Vitamin B12 – Digestion, Absorption, and Herbivores

This post is based on a video by Andreas Moritz called Debunking Vitamin B12. I found the movie to be interesting and largely helpful, so I was interested in learning more. I was particularly interested in b12 1000 mcg for my own health since I found that eating less meat, fish, and high-fat dairy improved my level of energy.

Every bodily process and each and every cell in the body depend on vitamin B12, commonly known as cyanocobalamin. Anaemia, diseases of the neurological and brain systems, and serious gastrointestinal issues can all result from deficiencies.

The major message of the film is that we are B12 deficient, not because we don’t consume enough B12-rich foods, but rather because we don’t absorb enough B12 from our diets.

He supports vegetarianism generally, though not with the same fervour as some; I liked that he was a little more moderate than most.

Read: Vitamin D Deficiency Is Linked With A Wide Range Of Diseases

I was curious about his personal nutrition. I looked it up but came up empty-handed. And sadly, he passed away under strange circumstances while appearing to be in good health and strength prior to his death. From what I understand, he was researching topics that were sensitive to the Big Pharma and food industries.

He discusses the intrinsic element in the stomach, though. We require more intrinsic factor than we typically have in order to digest, absorb, and assimilate B12.

I questioned, “What is intrinsic factor?” So I did a search.

internal component

Vitamin B12 must mix with intrinsic factor, which is created by the stomach’s lining cells, in order to be absorbed later in the small intestine. A glycoprotein, that is. (The term “glyco” simply denotes that the protein component is joined to a carbohydrate group.)

During food digestion, stomach acids produce vitamin B12, but because vitamin B12 is susceptible to acids, it must be safeguarded. As a result, the process begins much earlier in the mouth with the salivary glands. There, vitamin B12 is combined with another glycoprotein known as haptocorrin, which safely transports it through the stomach while shielding it from the acids. From there, it continues into the intestines, where there is a more alkaline environment and it can be safely released and absorbed.

The intrinsic factor (IF), which binds the B12 after digestion releases it from haptocorrin, is made by the same stomach cells that make gastric hydrochloric acid. Thus, a vitamin B12-IF complex is produced in the duodenum and subsequently moves through the small intestines. Interesting information – what a body!

Where it is found and why it is necessary

We now all know that we need to make sure we receive enough vitamin B12 in our diets, especially among the vegan and vegetarian community. You can’t just eat a healthy plant-based diet and hope you receive enough because it’s largely contained in fresh animal products like liver, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and cheese. It is a crucial vitamin and a lack can result in serious, permanent disorders.

However, it was once believed that humans may acquire it via non-animal sources like spirulina, fermented and cultured foods like tempeh, or by not entirely washing the soil off food that was harvested from the ground. However, the Vegan Society now claims that consuming exclusively raw (as opposed to cooked) plant-based foods does not provide any additional health benefits, and that fortified foods and supplements are the only dependable sources of B12.

What it is useful for

We require it for growth (blood creation, protein and tissue synthesis), energy metabolism (generation of ATP, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism), the brain and nervous system (so imagine stability of mood, memory, and eyesight), and so on. I’d say that makes it quite crucial!

The elderly need it to prevent brain atrophy and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease because, as previously mentioned, anaemia and neurological issues are the main symptoms of a deficiency. Additionally, a lack of B12 can cause multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia by damaging the myelin sheath that protects the nerves.

Due to increasing levels of homocysteine, a digestive waste that can harm the entire body and which B12 normally functions to break down, a deficiency can also result in hardening of the arteries.

Thus, a deficiency may present with vague symptoms at first, such as fatigue, a sore tongue, tingling in the hands, or mild confusion, but if left untreated, it can result in serious issues, including nerve damage (even the breakdown of the spinal cord), low bone mineral density, deterioration of vision, mental health issues, and depression.

Being primarily present in dairy and animal products, vegans must ensure that they include an alternate source in their diet.

prime resources for B12


The only vegan sources are yeast-containing products like Marmite (UK name: Vegemite; it also goes by other names; basically yeast extract – that black gooey, salty stuff you spread on your toast), but even these are only trace amounts. Fortified cereals, milks, juices, soy, and other products are also vegan sources.

For instance, Marmite contains 0.5 mcg per 100 g, but since we often only spread a teaspoon or two on our toast due to how strongly it tastes, it amounts to only 0.025 mcg. In contrast, a cup of fortified soy milk will provide 3 mcg, or 50% of the DV (daily value – see below).

If you’re going to include fortified foods in your diet, there is an additional problem: at least in the UK, the fortified soy, almond, and rice milks also contain gums, typically gelan gum and/or carrageenan, which are known to aggravate digestive problems.


Being a vegetarian obviously makes things better because you can eat dairy products like milk, cheese, and yoghurt. Whey powder is another option because 100 g of it is believed to contain 42% DV.

And when it comes to milk and yoghurt, you’re more likely to drink an entire cup, which has 1.14 mcg (19% DV) for reduced-fat milk and 0.9 mcg (15% DV) for non-fat yoghurt. So, a little bit more, but still not great.

Although other types of eggs have more, such as duck eggs, which include 3.8 mcg (raw; not sure about cooked), which is 63% DV, and goose eggs, which are fairly huge, which contain 7.3 mcg, which is 122% DV. Sadly, even one large boiled egg only has 0.6 mcg, just 10% of the DV. You just can’t win, can you? However, I personally think duck eggs are too greasy.

Per day allowance

According to sites on the Internet, the recommended daily quantity (RDA) varies depending on the country: the UK RDA is 1.5 mcg/day (from the National Health Service website, so should be accurate and up-to-date).

According to Google (no source provided, but which turned out to be the US RDA – recommended dietary allowance), women over the age of 14 should consume 2.4 mcg per day, while women who are pregnant or nursing should consume 2.6 mcg per day. People over 50 should consume B12-fortified meals or take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Therefore, persons over 50, pregnant women, and nursing moms need more B12 due to decreased B12 absorption in older people and higher B12 requirements during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Keep in mind that the DVs listed above are based on 6 mcg per day (which is quite misleading), not the US RDA of 2.4. (It has to do with the nutritional worth of the food, not the daily requirement, it seems.) That means that reading the nutrition labels for fortified foods is important, which is why the above-quoted value for the nutrient in the egg is 0.6 mcg rather than 25% DV (which would be the relative amount for the RDA of 2.4 mcg).


The amount of oral B12 that should be recommended for individuals with a proven deficiency was examined in a Dutch study from 2005; note that the population analysed was old (those with what was referred to as a mild B12 deficiency), with an average age of 80. In “Vitamin B12 – How Much Is Enough,” Hyla Cass, M.D., made a useful point to this effect. (1)

B12 (in the form of cyanocobalamin) was supplied to them daily in doses ranging from 2.5, 100, 250, 500, and 1000 mcg (administered for 16 weeks).

The main finding was that the lowest amount needed for an oral dose for patients with a verified vitamin insufficiency (defined by an estimated 80% to 90% reduction in plasma methylmalonic acid) was 500 mcg. No side effects were noted with any dosage.

The value discovered in this study for supplements is quite high when compared to the daily values required, which is the amount that is suggested that we acquire through diet.

As additional evidence, a supplement from a reliable supplier I am aware of offers 1,000 mcg/capsule and also includes 400 mcg of folate. And the majority of supplements include 500 or 1,000 mcg (which might be the difference between the therapeutic dose and a maintenance dose).

easier to take in

The good news is that some people can absorb vitamin B12 from supplements more easily than from naturally occurring meals, where it is bonded to protein. Age-related decreases in stomach acid and digestive enzymes, as well as factors such as stomach lining inflammation brought on by allergies, food intolerances, alcohol consumption, and illnesses like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, all affect the body’s capacity to separate and absorb the necessary nutrients from food.

full list of foods rich in vitamin B12

The following foods are the best sources of vitamin B12, according to

Clams, oysters, whelks, and crabs are shellfish (crab: Alaska, King cooked, Dungeness and Queen, cooked)
Liver: from moose, lamb, cattle, veal, duck, goose, pork, and chicken (pan-fried, then tinned)
Whitefish-specific fish eggs, granular caviar, mixed fish roe, and caviar in both black and red (cooked, dry heat)
Organ meats and giblets include turkey giblets, beef gizzards, beef kidney, pancreas (from various animals), veal heart, lamb heart, beef heart, and beef brain (cooked)
Octopus, salmon (dried chum), trout (dried, then rainbow trout, cooked), mackerel (Atlantic cooked, dry heat), kippered herring (Atlantic), dried whitefish, red salmon (smoked sockeye), cod (dried, Atlantic, salted), sardine (Pacific, canned in tomato sauce and canned in oil, with bone), whale (dried Beluga meat), and seal (dried) are among the fish and sea (cooked)…
High-fiber breakfast cereals like Bran Flakes and All Bran are fortified. Multi-Grain complete wheat flakes All Bran Original, Special K, General Mills cereals, All Bran Buds, and Kellogg’s low-fat granola are examples of cereals.
Nature’s Path Optimum, All Bran yoghurt bites, prepared muesli (with dried fruit and nuts)…
Liver sausages/patates: Liverwurst, spreadable liverwurst, and foie gras are examples of Braunschweiger (pork liver) (goose liver, smoked)
Wild game options include ostrich, beaver, muskrat, roasted rabbit, deer, moose, and caribou (shoulder meat that has been cured).
(Vegetable oil) spreads that resemble margarine
Goose egg, dried egg yolk, and dried egg whole (whole, fresh, raw is highest)
Separated soy protein
Soup (clam chowder, New England, canned, condensed) (clam chowder, New England, tinned, condensed)
Fried, breaded chicken without meat
infant foods (some)
Milk (dry, fat-free, with and without additional vitamin A), Instant Milk (dry, non-fat, with added vitamin A and without),
Meat, including certain lamb cuts and roasted mutton… (From then, the vitamin B12 content decreases)…
There are lower B12 concentrations in the following items not mentioned above:

shellfish, such as mussels and other haddock
Low-fat yoghurt
Reduced fat, fortified tofus Swiss cheese feta, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese
Duck eggs, chicken eggs, and duck eggs (which are so much more expensive).
poultry meat
This is to give a general sense of the best sources of vitamin B12; they are partly arranged by food type and partly from highest to lowest; nevertheless, it should be noted that cooking techniques also greatly affect the amount. For example, raw organ meats contain far more nutrients than cooked ones. Even dry heat makes a difference in comparison to steaming and braising.

I was also shocked to see that low-fat dairy products frequently contain higher levels of B12 than its full-fat counterparts, with roast chicken having half the amount of low-fat cottage cheese, for instance. So it’s helpful to know that.

Supplemented meals and gums

Because, as I mentioned, fortified milks frequently contain gums, which, according to what I’ve read, slow down digestion, I myself have avoided them. According to Dr. P. D’Adamo, they include a lectin or other agglutinin, which is a metabolic inhibitor and basically causes cells to stick and clump together, including your red blood cells – eeek. This was for guar gum and carrageenan. Acacia (gum arabic) also has the following properties: it increases lectin activity and binding, flocculates serum or precipitates serum proteins, includes lectin or other agglutinin, and is a metabolic inhibitor. As a result, it is impossible to break them down, and it appears that they could cause major systemic damage.

View the “Is Carrageenan Safe?” video by Dr. Michael Greger as well. (2)

That’s unfortunate because it means I won’t be able to enjoy these fortified foods. I also don’t consume any other types of fortified foods, such as cereals (due to the sugar and other additives they commonly contain), bread and other wheat-based products, or fortified spreads (I only use olive oil and ghee on rye bread). I also don’t consume regular cow’s milk, any fortified beverages (due to the gums and sugar they typically contain), fake meat soy products, or textured vegetable protein.

Because of what I’ve learned about the effects of adding milk to beverages like smoothies, morning tea, or coffee, for example, I’m wondering if gums might prevent the body from properly breaking down other meals. Even with fruits and berries you might have in your morning smoothie or breakfast bowl, adding milk actually stops the absorption of the good nutrients in it, as measured by blood levels of certain beneficial compounds after consuming it. Milk actually stops you from absorbing the antioxidants (the good stuff like polyphenols and catechins) in the tea and the coffee. The same is true for chocolate.

Dr. Michael Greger, a medical specialist who searches the scientific literature for such beneficial information, conveniently summarises the study done on this and makes it more understandable for us by presenting it in condensed, info-bitesize movies.

Sadly, the only study they tested soy milk in was the one with tea, so it’s alarming to see that not only cow’s milk but also soy milk does this, at least when used in tea. In the other (separate) studies on the chocolate/coffee and berries, soy milk was not tested. How does that sound then? I was as shocked by that as Michael Greger was, and I’m sure the researchers were as well. finding that the positive benefits of the antioxidant components in healthy drinks/smoothies may be negated by adding even soy milk to them That really opened my eyes.

I suppose that’s a contributing factor in why dark chocolate is so much better for you than milk.

And thus, if milk itself inhibits absorption, I naturally questioned what the additional gums in milk would be able to achieve. So if I can, I’d rather just stay away from them altogether.

B12 absorption: its anatomy and the debate

Returning to the video

I had no idea that probiotic bacteria in our guts are the primary source of vitamin B12, which is normally absorbed near the end of the small intestine in the terminal ileum, according to Andreas Moritz. Undigested meat and protein also upsets these bacteria.

(As a side note, I questioned whether the “terminal ileum” was the appendix because I had mine removed when I was around 8 and have always been quite sensitive to foods, despite not having any recognised allergies.) Anyway, I looked it up, so it’s not in the appendix.

ileum terminale

The ileocecal valve joins the terminal ileum, which is located between the large and small intestines, to the caecum, which is the first section of the large intestine. As the appendix is joined to the caecum, it is therefore anatomically close to the appendix but not quite.

Here is a 3-D image ( dige03/dige10.html) that shows the precise location of the terminal ileum within the abdomen. To the left of the image is a navigation grid that, when you move your cursor over it with a small hand, highlights the desired area of the digestive system in green. Each section comes with a brief description as well.

B12 storage

B12 is taken up by the terminal ileum, where it is transported to the liver by the circulation. It is kept in the liver until needed, when it is often recycled. B12 that has been reprocessed can be utilised for up to 6 or 7 years.

It’s fascinating to note that the quantity we require for our entire lifespan fits on the tip of your little finger. extremely little.

It is therefore very difficult to develop a B12 deficit, and as has already been mentioned, the issue is more with how well our food is absorbed than with the food itself. The issue is with our own gut health.

The probiotic bacteria in our gut are destroyed by junk food and drugs, notably antibiotics, the speaker continues. Additionally, he explains, consuming a lot of meat prevents the body from effectively absorbing B12 if the digestion is not functioning well, especially when the intrinsic factor is lowered, which does occur when you consume too much protein.

He claims that because of how we make our own B12, there are misconceptions regarding it. Like how cows, for instance, do not require meat or the milk of other species in order to obtain B12 because it is obtained from plant sources and they do not suffer from a deficiency.

Andreas also makes the following point: People who eat natural foods won’t become B12 deficient.

(This is a hotly contested issue; whether or not we can produce our own B12 from the bacteria in the gut, and the current consensus is that we can’t, or some of us may do so, but it isn’t absorbed by us.)

Then, how do herbivores obtain B12? I looked because I was curious:

B12 and herbivores

Ruminants like cows, buffalo, goats, and sheep obtain their vitamin B12 from the bacteria that live in their large, four-chambered stomachs and produce it there. Horses, elephants, zebras, rabbits, hares, and numerous rodents are examples of herbivores who have extensive caecums in their digestive systems, which are located between the small and large intestine and are used for bacterial fermentation.

Primates consume soil-dwelling insects and eggs. Feces are also consumed by gorillas, as well as by hares, rabbits, and various rodents. Additionally, many animals constantly consume soil, giving them access to many more sources and methods of obtaining B12 than we have.

A source claims that a horse’s digestive system bacteria are able to manufacture adequate B12 if there is enough cobalt in the diet, despite the assumption that all horses need supplementation of B12 in their feed. This suggests that these crucial elements are frequently lacking in our soil today.

If you’re interested, you may find more information regarding bacteria and vitamin B12 manufacturing online (3).

Intensifying absorption

For supplements of vitamin B12 to be well absorbed, additional vitamins are required. For instance, vitamin B6-rich foods should be a part of your diet since vitamin B6 is required for the proper absorption and storage of vitamin B12.

foods like bananas, spinach, chicken, brown rice, avocados, and walnuts. Chicken, quail, turkey, duck, goose, and pigeon are all considered poultry.

Folate is also required for effective absorption and can be found in fruits, beans, peas, lentils, romaine lettuce, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, and beets.

in addition to getting enough calcium. According to a 2000 study, people with diabetes who consumed more calcium were able to raise their low vitamin B12 levels (4).

In addition to collard greens, broccoli, and kale, sardines and salmon, ricotta, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese, low-fat yoghurt, Greek yoghurt, and skim milk, as well as beans, sesame seeds, dried figs, and molasses, are foods high in calcium.

Importantly, pepsin (a protein-digesting enzyme) and stomach acid levels are essential for drawing out the B12 from our diet. Taking betaine hydrochloride supplements can assist in cleaving the B12 from the protein sources if you have low stomach acid.

The use of antacids reduces stomach acid, and heavy drinking causes the stomach lining to become inflamed, limiting the amount of digestive enzymes produced, according to Sandi Busch on (5) and Dr. J. E. Williams (integrative medicine specialist for 25 years). In order to improve the absorption of B vitamins in general, some integrative medicine practitioners advise drinking cranberry juice and adding spices to food. Some even advise taking caffeine, which raises the production of stomach acid.

There is a limit to the amount that can be absorbed at any one time due to the availability of the intrinsic factor, so eating smaller, more frequent amounts of B12-containing foods rather than all at one meal can also increase the amount you absorb overall.

The following factors

Andreas, a vegetarian, claims that vegetarianism has nothing to do with B12 insufficiency and that meat eaters are equally as deficient as vegetarians, if not more so (which has been confirmed by studies in the literature). But if they take medication or have previously used antibiotics, for instance, vegetarians may also experience side effects. It seems that this can disrupt the probiotic bacteria population in your gut for many years.

He advises cleaning the liver and bile ducts, getting rid of gall and hepatic stones, and improving digestion. They prevent the body from adequately digesting meals. This interferes with the population of good bacteria, as was already mentioned. Therefore, he claims, eating putrefied food, whether it be vegetables or meat, will result in a reduced absorption of B12 due to a lack of probiotic bacteria, which is the main source of B12.

NB: I believe it helps to explain why it’s healthier to eat less than you normally would. You don’t have any rotting food in your belly when you undereat.

Finally, he adds, vitamin D availability affects B12 absorption by determining how healthy and strong your digestive system is. Therefore, continuous exposure to the sun will increase the number of good bacteria in the stomach, which will strengthen overall nutritional absorption. (Perhaps he supports naturism as well!) He undoubtedly resided in a warm region; but, his Ener-Chi Center is located in North Carolina, which has a mild climate.

Other sources of vitamin D include (with some overlap, I’ve seen, with the list for vitamin B12):

Fatty tuna and fish

Mushrooms (that are cultivated in light, while those that aren’t can still have some vitamin D and can reportedly have levels increased by exposing them to sunlight)
dependable fortified milks, juice, and cereal
egg whites
Animal liver
Fish liver oil
supplements with vitamin D
In nature, vitamin B12

Because B12 never occurs alone in nature; rather, it is always combined with other B-vitamins, vitamins, minerals, and even more nutrients that enable B12 to be absorbed and utilised. Andreas didn’t think we would necessarily absorb B12 from a supplement that well because eating a balanced, healthy diet is essential to absorbing this essential nutrient.

Read: Do You Want To Improve Your Health By Eating Well?

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