Of all the controversies surrounding the frugivore diet, the most persistent and pervasive "hot button issue" is the issue of vitamin B-12. The idea that a raw fruit and vegetable based lifestyle will cause any type of deficiency is often brought up and expounded upon and can, on the surface, seem to discredit a diet containing no animal products. Even those ostensibly claiming to promote vegan diets have sometimes fallen prey to the idea, proposing that vegans must supplement, or resort to unappealing practices like eating soil or insects.
The efforts to imply, or outright state, that the frugivore diet will result in a B-12 deficiency are sometimes deliberate and sometimes unintentional. Either way, they serve to damage the credibility and perceived adequacy of a fruit and vegetable based diet, and should be addressed.
Also, it is an unfortunate fact that there are facets of society and commerce whose best interests are tied up with promoting a continued reliance on meat, dairy, and cooked foods. Becoming well informed will reduce susceptibility to misinformation, and can help people to avoid the trap of fear that might lead them to the mistaken conclusion that a diet without animal products is somehow flawed and insufficient.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, a properly planned frugivore lifestyle will ensure a lifetime of optimum levels of all vitamins, including B-12. The ironic point about this issue is that the diet most likely to result in a B-12 deficiency is, in fact, the standard diet consumed by most of the world, heavy on meat and animal fat. If one were to rely solely on information garnered from those parties promoting animal products, one would believe the exact opposite. Fortunately, science, chemistry, and biology reveal the truth of the matter.
It should first be mentioned that even if a diet without animal foods were somehow deficient in vitamin B-12 (which it is not,) it would take years for the deficiency to manifest. Vitamin B12 is recycled by the body, in a process known as enterohepatic circulation. This means that even on a diet low in B12, the body can absorb adequate amounts for up to 20 years (if the diet is balanced and the individual is healthy.) If the individual is not healthy, and is not consuming sufficient nutrition, and is suffering from gastritis or other digestive disorder, then an individual may become B12 deficient in as little as 3 years.
This is a far cry from the often-frightening stories told. The misinformation out there can often dissuade anyone from even attempting to live a frugivore lifestyle, and causes many to believe that a B12 deficiency might manifest in days, weeks, or months. But because of enterohepatic circulation, it is clear that even with zero B12 intake, the body will not experience a lack of B12 for anywhere between 3 and 20 years!
It becomes clearer, then, that the majority of tales told of people experiencing B12 deficiency must not be due to any lack of the vitamin in their diet. And the research backs this up: multiple studies have made it clear that the vast majority of vitamin deficiency of any kind, including B12, is due not to a lack of the vitamin in the diet, but rather to an inability of the body to properly absorb the vitamin in the intestinal tract. And, as mentioned, it is a diet heavy in meat, alcohol, milk, and prescription drugs such as antibiotics, that will most likely result in a maladjusted absorption system. In fact, there has never been any correlation demonstrated between a lack of B12 in the diet, and a manifested B12 deficiency. The common factor to all cases of B12 deficiency is malabsorbtion and a lack of overall health and vitality.
It should be mentioned here that supplementation is never a long-term solution. Of course if somebody is exhibiting vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, and have been tested and proven to be dangerously deficient, then the intelligent decision might be to temporarily supplement to prevent permanent physical harm. But long term, supplementation will
not eliminate the cause of the deficiency. In fact, most B12 supplements contain B12 in a form not readily useable by the human body. This form is called cyanocobalamin, and is semi-synthetic, bound up with the toxic poison, cyanide. It will result in elevated B12 measurements in the blood stream, temporarily. But after 24 hours only 10% or less of the actual B12 will remain in the cells, the rest having been eliminated by the body due to the synthetic elements.
The improved energy and sense of well being experienced after taking a cyanocobalamin B12 supplement is due to stimulation. The body responds to the toxic by releasing a massive rush of energy, in an attempt to neutralize and eliminate the poison. Because of this, people are often under the impression that the supplement has "cured" them, when in actuality they are no better off than before.
Many people attempt to "supplement" B12 by consuming marine algae