Today I am continuing with additional sources of vitamin B12 for vegans and, yes, raw vegans as well. Going through two things: mushrooms and plants that co-exist (by literally touching each other) with B12-producing bacteria.
Mushrooms is another food group that has been shown to contain vitamin B12 in varying amounts. Of course, Vitamin B12 is not produced by mushrooms themselves. It is taken up from the soil or synthesized by bacteria on their surface. Specifically, many of those species growing in a wild in Europe have been tested for vitamin B12. Some only have traces, like porcini, parasol or oyster musrooms. Other such as golden chanterelle and black trumpet have a bit more. And still others have inactive analogs of B12. To date, the absolute confirmed winner of bioavailable B12 is shiitake mushroom. It is found in the wild but also massively cultivated. As a matter of fact, its production ranks second in the global mushroom market. Although shiitake B12 content varies from crop to crop, the average content is 5.6 μg per 100 g of dry weight. If you do the math, consumption of approximately 50 g of dried shiitake or 500 grams of raw ones can give you 2.4 μg of Vitamin B12. Although, ingestion of such amounts every day is not very practical, unless you are a mushroom maniac! But they can be incorporated on top of other B12 foods. The taste of raw shiitake? By themselves and raw, I don’t think they have the best taste ever. They are soft and unlike regular white mushrooms not really chewy. However, that’s my tastebuds, yours may be different. And mixed into salads or other dishes, I think they should be excellent.
Plants in symbiosis with B12-producing bacteria
Vitamin B12 is continuing to be the hot topic. After all, even non-vegetarians have a hard time getting enough of it and at the same time its deficiency is deadly. Moreover, vegans who need help with acquiring B12 are always around no matter you go. Finally, it is captivating to learn about it as it is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin known to man. Thus, scientists are constantly on a quest of searching for plant-based vitamin B12. Just a month ago German folks felt like helping the world with this fight for B12. They looked at the land plants that form symbiotic relationship with B12-producing bacteria (just like in case of nori). So, such plants accumulate B12 in their flesh. And bacteria called Frankia alni forms symbiosis with roots of many land plants. Some of the plants that the study looked into were sea buckthorn, sidea couch grass (related to rye and wheat) and elecampane (from the sunflower family). All three contain a considerable amounts of B12 in them: 37 μg, 26 μg and 11 μg in 100 g of dry weight, respectively. The most familiar to many people is certainly a prickly sea buckthorn tree with its eye-catching coral berries. The berries is actually where the vitamin resides. A pretty small amount, 6.5 g of dried sea buckthorn berries would give you 2.4 μg of vitamin B12. The findings are optimistic, however no studies on humans were conducted and no populations getting vitamin B12 solely from these plants have been identified.
My hopes that you are not getting tired with B12 – seems like a serious hurdle to jump over if you are planning to go vegan…
Almost done. Here is some vitamin B12 wisdom to keep in your head:
- You absolutely need vitamin B12
- And it has to be naturally-occurring – methylcobalamin
- If you feel like avoiding organic soil, egg yolks or B12 supplements, your best bet is to load on nori as well as shiitake mushrooms and sea buckthorn berries. All three have considerable amounts of B12, can be eaten in raw form, accessible and tasty. Plus nori and shiitake have been confirmed to successfully replenish B12 reserves in humans. Hey, all three would go nice together in some salad; sea buckthorn berries would give a unique sour tone to it!
- If you are going to rely solely on these foods, to double cover your back, monitor your vitamin B12 by going to the doctor and doing blood tests every 2-3 years
Finally, to calm you down (but not to make you relax), a reminder: vitamin B12 gets recycled, so years and even a decade may pass until you become paranoiac (kidding 😉 ).