplementation becomes necessary.

The pathways for uptake of this critical nutrient are very complicated and very common physical issues such as reduced stomach acid, compromised protein digestion, lack of pancreatic enzymes and autoimmune disorders can cause disruption in the absorption process.

Supplementation with either the crystalline form of B12 or even better, plentiful servings of foods rich in B12 such as liver and eggs can typically resolve the situation.

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources: Myths of Vegetarianism

Vitamin B12:  Vital Nutrient for Good Health

Vitamin B12 from Algae Appears Not to be Bioavailable

Vitamin B12: Plant Sources, Requirements, and Assay

Picture Credit1, Picture Credit2

 

Comments (111)

  1. Most of the vitamin B12 in foods of animal origin is there because it was added, as a supplement, to the animal’s food. This is the case for almost all birds (chicken…) and pigs. Ruminants (cattle, sheep) produce their B12 in their stomachs through bacterial fermentation, but cobalt is a necessary ingredient for the process; so they are often given cobalt supplements. And also, quite often, directly vitamin B12 shots.

    Animals are in no way a “source” of vitamin B12. Only bacteria are. The animals people eat are only a different form of packaging for the same vitamin B12 that any vegan can (and should) get over the counter.

    It is absurd to insist that we should eat meat and other animal products to get our vitamin B12.

    David

    Reply
  2. I mean, fermented foods, milk and curds have a healthy dose of b12 which are eaten everyday which have helped vegetarians all over. I believe, even if u r a vegan, unless the b12 levels dropped because of improper diet, there are options to retain the levels.

    Btw, I haven’t sent the above post without knowing my present levels ( if some think I have fallen for a myth.) I sure was low on b12 a year ago due to poor absorption after by a life threatening post delivery complication but I rebounded to good health.Hence, I believe in what I say, as it showed in my tests.
    Hope the info helps.

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  3. I live in India and I wash my veggies well. If I didn’t, I’d have got diarrhoea instead of vit b12.

    I wish our farms didn’t use pesticides, unfortunately, they do.. In large amounts. So, the bugs are dead. We wash the vegetables to try to wash off the pesticides.

    Here are some facts.
    1. Not all Hindus are not vegetarians.Brahmins are.
    2. Brahmins are vegetarians, not vegans.. Being vegan is more by choice. There are hardly any Brahmins who do not eat dairy. Milk, ghee and curds are eaten daily, in good quantities, with each meal.
    3. You do not call yourself a vegetarian if your diet includes fish and meat. Infact, we have a code-word called ‘pure vegetarian’ for those who avoid cakes too, if they have eggs in them. :)

    No one else would be able to put the facts about being a vegetarian better because I was born in a family of vegetarians (read Brahmin) and have chosen to remain so for life.

    My family and relatives have great b-12 levels being vegetarians all their life because it never went lower than normal in the first place. Living abroad didn’t change our b 12 requirements(as one of ur posts said). Pls post only if you know the facts right.

    The facts that might have helped,

    most of Indian morning Breakfasts are fermented food ( idly, dosa etc)
    Milk is taken twice a day by kids and curds ( curds is not the same as european yoghurt) is taken at least at night. This helps to retain the b12 levels as required. Having said that, due the the fad foods, lack of time for a healthy Indian vegetarian breakfast and late working hours which amounts to working dinners( move away working lunches ;)), b12 deficiency has become so common among vegetarians and vegans.

    Reply
  4. Orthomol Arthro extra October 9, 2013 at 7:43 pm

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    Reply
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  6. Now then…
    I’m vegan.
    I have Crohn’s disease and Colitis and am not deficient in Vitamin B12 – as many Crohn’s/Clitis sufferers are. I’m also anaemic – due to a blood disorder (Beta Thalassaemia) and my Vitamin B12 and D levels are exceedingly good. I use Spirulina. Have been supplementing my diet with Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica for over 7 years now and my blood count and iron levels have never been so good in all my life.
    I agree with what Jess has to say: learn something about the human anatomy and physiology before scaremongering!
    I have a degree in food science and nutrition and anatomy and physiology.

    Reply
  7. The liver is the detoxification organ of an animal and is loaded with toxins. Anyone who eats it or feeds it to their children, OR RECOMMENDS OTHERS TO DO SO, really needs to learn a little about anatomy. I am quite disgusted with the inaccuracies and dangerous suggestions within this article, and I really hope people take their time to research and think for themselves before heeding any of this advice. I have been vegetarian for 15 years, vegan for 2 years, fruitarian for 6 months, and I only recently started, as insurance, taking a very small portion of a 7,000 microgram sublingual vegan B12 dot. There is no reason to scare people into thinking they need animal products~ which cause a host of illnesses and disease and is bad for the planet, the soul, the body, AND the animals~ just for B12.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist August 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Your disgust for liver is unwarranted. Liver from healthy animals living and grazing freely on unsprayed pastures and not subjected to antibiotics, steroids, or GMO feed is safe, healthy and clean. The color of healthy versus unhealthy, toxic liver is quite different and therefore healthy liver is easy to identify. Children in particular benefit greatly from regular consumption of liver which has nutrients, like B12, that are not available in any plant foods at all. The B12 analogues in kelp and tempeh are not true B12 and not usable by the body and the B12 synthesized by bacteria in the gut is not bioavailable. Unfortunately, vegans frequently find out that these myths they have fallen for are quite inaccurate far too late – after their health has been severely compromised.

      Reply
  8. I am a “Hindu”, but all my life I have not come across one “Hindu Vegan”. Milk and milk products have always been considered as important part of wholesome Hindu diet, as righty pointed out in some of the earlier comments. In fact Ayurveda, puts milk and ghee as pillars of good health. Here are some of the international ayurveda and yoga web sites containing articles on the same.
    http://www.ayurvedtoronto.com/ghee.htm
    http://www.yogajournal.com/health/56
    http://www.mapi.com/ayurveda_health_care/newsletters/ayurveda_&_milk.html
    You have a good web site, it can be better with more facts.
    I prefer to have organic fruits and veggies, but always make sure to wash them first, not too fond of eating “bugs” ;)

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  9. Good grief, don’t they teach basic biology in school anymore?
    1. Cows are ruminants. Google it. Their stomach has 4 parts. They rely on microbial fermentation to break down grass and produce their B12.
    2. The major carbohydrate in grass is cellulose. This is a form of carbohydrate humans can’t digest.
    So if you expect to eat grass to produce your B12 like a cow, you’ll need to get busy growing those other 3 stomachs.

    Reply
    • In addition to biology, they should consider teaching courtesy and good manners.

      P.S. Thanks for the lesson in basic biology, it’s very interesting.

      Reply
  10. Freaky, huh? Cows eat grass only (mostly carbs) and are made of meat! How do they do that? Its one of the miracles of life.

    Reply
    • They also eat the bugs and larvae on the grass. They also eat grass seed – their natural allotment of grain. They also have 4 stomachs full of bacteria that digest the grass for them.

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    • Thanks for the link Jovanna. There is really nothing to be explained. That article proves that B12 is found in these mushrooms. That publication alone shows us that vitamin b12 is not just found in animals. So, you don’t have to eat animals.

      Reply
    • It doesn’t say that if you eat these mushrooms you will increase the level of usable B12 in your blood. Best way to find out would be to test your B12 levels now. Eat these mushrooms for a few months and see if it goes up. If it doesn’t try some liver and then test it. You could also drink raw milk or eat egg yolks.

      Reply
      • Shani, she said she really didnt want to eat animals. And, you want her to try liver if the mushrooms dont work. I am sure there are other plant based sources besides mushrooms if that doesnt help. I know God didnt leave out one vitamin B12 out of all the vitamins and said we need to get that one from animals. That just doesn’t make any sense. We all should know better than this.

        Reply
  11. Liver doesn’t like me. I’ve tried it cooked various ways, both calf and beef liver and it won’t stay down. It’s down about two minutes then it’s coming back up. I don’t think the smell is triggering this. And I’m the only one with 4 siblings who has this problem. I do eat canned salmon. Does that help with B12?

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  12. I’d like to add to your list of problems that can occur if you are deficient in B12. I’ve suffered with one very long continual headache for 20yrs. Of course I have tried all sorts of medical and natural means of healing this issue. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that I have Pernicious Anemia, which is the bodies inability to make the IFP, and started taking B12 in shots that I have finally experienced relief from these headaches. I also had the shaky hand thing, easy brusing (which my husband use to always tease me about because he’d touch me and I’d say, “Ouch! That’s going to bruise.”) and gut issues.

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  13. Then why do I, and all the Vegans/mostly plant-based, that I know, do not suffer a b12 deficiency? You guys and others keep beating this deficiency tree, but, really, people with deficiencies actually have other health reasons causing it. If and when it becomes an issue, then maybe this would be relevant. I am weight training on a mostly raw plant based diet. Never felt better, with more energy in all my life. Further, I have not had the flu in 16 years, and no colds or viruses in the last three years. I live in Oregon where the weather wet, and cold. So, while you may find an audience to read this garbage, I am walking/living proof to the contrary. Thanks for listening. Have a great day.

    Reply
  14. It occurs to me to affirm the truth in this: There is NOT B12 in spirulina and many other sea vegetables and things that they say it is in. This is because there are analogs that are very similar to B12 that give a false positive on some cheap testing. The more reliable expensive testing reveals a different story.

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  15. Hi Ti Bergenn–Thanks for asking. B12 is produced by a bacteria found in soil and water. Animals get it from the soil. Obviously herbivorous animals need it and they get it from eating dirt and drinking “unclean” water. For my own followers and clients I recommend either getting a supplement for B12 or buying B12 mushrooms (a new thing available at some Whole Foods locations–the mushrooms are grown under a special light to produce the B12). Another option for health-aware folks who are vegetarian but not vegan is to buy quality organic yogurt, or for vegans who are not raw foodists, they can buy fortified almond milk or rice milk. For raw vegans, however, it is a choice between a supplement, the special mushrooms, or having your soil analyzes (very expensive) and eating produce from your garden that is unwashed (if your soil turns up positive for B12). I have more information on this in my article about whether or not humans need supplements to be really healthy: http://www.raederle.com/2012/08/article-do-you-really-need-supplements.html#.UPW1W2_EYgl

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  16. Hi Sarah
    I know you are busy but I would appreciate an answer about bone broth..thanks alot!!

    we have been bone brothing and as we live in Greece we have pretty healthy food, and we can get very fresh, wild goat and naturally raised sheep. However all the beef comes from Holland and it is probably not grass fed, they are exporting huge quantities of beef at lower prices to big supermarkets. These are the bones we have been making broth with. Our dilemma, better not eat broth at all or use these beef bones anyway, we do ozone them first.
    these bones we get for free, no one else uses them here. The goat does not have bones that we can buy for bones only cuts of meat which have bones in them but they are very expensive.
    Thank you

    Reply
  17. If one doesn’t eat meat then the best option, iof expensive, is ‘Nature identical’ vitamin supplement. In traditional France mothers insisted on feeding their chidlren with one meal of horse meat a week to ward off colds and ‘flu. It seemed to work too. I’m too hypercritical a carnivore to eat horse – or maybe it’s because I don;t like the taste.

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  18. My family and I eat almost all of the B12 rich foods mentioned in this article such as eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. I have to say we do not eat much liver (we really are not fond of the taste). My mom went for some testing at a local holistic health center and found that her B12 levels were low, as well as her vitamin D. What are some ways in which vitamin b12 absorption can be in inhibited, as you said?

    Reply
  19. You mention that Brewer’s Yeast does not naturally have B12, but what about the Lewis Labs brand? I know that is the only brand that is not made as a by process of beer brewing and is instead made from sugar beets. I’m wondering because I’ve been trying to think about how my sister, who is a vegetarian and has been since the age of 5 (she is 22 now and probably will always be a vegetarian because she grew up that way and has no taste for meat), could get some extra B12. I saw above that somebody asked about whether the B12 in kombucha is bioavailable, and I’d be interested to hear about that too. Thanks! Great article.

    Reply
  20. I got some great liver from a grassfed butcher, but alas, it is frozen in 1 lb. chunks. I’d prefer to eat it raw, but I’d have to thaw a whole pound to cut it up into bite size pieces. Does anyone know if I could thaw, soak and refreeze? Thanks

    Reply
  21. Nice article. However, I just wanted to point out a few things that may need to be clarified. The title states “Critical Nutrient Found Only in Animal Foods” seems to me may be a little misleading. Because, in the article it states “The B12 found in these foods is similar to true B12 but not exactly the same thing.” That statement alone says that B12 is in the plants but is not the same as animal B12. Also, the link provided even states vitamin B-12 was absorbed. And, the other statement; “this is is because in India, the plant foods consumed by vegans include many insects and insect larvae due to the lack of pesticide use and inefficient cleaning methods.” This statement is trying to explain why the vegan Hindus from India do not have a B12 deficiency. Yet, it is really saying that B12 is also in insects too and just not animals.

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  22. Re: Hindu vegans.

    Being married to an Indian man (though he’s not vegan) and being exposed to Indian culture, I highly doubt most Hindu vegans are “vegans” in any sense of the word. Almost all Indian food has dairy in it: butter, ghee, cream, or yogurt (often called curd). Cows are considered sacred in Hindu culture and dairy foods appear in so many many dishes. Also in rural India, most if not all dairy is raw. So I’d be willing to bet that’s where the B12 is coming from.

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  23. Ivy Prue-Steputis via Facebook January 14, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    ‘plant’ forms of B12 also contain antinutrients that prevent absorption.

    To the question about injected B12, in short, I would.

    After countless years with an undiagnosed B12 deficiency, I began taking 2000-3000mcg of sublingual Methylcobalamin plus monthly injections. Much of the hand pain and neuropathy that I’d been experiencing and considered a hazard of my work (graphic design, previously massage therapy) went away for months after the monthly injections.

    I continued sublingual supplementation but haven’t had injections since. The pain and neuropathy returned.

    I do highly recommend taking a look at this link, and learning more about B12 and the myriad problems related. It’s eye opening and could be both lifesaving and lifechanging. http://b12awareness.org/cobalamin-deficiency-criteria-list-risk-score-neurologic-psychiatric-gastrointestinal-hematologic/

    Reply
  24. Thank you (Sarah) for the info on the Hindu vegans (though it makes perfect sense, given context). I’m not vegan/vegetarian (nor did it ever tempt me) but I have friends who are staunch vegans and constantly cite that kind of research. Now to get sneaky about getting this info to them (the direct approach just puts them on the defensive :p ).

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  25. Thank you for this article! I am printing it out to share with a client of mine who has Parkinson’s Disease. They have been particularly resistant about the b12 supplementation (in addition to other supplements) I have recommended because they have taken a drug store brand b12 before and did not feel it was important. My greatest weakness as a Nutritionist is not being articulate enough, so I appreciate great information from people like you!!!

    Reply
  26. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook January 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Qu An It is not true B12 in spirulina and other algae. The article covers this and discusses why. Don’t be fooled by this argument. There is no true B12 in plant foods including algae. This is a myth that keeps getting passed along and the science (studies referenced in the article) proves that algae has no true B12 .. blood levels of B12 do not rise with algae is consumed.

    Reply
  27. B12 deficiency will also contribute to gray hair and hair loss. In traditional cultures where people are eating a traditional diet – only when elders are ancient do you see gray hair and rarely hair loss. My own gray hair has decreased dramatically since eating more nutrient dense B12 foods as well as fermented foods (kefir, kombucha) and liver, fish roe regularly.. As a hairdresser I would say that gray hair and hair loss is epidemic – I see gray hair strands even in middle school children and many people are 50-60% gray in their 20s and 30s.. The good news is that gray hair is reversible with nutrient dense food.

    Reply
  28. Qu An via Facebook January 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I consume seaweed: seaweed is considered vegetables. Vitamin B12 is found in some seaweed, processed as Spirulina (blue-green algae) or Marine Plankton.

    Reply
    • Clearly you did not read the article. The B-12 in seaweed is an analog that the body can’t use, and can actually prevent the absorption of real B-12

      Reply
  29. Yes!! It’s so very important. :-)

    I recently found out I’m deficient in B-12, and it’s not because I’m a vegan either. I’m quite omnivorous, eating a mostly traditional foods diet. But according to functional ranges, I’m at half of where I should be, 386) (sad thing is, as far as conventional medicine is concerned, I have more than enough as the pathological low range is under 200)

    For me – it’s all about healing the gut, something I didn’t think I really had to do. But the high stress of a miscarriage and a round of antibiotics later (due to strep) and some major work needs to be done. Because I’m consuming enough, I’m just not absorbing it!
    Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up\’s last post: Half Off Discount for Thyroid Diet Coach Products!

    Reply
  30. Sarah Keller via Facebook January 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Also Kathy, sublinguals do not always work for some people. I take a monthly b12 injection due to Pernicious Anemia. Also, if you take b12, you should also supplement with Folate. Folate and b12 work together.

    Reply
  31. Sarah Keller via Facebook January 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

    This is true, unless you have a malabsorption problem, such as Pernicious Anemia where one cannot absorb the necessary b12 to function, let alone survive.

    Reply
  32. I have to respectfully disagree with some of your info. I believe yes there is a good deal of b12 deficiency going on but Come on the Hindu Indians eat enough bugs unbeknownst to them to keep levels up? That to me is completely ubsurd. Thank you but I will continue on my journey in vegetarianism and keep taking my b12 and using my nutritional yeast with no problems and no deficiencies unlike some of my meat eating friends and family :)

    Reply
  33. Hi Sarah

    we have been bone brothing and as we live in Greece we have pretty healthy food, and we can get very fresh, wild goat and naturally raised sheep. However all the beef comes from Holland and it is probably not grass fed, they are exporting huge quantities of beef at lower prices to big supermarkets. These are the bones we have been making broth with. Our dilemma, better not eat broth at all or use these beef bones anyway, we do ozone them first.
    the bones we get for free, no one else uses them here. The goat does not have bones that we can buy for bones only cuts which have bones but they are very expensive.
    Thank you

    Reply
      • We have an ozonator, they are quite common and reasonably cheap here in Europe. it is a little box that when plugged in produces ozone, it has a plastic tube with a stone diffuser on the end. this you put in your water and it cleans the water of microbes, parasites, viruses, and changes some metals, it gets rid of chlorine in the water too. After about 5 mins the ozone diminishes in the water, which is now purified, but if you are doing ozone therapy you have to drink the water right away.
        SO, getting to your question, when you want to clean vegetables or chicken , meat bones etc you put them in a basin of water and ozone it for 5 to 10 mins and voila!! everything is clean!! Debatable how much it removes of antibiotics, hormones in meat which is why I want to know how safe it is to make bone broth from cows that come from who knows where and are fed who know what??!!!etc

        Reply
  34. Hi Sarah, Thanks for this post. Do you have any information about how well we absorb the b vitamins from kombucha? The store bought version I buy lists a pretty significant amount of b, including b 12. I drink quite a bit of it and assume it’s a good back up when I am not eating much in the way of organs. What do you think, is this a usable form for my body? Thanks very much!

    Reply
  35. I agree. My Nurse practitioner actually tested me for deficiency and found I was ‘fine’ …? what exactly is this test looking for?

    Also one of the overlooked is vitamin d but Doc in the US have no idea how to address.

    Teri
    terigelseth.com

    Reply
    • Vitamin D is another classic example of a deficiently that (in general) has to be addressed via animal protein. It can be obtained from the sun, however in Northern climates in the winter it becomes a big problem. For African Americans such as myself, and even bigger issue, since we can’t get it from the sun. Nonetheless, Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon is the most practical way to consistently get it into your diet. Another way is cod liver oil, but it has a horrible taste, although they are making flavored cod liver oil now. I have optimal vitamin d levels of 46.5, whereas most African Americans score in the teens or even single digits, and lighter skinned Americans often score in the low 20′s. When you get below 20 you are in that danger zone. I wrote a blog article on it : http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/2012/03/06/a-case-for-quality-animal-protein-optimal-vitamin-d-levels-from-salmon/

      Reply
  36. Also, if you have the MTHFR mutation as I do, you need to take a methyl version of B12 for it to absorb. I am new to this so cannot explain well, but you can google MTHFR and B12 to read more about it. More and more people are testing positive for this mutation which can be very bad if left undiagnosed. I also have to take a methyl version of folate as well, for life.

    Reply
  37. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama January 13, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Gut bacteria I think does play a role in proper absorption of B12 from animal foods, though.

    My daughter was seriously B12 deficient as a toddler, despite that she ate lots of grass-fed beef and eggs. We knew from blood tests that her body was unable to absorb or make use of the B12.

    We did GAPS with her and have been working on fermented foods since then. She is no longer deficient, to my knowledge. She made huge developmental leaps that her doctor felt were related to B12 after GAPS. I have read that another early sign of B12 deficiency is not remembering your dreams…and she now tells me about vivid ones she has had (she is almost 5).

    So if your gut flora is disturbed you may not be able to benefit from the animal foods…both are important.
    Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama\’s last post: How to Stay Organized in a Season of Change

    Reply
  38. I live in India and most vegetarians here consume dairy and eggs, there are no insects on the produce here unless it’s from an organic farm which is rare. The use of pesticides is way over the top ridiculous. Non organic produce is completely unsafe. The farmers have no idea how to read instructions for pesticides and so sometimes use wrong amounts and even the wrong pesticide… A friend of mine is a mango farmer and when I asked him does he use pesticides he answered ‘of course!!, it’s a commercial venture and everyone does it!’ Pesticides banned in other countries like the USA are used liberally here. They even spray bananas just for the heck of it.

    My (Indian) friends Auntie however is vegetarian but consumed a litre of raw milk a day. She’s still alive at 106 and is in the guiness book of records for still having all her teeth in tact at 100 or 103… Anyway she’s the oldest known living person with all her teeth.

    Reply
  39. Another great post, Sarah. In an effort to get more organ meats for my daughter who is healing well from rheumatoid arthritis, I scored an awful lot of offal from a grassfed beef farmer. We got pancreas, kidney, brain, heart, oxtail, tongue….

    So. Okay. How do I now prepare these foods in such a way that my family will eat and swallow? Do you have recipes for sausage, haggis type stuff, or other ideas?

    Reply
    • There are some great cookbooks for this, like Odd Bits by Jennifer McLagan and the series of Whole Beast nose-to-tail books by Fergus Henderson. Many old cookbooks have organ recipes — even my 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking is loaded with them. Or just Google by ingredient and see what you get.

      Reply
  40. I’m ashamed to admit that when we butchered our grass fed steer I gave most of the liver to the dog. I saved some of it but it’s frozen in big chunks. (I was surprised to find that a cow’s liver is HUGE.) I’d like to know more about eating fozen liver pills. How many would be good to eat? Would you eat one a day or do you just choke down a handful once a year? I hate the taste of liver. Haven’t found a good way to disguise it either.

    Reply
    • Vicki, you might try this:

      - chop liver into small 1/2 inch pieces and soak overnight in lemon juice with a little water to help neutralize the taste
      - freeze in a pyrex bowl or jar between layers of natural parchment paper to keep them from sticking to each other
      - partially thaw 3-5 pieces at a time every morning; liver thaws very quickly so this takes only a few minutes
      - put them on the back of your tongue and swallow with your favorite beverage – quick down the hatch!

      Another thought: my husband despises liver as well, but he loves the pate I make because I use lots of other yummy ingredients like sauteed mushrooms, fresh basil and rosemary, bacon and bacon fat, butter, onions, garlic, sea salt, etc.

      Reply
    • LOL I did the exact same thing, except from two steers. The dogs sure ate good! Now I wish I would have at least tried it. I’m not a liver person but I could probably do the pills.

      Reply
    • yes as it goes right into blood stream. if it goes thro gut i will not all go where it needs to. some is distroyed. however there is one b12 that comes from animal sourse .adenosylcobalamin find it there are some supplaments. I notice my hair grew thicker in 2 months with this. hair has always been thin even back when i was a kid and ate meat. I only eat eggs now. no other animal products as I can’t do even raw milk products becuas eof casin. Bee sting alergy shot which are under vacc messed me up as kid and then adult when I got them again with milk products. I know cleanse…can’t right now Im nursing. someday i will and hpope I can do raw milk then.

      Reply
      • I have an autoimmune disorder compounded by extreme heavy metal poisoning and have been rebuilding and healing my gut with the GAPS diet and intramuscular injections of adenosylcobalamin daily when my ND and I discerned I was not absorbing the sublingual B12 supplements. It was amazing how my hair became so thick and actually started showing body and curl! Something I never ever knew it had. My energy level is much much better as well. It is a bit of an extra step to do the injections but I have been able to continue the injections even when I travel. By car I lug my coolers packed with frozen broth and soups too. :) We usually rent through RBO so there is a kitchen to prepare our food and keep as close to a GAPS diet as I possibly can.

        Reply
  41. Pingback: Vitamin B12: Critical Nutrient Found Only in Animal Foods | CookingPlanet

  42. Animal liver is full of toxins, right? So if you consume the liver then are you also consuming the leftover toxins from the animal?

    Also, I know it’s preferable to get bio-available food sources of vitamins, but might it be beneficial to supplement with methycobalamin B12?
    Ian\’s last post: Hello

    Reply
      • Thanks for the clarification Sarah. I think it’s also important to mention that “grassfed” doesn’t necessarily mean that the animal was fed grass from start to finish in its life, it could have been fed grass once and then put onto a diet of grains from my understanding. The animal should be “Grass-Finished” — fed grass through its entire life.

        Great article, I supplement with Jarrow Formula’s Methylcobalamin B12 5000 mcg at least once per day because I don’t get enough from dietary sources. I did notice a difference in my energy levels and ability to focus after a few weeks of consistent use. When I can budget the grass-finished liver I may drop the supplementation.
        Ian\’s last post: Hello

        Reply
      • Can you explain this further? Or link to a source which explains it? I often cite liver as a healthy food, but really have no explanation when people argue that liver can’t be healthy because it filters toxins. Air filters, water filters, vacuum filters….all get filthy after a while of filtering out pollutants. I know the liver is much more complex, but how does it remain clean after all the years filtering toxins?

        Reply
      • I am interested in trying FCLO to help with my skin. I’ve never had acne in my life and at age 25 started having a lot of skin problems. I’m almost 30 and still having problems. Anyway, I’m wondering if FCLO replaces fish oil supplements? I take krill oil everyday. Would I stop taking this if I start taking FCLO?

        Reply
    • I don’t know about B12 to clear acne but fclo does help clear up acne. My daughter has had terrible acne but when we started taking the cod liver oil she cleared right up. When she forgets to take it her acne comes back but as soon as she takes it again she clears within a couple of days.

      My husband, who is a pharmacist, thinks it is the Vitamin A in the FCLO. I never wanted her on the “fake” A products like RetinA because of the scary side effects so I’m happy this works so well for her.

      Reply
      • I can also attest to Fermented Cod Liver Oil clearing up my skin problems. It only took 2-3 months to really start working for me and now 1 year + later I haven’t had any problems. Also, I went for a facial the other day (a Christmas gift) and the technician (not sure what her title was) said she had never seen such healthy skin- after she looked at it under her special lights- whatever they were… (Hoping she doesn’t say that to all of her clients :) ). She then asked me what I did and was convinced of the Vitamin A healing my skin and said- well, whatever you’re doing – don’t stop!

        Reply
    • Getting off all processed foods, especially pasteurized dairy, cleared up my son’s acne before we even started taking the cod liver oil.

      Reply
    • My kids had really outstanding results by taking vitamin B5 for acne. Also known as Pantothenic Acid. Five hundred milligrams was the largest pill I could find. You will need 1000 to 2000 mg per day. You should notice a difference in your skin after about a month, and then ongoing as you keep taking it.

      Reply
  43. Thanks for the info. I had wondered about the B12 produced by bacteria and that found in algae. Vegans are so convinced these are viable sources of B12 that it does make one wonder.

    I wonder if you could answer a question for me, though. Liver is so high in B12, is it possible to overdose if you have liver every day? Like if I was taking liver capsules or something? I don’t want to do anything that would stress my kidneys.
    Lisa C\’s last post: Fertility Foods

    Reply
  44. i also like to put the liver in my beef or pork patties and cook the former medium rare, so that some of the liver is still on the less cooked side ;)

    and thank you for linking to the arguments that vegans made here about B12–i find that i’m less articulate when i’m being challenged and it’s my goal to have studies and info like this at my fingertips so that i can take people on!

    oh! the vegans! i worry for them…
    ariyele\’s last post: Episode 2: How To Make Bone Broth or Stock: Pantry "Game Changer" + Health Elixir

    Reply
  45. Thanks for your quick reply! I tried a little chunk of raw grassfed liver yesterday (it had been frozen for well over 14 days). It didn’t really taste that bad. I know I could easily stomach frozen raw liver ‘pills’ !! Love you Sarah! Keep up the good work. I really appreciate your honesty even though you get so much persecution. I have watched all your videos and read your blog every day. You have taught me so much! God bless.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      That is a great way to get your liver too. I only like liver as pate … can’t handle beef liver. Just too strong tasting but you can take the frozen liver chunks as you describe or the desiccated powder no problem. There is no reason to not incorporate liver into the diet and B12 is so very very important to health. A missing link for many searching for optimal wellness.

      Reply

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