Vitamin B12 Recommendations

Vitamin B12 Recommendations on a Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet has been shown time and time again to be the most health-promoting, disease-fighting, and nutrient-dense way of eating possible. Emphasizing a wide range of vegetables (especially leafy green varieties), fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices makes it simple to achieve nutrient needs while avoiding chronic overnutrition. Guides such as the Plant-Based Food Guide Pyramid and Plate, 6 Daily 3’s, and Notable Nutrient Chart help with the high level view of what exactly a day-in-the-plant-based-life may look like. As does this post of Everything You Need to Know About A Plant-Based Diet in Less Than 500 Words and Sample Meal Plans Made Simple + Hundreds of Recipes.

One nutrient that likely will fall short on a plant-based diet is cobalamin, commonly referred to as vitamin B12. B12 is produced by microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, and algae, but not by animals or plants. B12 is found in animal products because they concentrate the nutrient after ingesting these microorganisms along with their food in their flesh, organs, and byproducts (e.g. eggs and dairy). Also, ruminant animals (such as cows, sheep, and goats) have bacteria in their rumen that produce vitamin B12.

In a vegan diet, vitamin B12 may be found in fortified plant milks, cereals, and other foods, such as nutritional yeast. However, if vegans are not conscientious about taking in the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), there could be harmful health consequences. Deficiency can result in potentially irreversible neurological disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and megaloblastic anemia. B12 deficiency is not unique to vegans who do not supplement. Deficiency is also a concern with aging, medication use, and gastrointestinal issues. So much so that it has been recommended that all adults over the age of 60 years supplement to avoid deficiency.

Interestingly, the body is able to store B12 for upwards of even ten years. To further complicate this, signs and symptoms for deficiency are either not noticeable or simply very subtle. So, if B12 is not being taken in at adequate levels or if there are absorption problems, deficiency will eventually ensue. Because blood tests for B12 levels can be skewed by other variables, irreversible damage may occur before a deficiency is detected.

RDA’s for vitamin B12 across the lifespan can be found in detail here. For non-pregnant adults, aged 14 and above, the RDA is 2.4 micrograms per day. To ensure this is absorbed (in a healthy individual, barring any possible inhibitors), higher doses are recommended.

B12

 

The bottom line is that it seems the best way to supplement to maximize absorption and maintain optimal blood levels of B12 is for vegan adults (as well as non-vegan adults over the age of 60) should consider supplementing with these doses of vitamin B12:

  • 50 µg twice a day OR
  • 150 µg once a day OR
  • 2,500 µg once a week

High doses of B12 are safe and there isn’t a tolerable upper limit that has been established. It is best to undergo testing regularly and adjust the dose as necessary.

 

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Vegiterranean Feast

Vegiterranean Feast

Making all things Vegiterranean on #LunchbreakLive with Jane Velez-Mitchell and Lisa Karlan…hummus, baba ganoush, easy caprese, and falafels. Bring your appetite and your questions!

Posted by Plant-Based Dietitian on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

 

Here are two of the recipes:

Easy Caprese

A simple, traditional dish, this combination satisfies as a perfect appetizer. Hearty in texture, but zesty and light in flavor, you can throw this together in minutes and enjoy as a light snack in the afternoon or before dinner.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

2 large heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
4 ounces organic soft tofu, thinly sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons reduced balsamic vinegar

1. Layer the tomato slices on a large plate. Evenly place the basil leaves over the tomatoes, followed by the tofu slices. Drizzle the vinegar over all.
2. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Note: You can use your favorite regular balsamic vinegar as is, or try reducing it. Using at least triple the amount of vinegar called for in the recipe in a saucepan (you can store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week), bring the vinegar to a boil over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until at desired thickness, at least 20 to 30 minutes.

Hummus of the Earth

Hummus should be a food group with its infinite combinations of ways to enjoy. With the addition of cannellini beans and spices, this essential version is earthy, warm, and classic. Use it in sandwiches, as a dip, or in salad.

Makes 1 3⁄4 cups

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed if using canned
1 cup cooked cannellini beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
1⁄4 cup nutritional yeast
11⁄2 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice with zest
11⁄2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon tamari
3⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin
3⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3⁄4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder
1⁄8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, cannellini beans, nutritional yeast, 1⁄4 cup water, lemon juice and zest, tahini, tamari, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder, and red pepper flakes, and puree until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
2. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

The rest of the recipes can be found in The Vegiterranean Diet.

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A Physician’s Guide to Plant-Based Diets

I am thrilled to announce that my article, A Physician’s Guide to Plant-Based Diets, was just published in Kaiser Permanente’s summer issue of their medical journal, The Permanente Journal.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 9.05.12 PM

Kaiser is leading the way in preventive medicine, increasingly incorporating plant-based nutrition on the front lines with their patients and employees. This guide was designed as a way to provide healthcare practitioners with the information about the benefits of eating plant-based diets, the details of the nutrition, and methods of implementing these ideas into their patient care plan. Please feel free to print this out as material to offer your own healthcare providers, friends, family, and colleagues if they have questions about your diet. Or use it as a reference for yourself. My goal is to make plant-based nutrition as accessible and easy as possible for everyone, which is why I am excited to offer this necessary new tool.

Here is the link to the online version: http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/…/2016/s…/6192-diet.html Print versions are also available for purchase here.

 

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How to Optimize the “Whole” in a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet

Food can feel complicated. But it really doesn’t need to be. Keeping it simple and as close to nature as possible is all that is necessary. An optimal diet that reduces risk for disease is based on whole plant foods which are recognizable and enjoyed in their most intact form, avoiding animal products and processed foods. But what is a processed food, exactly? Clearly, Twinkies, Skittles, and fluorescent colored energy drinks would fit the bill of being highly processed. But what about something less obvious…such as a green smoothie, pasta, or plant-based yogurt?

From a diced onion and juiced carrot to refined sugar and artificially-colored corn chip, there is a whole lot of gray area in between when defining processed foods. Especially when you consider that processing includes all sorts of transformations that can be done on food, including grating, mincing, chopping, blending, boiling, baking, blanching, chargrilling, canning, pickling, extracting, changing the chemical or physical structure, etc., etc. The list goes on and on.

With many–but not all–of these alterations, there may be implications, such as these:

  • Nutrients can become lost. From the moment a plant is plucked from the Earth, nutrients start to degrade. Even from the time between when food is harvested to the time it ends up in your kitchen–let alone on your plate–significant losses occur. Cooking foods causes further leaching of certain nutrients and refining a whole grain significantly reduces fiber, protein, and other key nutrients.
  • Unhealthy or potentially harmful substances can be added in. On most food production lines, preservatives, artificial colors, (artificial) sweeteners, artificial flavors, stabilizers, thickeners, and other ingredients are added into the original food for myriad survival reasons. Even using high temperatures to cook potato or grain products can promote byproducts such as acrylamide formation.
  • Olives versus Olive OilNutrients can be concentrated. There is an increase in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals when blending and juicing fruits and vegetables (however, this may also reduce fiber and satiety). Further, a dramatic enhancement of fat and calories is found in olive oil as compared to whole olives or carbohydrates from sugar beets as compared to table sugar when refined (however, this reduces fiber and most other nutrients).
  • Satiety can decrease. When fiber is reduced, many health benefits are minimized and satiety is often also slighted.
  • Caloric densityCalories can increase. Taking out fiber or water leaves room for more calories. Highly processed foods such as sugars and oil contain the most calorically dense foods of all. But even dried fruit increases caloric density as water is removed.
  • Enzymes can become activated. Certain foods are best eaten raw or even sprouted, to protect their disease-fighting phytochemicals and to enhance nutrient absorption. For example, allicin in garlic protects against cancer and is only activated when cut or crushed based on the enzyme allinase. Similarly, sprouting seeds significantly improves their nutritional benefits.
  • Cravings may be enhanced. Highly processed foods have been shown to provoke  physiological responses similar to addictive drugs.

Here is a graphic to help illustrate the journey foods can take from its original state to a more processed version of itself: 

Calorie Nutrient Density

Here are 5 ways to optimize the “whole” in your whole food, plant-based diet:

  1. Fill at least half of your plate (or bowl) with raw or lightly cooked vegetables and fruits.
    • Include at least half of your diet from raw foods to benefit from their original nutritional profile.
    • Include cooked foods as well to incorporate the benefits that take place with cooking certain nutrients, such as carotenoids.
    • Drink soups and stews to make sure you retain any nutrients lost in the cooking broth.
  2. Minimize or avoid oils and refined sweeteners.
  3. Choose whole grains over refined grains as often as possible.
  4. When purchasing food with a label:
    • Focus exclusively on the ingredient list.
    • Aim for the fewest ingredients possible.
    • Completely recognizable and pronounceable ingredients.
    • ignore misleading marketing on the front of the package;
    • Avoid artificial flavors/sweeteners/colors, preservatives, stabilizers, thickeners.
  5. Prioritize The 6 Daily 3’s: 3 servings of legumes, leafy green vegetables, other-colored vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and exercise.

6 Daily 3's Web Sized

Ultimately, it all lies on a spectrum…

Spectrum

 

The post How to Optimize the “Whole” in a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet appeared first on Plant Based Dietitian.

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Everything You Need to Know About A Vegan Diet in Less Than 500 Words

Without a doubt, veganism is steadily on the rise, growing daily with news of its vast advantages for human health, for the struggling and depleted planet, for the billions of animals that are needlessly tortured and slaughtered every year for food, as well as for many other remarkable reasons. In response to this growing demand …

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Three Things To Know About Vitamin B12

You can get all of your essential nutrients* on a thoughtful plant-based diet…except for vitamin B12. *Vitamin D is a nutrient our bodies were designed to attain via the sun. Though it is a common deficiency worldwide, this is not an issue exclusive to vegans. Here are Three Things To Know About Vitamin B12….in collaboration with …

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5 Reasons You Can Stop Pursuing Protein and Start Focusing on Food

Protein panic portends to prevail amongst the vast majority of the population. During this persistent quest for “enough” of this magical macronutrient, priorities shift away from seeking wholesome foods and, simultaneously, a phobia of the other two macronutrients – carbohydrates and fats – ensues. Here are 5 reasons you can stop pursuing protein and start focusing on food: …

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Pick Proper Packaging: Why the Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts

You are quite literally what you eat. And there are dramatic differences between the nourishment you receive from whole plant foods and that in which you receive from animal products…   Here is an excerpt from my book, The Vegiterranean Diet: Contrary to popular belief, we don’t eat isolated nutrients. We are not filling our plates …

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Three Things to Know About Iron Absorption

Iron may be the most abundant mineral on the planet, but it is also the most common and widespread nutritional deficiency in the world. Here are Three Things To Know about iron absorption….in collaboration with Vegan Street… Although you may take in plenty of iron, absorption may be impaired by the intake of phytates, tannic …

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Dietary Cholesterol in the News

In the news is yet another powerful argument against reductionism or nutritionism…aka vilifying or glorifying one specific nutrient and ignoring the entire packaging of the food within which it is contained. As the USDA ramps up to set the latest 2015 Dietary Guidelines, as they do every five years, a very interesting – and somewhat …

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