Rich Plant Sources of B12: Busting The Myths
Contrary to The Popular Belief There are Numerous Plant Sources Rich in B12 and B complex
In our previous blog on B complex, we shared that B12 is not found in plant-based sources. Hence vegetarians, need to resort to dairy products, fortified cereals or supplements that provide B12.
But in our recent studies, after talking to people belonging to the relevant field we have found out that all of this is not true.
This is a myth being propagated against veg, plant-based diet and is absolutely false. There is a lot of content on YouTube and Google about B12 and other nutrients which is completely false.
There are various tribes ( Hunza people, from Hunza Valley in Pakistan) which survive on an organic plant-based diet and they seem to be completely healthy.
Generations in India some parts of the world have survived on a plant-based diet without showing such symptoms of lack of any nutrient.
There are a lot of families in the world, who grow and consume their own organic produce and are completely healthy. They don’t show any signs of deficiency of so-called animal source-based nutrients. can’t say as to why and how these myths are being propagated.
Some people say it is a hidden agenda of the animal-based food and supplements industry so that people start embracing, animal-based diet, supplements, in the name of “Necessity for Being Healthy”.
If plants don’t have B12 then how these vegans are keeping themselves healthy for generations?
In this blog, I would explain, how it is absolutely necessary for a plant to have B12 in certain growth stages and what are the rich sources of B12 from plants.
Do Plants Really Contain B12?
Well, yes they do. A lot of plants contain B12. In fact, the fact of the matter is no animals make B 12. It is made by bacteria in the soil and absorbed by the plants for their growth purpose.
Animals like a cow, buffalo, and sheep etc contain B 12 because they eat all kinds of grass every day.
Hence, it’s counterintuitive to say that plants do not contain B 12. In fact, the truth is all the seeds contain B12. And here is the science behind it.
The seeds don’t have chlorophyll and hence, can’t rely on sunlight for growth. They have B 12 along with other B Vitamins because until it becomes a mature plant and the existence of seed vanishes, it is dependent on B Complex for its growth.
Hence, all seeds contain not just B 12 but the entire B complex.
All the dicotyledon seeds (the ones which have two leaves ) have relatively higher B 12 concentration compared to monocotyledons. Hence, in the early growth stage, they contain B complex. The content of B12 decreases as plant matures.
As the plant matures, it starts relying on the chlorophyll in leaves and sunlight for food.
Eventually, it becomes autonomous and derives all its necessary food from the canopy using photosynthesis.
Few plants like millets which grow in relatively harsh conditions contain B 12 even after they have matured completely. It is an alternate survival mechanism that nature has given them to survive in harsh condition.
For example, all legumes contain B12. Bacteria in legumes absorb Nitrogen from the soil and then transforms into nitrates, which is then turned into various amino acids and proteins.
Bacteria and plant both need B12 to achieve this. Without B12 bacteria can’t transform Nitrogen into Nitrates. Hence, all the legume crops, a significant concentration of B12.
Many algae-based food items like Chlorella also contain B12.
The bottom line is there is a myriad of plant-based sources of B 12 and the entire B complex. Just that the form and cooking style of consumption is important.
In fact, there are researches and people who claim that our gut can produce all the B 12 that we need if it’s clean.
But most of us don't have a clean gut due to various reasons.
Our lumen in the small intestine is also damaged due to intake of several drugs, acid, preservatives and other chemicals etc, our body is not able to produce and absorb vitamins properly.
The natural diet would keep your gut clean and healthy. And most of the health and nutrition related issues would be sorted.
Plant-Based Sources of B12
There are many plant-based sources that are rich in B 12 and B complex in general. You can choose, as per your taste, availability and choice. It’s not required that you take them daily.
Legumes Sprouts: Legumes are dicotyledon plants and hence they have high content of B 12 in their seeds. All dals are legumes and can be sprouted. But moong, peas and lentil (masoor) sprouts are more common but you can use sunflower seeds and any other legume of your choice as well.
Two to three days old sprouts are a great of B 12 and other nutrients. They are a nutrient powerhouse. Eating a bowl of sprouted moong or some other legume three times in a week or even daily, it will boost your health.
Change the water daily.
You can prepare a chat or salad like dish by adding more raw fruits and vegetable with these sprouts. It would be insanely healthy and tasty. I also eat moong and chana sprouts daily.
Wheatgrass Juice: Wheatgrass, as the names suggests the common wheat plant is called wheatgrass, when it has got freshly sprouted leaves.
Fresh wheatgrass juice contains 80µg/100ml.
This can fulfil your quota of B 12 for a month. You can consume it once in a while. Take it once or twice a month and you’re good. But even if you take it more frequently than this, it won’t create any harm.
Root Vegetables: B 12 is also found in root vegetables like carrot, raddish, turnip etc. It is absored by the bacteria in the soil. Hence, root vegetables can be another good source of B 12.
You are advised to eat them raw. Prolonged heating damages the B 12 molecule.
Buckwheat: Buckwheat is low maintenance and short-season crop. It does better on low fertility soils. And the yield is reduced if too much fertilizers are used.
It is an excellent source of protein,minerals, dietary fibre, B vitamins including B 12 and it is gluten free.
So people who are allergic to gluten can also eat it. It is consumed in India during navratri and other fasting days as “kuttu ka atta”, since, it is not a cereal. It’s noodles are consumed in Tibet and China.
Purple Nori (Lavers): Nori or Lavers is a kind of seaweed. Dried nori is known as purple nori. It is very prevalent in Japan and is used for wrapping sushi. It is one of the richest sources of B 12.
Chlorella: Chlorella is an algae as we have discussed in this blog earlier. It is packed with nutrients. It is a great source of antioxidants, protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins including B 12. You can consume it’s powder.
Some of the best plant-based food sources of B vitamins include:
Avocados, leafy greens, nuts, legumes, grains, milk, cheese, yoghurt,
enriched and fortified bread and cereals, mushrooms.
Fruiting bodies of several edible mushrooms have vitamin B 12.
Varieties like a Black trumpet mushroom (Craterellus cornucopioides) and golden chanterelle mushroom (Cantharellus cibarius) have been reported to have maximum Vit B 12
- All seeds contain B 12 since it’s necessary for their survival.
- B 12 is made by bacteria in soil and absorbed by plants. Hence, all plants at a certain growth stage have it.
- In fact, animals like cows and sheep have B 12 because they eat plants.
- There are numerous plant-based sources of B 12 and B complex, including moong sprouts, wheatgrass juice, pea sprouts, buckwheat, root vegetables like radish, turnip, some varieties of edible mushrooms etc.
- There is research that suggests if you have a clean and healthy gut, your body itself can produce enough B 12.
I would like to mention it’s not important to measure your intake of different vitamins and minerals.
It’s practically not possible to see if you have managed your daily need. But this doesn’t mean, you keep eating anything and everything. Just be cautious because extreme of anything is bad.
Our body functions as per our body clock and hence, the timing of taking food also plays a crucial role. Taking food on odd times interferes with your gut and digestive system.
Hence, try to follow a routine in terms of your diet.
In most cases, following a balanced diet, full of seasonal fruits, vegetables, legumes, oilseeds, cereals, and grains etc is enough to keep you healthy unless you have some particular medical condition. Incorporating some kind of physical activity and sunlight would be even more helpful.
Don’t throw tantrums, when your mom gives you pumpkin or green veggies to eat. Because, if you do it now when you’re young, you are likely to regret it later.
Taking care of your body while you’re still young, saves you from various unwated body related issues in later stages of your life. :)
Next blog is going to be on thyroid related issues in women.
Happy, and healthy eating to all.
Please let’s know your feedback and if there is anything you would like us to write about.