a B12 deficiency after three and a half years on a raw food
diet with no supplementation?
I certainly don't feel like it. I have more energy
and health than I know what to do with these days, and I continue
to feel like my vitality is increasing.
All the same, I got tired of people pestering me over my, 'if I feel
great I'm not going to worry', stance and decided to have a blood test
Vegans, meat eaters, and even raw foodists are B12 obsessed, and you
don't have to look far on the internet for stories of woe. A google
search will turn up hundreds of meat eaters, vegans and raw foodists
claiming that their health is in decline because of a B12 deficiency.
Some even use this as an excuse to start eating animal products, which
are high in B12.
The consequences of a true deficiency are truly frightening and can be
permanent, but just because you're not eating animal products or
supplementing doesn't mean you're going to become B12 deficient.
B12 Deficiency? My
After three and a
half years with none of the obvious intakes of B12, I have a serum
level of 468 pg/ml. The healthy range is considered 200 to 900 pg/ml,
according to my doctor.
As I've never had the test done before, I have no way of knowing if
this number is lower or higher than when I was eating cooked foods.
Since the body is capable of storing several years worth of B12, it's
within the realm of possibility that I'm still running off my old
reserves, but I doubt it.
So if I don't have a B12 Deficiency, where am I
getting the vitamin from?
That's a good question, and many researchers would question my answer.
During Connecticut's short growing season from late May to early
October, I get most of my vegetables and some of my fruit from my
garden. This food is grown in organic, well-composted soils rich in the
bacteria that produces B12. Studies have shown that such food contains
vitamin B12, while those grown in the near-sterile soil used to produce
most commercial agricultural products contain little or none.
Traditionally, plants are not considered an
adequate source of B12.
Another possibility is the bacterial flora in my own intestines. We
know the small and large intestines produce B12 for us, but most
doctors and dietitians dismiss intestinal B12 as an adequate source,
either because they believe it doesn't produce enough B12 to meet needs
or because they're not convinced it can be accessed.
The intestines are below our ileum, which is
considered the only reliable site where B12 absorption can occur, and
so most researchers don't consider it possible for us to absorb this
Could either of these turn out to be unrealistic options? Sure.
Frankly, the science just isn't there to be sure one way or another.
None the less, I seem to be doing just fine with no traditional sources
of B12 intake.
Intake is Small Potatoes Compared to Use.
Since they make up the vast majority of the
population, there are far more B12-deficient meat eaters than vegans
and raw foodists. They're eating meat and getting plenty of B12, but
their body is failing to make use of it.
What does this tell us? Intake isn't even the main issue - absorption
It all comes down to health, and that's where I'd say I'm really on top
of my game.
To be honest, I probably should
have a B12 deficiency. I used to be quite overweight and unhealthy, and
for years my intestines were a mess from colitis, regularly expelling
blood and puss along with my stool. Since going raw they've had a
chance to heal, of course, but I shudder to think of what they must
look like. I'm surprised they're even capable of producing and/or
absorbing B12 at all.
I've made one of the themes of my life tthe pursuit of health, and I
think that's a far more important in my steady levels than the
consideration of intake.
Being a raw foodist isn't enough. Are you eating a low-fat diet? Do you
wake up every morning to an alarm clock instead of waiting until you're
rested enough to wake naturally? Do you take stimulants or drugs? Do
you exercise? Do you sun bathe? Do you have your stress under control?
The list could go on and on.
All of these elements play into your health, and as part of a holistic
approach to living they will continue to be the main trust in my effort
to increase my health.
Even with no B12 deficiency to worry about, I still have to acknowledge
the seriousness of a possible deficiency.
Although I'm not concerned, I'll probably get myself retested in
another three years to see how I'm doing.
At the end of the day, though, I think a worry-free mind is worth more
than purity. If you're worried sick over B12, or you have any reason
believe you might be deficient, simply get tested or take some
methylcobalamin B12 pills. If you notice a huge improvement, maybe
you're onto something. In any event, I promise I won't throw you out of
the raw food club. :)