How to Get Nutritional Yeast in Melbourne (or Anywhere Else)

When going vegan and giving up meat, dairy and eggs, one nutritional concern is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is derived from bacteria and is naturally found in soil. Because plant food is normally washed clean, soil and therefore vitamin B12 is washed off. Since animals eat soil, bacteria can enter their bodies and produce vitamin B12 in the animals’ guts. However, most meat today comes from factory farms where animals eat animal feed that does not contain vitamin B12, so these animals get vitamin B12 from B12 supplements that are either added to their feed or the B12 is directly injected into the animal.

Regardless of whether you get vitamin B12 from animals or supplements, either way the B12 is originally derived from bacteria. It is far more efficient to get the B12 from the bacteria directly than via the “middleman” which is the slaughtered animal.

I have always been a fan of taking vitamin B12 pills, but lately I have found that eating and drinking food with fortified vitamin B12 is much easier because taking pills is a chore whereas eating delicious food like nutritional yeast is something you want to do because it tastes good.

When buying nutritional yeast it is important to know that not all nutritional yeast contains vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, and yeast is not a form of bacterium but rather it is a fungus. Nutritional yeast contains a lot of B vitamins but not vitamin B12. However, many nutritional yeast brands incorporate bacteria into the production process such that vitamin B12 is produced as well.

Simply check the label to see if the nutritional yeast brand contains vitamin B12.

Often nutritional yeast is available from health food or natural food stores, but I recommend simply buying it online via iHerb.

 

 

 

 

Q&A: Is Veganism Unnatural and Unhealthy?

Question: 

If being vegan necessitates having to eat food that have been fortified with nutrients artificially just to maintain a healthy body, does that mean the vegan diet is unhealthy?

Answer:

No, the vegan diet is healthy. Vitamin B12 is a necessary nutrient that does not come from plants. However, vitamin B12 is also not an animal product. Rather, vitamin B12 is derived from bacteria. As the vegan diet does not forbid food derived from bacteria, vitamin B12 in fortified food or from pills can be taken as part of a vegan diet.

In terms of whether taking an unnatural food is unhealthy, the answer is no. Processed or unnatural food is not necessarily unhealthy. This is the “appeal to nature” fallacy. There are no toxicology reports that prove that vitamin B12 is toxic and there is no scientific evidence that food that is processed is necessarily more toxic than food that is unprocessed.

What is natural?

There is significant industrialization nowadays that it’s very difficult to know what is natural or unnatural food.

The main problem with the term “natural” is that it is not scientific. There is no consistent definition.

Natural foods and all natural foods are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is often assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and all of whose ingredients are natural products (in the chemist’s sense of that term), but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_foods

Most people believe that a natural product is one that has not been chemically altered or processed. However, even cooking a product chemically alters it, and so do we classify the cooked beans we ate as natural or not?

Some go as far as to say that a natural product is not cooked and is completely raw (see raw foodism). Natural food is only natural if you can pick it from the ground or from a tree and there is no human intervention thereafter.

However, even with this raw food definition, there is a problem because raw and unprocessed food is not necessarily healthy.

Death cap mushrooms

Death cap mushroom are very natural. You pick it from the ground and do not process it in any way. However, if you eat a death cap mushroom, you will die.

Amanita-phalloides061

Take another example. A multivitamin is highly processed yet it is healthy. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends you take a multivitamin every day.

Then there is water. Natural water is water from a pond. Pond water can provide us with nutrients. For example, pond water contains vitamin B12.

If vitamin B12 is found in pond water, why not drink pond water?

Pond water is likely to also contain dirt and feces. It is cleaner and healthier, rather than drinking natural pond water, to drink water from a tap, bottled water, or filtered water, all of which are processed and unnatural.

Of course, filtered water does not contain vitamin B12. However, vitamin B12 pills do contain vitamin B12.

Why not just take vitamin B12 pills?

Many will argue that vitamin B12 pills are not natural. But tap water or bottled water is not natural either. Pond water is natural. Do these people drink pond water rather than tap water?

Pond water may contain vitamin B12 but it also contains harmful germs. Likewise, meat contains vitamin B12 but also saturated fat and trans fat.

Supplements are not necessarily unhealthy

Some supplements are healthy and some supplements are unhealthy. Death cap mushrooms are natural but toxic. Aspirin is artificial, processed, but healthy.

As I said, tap water is unnatural and may even have flouride in it. Even salt is commonly fortified with iodine. Why is everything else in our lives unnatural (even non-vegan food) but we demand natural vegan food?

Is it just an excuse?

Conclusion

It is very hard to find food that is natural. Chances are, food is processed to some degree. Even if we grow a banana, we are taking seeds, sunlight, water, etc and then processing these in soil to grow a banana. If we did something chemically similar in a laboratory, would it be natural or not? Chemical reactions happen everywhere and humans intervene to start these chemical reactions. What really matters is not whether something is natural or not but whether it is toxic or not or if it is healthy.

Will Cyanide in Vitamin B12 Supplements Kill You? 

One of the most common arguments used against the vegan diet is the argument that you will develop a nutritional deficiency and, in particular, a deficiency in vitamin B12.

However, although it is possible for a vegan to have a vitamin B12 deficiency, being a vegan doesn’t necessarily mean you will become vitamin B12 deficient.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can easily be found in fortified food or drinks such as Vitasoy Original Soy Milk, which contains 50% of your recommended dietary intake of vitamin B12 per cup. Vitamin B12 can even be found in Braggs Nutritional Yeast as well a vegan meat from the Fry Family Food Co. In Australia, the Vitasoy soy milk and Fry Family vegan meats can be found in Woolworths (also known as Safeway) supermarkets. Nutritional yeast is more difficult to find, in my opinion.

If your diet is low in vitamin B12 fortified food, an alternative is to take vitamin B12 supplements, which can be purchased from either your local chemist or online via major retailers such as Amazon or iHerb.

However, some people have raised concerns that most vitamin B12 supplements on the market contain cyanide in them and therefore they are poisonous.

There are B12 supplements without cyanide called methylcobalamin. Many vegans who are afraid of cyanide poisoning take this form of vitamin B12 due to fears of cyanide poisoning. However I take cyanocobalamin. I am aware it contains cyanide in it (or when it breaks down in the body it forms cyanide), but I do not consider it harmful. The levels of cyanide are too small to be of any harm.

Cyanide is a natural chemical that is found in water, soil, and even the air that you breathe as well as fruits and vegetables that you eat. The amounts found in cyanocobalamin are so small that they pale in comparison to the amount you absorb naturally via vegetables, air, etc. Jack Norris RD’s page provides a great explanation:

“The safety of cyanocobalamin has raised concerns due to the fact that cyanide is a component of cyanocobalamin, and the cyanide molecule is removed from cyanocobalamin when used by the body’s cells. Cyanide is also found in many fruits and vegetables and so humans are always ingesting small amounts of cyanide, and like in most fruits and vegetables, the amount of cyanide in cyanocobalamin is considered to be physiologically insignificant.

“According to the European Food Safety Authority, ‘Data of from a Norwegian dietary survey show that the average and high (97.5th percentile) daily intake of [cyanide] among consumers amounts to respectively 95 and 372 micrograms/person or 1.4 and 5.4 micrograms/kg bw/day (7).’ The amount of cyanide in a 1,000 microgram cyanocobalamin is 20 micrograms.”

Safety of Cyanide in Cyanocobalamin