You don’t eat meat? Scientists invented a new way to get the needed B12

Vitamin B12 is extremely useful for our health. It helps cell division, blood cell formation and promotes stron DNA. It is crucial for everyone, especially pregnant and breast feeding women, but the fact is that it can only be found in animal products, such as liver, kidneys, heart, meat, fish and so on. However, now scientists from University of Helsinki showed that B12 could be added to bread or yoghurt-type products through fermentation.

Using the new fermentation process, microbes that produce B12 vitamin can be cultivated, for example, in faba beans. Image credit: Rasbak via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

If B12 is only found in meat it would mean that vegetarians and especially vegans will lack this product. Furthermore, some people cannot eat animal products for other reasons, not just because of personal beliefs. B12 is crucial in the maintenance of the nervous system and the formation of blood cells and so some people must take pills to enrich their diet. But what if there was a natural way of introducing Vitamin B12 into plant-based foods? Researchers in Finland think there actually is such a way.

The method relies on the Propionibacterium freudenreichii bacterium, which is used in production of Emmental cheese. Vieno Piironen, one of the authors of the study, said: “When we select the right strains of the microbe and set the suitable conditions, we can induce the bacterium to synthesize large quantities of vitamin B12 in its cells. We have also adopted a method which we can use to establish that the form of B12 being produced is actually beneficial to humans”. Some B12 forms are actually useless to humans, but this one can be introduced in bread or yogurt and would bring visible benefits to one’s health.

These microbes, which can produce B12 vitamin, can be cultivated in grain or faba bean or even in some kind of other medium. Then these products can be used to make food, which would be rich in B12. It really is quite a simple process, which would benefit people, who do not eat enough of animal products. Scientists are happy to see that B group vitamins can be produced through fermentation and that food industry does not have to do much to adapt to this relatively new technology. In fact, scientists say that they are only beginning to take advantage of the data, provided during researches conducted by Finnish science institutions on the subject.

People have interesting beliefs when it comes to food. However, our bodies do not recognize trends and morals in the same way. Researches like this can bring necessary vitamins into diets of people, who cannot get them naturally or chose not to do so.