(The following is an excerpt from the FAQ Chapter in The “Plan A” Diet)

What is Vitamin B12 and how much should I take?
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a compound produced by bacteria that can live in an environment without oxygen. In days gone by, bacteria-based B12 found in the soil would be consumed by humans eating plants which still had a bit of dirt attached. But because our society now fervently washes fruits and veggies to wipe out any trace of bacteria, we no longer get proper levels of B12 from our food—nor from our chlorinated water supply.

Vitamin B12 is important for the production of red blood cells, the formation of DNA, and for maintaining the normal function of the brain and nervous system. Animals and plants don’t have the enzymes to produce B12, but animal tissues do have the ability to store B12 when it’s consumed from foods—which is why meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy foods are typically recommended as sources of B12. Just as with calcium, animals have B12 in their systems because they’ve consumed it from their food.

So where does that leave those of us who only consume plant foods? Fortunately, our bodies can store B12 for several years too, so there’s no need to run out and immediately purchase supplements; but to be safe, it’s important to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Meat-eaters require supplementation just as much as plant-eaters do, as they often develop B12 deficiency for many reasons as well—poor absorption due to atrophic gastritis, weight loss surgery, Crohn’s disease, pancreas dysfunction, and the prolonged use of certain medications, just to name a few. For those reasons, B12 supplementation is recommended by the Institute of Medicine for all adults over the age of 50, regardless of their diet.

How much vitamin B12 should we take? The average adult needs only about 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day, but you’ll notice that supplements are sold in much higher dosages. The experts’ opinions vary on the appropriate dosage—the goal is to take enough to keep our levels at a healthy range without incurring any side effects from taking too much. Dr. John McDougall recommends taking 500 mcg weekly, in either the hydroxyl, methyl, or adenosyl forms; he suggests avoiding the cyano form due to possible toxicity issues. Dr. Thomas Campbell recommends taking the smallest dosage in either cyano or methyl form, perhaps a couple of times a week, and having your blood checked to make sure it’s sufficient. And because our bodies can only absorb a small amount of B12 in any pill, Dr. Michael Greger recommends 2500 mcg of the cyano form once a week, in a sublingual (under the tongue), chewable, or liquid supplement.

As you can see, the recommendations for B12 supplementation vary. I personally take 1000 mcg of methyl B12 once per week and have had good results to date. If you have health concerns that may affect your B12 absorption ability, please discuss the matter with your doctor.

What is Vitamin B12 and how much should I take?

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Cyd Notter
Cyd Notter is a graduate of the Center for Nutrition Studies and a certified instructor for several dietary courses, including The Starch Solution, Food Over Medicine, and Women’s Health. She has also successfully completed courses in Nutrition for a Healthy Heart and Dietary Therapy for Reversing Common Diseases. Cyd has developed and offers a variety of health and cooking classes, provides nutritional coaching on both individual and corporate levels, speaks to local groups, and has worked with school district employees and a hospital’s fitness center. Her column titled “The Nutrition Coach”—which ran in three local newspapers for seven years—featured general dietary advice, recipes, and answers to reader’s questions. Several of her articles have also been published in Cape Style Magazine, a Florida-based online publication. Combining her decades-long study of both nutrition and scripture, Cyd founded The ‘Plan A’ Diet™ to illustrate the correlations between biblical principles and healthy eating and to encourage Christians to take an active role in their health. Her “Wonderfully Made” ministry offers nutrition coaching, health and cooking classes, and weight loss challenges. Notter’s past accolades include being named Woman of the Year by the Morris Business and Professional Women in 1998, Entrepreneur of the Year by the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce in 2000, and having her business featured on several occasions in Décor magazine. She and her husband Steve enjoy outdoor activities, classic movies, and old Volkswagens. Detailed Version: Founder and Author of The “Plan A” Diet™ A graduate of Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Center for Nutrition Studies Certified Instructor for the following courses Dr. John McDougall’s “The Starch Solution” Course Dr. Pam Popper’s Food over Medicine Course Dr. Pam Popper’s Women’s Health Course Completion of Dr. Campbell’s course: Nutrition for a Healthy Heart Completion of Dr. John McDougall’s course: Dietary Therapy for Reversing Common Diseases Completion of Facilitator Training for CHIP (Complete Health Improvement Program) Development/Instructor of Health and Cooking classes offered throughout the community Past Affiliations: Columnist for the Free Press Newspaper (2010 – 2017) Former Nutrition Coach/Cooking Instructor for staff and members of Riverside Hospital’s Fitness Center Worked for six years as a Certified Health Educator for Wellness Forum Health Worked with a local school District offering monthly classes to teachers and district employees Previously submitted articles on a monthly basis for a community magazine Has developed a ministry called “Wonderfully Made” – delivering health and cooking classes and helping Christians to lose weight/regain health. How I got here………….. I became a vegetarian in 1991, however, my diet was very unhealthy; even though I had stopped eating meat, my diet still included lots of dairy, oils, and processed foods. At that time I thought I was doing all of the right things, and looking back now, I realize I was living in a complete state of ignorance. Around 1999, I stumbled upon a 4-week health class being offered by The Wellness Forum (now known as Wellness Forum Health), which is based in Columbus Ohio. I attended the class in order to have a night out with the girls, not realizing that my entire life path was about to change. The Wellness Forum founder, Dr. Pam Popper, is a no-nonsense person who dives into medical research and really gets to the bottom of things. I liked the fact that the teachings were based on long-term, independent research, and also on the healthiest populations in the world. I went on to host several subsequent classes over the years, and in 2009, I became a Certified Health Educator to conduct classes on their behalf. The materials rang true with me then, and they ring even truer with me today as the scientific evidence continually mounts. With a dire family history of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other ailments, my motivation to consume a whole food, plant-based diet is to stay off medications, stay out of the medical system as much as possible, and enjoy freedom in later life…. freedom to travel and hike, and freedom to live independently in old age. I can personally attest to the positive changes that result from adopting this lifestyle, as my cholesterol dropped 60 points rather quickly to a healthy level of 150, my bone health has improved, and my frequent bouts with colds have been almost totally eliminated. In 2011, I was certified in plant-based nutrition by the Center for Nutrition Studies, under Dr. T. Colin Campbell (author of the China Study). Most of the doctors teaching that course are well known and have been featured in the wonderful documentary “Forks over Knives”. Later, in 2013, I became certified by Dr. John McDougall to conduct classes based on his best selling book, ‘The Starch Solution”. I plan to keep current with what the latest research shows regarding the healthiest diet for humans – which is a whole-food, plant-based, no-added-oils diet. Most recently in 2015, I completed Dr. Popper’s “Food Over Medicine” course as well as her “Women’s Health” Course, which further solidifies the fact that a whole food, plant-based, no-oil diet is the optimal way to eat. As a long-time student of nutrition as well as a long-time student of the bible, I began to see many correlations between biblical principles and healthy eating; principles such as stewardship, reaping what we sow, and the fact if you are a Christian, your body is a temple of the Lord and His most intimate gift. In 2013 I was led to finally begin writing these truths down in what has become The “Plan A” Diet™, which is a book in progress. More information about can be found on The “Plan A” Diet™ tab. My clients and friends who stay compliant with this way of eating have also seen tremendous health improvement; they are typically off most or all of their meds within a short time. They feel wonderful, and weight loss is a natural byproduct. Go to the “Testimonials” tab to read some incredible (but not surprising) stories. I would love to show you how to improve your health without the use of drugs or surgery. I offer coaching -both locally and by phone – and offer local health and cooking classes in the areas surrounding Wilmington, IL and Cape Coral, FL. I would welcome the opportunity to present a topic to any local groups as well. If you work in a company that would like a REAL wellness program, one that will truly provide results, I can help with that too. Thanks again for visiting! Check out our articles, recipes, and upcoming classes. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter! Note: Information provided on this website is for general dietary purposes only and is not intended to be construed as personal medical advice. Please consult your physician for medical advice pertaining specifically to you.