Biosuperfood-Vegan-B12-deficiency
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Vegan B12 Deficiency: Algae is the new Powerful Solution

A combination of health, environmental, and ethical motivations has accelerated the trend toward adopting plant-based diets [1]. In the United Kingdom, the vegan population has surpassed one million, representing nearly 1.5% of the total population. This shift is mirrored in the marketplace, with a 49% surge in plant-based food sales since 2018 [1]. This dietary evolution has sparked concerns about potential nutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegan B12 Deficiency

The main issue is that B12 is primarily found in animal products because certain bacteria produce it. Animals either consume these bacteria or have a symbiotic relationship with them. Humans get B12 by consuming animals or their products.

In contrast, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that vegan diets typically provide only 10% of the B12 found in a standard UK diet. This translates to an average daily intake of around 0.5 micrograms of B12, which is significantly below the recommended healthy dosage. The study also specifically identified pregnant and lactating women, along with older individuals, as being particularly vulnerable to B12 deficiency [5].

Professor Key, a long-time vegan and B12 supplement user, expressed concern about new vegans who might not be fully informed about their nutritional needs. He emphasized, “If people adopt a vegan lifestyle without doing their homework on what a vegan diet should include, I worry they won’t know about B12.”

Contrary to some suggestions circulating online and on social media, there is no scientific evidence to support the notion that vegans don’t need additional B12.

Tom Sanders, Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, voiced his concern, stating, “B12 is the micronutrient we worry about the most. I’m troubled by the fact that many people believe B12 deficiency is a myth.”

He pointed out a case involving a breastfeeding mother with B12 deficiency whose child developed neuropathy, resulting in long-term damage.

Sanders stressed, “This is a situation that can be easily avoided. What worries me is that many new vegans are not aware of the need to combine sources of plant proteins, nor do they understand the importance of maintaining adequate B12 levels.”

Vegan Diet and Biosuperfood

Risks of B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient, playing a pivotal role in numerous bodily functions, from DNA synthesis and blood cell production to the normal operation of the nervous system.

In terms of neurological health, B12’s contribution to the myelination of neurons is particularly significant. Myelin, a fatty substance, acts as an insulator for our neurons, facilitating the efficient transmission of electrical signals. A deficiency in B12 can disrupt this process, potentially leading to neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling sensations, and fatigue.

Moreover, a B12 deficiency can manifest in a variety of other health issues. These can range from muscle weakness and weight loss to an increased heart rate. If not addressed promptly, these symptoms can escalate into more severe conditions. For instance, pernicious anemia, a condition where the body can’t make enough healthy red blood cells due to a lack of B12, can develop. Additionally, the risk of heart disease and diabetes may increase, underscoring the importance of maintaining adequate B12 levels for overall health.

Other effects of B12 deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can also have profound implications for mental health. It can lead to a spectrum of psychological symptoms, often starting with irritability and escalating to severe depression. In some cases, individuals may experience delusions, panic attacks, and heightened anxiety.

Memory loss is another concerning symptom of B12 deficiency, which can disrupt daily life and lead to confusion. Mood swings, often unpredictable and intense, can strain personal relationships and affect the overall quality of life. Insomnia, a common symptom, can further exacerbate these mental health issues, creating a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and heightened psychological distress.

Therefore, maintaining adequate B12 levels is not only crucial for physical health but also for mental well-being.

The problem with B12 supplementation

We’ve established that vegans and vegetarians need to supplement B12. However, not all supplements are created equal.

The body is able to use B12 in its natural, active form (methylcobalamin). However, the synthetic form of cyanocobalamin in most supplements requires extra processing to become active. This processing doesn’t always work efficiently, so deficiencies can occur even with normal blood tests.

The body is able to use B12 in its natural, active form (methylcobalamin). However, the synthetic form of cyanocobalamin in most supplements requires extra processing to become active. This processing doesn’t always work efficiently, so deficiencies can occur even with normal blood tests.

Added to this is that people with the common MTHFR genetic mutations have particular trouble converting synthetic B12 to active forms. Despite taking supplements, they remain at high risk of deficiency, and unused synthetic vitamins can accumulate, causing issues.

For this reason, its better and safer to use active B12 Methylcobalamin which skips the extra activation steps, providing optimal tissue and cell functioning. Hence natural forms are strongly preferred over synthetics.

Algae and B12 Deficiency

Algae may be a game-changer in addressing the vitamin B12 deficiency issue, according to groundbreaking research from Cambridge University scientists Professor Alison Smith and Dr. Payam Mehrshahi. Their studies have demonstrated that many types of algae, simple aquatic organisms lacking roots or stems, have an extraordinary ability to accumulate vitamin B12. This discovery could lead to the development of effective, naturally sourced B12 supplements for those following a plant-based diet [6].

Smith noted, “Diets based purely on plant products are great on many levels, but they have certain deficiencies, and one of the most important is B12. If you don’t get enough of it, you can do yourself harm.” The team’s research has identified specific types of algae that accumulate forms of B12 that are bioavailable to humans.

Biosuperfood, which is an effective algal supplement, provides a natural source of B12 for those on plant-based diets, allowing them to avoid synthetic supplements while obtaining nutrients from natural sources

Biosuperfood, an effective algal supplement, provides a natural source of B12 for those on plant-based diets, allowing them to avoid synthetic supplements while obtaining nutrients from natural sources [7].

B12 Deficiency Caviat

It’s important to note that the human body can store B12 for an extended period of time, so a deficiency isn’t immediately obvious upon adopting a vegan diet.

It’s also worth noting that B12 absorption can be a complex process that involves a protein called intrinsic factor, and some people may have difficulty absorbing B12 regardless of their diet. This is due to various reasons, such as a lack of intrinsic factor production, autoimmune conditions like pernicious anemia, or gastrointestinal disorders that affect the absorption process. In this case, it’s important for individuals with absorption issues to work with their healthcare provider to address these concerns and ensure they are receiving appropriate B12 supplementation or treatment.

So whether Vegan or not, regular testing would be advisable to monitor this, especially if symptoms or other lab results point towards a B12 deficiency.

Testing for B12 deficiency

There are several tests that can be used to check for adequate B12 levels:

  1. Serum B12 Level: This is the most common test. It measures the amount of B12 in the blood, but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of B12 that’s available or functional at the cellular level. However, this serves as an initial screening test. with limited sensitivity and may fail to identify up to 45% of individuals with vitamin B12 insufficiency or deficiency.
  2. Methylmalonic Acid (MMA) Test: If B12 levels are low, the body produces more MMA. So, an elevated MMA level in the blood can be an indicator of B12 deficiency. This test is more sensitive than the serum B12 level test.
  3. Homocysteine Test: B12 helps convert homocysteine to methionine in the body. If B12 levels are low, homocysteine levels can rise. However, elevated homocysteine can also be due to other factors, such as low folate levels or kidney disease.
  4. Holotranscobalamin II (Active B12) Test: This test measures the amount of B12 that’s available to the body’s cells. It’s considered more accurate than a standard serum B12 test.
  5. Complete Blood Count (CBC): While not a direct measure of B12, a CBC can show changes in the size and color of red blood cells, which can be affected by B12 levels.

Remember, each test has its strengths and limitations. It’s important to consider the whole picture, including symptoms and other lab results when assessing B12 status. If you suspect a B12 deficiency, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider who can interpret these tests and guide you on the appropriate course of action.

Vegan diet and B12 deficiency Biosuperfood

Other nutrients are also less available in plants

It’s also worth noting that other nutrients, such as iron, zinc, calcium, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids, are typically less abundant or bioavailable in plant-based foods than animal-based ones as the following brief overview shows:

Biosuperfood - Bioavailability matters

1. Iron: There are two types of iron: heme and non-heme. The body can more easily absorb heme iron from animal products than non-heme iron from plant foods. While plant foods like lentils, chickpeas, and spinach contain iron, the non-heme iron they provide is not as readily absorbed [8].

2. Zinc: Similar to iron, zinc from plant foods is less bioavailable due to the presence of phytates, which bind to zinc and inhibit its absorption. Foods like legumes and whole grains are high in zinc, but also high in phytates [9].

3. Calcium: While plant foods like kale, broccoli, and fortified plant milks contain calcium, it’s often in a form that’s less easily absorbed than the calcium in dairy products [10]. For example, only 5% of the calcium in spinach is absorbed by the body. Even though one serving of spinach contains around 115 mg of calcium, only 6 mg is actually absorbed. So, to get the same amount of bioavailable calcium as a glass of milk, you’d need 16 cups of spinach!

4. Iodine: This nutrient is essential for thyroid function and is abundant in seafood and dairy. Plant foods can contain iodine, but the amount varies depending on the iodine content of the soil in which they were grown [11].

5. Omega-3 fatty acids: Flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are good plant sources of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid. However, our bodies are not very efficient at converting ALA to the active forms, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are more readily available in fatty fish [12].

Tips for vegans to improve other nutrient deficiencies

To ensure adequate intake of these nutrients on a plant-based diet, consider the following strategies:

1. Iron: Consume iron-rich plant foods like lentils, chickpeas, tofu, quinoa, and fortified cereals. Pair these with vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers, citrus fruits, and strawberries to enhance iron absorption [13].

2. Zinc: Soaking, sprouting, or fermenting foods can reduce their phytate content and enhance zinc absorption. Foods like tofu, tempeh, legumes, nuts, and seeds are good plant-based sources of zinc [14].

3. Calcium: Choose calcium-rich plant foods like kale, bok choy, fortified plant milks, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and almonds [15].

4. Iodine: Use iodized salt or consume a small amount of seaweed regularly. If these options are not feasible, consider a supplement [16].

5. Omega-3 fatty acids: Include ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts in your diet. Consider an algae-based DHA and EPA supplement, as these omega-3 forms are more readily used by the body [17].

Conclusion

The findings of this research underscore the importance of careful planning and continuous monitoring when adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet. They also highlight the potential of algae, such as Biosuperfood, as a natural, sustainable source of essential nutrients.

Biosuperfood Microalgae is a comprehensive nutritional solution that addresses the potential deficiencies often associated with a vegan diet. It is derived from 4 powerful microalgae, a complete protein source, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. This is also particularly important for vegans, as many plant-based proteins are incomplete.

Biosuperfood also contains a significant amount of B12, helping to prevent the deficiency that can occur on a vegan diet. It also contains Omega-3 fatty acids, essential for heart and brain health, and other essential nutrients, including iron, calcium, and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. The nutrients in Biosuperfood are in a form that the body can easily absorb, ensuring maximum benefit.

If you’re interested in learning more about this award-winning formula, you can delve into the science behind it. Numerous studies and testimonials attest to its effectiveness, making it a valuable addition to any health regimen.

For more information on the nutrient content of Biosuperfood, read here as we unpack what’s inside each capsule.

References:

  1. Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente journal, 17(2), 61-66
  2. Pawlak, R. (2017). Is vitamin B12 deficiency a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in vegetarians? American journal of preventive medicine, 52(3), S229-S236.
  3. Guezennec, C. Y., & Satabin, P. (2006). Physical exercise and muscle function in vitamin B12-depleted rats. Clinical and experimental pharmacology and physiology, 33(10), 967-971.
  4. Pawlak R, et al. (2014). How prevalent is vitamin B(12) deficiency among vegetarians? Nutrition Reviews, 71(2), 110-117.
  5. Watanabe F, et al. (2013). Characterization and bioavailability of vitamin B12-compounds from edible algae. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 59(3), 234-238.
  6. University of Kent. (2019, March 5). Researchers identify algae that could help produce biofuels and other useful chemicals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190305081518.htm
  7. Hallberg L, et al. (1989). Iron absorption from the whole diet in men: how effective is the regulation of iron absorption? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 69(3), 535-539.
  8. Gibson RS, et al. (2010). Zinc: the missing link in combating micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69(3), 456-466.
  9. Weaver CM, et al. (1999). Choices for achieving adequate dietary calcium with a vegetarian diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(3 Suppl), 543S-548S.
  10. Bath SC, et al. (2014). Iodine deficiency in pregnant women living in the South East of the UK: the influence of diet and nutritional supplements on iodine status. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(9), 1622-1631.
  11. Burdge GC, et al. (2002). Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(4), 411-420.
  12. Harvard Health Publishing. (2018, October). How to get more iron from your food. Harvard Health. Retrieved August 4, 2023, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-get-more-iron-from-your-food
  13. Gibson RS, et al. (2010). Zinc: the missing link in combating micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 69(3), 456-466.
  14. Weaver CM, et al. (1999). Choices for achieving adequate dietary calcium with a vegetarian diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 70(3 Suppl), 543S-548S.
  15. Bath SC, et al. (2014). Iodine deficiency in pregnant women living in the South East of the UK: the influence of diet and nutritional supplements on iodine status. British Journal of Nutrition, 111(9), 1622-1631.
  16. Burdge GC, et al. (2002). Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic, and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. British Journal of Nutrition, 88(4), 411-420.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not reviewed any of the statements provided on this website. This website’s products are not meant to be used in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. Information from this website or this business should not be used in place of direct, individualized medical care or advice. All decisions pertaining to your health must be made by you and your medical professionals. Regarding the identification and management of any illness or condition, you are advised to speak with your medical professional.

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