Submitted by An_Old_Big_Tree in Vegan (edited )

Hey all

Here's a debate i have with myself quite often, I was wondering if other vegans generally care about this.

So far as I can tell, vegans can't get B12 from anything that isn't fortified with B12 or a straight up pill/injection.

But we need it. It seems to me that I get quite bad effects from low B12 levels, and it's a bit scary since it's not clear to me what effects are permanent.

The core element of B12 is Cobalt, though. And, so far as I can tell any fortified food or pill or whatever is going to be getting it's B12 from a lab process. This brings a lot of capitalism and mediation into the picture.

Much worse than that, however, is that most Cobalt, so far as I know, comes from Congo. The remaining most of it comes from the Central African Republic and Zambia.

If you don't know what mining is like in Congo, I recommend as an introduction you watch [this documentary]. It appears to me to be a truly terrible situation.

So; so far I've pointed out that there's a tension between a person's veganism, their health, and the terrible suffering of formerly colonised and continually brutalised peoples.

Separately, but related:

Mussels and Oysters have both B12, vitamin D, and essental oils Omega-3 DHA and EPA that vegans can only synthesize from other oils and do not get from their diet.

It's not clear how much they suffer, if at all, but since (I'm assuming) they have very little by way of a nervous system, and since they also have very little by way of a capacity to dodge and avoid pain (they just close based on touch, afaik), it seems unlikely that it would have been evolutionarily helpful for them to have developed significant capacity to feel pain.

These are also farmed, so far as I know, and quite possibly do not so much harm to the ocean generally when farmed. I don't know how it works.

This all said, if you're vegan, have you thought about this? What does it say about us if we have not? And does this change anything?



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Infinity wrote (edited )

This is a good book on b12 as well as an interview with the author of the book. This book was really popular on the vegan forums years ago.

I suppliment with B12 injections. I have been doing this for a couple years. You don't have to be vegan to be deficient in B12. Most people are deficient because our world itself is deficient in many resources. They inject animals with methylcobal b12 vitamin.

There are two kinds of injections just like there are two kinds of pill b12s: methylcobal and cyanocobal. I take methylcobal. B12 deficiency is worse if you have any kind of history of drug use, alcohol, some people even say caffeine, even stress is known to lower stores of B12. The book explains how the symptoms of a deficiency range from depression, lack of energy, lethargy, grumpiness, all sorts of things.

When I first started supplementing with B12 (injections) I noticed it right away. My brain works better, my memory has improved, my moods are better. Slowly over time, it gets better. Perhaps this is a placebo. The mind is a powerful drug. I'm very sensitive to everything I put into my body. Supplementing B12 has helped me bury a love affair with the dark crystal devil. At the beginning, I was supplementing every day. Over time you don't need it as much. I find that my body seems to tell me when I should supplement, but I have no legitimate method of measuring this. It's a guessing game based on my physical feelings and my own logic which can only be so objective if at all.

This is what I use. I have used many other forms of B12, but this is the only kind that I have noticed anything at all. Do you think this is mined in Congo?

I don't necessarily take the b12 because I'm afraid of being deficient in a specific nutrient. The top reason I take it at all is that it makes me feel better, happier, and smarter, which makes me feel better about myself. I focus more on the psychological aspects of this vitamin vs the nutritional aspects of supplementation. The other supplements I take like calcium, multivitamin, vitamin D are for nutritional concerns. I don't feel them like I feel the B12. I have not taken them very long either. I'm not even sure if they do anything. I'm not that big of an advocate of supplementation. I don't know very much about it. I'm enthusiastic about the B12. It's helped me so much especially regarding cognitive function. A lot of other people who I have given it to say they don't notice a difference at all. A lot of vegans online who do the same injections say they do notice a huge difference. I can only speak for myself. It was especially helpful during the beginning stages of recovery, and I think that they should give people shots in hospitals, clinics, places where people go through detox, ect.

B12 regulations, as well as other regulations on what constitutes as a healthy range, keep widening in the medical fields. Also, they are different country to country. For example in Japan, minimum recommended blood levels of B12, 500 pg/ml are more than twice the minimum acceptable levels in the U.S., 200 pg/ml. There is no universal consensus of what constitutes as normal levels of B12. This is a water soluble vitamin so the good news is that any excess you get comes out in the urine.


An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

Do you think this is mined in Congo?

I don't know, but given how much of the world's cobalt comes from there, it seems quite likely. It'd get hoarded out of the country in its raw form, perhaps to china, then refined into an ingredient (I think cobyric acid), then sent somewhere else probably to make the vitamin, then that's packaged and sent to the company that then distributes it where you are. This is the point I'm trying to get people to engage on.


ziq wrote (edited )

This isn't medical advice so please don't emulate me - I've been veg most of my life, raw vegan for a decade. I've never needed supplements. I get my B12 from eating unwashed greens that I grow myself.

All animals produce B12 that is released in their fecal matter. The greens have bug poo on them, and I also grow them in manure, which I guess splashes onto the leaves.

We also secrete B12 in all our bodily fluids, including from our genitals... Oral sex is good for you.

I forage for a lot of my food and eat it as I'm picking it. There are often bugs on the food or inside it if it's fruit. I guess both are sources of B12.


dele_ted wrote

eating unwashed greens that I grow myself.

This is the dream. Being able to grow my own vegetables and fruit, not organic, but biodynamic. Just the thought of being able to supplement my shitty, watered down supermarket supply with stuff grown in my own biodynamic garden gives me a wide smile and a warm heart.

You make me a little jealous, ziq.


ziq wrote

I've been thinking about this. If I had no way to get B12 without exploiting miners - then I think I'd be okay with eating mussels if I only had to do it a couple times a year.

Mussels are one of the better sources for vitamin B-12, with one serving providing more vitamin B-12 than you need each day. Each 3-ounce serving of cooked mussels contains 20.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which is 8.5 times the recommended dietary allowance for most adults of 2.4 micrograms per day.

You'd need to eat several portions of the mussels to get the equivalent of a 500mcg Methycobal injection.

If you took the B12 supplement orally, you'd need to take it on a regular basis (probably daily) to get the adequate levels.

With injections you really only need it twice a year unless you're already severely deficient, in which case you get an injection once a day for a week, then once a month until you've recovered.

It looks like minute amounts of cobalt are used to create B12 supplements, while the majority of it is used in manufacturing superalloys. Meaning you'd do far more harm buying a car, a battery or anything else that has a cobalt alloy in it than you would by getting a Methycobal injection twice a year.

But Methycobal injections are actually very scarce, I know it's not sold in the US at all because I post it to my partner there whenever she needs it. So if your only 2 choices are between: daily oral B12 supplements that are created by exploiting miners - and mussels a few times a year, I think mussels might make more sense.


__deleted_____ wrote

The great thing about B12 is it stores in your body for a long time. So if you're going to eat mussels to get your levels up, you won't have to do it often.


________deleted wrote

What about land snails? Do they contain B12? I'm skepitical that anything that is extracted from the ocean by capitalists could be non-exploitative.


harlequin wrote

Low Salt Vegimite is B12 fortified, the regular stuff isn't.

That is if you can find it where you are, best guess try a decent online Aussie shop.


An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I'm not sure what you mean to say here - the problem of mining cobalt remains for all B12 fortified stuff.


harlequin wrote

I understood the source of the b12 to be from the yeast, I've sent them an email to clarify.


An_Old_Big_Tree OP wrote

I'm interested to hear the response, though so far as I understand, yeast products with B12 are fortified themselves in the way I'm concerned with.


harlequin wrote

After a few backwards forwards.. They, the company, refuse to tell me any source or even country of origin as they state the sources are not disclosed to non employed persons or some such rubbish, I know of cobalt mines in oz but it doesn't help if Vegemite source from France... Sorry couldn't help more