May 1, 2013
One major problem for vegetarian
diets is easy to overcome
As you may know, I'm a big advocate of the Living Foods Diet. But I'll admit that this diet has one major problem. In fact, it's a big problem for any largely vegetarian diet. That problem is the availability of vitamin B12.

You see, plants have a molecule that looks like vitamin B12, but it's actually an "analogue." That means it's not truly identical to active vitamin B12. So for vegetarians, you must have a good source of true B12.

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A recent report found that the Korean seaweed purple laver contains substantial active vitamin B12. The researchers found a "substantial amount," 133.8 mcg/100 gms, in the raw seaweed. That amount more than halved in seasoned and toasted laver products. The report also suggested that absorption of this B12 in humans should be about 50% at our pH conditions, indicating that purple laver would be a good source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians.

A second study found that there is active vitamin B12 in white button mushrooms, presumably from bacteria in the soils in which they grow.

Vitamin B12 is so important that if I even think it's deficient in any patient, I usually give an injection. That includes meat eaters. Why? Because B12 is hard to absorb, especially as we age and produce less acid in our stomachs. Here are two plant products that may offer high absorption at a pH of 2.0, which is easy for you to achieve.

I do get my vitamin B12 tested periodically. I am well within the reference range, but admittedly on the lower side. While I eat seaweed, I'm now eating more of the purple laver, as its molecules are true vitamin B12 and not inactive "analogues." If you eat the Living Foods Diet or a largely vegetarian diet, you can find purple laver in many Asian markets.

REF: J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Apr 8;57(7):2793-6; J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (14).

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