I recently connected with a supplement company called Koge and they sent me their product to review. I've been approached to review supplements on many occasions in the past but this one caught my eye. They not only have a great product lineup but have an awesome cause behind their brand. They have an honest approach in their messaging and simplicity in their lineup through monthly packages that are suited towards your needs.
Sometimes, it seems like people make it their life-mission to tell everyone they know how poor a plant-based diet is. From a general health and wellness perspective, plant-based diets just make sense; they practically give you an impenetrable shield against heart and chronic diseases - the leading cause of deaths in the US. Opponents are always quick to point-out deficiencies like Vitamin B12… really? Here you have a diet that’s preventing millions of deaths every year, but the drawback is that it lacks a vitamin that most of the population has never heard of?
What is B12?
There are several studies done about the ever-elusive Vitamin B12. It’s part of the Vitamin B family which is important in creating red blood cells, fighting off anemia, and maintaining our energy levels. It’s found in milk, eggs, beef and fish - making it so very hard to get to for a vegan. Plants don’t naturally produce it - but the strange thing is that animals don’t produce it either! B12 is made by microbes found in soil which then grow inside of animals. Primates are able to get their B12 levels by ingesting dirt, feces and bugs - and unless that becomes a new fad-diet, I’m sure no one will recommend doing that. We also used to get B12 from water streams, but now water sanitization plants kill off any remaining bacteria in water, including bacteria that gives us cholera - so it’s not all bad :)
B12 can be stored in the liver for years - so lots of vegans still have B12 from their meat-eating and milk-drinking days. So, before we look into how we can increase our B12 levels, let’s look at how we can maintain it:
- Avoid heavy areas of pollution - If you live in an area with high pollution levels, get an air purifier and consider taking clean public transit if your city offers it
- Get enough sleep and stop stressing - this is true for everything, but for B12, this allows your liver to better process, absorb, and store B12
There are a lot of posts out there about the lack of B12 in most vegan diets. However, very few about where they can actually get B12. Here are some sources to get B12 for diets that don’t involve animal products:
- Fortified Cereals and Breads - There are currently lots of fortified foods that take into account necessary B12 levels (even Cheerios does it); however, if you are taking processed food out of your diet, this causes a problem.
- Nori - Seaweed that contains natural B12. There are plenty of studies done debating the effectiveness of the B12 found in Nori, however, it heavily depends on the ability of your body to absorb B12 (yay for vegan seaweed)
- Yeast Supplements - Many B12 supplements come in the form of yeast, whether it’s nutritional yeast, or brewer’s yeast. B12 is usually added into those supplements because they naturally contain high levels of vitamins from the B family, but not B12.
- Vitamin Supplements - There are plenty of companies that provide B12 in tablet or liquid form. You don’t need much of it and your body stores it for a while. Koge does not sell separate B12 supplements at this time - but our multivitamin found in our Daily Essentials* pack contains 50mg of B12 daily - any excess amount your body doesn’t need just gets passed out - that’s the beauty of B12!
What is Iron?
Iron is another one of those minerals that various parts of our body use for different purposes. It mostly helps carry oxygen from our lungs to the rest of our body. It also helps our muscles store and use oxygen when needed. Iron is actually the most popular deficiency according the CDC, but vegans are most likely to have a lower iron store. This is because there are two types of iron: heme, and non-heme iron. Non-heme iron is the iron that’s found in plants; however, our bodies have a harder time absorbing it than heme-iron found in animal products.
- Vitamin C - in terms of improving iron absorption levels, Vitamin C and Iron are like two peas in a pod (speaking of which, peas actually have pretty good levels of vitamin C, but that’s beside the point!). Plant-based diets already have quite high Vitamin C levels, but people are often not aware of how greatly it can improve iron absorption.
This is another easy one:
- Soybeans (8.8mg/cup)
- Lentils (6.6mg/cup)
- Spinach (6.4mg/cup)
- Tofu (6.4mg/4oz.)
- Chickpeas (4.7mg/cup)
- Various Beans (~4mg/cup)
- Bok choy (1.8mg/cup)
- Almonds (5.2mg/cup)
http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/b12/documents/b12-030910.pdfFreeland-Graves, J. H., Bodzy, P. W., Epright, M. A. "Zinc status of vegetarians". Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1980 (77): 655–661.