This is the first in a series of interviews where we’ll discuss vitamin supplements for a vegan diet. I sat down this past weekend with the dark knight himself, Batman. The caped crusader has been a closeted vegan, both in classic DC comics continuity and after the recent reboot. (Trust me.) Our featured vitamin this week is B12.
Disclaimer: neither Batman nor I are licensed nutritionists or physicians. However, we did both read “Vegan for Life” by Jack Norris & Virginia Messina.
Batman: Why? Because, you little pipsqueak, you called me up and said that if I didn’t-
Jake: *ahem, coughstayonscriptcough!*
Batman: *sigh* I mean, because I think that the good people of Gotham City and everywhere else need to be aware that a vegan diet does not sufficiently provide the vitamin B12.
Jake: Really? Well, that’s very interesting. I thought that humans had evolved beyond that. Or that at least we don’t need a lot of it.
Jake: Whoa. Those sound like some big issues.
Batman: Yes, whoa indeed. Unfortunately for “us” vegans, plants have no use for B12. Most humans get it from eating animal products.
Jake: Are you sure? I thought I’d heard that certain foods like tofu or sea vegetables contained at least some B12.
Batman: *sigh, again* No. That was a misnomer for quite a while. There are molecules that are similar to B12, but they do not have any true nutritional value for us. They are called inactive B12 analogues. Most methods used for testing for B12 do not differentiate between the two. So when a company claims that a food contains the vitamin, it may not be in the form that will benefit you. In fact, it may even block the active B12 from working.
Jake: Wow, this is turning into a real downer. What steps do you suggest the average vegan take to get an adequate supply?
Batman: I am glad you asked me that. First, the good news. Vegans will have the upper hand in the long run if they train themselves to take vitamin supplements. As people age, their bodies begin to lose the ability to process vitamins like B12. So in later years, even omnivores would have to take a vitamin pill to get the B12 he or she needs. You can add items to your diet like nutritional yeast, soymilk, protein bars, and veggie “meats”, making sure they are fortified with B12. But it’s an excellent idea to also take either a daily vitamin of 25-100 micrograms or a supplement of 1,000 micrograms 3 times a week.
Jake: Sounds easy enough. But are those supplements vegan?
Batman: Yes. The vitamin B12 in supplement form doesn’t come from animals. It comes from bacterial cultures.
Jake: Well, that was fascinating and most helpful. We sure appreciate you stopping by and sharing your wealth of knowledge with us, Caped Crusader.
Batman: Mmmm, yes. I’m certain that I was not needed to thwart any robberies or prevent the Joker from-
Jake: Thanks again, Batman.
Folks, stay tuned for more compelling interviews as we continue to cover vitamins for vegans during Vegan MoFo.
Who would you like to see in a vitamin interview?