5 Nov 2006

Have You Taken Your B12 ?

It's time again to post about the importance of Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in a Vegan diet. The more that I read up on it the more I realize I need to find out.

What we do know is that there is too little B12 in plants and it is not easily absorbed. Many still feel that they can obtain sufficient B12 from fermented products like tempeh, miso, shoyu, tamari or seaweeds and algae but tests are finding that fact to be false.

Humans can manufacture B12 in their own bodies like many other mammals but unfortunately the bacteria present in the large intestine which are able to synthesise B12, unlike animal intestines, are too far down to be absorbed into our systems.

A total lack of B12 in our diets can cause degeneration of nerve fibres and irreversible neurological damage but this is very unusual as it would be rare for someone to have no B12 in their body at all. What they can have with very low levels of B12 is anaemia as B12 is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells. Other typical deficiency symptoms include loss of energy, poor resistance to infection, tingling and numbness in limbs, blurred vision, abnormal gait, sore tongue and confusion. People who cannot absorb B12 often develop pernicious anaemia and need to be treated with injections of B12.

To prevent problems it is therefore important to get sufficient B12. The only reliable sources of vitamin B12 for Vegans are either fortified food or a vitamin B12 supplement.

Various B12 fortified Vegan foods are available : Yeast extracts like Marmite, Vecon vegetable stock, soy milks, margarine, bread, cereals etc. Care must be taken with these products as B12 is sensitive to heat and light so must be stored in suitably cool areas away from bright lights.

There are many Vegan B12 supplements available either on their own or as part of a multivitamin. Each product will give the recommended dosage which is usually around 10 micrograms but in different countries and with different products this can vary. Some people prefer to take a couple of larger doses twice a week. Feeding mothers and the elderly require higher doses.

Do not take chances, take your Vitamin B12.

Recipes of the Day from "The Diet of Peace"

You should find this site rather interesting and rather unusual plus it has an excellent but different Vegan viewpoint and some great recipes. I came across it last year and visit often.

Making Mock Meats from Soy

1 block extra-firm light tofu
1 teaspoon Garlic
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Fennel seeds
1 tablespoon Red wine or red wine vinegar diluted with water

Drain the tofu well. Slice into ½-inch slices. Put the slices into a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Toss to coat. Bake at 400 F until they are brown and firm.

1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons miso paste
1 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Breading Mix:
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil

Slice tofu into ¼-inch thick slices. Mix together the miso, water, garlic, and nutritional yeast. Marinate the slices for at least one hour (or overnight). Mix breading ingredients together. Dredge moist tofu slices in breading mix and arrange on baking sheet coated with misted oil. Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. Turn. Bake another 15 minutes until golden brown.

5 pounds medium firm tofu
½ cup sesame oil (no substitutes)
¼ cup tamari
5 tablespoons veggie chicken seasoning
4 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons sage or turkey seasoning
10 to 15 cups dressing

Mash tofu well. (For optimal results, blend a firm Chinese style tofu with a smaller portion of Japanese style, such as Mori-Nu Firm.) Mix tofu with all ingredients except tamari, sesame oil and dressing. Line the 3 Quart strainer with a single layer of moistened cheesecloth. Transfer tofu to strainer. Press tofu to flatten, and fold edges of cheesecloth over it. Place a cake tin or other flat object over the surface of the tofu and weigh it down with a heavy object (about 5 lbs) to press the liquid from the tofu. After the tofu has drained for 1 hour, hollow out to within 1 inch of the colander. Fill the cavity with your favorite stuffing. Pack in stuffing and cover with the remaining tofu. Pat down so surface is flat and firm. Oil mist the 7 Quart Roaster, place Roaster over strainer, and flip over so that flat surface of filled tofu faces down. Remove cheesecloth. Mix sesame oil and tamari to use as a basting liquid. Baste tofu with liquid. Bake covered at 400 F for 1 hour. Remove cover, baste, and return to oven to bake uncovered until top becomes golden brown, about one hour more. Baste again at least once during remaining cooking time.

1 loaf day-old or dried out bread
20 ounces water
1 ounce soy sauce
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Ground black pepper
½ cup cooked wild rice
½ cup fresh mushrooms (cut into small pieces)
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup pecans or walnuts, optional
¼ cup apple cubes, optional

Mix together and salt and pepper to taste. Add any of the optional ingredients as desired. It will be sticky. Shape into a loaf and place inside a tofu un-turkey or bake in the 3 Quart Pan for about an hour at 350 degrees F. You can slice it like a meatloaf and serve.



Anonymous said...

Great stuff and THANK YOU for the B12 reminder. I do take a veg supplement but it is always good for me to keep informed on nutrition. I thank you so much for this important post!

The Artist said...

Thanks for reminding about the B12. Will make sure I get it in my diet, best wishes, The Artist

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the info on B12! I fear I take too much in my supplement, but my blood test said that it's right in check so I will keep taking it. :)

I love the recipes. Red wine and tofu in a recipe sound so good! :P

Anonymous said...

I'm still making peace with tofu so I'm not sure about those recipes but the unstuffing recipe looks good. I may have to try it for our holiday meals. I love anything with cranberries in it.

Glad to read your comments on my post - it's nice to know i'm not the only one who can't make seitan.

Marion said...

I can always tell when I've forgotten to take B12. Everything goes slightly out of whack!

Thanks for the reminder!

Valentina said...

i wanted to post something on B12 too. i hope i get it enough! i'm very interested to make that tofu-italy! thank you for posting this!!!

EvaD said...

I read that Spirulina is the highest source of B12. Could be a good solution, especially because B12 supplements not always get absorbed well in the body.

I'll make a post about Spirulina soon in my blog:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this reminder- B12- once you have symptoms of deficiency, it's too late!

I'm always paranoid that I either don't get enough or I get too much. Hmmm. Must do more research!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipes and lowdown on B12. I just bought cereal on sale called Power Boost. One serving contains 100% of the RDA of non-animal B12.

Gaia said...

Dr. McDougall says that there is one chance in (is it a million?) that somebody might develop a B12 deficiency but to not take chances and take a supplement. That is what we do :)

Thank you for the information !

Jackie said...

With spirulina you have to be careful you get it from a reputable source and it is not so easy to know the measurable amount in it so I take both B12 and spirulina. Spirulina I have taken for over 20 years as I like the fact it contains everything I need supplement wise.

According to studies it is not a problem if you take too much B12 only if you take too little.

Emmy said...

Those tofu-miso cutlets sound fab!!

stacey said...

Here's an interesting article on the B12 issue from Frederic Patenaude's website: The Importance of B12