Vitamin B12 (and D)

There are two vitamins that I recommend that everyone -- vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore -- supplement. One is vitamin D: our bodies can make enough of it given enough sunshine, but our supplies can run dry in the dark winter, and a lot of people stay out of the sun during the summer months for skin cancer or sunburn concerns. Everyone should supplement during the winter, and if you're avoiding the sun in summer, supplement then also. (Plant-derived D2 may be slightly less efficient than vitamin D3 derived from animal fats, but so what? This is just insurance against running out of your body's natural supply, and take a little bit more if you're worried about it.)

The other is B12. Vitamin B12 is found in flesh, eggs, and dairy products but is produced by bacteria, so it is not an animal product itself. If one was really hot about not taking pills I suppose they could culture the appropriate bacteria and eat the cultures. (Or eat your own feces...our gut contains B12-making bacteria, though apparently not enough or not in the right part of the gut for it to be absorbed in most people.) But a pill is a hell off a lot less trouble. B12 deficiency is not just an issue for vegans; many cases result in omnivores from inability to absorb it adequately from food. Since deficiency is serious but doesn't show early symptoms, and supplementation is safe and cheap, buy a bottle of pills once a year or so and take one a week.

Vitamin B12: how much, how often? | NutritionFacts.org (NutritionFacts.org)

So far, of all the posts, Vegan B12 deficiency: putting it into perspective was the most commented upon. The conversation there and under the corresponding video, centered on practical questions about how someone eating vegan — no meat, dairy, or eggs — can ensure a regular, reliable source of vitamin B12. Here are the recommendations I posted:

In my professional opinion, the easiest and most inexpensive way to get one’s B12 is to take at least 2,500 mcg (µg) of cyanocobalamin once each week, ideally as a chewable, sublingual, or liquid supplement (you can’t take too much–all you get is expensive pee).

Or, if you’d rather get into the habit of taking something daily (instead of once-a-week), I recommend at least 250mcg (I know the math doesn’t “add up” but that’s due to the vagaries of the B12 receptor system — I’ll record and upload a video showing how I arrived at these recommendations).

Or, if you’d rather get it from B12-fortified foods instead of supplements, I’d suggest three servings a day, each containing at least 25% of the “Daily Value” on its label (again, I’ll explain). Such foods can be as exotic as a certain type of “nutritional yeast” or as simple as a bowl of Cheerios.

Vitamin D and muscle function

MRI scans of patients with vitamin D deficiency and muscle fatigue, showed that "those with very low vitamin D levels improved their muscle efficiency significantly when their vitamin D levels were improved."

Vitamin D Boosts Energy Levels from Within Cells: Study (Science World Report)

A latest study conducted by researchers at the Newcastle University suggests that vitamin D is important for improving the functions of our muscle, which thereby enhance the function of the mitochondria (power house of the cell), leading to a boost in energy levels.

Tamari Roasted Chickpeas Recipe

Ooh, this looks good. Click through to PlantPoweredKitchen.com for more info.

Recipe Page | Plant-Powered Kitchen

Ingredients

1 can (14-oz/398-ml) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 tbsp olive oil (optional, can omit for oil-free)
2 – 2 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (balsamic vinegar is also good)
2 – 2 1/2 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp fresh thyme
or oregano) (optional, can omit if making for children)
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On the baking sheet, add all ingredients and toss to combine. Bake for about 25 minutes, tossing chickpeas once or twice during baking, until tamari and lemon juice are absorbed (chickpeas will still be tender, not crunchy). Serve warm for appetizers or at room temperature for snacks. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

For Weight Loss, Less Exercise May Be More (NYT Well)

Could less exercise be more beneficial for weight loss? NYT's "Well" blog reports:
For Weight Loss, Less Exercise May Be More

On the other hand, the men who had exercised the most, working out for 60 minutes a day, had managed to drop some flab, losing an average of five pounds each. The scientists calculated that that weight loss, while by no means negligible, was still about 20 percent less than would have been expected given the number of calories the men were expending each day during exercise, if food intake and other aspects of their life had held steady.

Meanwhile, the volunteers who’d worked out for only 30 minutes a day did considerably better, shedding about seven pounds each, a total that, given the smaller number of calories that they were burning during exercise, represents a hefty 83 percent “bonus” beyond what would have been expected, says Mads Rosenkilde, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Copenhagen who led the study.

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Harvard study of teens links soft-drink consumption to violence | Harvard Magazine

A study of over 18,000 Boston public high school students show that those who were heavy soda drinkers were more prone to violent behavior. (And "heavy" in this context only means five or more sodas in a week.) Harvard study of teens links soft-drink consumption to violence

Other studies have linked soda consumption with depression and suicidal behavior, but Hemenway is not aware of anyone else studying the correlation with violent behavior. One further avenue for research is elucidating the underlying mechanism. It could be that a third variable, such as the quality of parenting, influences both soda consumption and aggressive behavior. (The researchers attempted to control for socioeconomic status and the quality of parenting; when they did, the correlation remained strong.) If there is a cause-effect relationship, the researchers speculate that excess caffeine and sugar (along with the subsequent blood-sugar crash) may leave soda drinkers irritable and prone to aggression; or maybe those who drink soda in place of healthier food miss out on nutrients that promote a calmer demeanor.

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Extra vitamin D may not help ward off colds (Reuters Health via Yahoo! News)

Reuters reports on a study of vitamin D for prevention of the common cold.

Loading up on vitamin D is unlikely to prevent the common cold this winter, a new study from New Zealand suggests.

Despite past research suggesting the sunshine vitamin may help clear bacteria and otherwise boost immune health, Kiwis taking monthly megadoses of vitamin D got just as many colds as those who were given vitamin-free placebo pills.

"In the population we studied, we can be very confident that it has no effect on prevention or severity (of colds)," said lead author Dr. David Murdoch, from the University of Otago in Christchurch.

That population included adults who were healthy to begin with, so Murdoch and his colleagues can't say whether vitamin D may help ward off colds in kids or people who are very deficient in the vitamin.

Alzheimer's as "Type 3 Diabetes"


In an NYT op-ed (a dicey place to get nutrition advice, but we'll go with it for the moment), Mark Bittman asks, Is Alzheimer's Type 3 Diabetes?

Bitman's question is based on a cover story in New Scientist (available for free but annoying download here) on research on the way that the brains of rats and rabbits brains respond to insulin. By using drugs or diet to interfere with these animals' insulin metabolism, researchers have been able to generate Alzheimer's-like changes in their brains, including a telltale rise in beta-amyloid proteins.

Logos 'brand' youthful minds (The Independent)


The Independent reports on research into the effect of fast and junk food marketing on the brains of kids:

Logos 'brand' youthful minds (The Independent)

Really?: Adding Milk to Tea Destroys its Antioxidants (Well)

Yet another good reason to cut back on dairy.

Really?: Adding Milk to Tea Destroys its Antioxidants

Compared with water, black tea “significantly improved” arterial function, the researchers found, “whereas addition of milk completely blunted the effects of tea.”

The scientists repeated similar tests in mice and found the same results, which they speculated may be a result of proteins in milk binding to and neutralizing antioxidants.

Kids More Likely To Eat Vegetables With Goofy Names, Study Says (The Huffington Post)

Who wouldn't want to eat "X-Ray Vision Carrots"?

Kids More Likely To Eat Vegetables With Goofy Names, Study Says (The Huffington Post)

Renaming fruits and vegetables with catchy, attractive monikers could more easily convince children to eat them, according to a new study. Researchers at Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab tested the likelihood that students at five ethnically and economically diverse schools schools would eat items dubbed "X-Ray Vision Carrots," "Power Punch Broccoli," "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops" and "Silly Dilly Green Beans" over the same foods labeled "Food of the Day."

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