30 Bananas a Day!

From: Frederic Patenaude

Let’s talk about an important area of controversy: the Vitamin B-12 Controversy! Do you need a supplement? A lot of raw food leaders seem to think not. My advice four many years has been the same: because vitamin
B12 is such a key vitamin, and that the jury is still not completely
out on whether vegans absolutely need it or now, it is better to take
the supplement as an insurance policy.


Vitamin B12 plays a key role in brain function and the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and cannot be manufactured by
plants or animals.


It is said that the physiology of vitamin B12 in humans is a very complex process, therefore we are more prone to a B12 deficiency than
most other vitamins.

The lack of intrinsic factor (a glycoprotein produced in the stomach and necessary for the absorption of B12) is often a cause for a B12
deficiency.

Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver and other parts of the body. Our stores of vitamin B12 can be depleted depending on how much we can absorb, how much is present in the diet, and how much is secreted or
used up every day.

The symptoms of a deficiency may include:

  • Itchy or tingling tongue. The tongue suddenly itches from time to time without warning.

  • White spots in the skin, resulting from melanin becoming absent in the area. These often occur on the outside of the forearm, but may
    occur in other places. The longer these spots are there, the whiter they
    get. As time goes by, the spots become very dry and flaky to the extent
    that small raw spots of skin may be exposed.

  • Sharp stabbing, tingling pain in the palm of one or both hands. This occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason in a spot directly below
    the ring finger, approximately where the first palm crease is. If B12
    deficiency is not treated, a tingling pain may begin to occur along the
    outside edge of the hand, starting from the wrist. This pain occurs when
    the wrist is extended.

  • Sores at the corners of the mouth, sometimes extending along the edge of the lip. These are raw spots, not blisters, and they tend to
    come and go.

  • Nerve shock in the side of the body. It can be felt coming on a few seconds before it hits, and then it hits almost like a mild but deep
    electric shock and quickly subsides. It can occur at the side of either
    hip or on either side of the upper body, along the ribs. It can occur
    consecutively in at least two or three locations, one right after the
    other.

  • Shortness of breath, but without chest pain. This can occur when walking just a few yards.

  • Eye twitch, usually in one eye or the other. It can occur on the eyelid or just below the eye.

  • Facial pain, usually on only one side of the face at a time. This pain varies so much that it would be difficult to describe all the
    possibilities. This can present as a dull pain in the cheek bone right
    underneath an eye, or a sharp shooting pain across the forehead,
    sometimes coming downward from the scalp to the edge of the nose by the
    eye.

  • Tingling along the back of one or both thighs, starting at the hips and shooting downward.

  • Memory loss and/or disorientation.

  • Migraine headaches. These may be preceded by a temporary blind spot in the center of the field of vision, usually lasting about ten
    minutes, and sometimes followed by facial pain under the eyes. After the
    blind spot vanishes, there may be zigzag streaks through the vision
    that may last up to hours. Even in the same person, there may be extreme
    variations in the headaches themselves. They may be quite severe with
    nausea or they may be virtually nonexistent.

  • Migraines of most individuals have causes other than B12 deficiency, but migraines of certain individuals diminish or stop completely after they are treated for B12 deficiency.

  • Irritability and/or depression and/or personality changes.

We obtain vitamin B12 from bacteria, either directly through bacteria producing the vitamin in our own digestive track, or through animal products that contain it, or through supplementations. Many common processed foods are fortified with vitamin B12.


You can also get a B12 analogue in plants. It was often recommended for vegans to consume certain plants or seaweed containing vitamin B12. However, it turns out that this B12 is an analogous form and can compete
with real vitamin B12 by blocking receptors in the body for the
absorption of the body’s own B12. Therefore, the consensus among all
vegan organizations is that plant foods cannot be considered a source of
vitamin B12, and in many cases some B12-rich foods such as seaweed or
spirulina can inhibit B12 metabolism and precipitate a deficiency.


All major vegan organizations and doctors recommend consuming foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as soy milk.


Because these foods are not commonly eaten on a raw food diet, the vitamin B12 supplementation issue is a very legitimate question.


Dr. Graham advises us that most B12 deficiencies are in meat eaters and not vegans. The body can produce its own vitamin B12 supplies. As
long as we take care of our digestive track and our overall health, we
should be okay. Graham recognizes the potential dangers of a B12
deficiency and claims that the best thing might be to take care of your
health, monitor how you feel, and if a situation should arise where you
need supplementation, you should certainly take a supplement.


My problem with this approach is that once a person realizes that they have a vitamin B12 deficiency, they might already have experienced
serious symptoms. If the deficiency is not taken care of promptly,
certain neurological damage are irreversible.


Not everyone is able to carefully monitor their health all the time, and someone might not realize they have a deficiency before their health is already compromised. They might be attributing their symptom to something else entirely, delaying the necessary steps that must be taken.


As mentioned before, the physiology of vitamin B12 is extremely complex and that’s why it’s a common modern deficiency. We don’t hear a lot of anyone suffering from scurvy or other deficiency diseases, because it would be very difficult to suffer from that disease as long
as you ate some fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C.

But for B12, there are many factors that can affect absorption and precipitate a deficiency. We also do not know for sure whether humans are designed to function on vitamin B12 produced in our guts or whether our body would normally get its vitamin B12 requirements from small amounts of animal products we may have eaten in our long history.


Children and pregnant women are even more vulnerable to a vitamin B12 deficiency.

For all those reasons combined, my recommendation remains to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

The needs for vitamin B12 are fairly low, and a supplement contains much more than we need, but because very little is actually absorbed, it is recommended to take a supplement containing 5 to 10 micrograms daily or take one containing 2000 micrograms once a week. Recent research
shows that it doesn’t matter if the supplement is sublingual or not.
Choose a brand you can trust.

NOTE: It is not recommended to consume animal foods to get your
vitamin B12. Eggs contain it, but also contain a factor that blocks absorption. There are of course many negative aspects of animal foods, so consuming them solely to get vitamin B12 is not the way to go.

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Replies to This Discussion

Supplementing To Fix Something That Isn't Broke... By Frederic Patenaude

Well Said, Fred. If you want to live that way, fine. But it seems like it just gets a whole bunch of people consuming things they don't need (which I have done and recommend otherwise). And in my opinion, you seem like the David Wolfe of the low fat raw vegan movement, always sending me emails about buying... you guessed it, stuff I don't really need! Thanks, but no thanks.

"There is another approach to health that's called the hygiene approach...cause health and not participate in the cause of symptoms. Health being the natural state..." - Dr. Graham
Yes I know this... but I am not soooo convinced that a complete "Health being the natural state..." - Dr. Graham" is good... have you experienced any symptoms? I was at the workshop, was not impressed or concerned about specifics.... I want to see/hear what others feel... think?

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