Log in
Pernicious Anaemia Society
17,152 members11,870 posts

Veganism

Hi All

Interesting article in The Times today about the health benefits of a vegan diet and, for the first time in my memory, a caveat has been added by the journalist quoting Professor Tom Sanders about the danger of becoming b12 deficient from a vegan diet.

As a former teacher I was aware that many girls were drawn to vegetarian/vegan diets for animal welfare, environmental and dieting reasons encouraged by proponents of these diets without ever mentioning the likelihood that, over time, they will become b12 deficient.

I became b12 deficient because I am a vegetarian/vegan assisted by my doctor putting me on omaprezole which I took for years!

Being a vegetarian/vegan, I read article after article proposing vegetarian/vegan diets and hardly ever do they contain the caveat about the necessity of taking b12 as a supplement.

The writers mean well but they are doing potential harm to impressionable young minds.

26 Replies
oldestnewest

Well said Alfabeta

1 like
Reply

I think one problem for vegetarians is that they’re told that eggs and dairy are a good source of B12 when they really aren’t.

If you go with the NIH recommended daily amount of 2.4 mcg a day - that would mean eating six eggs (0.4 mcg each) every single day. Or, for variety, a 2-egg cheese omelette, washed down with a glass of milk - every day.

All vegetarians really should be taking B12 supplements.

Reply

Very true. Alpro milk is 15% per 100 ml and Alpro yoghurt is the same per 100 grams. Emmantal cheese is 30% per 36 grams etc. So it doesn’t take much to get up to the daily recommended amount. But vegans must supplement or have a lot of substrates - most standard breakfast cereals have b12 added.

However, as I understand it, the b12 in meat is quite difficult to access and over cooked meat is devoid of b12 hence one needs a lot of meat to get the b12 required.

This is what I have read so please put me right if you know it’s wrong. And people who diet regularly must be in particular danger of b12 deficiency.

Reply

Those percentages are the UK RDA of 1.5 mcg a day. That's why I went with the NIH recommendation of 2.4 mcg a day. ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/V...

I'm not sure why there's such a huge difference between the recommended amounts in the UK and US. But I prefer to err on the side of caution and go with the higher amount.

I don't think the B12 in meat should be difficult to absorb. It will almost certainly be bound to a protein (probably haptocorrin) which will protect it from stomach acid. As long as the meat is sufficiently digested by the time it gets to the ileum (at the end of the small intestine) the B12 should be free to bind to IF and be absorbed.

Hydroxocobalamin (the main form of B12 found in food) is reasonably stable to heat. Various studies have looked at the amount of B12 lost during cooking (conventional and microwave) and found between 25 and 60 % is lost.

Reply

Thank you for your response. On the Alpro milk it states 0.38 ug per 100ml as does the yoghurt - how does this relate to the daily percentage on NIH? It states 15% on packet.

Reply

Oooh! Looks like I was wrong. I should have done the sums. 0.38 mcg would be 25% of the NHS RDA (1.5 mcg) and 16% of the NIH RDA (2.4 mcg) so it looks like they are using 2.5 mcg a day as 100%.

1 like
Reply

Not sure what you mean in relation to my question - is the 15% of daily required b12 uk rda or nih

Reply

Neither. But it's very close to the NIH RDA.

Reply

Thanks for taking the time to advise me. According to the packaging on Alpro the amount per 100 grams/mls 0.38 ug provides 15% of ones daily requirements = 30% if one has both as I do for breakfast one in my cup of tea and the other with fruit and muesli. Am I getting 30% of my daily needs according to uk rad or nih rad? You seem to be saying that it is 25% of uk rda.

Reply

I read the article too "warned that vegan diets could lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause anaemia and other conditions." and the reference to B12 seemed almost a throw-way line, not really warning about the havoc B12 deficiency can cause. It reminded me of the vague warning on foods, 'may contain . . . . .'

3 likes
Reply

Yes, you are quite right - it was inserted but that is a vast improvement on what usually happens. In the Waitrose magazine several weeks ago there was a for and against vegetarian debate. The guy who posed the argument against stated that one had to be careful that children had b12 supplements - and adults don’t need it?

Vegetarian/vegan diets need a b12 health warning. I am a vegetarian/vegan and my diet is considerably more healthy that a diet high in meat as the article states but I must supplement and not only for b12. Many of the vitamins and minerals in vegetables are not as easy to process as they are in meat.

1 like
Reply

dairynutrition.ca/nutrients...

Found this, it's quite interesting, obviously comes from the dairy industry but nevertheless informative! I'm vegetarian, probably got ample B12 from my diet (high in milk, yogurt, cheese) but still got B12 deficiency 😠

Reply

Interesting article- I use Alpro products so that I can cut down my use of animal products. 100ml of Alpro milk provides 0.38 ug b12 as does a 100grms of yoghurt -assuming it can be absorbed as well as milk why have milk?

I became b12 because I was virtually vegan with only a small amount of cheese in my diet and eggs - not enough b12 but almost sufficient but my doctor prescribed omaprezole on six monthly recurring prescriptions and this went on for some years without any checks!

Reply

I wouldn't make a very good vegan but have been vegetarian for 27 years. I do drink oat milk sometimes but can't find any substitute I like to have in tea (I am severely addicted!). My son drinks oat milk in tea and coffee but still has dairy milk as a drink on its own. I would miss cheese! Also can't eat any soya based foods.

I had h-pylori, treated, took lansoprazole for a year then got B12D. Don't know what caused it (don't think just the PPI?) but my stomach is a disaster! Assume gut related. I don't have PA.

Reply

Omaprezole is actually listed on the nhs site as a cause of b12 deficiency I think lamaprezole is as well. Cheese is one of the causes of acid reflux hence it’s a bit of a vicious circle - cheese - acid reflux - ppi - b12 deficiency!

Good health and happiness.

Reply

Thankyou! And you too 😊! I'm off the cheese as I seem to currently have gastritis unfortunately. Can't even eat porridge ☹️

Reply

PPI's can cause osteoporosis due to the calcium issue. When you think how long some people are on them for due to acid problems, it's frightening. I was prescribed omeprazole last year. I took two then after reading up about them I threw them away. I have been advised by my GP to take ranitidine for a month but I wonder if that might also wreak havoc with B12 levels. Although not diagnosed with a deficiency or PA, my B12 levels have dropped significantly over the past couple of years and I am right on the bottom of the range - but 'normal' according to the doctors, despite debilitating fatigue, numb toes, pins and needles and lots of gastric issues - to name a few ;-) Oh yes, I feel perfectly 'normal'...

Reply

Hi Molly

Patients are conditioned into wanting drugs to cure things and it is easier for doctors to pander to the patients desire than it is to tell them to make changes to their life style. In the 60s my mum went to her doctor for energy issues - he prescribed her Dexedrine (sic) tablets - a six month supply in a very big bottle! I was very glad about this as it’s a very good recreational drug and my mum stayed up all night doing her ironing and was the happiest I had ever seen her.

I spoke to a chap in a pub about omaprezole which his doctor had prescribed him for acid reflux. I explained to him about it’s effect on b12 absorption and told him about foods with b12 at the mention of cheese, he said he would be all right as he eats loads of cheese which, of course, missed the point.

My mother and sister were both prescribed omaprezole in 20mg doses on recurring six monthly cycles and the doctor never checked their progress. They both had problems with these oesophagi (sic) complains of a blockage but neither was investigated. My mother developed dementia and my sister just wasted away and died. My sister also had type 1 diabetes and the medicine she took for that plus the omaprezole was almost bound to make her b12 deficient although neither were ever diagnosed with it.

I tend to keep away from doctors as much as possible and keep up on medical matters through the nhs site which is possibly what doctors use any way .

Good health and longevity.

1 like
Reply

Hi alfabeta,

I agree with you 100% on staying away from Drs. as much as possible. I have been lurking for awhile but spotted your post and thought it's about time I said a little. hee, hee, hee! We certainly have been conditioned to ask for a medication instead of making a lifestyle change. I'm not against all medications as there is a place for them.

I was taking ranitidine (Zantac) for reflux, but now looking back, common sense (which isn't so common) would tell me, why would I want to reduce the acid that helps digest my food? I didn't think of that at the time. It's what contributed to my deficiency, not my veganism. I was on the Zantac to reduce the acid from another medication I was taking.

Another question, where do the animals get their B12 in the first place, do they eat each other? B12 is not a vitamin really, it's a bacteria which used to be in our water(it's polluted) and in the soil (depleted). I don't recall my great grandparents or grandparents having a deficiency. Our food sources have changed greatly over the last 100 years, including the meat, milk, eggs, and cheese. We don't have pure sources anymore, we have over processed, and denatured food. For instance, the wheat used to be of the kind that we could easily digest, but in the 1950's it was hybridized. We never heard of gluten intolerance or celiac before that, as far as I know. It's the highest on the Glycemic Index at 72, above sugar which is 69, or 70.

I am a vegan now, and I agree we need to supplement with B12 these days. I knew someone who was not a vegan and developed Pernicious Anemia. So its possible for meat eaters as well as vegetarians/vegans to become deficient. It depends on the state of your digestive track and how well you have looked after it.

I had a hiatus hernia, and just by not laying down after a meal, and no antacids, and drinking my water between my meals instead of with them, it went away. It was a small change in lifestyle, but it saved me from having an operation to repair it or a lifetime on PPI's or H2 blockers. Water is the best blood thinner too.

After having said all that, there still is a need for the doctors, we need them to set broken bones, and for emergency's, run tests, etc. They just need to become better informed in the area of nutrition, and drug interactions with food. (Like B12). My doctor is becoming more knowlegable about nutrition.

I feel sorry that all those things happened in your family because of drugs. I have heard it said that drugs don't cure anything, they just change the form and location of the disease. Have you ever heard of using the lowly cucumber to regulate your blood pressure, cucumber and carrot juice for arthritis, and more? There are many healing properties to plants. (Like the cucumber!). My mother-in-law loves cucumber, and incidentally, every time she goes to see her doctor and he takes her blood pressure it's great and she's in her mid 90"s

Sorry to go on. But take care.

Reply

Hi Curlygal, have you tried hemp milk in tea? The Good Hemp range have both an unsweetened and original option, the latter being sweet. I like it in tea but it doesn't make great porridge - I prefer oat or rice milk for that.

Reply

Yes, have tried that and afraid I didn't like it! It was my least favourite of the plant milks I tried haha, oat milk is my favourite followed by almond. Haven't tried rice milk or cashew. Any I've missed?

Reply

For me, hemp milk is pretty horrible in porridge, especially the original type, it has a cloying smell when heated. I only like the unsweetened version in my tea. Rice milk has a fairly thin consistency so it's good if you don't like your porridge too stodgy. I sometimes use almond milk in tea (again unsweetened and unroasted.) Rice milk is okay too, it has a very subtle taste. There's peanut milk (never tried) and coconut milk, which I didn't like. I'm vegetarian but have some issues with my digestion and know I would benefit from not eating cheese (it's the only dairy I have.) I've tried several vegan cheeses but so far I haven't found one palatable. I've seen some by a company called Vegusto, so I will try them next. I don't know if non-dairy cheeses are likely to cause acid problems though - hope not!

Reply

It's a bit of a minefield especially if you have tummy issues! I'd like to reduce my dairy intake but haven't solved the tea conundrum 😊. I think it's the fat in cheese that can lead to acid, but it's so individual when it comes to what foods will trigger it. I still don't understand why porridge, of all things, is giving me trouble! I've never tried vegan cheese, I like dairy cheese so much 🙄.

Reply

You are right, I think I've solved the mystery of what is causing the acid problem, only for it to flare up again. Were you having dairy milk in porridge? That could have been the issue. Although I have rice or oat milk in porridge, if I have too much volume of porridge, that can cause a problem. I now have a small quantity of porridge with a sliced banana and prunes (for my bones!) Some of the vegan cheeses are made with coconut oil which is very high in fat so I'm guessing that could cause an acid issue. November is world vegan month so I should really try and give up cheese once and for all!

Reply

No I always have it with oat milk now, I ran out a few weeks ago and had it with dairy milk and it was a bit yucky! I don't think I'm sensitive to milk because I drink more than a pint a day in tea and tummy doesn't get worse when I drink it. I have no idea what's going on!

I did reduce my lansoprazole a few days ago and my tummy feels a bit better. I don't like taking it but haven't been able to manage with just ranitidine. I took 15mg every other day but GP had me go up to 30mg daily after my tummy pain flared (It felt like an ulcer but GP said, even if it is an ulcer, PPI is the treatment anyway). That was about 2 months ago.

Do you SI?

Reply

Wasn't able to read through all the posts...sorry...may be a repeat. Am Vegan, take B12 (because our soils are not what they used to be...bacteria in soil synthesize B12 and our gut bacteria no longer what it used to be) along with and things like algae oil (that's how fish get their DHA). Drugs like Metformin, a drug which many take, is also linked to B12 deficiency, think you mentioned another drug, too. Some of the latest research, btw, is that the prion like substances expressed in animal flesh (not just brain) combined with our Westernized gut (all the endocrine disruptors we have put in the environment, not to mention the pesticides, and the diet pushed by food manufacturerer corporate greed) is leading to a build up of a-synuclein in brain, a-synuclein involved in diseases like Parkinson's. Just one example. And lest we forget....there is now on youtube the documentary "Earthlings" and the 2018 documentary, "Dominion". Lest we forget. Ty!

Reply

You may also like...