Vegans avoid animal foods of all kinds, including meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, and fish and seafood. As an ethical lifestyle, vegans commonly also avoid leather, silk, and other articles of animal quality or origin. See Arthritis, Vegetarian, Vitamin B-12.
• Vegan Diet Outperforms Usual Diabetic Diet
Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center found that a low-fat, unrefined vegan diet reduced fasting glucose by 54 points on average, compared to less than half this amount on the conventional diabetic diet. Weight loss in the course of the three-month study fell 15.4 pounds compared to 8.4 pounds.
Source: A. N. Nicholson et al., "The Effect of a Low-Fat, Unrefined Vegan Diet on Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus," 1997.
Vegetables constituted a major portion of all traditional cuisines. However, in modern society, their importance in the diet has steadily declined. A multitude of scientific and medical studies over the last generation have shown that people who consume a large amount of vegetables regularly have greatly reduced rates of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Cruciferous vegetables, brassica vegetables, vegetables high in beta carotene or other carotenoids, vegetables high in vitamins A, C, or E, and other families or components of vegetables are being intensively investigated. See Antioxidants, Cancer, Carotenoids, Heart Disease, Lung Cancer, Macular Degeneration, Phytochemicals, Stroke, Ulcer, Vegetarians.
• Veggies Protect Against Stomach Cancer
In a study of nearly 40,000 Japanese over ten years, researchers at the National Cancer Research Institute East in Kashiwa, Japan, reported that diets high in vegetables and fruit may prevent stomach cancer. “Consumption of vegetables and fruit as low as one day per week may serve to prevent gastric cancer,” the researchers concluded. Among vegetables, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, and other white vegetables had the strongest effect, reducing the risk by 52 percent for those who consumed at least one day a week. Yellow vegetables such as carrots and pumpkin reduced the risk by 36 percent, and fruit consumption once a week or more dropped it by 30 percent.
Source: International Journal of Cancer 102:39-44, 2002.
• Vegetables Reduce Risk for Breast Cancer
A Greek study found that women who regularly eat large amounts of vegetables had a 48 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who rarely ate vegetables. The protective effects were found for all age groups.
Source: A. Trichopoulin, et al, "Consumption of Olive Oil and Specific Food Groups in Relation to Breast Cancer in Greece, Journal of the National Cancer Institute 87(2):110-116, 1995.
• Beta Carotene-Rich Vegetables Protect Against Heart Disease
Vegetables and fruits high in beta-carotene can reduce the risk of heart disease by about half in people with clogged coronary arteries. In a report to the American Heart Association, researchers followed 333 male doctors who had coronary artery disease. After six years of study, the men who took beta carotene supplements had 10 heart attacks compared to 17 in the placebo group.
Beta carotene is found primarily in orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots and squash and in yellow fruits such as apricots, peaches, and cantaloupes. Kale and other green leafy vegetables also are high in beta-carotene.
Source: “Type of Vitamin A May Reduce Heart Ills,” Boston Globe, November 14, 1990.
• Carotene-Rich Vegetables Protect Against Lung Cancer
A Chicago study found that regular consumption of foods containing beta carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, protected against lung cancer. Over a period of 19 years, a group of 1,954 men at a Western Electric plant were monitored, and those who regularly consumed carrots, dark green lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, Chinese cabbage, peaches, apricots, and other carotene-rich foods had significantly lower lung cancer rates than controls.
Source: R. B. Shekelle et al., “Dietary Vitamin A and Risk of Cancer in the Western Electric Study,” Lancet 2:1185-90, 1981.
• Cruciferous Vegetables Protect Against Polyps
In Norway, researchers examined the colons of 155 people in their fifties who had no signs of colon cancer. Half had polyps growing in the colon; the half with no polyps ate more cruciferous vegetables. The less cruciferous vegetables consumed, the greater the risk for polyps and the larger and more abnormal the polyps, a common precursor to colon cancer.
Source: G. Hoff et. al., “"Epidemiology of Polyps in the Rectum and Sigmoid Colon: Evaluation of Nutritional Factors,” Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 21(2):199-204, 1986.
• Green Vegetables Protect Against Female Cancers
European scientists reported that green vegetables were highly protective against ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.
Source: C. La Vecchia et al., “Nutrition and Diet in the Etiology of Endometrial Cancer,” Cancer 57: 1248-53, 1986.
• Vegetables Beneficial for Stroke
Women who eat plenty of vegetables and fruits have a 54 percent lower rate of stroke than women with vitamin-poor diets, according to researchers at the American Heart Association’s annual epidemiology meeting in Santa Fe.
Source: “Studies Tie Diets High in Vitamins to Reduced Stroke and Heart Ills,” Boston Globe, March 19, 1993.
• Vegetables Help Relieve Malnutrition
Orange and yellow vegetables high in vitamin A could help save the lives of millions of malnourished children. In a study of 15,000 underfed preschool children in India, researchers found that those given dietary supplements were twice as likely to live as those who did not receive the vitamin A. As in many developing countries, those who died did so largely from chronic diarrhea.
Source: L. Rahmathullah et al., “Reduced Mortality Among Children in South India Receiving a Small Weekly Dose of Vitamin A,” New England Journal of Medicine 323:929-35, 1990.
• Vegetables Stimulate Natural Immunity
Retinoids (foods and substances high in vitamin A) and carotenoids (foods and substances high in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A) can stimulate some human immune responses, including heightened anti-tumor cell activity, increased natural killer cell response, and activated lymphocytes.
Researchers at the University of Arizona reported that retinoids and carotenoids appear to have different effects on the immune system. Retinoids act on the differentiation processes of immune cells, increasing mitogenesis of lymphocytes and enhancing phagocytosis of monocytes and macrophages as well as acting as antioxidants reducing loss of immunological functions due to free radicals.
Carotenoids increase T-helper cell numbers and natural killer cells. “Restoring the number of these cells may be useful in acquired immunodeficiency syndromes such as (AIDS) where immune cells are in low numbers and defective in nature,” the researchers noted. The scientists recommended that clinical trials begin to study the role of these dietary agents in AIDS patients.
Foods naturally high in these nutrients include orange and yellow vegetables such as carrots, squash, parsnips, and rutabaga.
Source: R. H. Prabhala et al., “Immunomodulation in Humans Caused by Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A,” Nutrition Research 10:1473-86, 1990.
• Vegetables Decrease Risk of Bladder Cancer
In a case-control study in Hawaii, researchers reported a decreased risk for bladder cancer among women who consumed vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C, such as broccoli, cabbage, and oranges, and among men who consumed dark green vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, and spinach.
Source: A.M.Y. Nomura et al., “Dietary Factors in Cancer of the Lower Urinary Tract,“ International Journal of Cancer 48:199–205, 1975.
The word “vegetarian” was coined in the mid-19th century in England to refer to one who didn’t eat the flesh of animals that were killed for food. Today there are many types of vegetarian diets: lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes dairy and eggs; vegan, which avoids all animal foods; and fruitarian, which consumes primarily fruits and juices. Closely associated with vegetarian diet is macrobiotics, which emphasizes whole grains and vegetables and in which fish is optional (once or twice a week) and a semi-vegetarian diet which avoids meat but may include chicken or fish.
An estimated 14 million Americans describe themselves as vegetarian, with an estimated 1 million more people adopting a vegetarian diet every year. Medical studies indicate that vegetarians generally have about 50 percent less heart disease, cancer, and other serious illness than those regularly eating animal food. See Appendicitis, Arthritis, Astronaut Diet, Cholesterol, Fruit, Intelligence, Macrobiotics, Mad Cow Disease, Melanoma, Protein.
• Vegetarian Diet Protects Against Prostate Cancer
In a case-control study in a veterans hospital in Taiwan, researchers compared 237 cancer patients with 481 controls, matched by age for their consumption of soy products, rice, wheat protein, and other vegetables, and found that low-fat locally produced vegetarian food “has a protective effect against prostate carcinoma” for men with low body mass indexes.
Source: Y. C. Chen et al., “Diet, Vegetarian Food and Prostate Carcinoma Among Men in Taiwan,” British Journal of Cancer 93(9):1057-61, 2005.
• Vegetarians Exceed General Population in Nutritional Understanding
In a study assessing food behavior and nutritional intakes among various vegetarian populations, researchers at the Laboratoire de Biologie et Nutrition Humaine in Paris evaluated the self-administered food records of 145 subjects, aged 7 to 87, including 94 classical vegetarians, 34 Hindu lactovegetarians, and 17 macrobiotics. While there were significant differences among the three types—e.g., the macrobiotic group consumed more iron, protein, and carbohydrate and the Hindus and classical vegetarians more calcium, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B12—the researchers concluded that overall the “vegetarians have a better understanding of dietary requirements than does the general population.”
Source: J. C. Leblanc et al., “Nutritional Intakes of Vegetarian Populations in France,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 54(5):443-9, 2000.
• Arthritis Treated with Vegetarian Diet
Twelve of 20 patients aged 35 to 68 put on a strict vegetarian diet for four months reported some improvement in rheumatoid arthritis, including less pain and better functional capacity, in a Swedish experiment. The diet excluded meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, strong spices, preservatives, alcohol, tea and coffee. Refined sugar, corn flour and salt were not used or used sparingly.
Source: L. Skoldstam, “Fasting and Vegan Diet in Rheumatoid Arthritis,” Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology 15(2):219-21, 1987.
• Asthma Patients Improve on Vegetarian Diet
Twenty-five patients with bronchial asthma who were put on a strict vegetarian diet showed 71 percent improvement within four months and 92 percent improvement after one year. The experimental diet avoided meat, dairy food, eggs, and fish, as well as sugar, chocolate, salt, and other foods.
Source: O. Lindahl et al., “Vegan Diet Regimen with Reduced Medication in the Treatment of Bronchial Asthma,” Journal of Asthma 22:45-55, 1985.
• Vegetarians Have Less Toxins in Breast Milk
An analysis of 17 pesticides, toxins, and other chemical substances in the breast milk of vegetarian and nonvegetarian mothers found that except for polychlorinated biphenyls (which were about equal) “the highest vegetarian value was lower than the lowest value obtained in the [nonvegetarian] sample. . . [T]he mean vegetarian levels were only one or two percent as high as the average levels in the United States.”
Source: J. Hergenrather et al., “Pollutants in Breast Milk of Vegetarians,” [Letter], New England Journal of Medicine 304:792, 1976.
• Vegetarian Athletes More Fit Than Those Eating Animal Food
In New Haven, Conn., Irving Fisher devised tests to measure diet and endurance of Yale athletes eating animal food, vegetarian athletes (from the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan), and vegetarians who were sedentary. The tests included holding the arms outstretched as long as possible, deep knee bends until exhaustion, and repeated leg raises. The vegetarians excelled in all three tests, and the sedentary vegetarians generally exhibited stronger endurance than the athletic meat-eaters.
“The results of the comparisons . . . would indicate that the users of [low-protein] and the non-flesh dietaries have far greater endurance than those who are accustomed to the ordinary American diet,” Fisher concluded.
Source: Irving Fisher, “The Influence of Flesh Eating on Endurance,” Yale Medical Journal 13:205-21, 1907.
• Vegetarians Have 50% Less Gallstones
Vegetarian women had half as many gallstones as women eating the standard modern diet in a study of over 700 women, aged 40 to 69, over several years. Researchers at Oxford University in England concluded that nonvegetarians had nearly twice the risk of developing gallstones and suggested that this was probably the result of the vegetarian women eating more fiber and less fat. “[T]hese data suggest that some dietary factor associated with vegetarianism affords a strong, independent protective effect against this common condition and results in appreciable morbidity in middle aged and elderly women.”
Source: F. Pixley et al., “Effect of Vegetarianism on Development of Gall Stones in Women,” British Medical Journal 291:11-12, 1985.
• Kidney Stones Less in Vegetarians
In a study designed to measure the effect of a low animal protein diet on the risk of urinary stone disease, researchers in Britain reported that a nation-wide survey of vegetarians in the U.K. showed that the prevalence of kidney stone formation was 40 to 60 percent of the general population. “The findings support the hypothesis that a diet low in animal protein reduces the risk of urinary stone formation,” the scientists concluded.
Source: W. G. Robertson et al., “The Prevalence of Urinary Stone Disease in Vegetarians,” European Urology 8:334-39, 1982.
• Heart Disease Reversed on a Vegetarian Diet
Dietary and lifestyle changes alone can prevent or reverse hardening of the arteries. In the first random case-control clinical trial to determine whether patients outside the hospital can be motivated to make and sustain comprehensive lifestyle changes, 82 percent of patients with heart disease who were put on a low-fat, vegetarian diet, who exercised, and who were given stress-management training including yoga and meditation had a measurable widening of arteries. In contrast, those who observed the moderate American Heart Association diet and received customary care such as drugs and surgery had an increase in blockages.
The experimental diet consisted primarily of whole grains, beans, legumes, and soybean products (including tofu), vegetables, fruits, and no animal food except for small amounts of egg white and nonfat milk or yogurt. The stress management techniques included stretching exercises, breathing techniques, meditation, progressive relaxation, and imagery.
Before treatment, doctors found that coronary arteries in the patients were blocked an average of 40 percent. After one year on a diet with only 10 percent fat, the average blockage improved to 37.8 percent. According to principal researcher Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif., the greatest improvement was in the arteries that had been the most clogged. In contrast, the coronary blockages in the control group who received conventional treatment increased from 42.7 percent to 46.1 percent.
Eighteen of 22 patients in the experiment group experienced healing in damaged arteries, while ten of nineteen patients in the control group worsened. Cholesterol in the low-fat group dropped from an average of 213 to 154 a year later. Those on the special diet also reported a 91 percent drop in the frequency of angina, while those in the control group reported a 165 percent rise in angina.
“This clinical trial has show that a heterogeneous group of patients with coronary heart disease can be motivated to make comprehensive changes in lifestyle for at least a year outside hospital,” researchers concluded. “This finding suggests that conventional recommendations for patients with coronary heart disease (such as a 30 percent fat diet) are not sufficient to bring about regression in many patients.”
In his popular program to prevent and relieve heart disease, Dr. Ornish recommends many natural foods including brown rice, miso soup, tempeh, tofu, and amazake.
In 1993, the national health insurance industry accepted Dr. Ornish’s heart reversal program as the first non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical therapy for reimbursement for cardiovascular disease.
Sources: Dean Ornish et al., “Can Lifestyle Changes Reverse Coronary Heart Disease?” Lancet 336:129-33, 1990; Dean Ornish, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease (New York: Random House, 1990); Molly O’Neill, “Unusual Heart Therapy Wins Coverage From Large Insurer,” New York Times, July 28, 1993.
• Vegetarians Have Less Osteoporosis
A Michigan State study found that by age 65, the average woman who ate meat had lost one-third of her skeletal structure. Meanwhile, vegetarian woman of comparable age had less than half the bone loss and were more active, less likely to break bones, maintained erect postures, and healed bones more quickly.
Source: F. Ellis et al., “Incidence of Osteoporosis in Vegetarians and Omnivores,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 27:916, 1974.
• Vegetarians Have Normal Vitamin B-12
In a study of 36 men and women in Israel who were not eating animal food, researchers found that B-12 levels were normal and none of the subjects had any hematologic evidence of deficiency, though four had neurologic complaints. Red blood cell folate levels, complete blood count, including hemoglobin and mean corpuscular volume, were similar in subjects and controls.
The 36 subjects had been following their way of eating from five to 35 years and participated in various vegetarian communities and study groups. Eleven subjects had not been eating animal food for 20 years or more.
The researchers speculated that sources of B-12 in their diet could come from microorganisms in legumes, from sea algae, and from “the possibility of intestinal absorption of vitamin B-12 that is synthesized in the gut.”
Sources: P. Bar-Sella, Y. Rakover, and D. Ratner, “Vitamin B-12 and Folate Levels in Long-Term Vegans,” Israeli Journal of Medical Science 26:309-12, 1990.
• U.S. Government Upholds Vegetarian Diet
The latest edition of the U.S. Government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans endorses a vegetarian diet as a healthful alternative for the first time. "Vegetarian diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines and can meet Recommended Dietary Allowances for nutrients." The guidelines, issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture every five years, noted that getting enough protein is no cause for concern so long as the variety and amounts of foods consumed are adequate. This marks the first time the U.S. Government has endorsed vegetarian diets as a healthy alternative.
Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Fourth Edition, 1995.
• Vegetarians Have 30% Less Mortality from Chronic Disease
In a review of the effects of a vegetarian lifestyle on health, German scientists found that a meatless diet had a positive effect on various risk factors for coronary artery disease, including lower average body weight, lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure. “Vegetarians have roughly 30 percent reduction in overall mortality,” the scientists concluded. “The prevalence of bronchial, colon, and breast cancer is also lower.”
Source: M. M. Ritter and W. O. Richter, “Effects of a Vegetarian Lifestyle on Health,” Forschr Med 113(16):239-42, 1995.
• 12-Day Vegetarian Trial Produces Quick Benefits
In a study of the effects of a vegetarian diet on cardiac risk factors, 500 men and women who participated in an intensive 12-day live-in program had average cholesterol reductions of 11 percent, lowered blood pressure of 6 percent, and a weight loss of 2.5 kilograms for men and 1 kilogram for women. “A strict, very low-fat vegetarian diet free from all animal products combined with lifestyle changes that include exercise and weight loss is an effective way to lower serum cholesterol and blood pressure,” the researchers concluded.
Source: J. McDougall et al., “Rapid Reduction of Serum Cholesterol and Blood Pressure by a 12-Day, Very Low Fat, Strictly Vegetarian Diet.,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 14(5):491-96, 1995.
• Seventh Day Adventist Vegetarians Show Normal B-12 and Iron Levels
In a study of vegetarians and nonvegetarians within the Seventh-Day Adventist church, New Zealand nutritionists found that both groups had comparable body mass indexes, vitamin B-12 levels, haemoglobin concentrations, and blood lipid levels. Both groups, the researchers concluded, “appear likely to enjoy a lower risk of nutrition related chronic degenerative disease than the average New Zealander and have a satisfactory iron and vitamin B-12 status.”
Source: S. K. Harman and W. R. Parnell, “The Nutritional Health of New Zealand Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Seventh-Day Adventists,” New Zealand Medical Journal 111(1062):91-94, 1998.
• Vegetarian Diet Pyramid
A Vegetarian Diet Pyramid was introduced by nutrition scientists and medical experts from Cornell University and Harvard University in 1998. The Vegetarian Diet Pyramid emphasizes a well-balanced vegetarian diet based on whole grains and other plant foods but also includes egg whites and dairy products.
"This pyramid reflects the growing body of research that suggests that Americans will not reduce their rate of cancers, cardiovascular disease and other chronic, degenerative diseases until they shift their diets away from animal-based foods to plant-based foods," said Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Cornell professor of biochemistry and one of the developers of the pyramid. "Merely eating some low-fat foods or complying with current U.S. dietary recommendations is unlikely to prevent much disease."
The foundation of the Vegetarian Diet Pyramid is foods to be eaten at every meal: whole grains, legumes, and vegetables and fruits. The middle band of foods to be eaten daily includes nuts and seeds, egg whites, dairy and soy cheese, and plant oils. At the top are optional foods, whole eggs and sweets, to be eaten occasionally or in small quantities.
Source: "Vegetarian Alternative to Diet Pyramid," Reuters Health News, January 19, 1998.
Diet, alcohol, drugs, and lifestyle practices, are closely associated with the rise of violence in modern society. See Abuse, Crime, Peace, Sugar, War.
• 20 Percent of Teenagers Armed, 72 Percent Eat Poorly
Nearly 1 in every 5 teenagers in the U.S. carries a weapon and 1 in 10 has attempted suicide, according to a study made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey of 16,262 teenagers in 151 schools across the country found that Hispanic teens were most likely to arm themselves, with 23 percent carrying a gun, knife, or club, compared to 22 percent of blacks and 17 percent of whites. White youngsters were most likely to mix alcohol with drinking, 19 percent, compared to 18 percent of Hispanics and 9 percent of blacks.
Among all three groups, only about 28 percent of teens ate the minimum five daily servings of fruits and vegetables recommended for good health.
Source: “1 in 5 Teen-Agers Is Armed, a Survey Finds,” New York Times, August 14, 1998.
• Violence and Hypoglycemia in Rural Peru
Described as the “meanest and most unlikable people on earth,” the majority of the Qolla Indians in Peru engage in murder, rape, arson, fighting and stealing and other criminal behavior. In one village of over a thousand, researchers found that over 50 percent of household heads were directly or indirectly involved with violent death and murder. Dr. Ralph Bolton tested the blood sugar of all males in the village and found that over 50 percent were clinically hypoglycemic. To keep their blood sugar levels up, the Qolla frequently drank alcohol and chewed coca.
Source: R. Bolton, Aggression in Qolla Society (Champaign: Garland Press, 1978).
Natural foods contain a balance of vitamins and other essential nutrients. Early in the 20th century, the refining of grain led to the rise of the modern vitamin industry, and consumers were persuaded to buy back the nutrients that were taken out of their food in the form of vitamin supplements or enriched foods.
As a general rule, medical studies focusing on the role of vitamins in maintaining health have recommended that vitamins be consumed in daily foods rather than supplements. Vitamins taken in the form of pills or capsules may be of questionable quality or origin, lead to side-effects, or in excess result in serious illness. See Antioxidants, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-6, B-12, C, D, and E.
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) contributes to protein metabolism and other biochemical processes in the body. It is found naturally in whole grains, soybeans and dried beans, cabbage, cauliflower, and other vegetables, walnuts and peanuts, and fish and other animal foods.
• Vitamin B-6 Foods Protect Against Heart Attack
A diet high in vitamin B-6 and folate, two B vitamins found in grains, vegetables, and fruits, could reduce by nearly one half women's risk of a heart attack, according to Harvard researchers. In a study of 80,000 nurses, the scientists found the first direct link between these vitamins and coronary heart disease. Previous studies in men and women found that folate and B-6 reduced homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood associated with heart attack risk, and protected against narrowing of the arteries. Dr. Eric Rimm, the lead researcher, concluded that eating whole grains, vegetables, and other foods high in these nutrients was as important as quitting smoking, reducing high cholesterol, and controlling blood pressure in preventing the nation's number one cause of death.
Source: E. B. Rimm et al., “Folate and Vitamin B-6 from Diet and Supplements in Relation to Risk of Coronary Heart Disease AmongWomen,” Journal of the American Medical Association 279(5):359-64, 1998.
Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin) is essential for synthesizing DNA and RNA, red blood cell formation, maintenance of nerve cells, and fertility and normal growth during pregnancy. Among people eating a plant-centered diet, vitamin B-12 is obtained from tempeh, miso, shoyu, and other fermented soybean foods; kombu, nori, and other sea vegetables; and naturally processed pickles and sauerkraut. It is also found in abundance in animal foods and in healthy individuals can be naturally synthesized in the small intestine. B-12 deficiency causes pernicious anemia. Stored in the liver for three to six years, B-12 is depleted by coffee, alcohol, tobacco, antibiotics, birth control pills, liver diseases, chronic disorders, and injury or stress. See AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Sea Vegetables, Tempeh, Vegetables, Vegans, Vegetarians.
• Vitamin B-12 Levels
Normal in Vegans A nutritional analysis of the dietary intake of a group of six vegan children aged 7 to 14 found no cases of vitamin B-12 deficiency. The vegan children had been living on a vegan diet high in brown rice for from 4 to 10 years. On average, 2-4 grams of nori containing B-12 were consumed daily. Other factors, including red blood cell count, hematocrit, and hemoglobin, also were normal. "Not a single case of symptoms due to B-12 deficiency was found," the scientists concluded.
Source: H. Suzuki, "Serum B-12 Levels in Young Vegans Who Eat Brown Rice," Journal of Nutrition, Science, and Vitaminology 41(6):587-94, 1995.
• Nori as a Source of Vitamin B-12
Nori (prophyra tenera) contains significant amounts of Vitamin B-12, according to Japanese researchers. Even after storage in a frozen state for 11 months, the ability to retain B-12 remained.
In a related study, the scientists reported that some seaweeds that contain B-12 analogues took up B-12 from sea water in a similar fashion to those plants that contained B-12. They also observed large fluctuations in B-12 content in seaweeds depending on the season and the place of harvest. Overall, red algae such as nori contained more B-12 than brown algae such as kombu and hiziki.
Source: S. Yamada et al, "Release and Uptake of Vitamin B12 by Asakusanori (Porphyra Tenera) Seaweed," Journal of Nutrition, Science, and Vitaminology 42(6):507-15, 1996; S. HYamada et al., “Content and Characteristics of Vitamin B-12 in Some Seaweeds,” Journal of Nutrition, Science, and Vitaminology 42(6):497-505, 1996.
• Seaweeds and Vitamin B-12
In a study of the vitamin B-12 status of long-time vegans, Finnish nutritionists reported that vegans who ate nori and/or chlorella seaweeds had B-12 concentrations in their blood twice as high as those not eating seaweeds. "We conclude that some seaweeds consumed in large amounts can supply adequate amounts of bioavailable vitamin B-12," the researchers stated.
Source: A. L. Rauma et al., "Vitamin B-12 Status of Long-Term Adherents of a Strict Uncooked Vegan Diet," Journal of Nutrition 125(10)2511-5, 1995.
• Small Intestine Manufactures Vitamin B-12
The body naturally synthesizes large amounts of vitamin B-12 in the colon, as well as smaller amounts in the saliva and throughout other parts of the digestive tract, in healthy people.
Source: M. J. Albert et al., “Vitamin B-12 Synthesis by Human Small Intestinal Bacteria,” Nature 283:781-82, 1980.
• Animal Foods Low in Vitamin B-12
Animal foods commonly believed to be high in B-12 may actually be low or deficient. In lab tests commissioned by nutrition researcher Sylvia Ruth Gray in 1989 and 1990, no identifiable B-12 was found in beef liver, Swiss cheese, and chicken breast and only 2.19 mcg in beef heart. In the 1960s, similar tests showed these foods contained 122, 1.71, .5, and 14.2 mcg respectively. In contrast, macrobiotic/vegetarian foods measured higher than the animal foods. Sea vegetables measured up to 9 mcg, tempeh to 4 mcg, and miso to .7. Gray attributed the sharp decline in B-12 levels to environmental pollution and modern chemical agriculture, especially the depletion of cobalt in soils which promotes B-12 synthesis.
Source: Nathaniel Mead, “Where’s the B-12?”, Solstice 39:10-15, 1990; “Here’s the B-12,” Solstice 40:10-13, 1990; “Corrections on Vitamin B-12,” Solstice 42:5-7, 1990; Sylvia Ruth Gray, “B-12 Update,” Solstice 43:5-7, 1990; Sylvia Ruth Gray, “B-12 Update,” Solstice 44:6-8, 1990.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps to heal cuts and bruises, contributes to absorption of iron, strengthens skin, cartilage, and bone, and protects against free radicals that can damage cells and cause cancer. Vitamin C is found naturally in green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and turnip greens; broccoli, cabbage, and other vegetables; and in citrus fruits, melons, and berries. See Antioxidants, Emphysema, Irradiation, Mental Illness, Polyps, Smoking, Stroke, Vegetables.
Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and strengthens the bones. It is produced by exposure to sunlight on the skin and is also found in fish, seafood, and other animal products. See Multiple Sclerosis.
• Sunlight Reduces Risk of Breast Cancer
In a study of 133 breast-cancer patients and controls, researchers at the North California Cancer Center found that exposure to sunlight reduced the risk of the cancer 30 to 40 percent or more. Vitamin D, a nutrient made by the skin during exposure to sunlight, was cited as the protective factor.
Source: R. A. Hiatt et al., “Prediagnostic Serum Vitamin D and Breast Cancer,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute 90(6):461-63, 1998.
Vitamin E is essential for healthy blood cells and tissues and protects against free radicals that can damage cells and cause tumors. Vitamin E is found naturally in whole cereal grains, green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and vegetable oils. See Antioxidants, Asthma, Immune Function, Mental Illness, Prostate Cancer, Selenium, Smoking, Whole Grains.