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i naturally want to ensure that i have enough Vit B 12. i have found current wriitngs on the types of *SUBLINGUAL B12 available. below are some of the articles i have read to help me decide.
But first, a review of the book “Could It Be B12? An Epidemic Of Misdiagnosis”
Written for both the patient and the interested layperson, this detailed book outlines how physicians frequently misdiagnose B12 deficiency as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, mental retardation, Parkinson’s disease, depression, or other mental illnesses.
*sublingual: Latin for “under the tongue”, refers to the pharmacological route of administration by which drugs diffuse into the blood through tissues under the tongue.
I am a Chiropractor who has been practicing in the out islands of the Bahamas for 10 years, and prior to that I had a 30 year practice in the Hamptons on Long Island, NY. I am also author of the book “Chiropractic The Superior Alternative.” Chiropractic: The Superior Alternative
“Could It Be B12? An Epidemic Of Misdiagnosis” is the most important book I have read in decades. In it the authors, Sally Pacholok R.N. and her physician husband Jeffrey Stuart D.O., clearly, concisely and convincingly call our attention to a condition that exists in epidemic numbers.
The authors shine the light of day on the fact that deficiency of vitamin B12, a vital nutrient, is much more common than most doctors ever realized. They show that the current standard for what constitutes a normal level of vit.B12 on a blood test is in fact woefully inadequate, and a fraction of the amount necessary to support optimal health and prevent a whole array of conditions directly attributable to B12 deficiency. Pacholok is on a mission to call attention to this often unrecognized deficiency and to raise the bar of what constitutes a healthy level of B12 when measured by blood test.
Pacholok gives scientific proof and compelling statistical evidence that B12 deficiency is responsible for, or a contributor to a whole host of neurological conditions, as well a psychiatric disorders. This list includes Alzheimer’s, and senile dementia as well as Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. It also is a possible cause in cases of infant and juvenile failure of normal neuro-musculoskeltal and arrested intellectual development. This book is rich in case histories of real people whose doctors failed to make what should have been an easy diagnosis of B12 deficiency, but instead of running a simple, inexpensive blood test, opted for other expensive tests, often including costly CAT scans. They instead came up with more exotic and dire diagnoses and treatments.
Pacholok shows us that a high percentage of falls and fractures by senior citizens are caused by B12 deficiency. That some of the most commonly prescribed drugs like Nexium and Prilosec as well as oral diabetic medications to name only a few contribute to B12 deficiency. Popular gastric bypass surgeries virtually guarantee that the recipient will develop a B12 deficiency.
This book is a “must read” for all doctors. It is extremely relevant to Chiropractors, like me who see many patients with a variety neck and back pain and neuropathies especially of the lower extremities, and others who consult us for injuries sustained in falls, some of which are possibly caused byB12 deficiency. Chiropractors, need to be acutely aware that it causes spinal cord degeneration, and must entertain the possibility of this deficiency especially in cases that are unresponsive to their care. We must not fall into the trap of writing off neuropathies we see in diabetics as, simply, diabetic neuropathy or old age if the patient is elderly. Doing so, we may miss the window of opportunity to help save a life, or improve the quality of a life. There are many cases of missed diagnosis which, if they had been caught in the early stages, before permanent neurological damage had been done, could have, saved lives or prevented permanent disability.
The bottom line is that Vitamin B12 deficiency is much more common than most of us have realized. That recognizing it, diagnosing it and treating it is easy and inexpensive. Doing so, any doctor willing to open his/her eyes can contribute to saving lives as well as restoring and preserving quality of life for millions of people while saving billions of dollars in health care costs and personal finances. The early recognition of B12 deficiency can help the twilight years be enjoyable and rewarding as opposed to the exercise in endurance it becomes for too many. That constitutes a win/win in my book.
went and bought 6 different brands of methylcobalamin recently so I could see which one I liked best and keep buying that one.
This Solgar product was easily the winner and I’ve bought tons more of it already. I preferred it to Jarrow, Country Life, Source Naturals, Enzymatic Therapy and Bluebonnet – although the Bluebonnet one was the runner up and also very good. The Bluebonnet one tastes the best.
Solgar methyl B12 by far has the smallest tablet size. It’s about twice as large as the 1000 mcg version Solgar does, but still very small and roundish, and fits under the tongue comfortably. All the other tablets are not rounded, or this small and some even have quite sharp edges (especially Jarrow!). It’s even comfortable and easy to do two of these at a time, one on each side under the tongue. You can just put them there and forget about them. Smaller size means taking in less fillers too which is good if you’re having quite a few of these each day. They also last a good half an hour or so which is important if you want to get good absorption through the mouth and not just swallow it all and defeat the purpose of a sublingual.
It’s also gluten free and tastes okay, sort of a bit like those pink musk lollies. I don’t love the taste but it’s mild and much nicer than some. The taste to me is neutral. Solgar and Bluebonnet sublinguals don’t have that very dry texture mid-use which can be irritating in the mouth. They work well too!
It is just not true as some claim that oral B12 products as absorbed as well as sublinguals. They are not, although the best absorption comes of course B12 given IV or injected IM or subcutaneously. There is also liposomal B12.
Everyone needs one of these 5 mg sublinguals daily at least, or as much as is tolerated and feels good. B12 over 1 mg needs to be accompanied by at least 1 mg of activated folate too (avoid all synthetic folate!) plus a good B complex.
If you have any diseases affecting the kidneys or bladder, any neurological disease, mental illness, balance issues, numbness or tingling or shooting or buring pains in your rams or legs or hands or feet it’s a really good idea to get checked out for B12 deficiency. It is a lot more common than you may think and being a meat eater doesn’t guarantee you wont have low levels as these can be caused by gut issues such as low stomach acid and many other things. The wonderful book Could It Be B12?: An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses explains everything you need to know.
Methylcobalamin is a coenzyme form of vitamin B12 and is essential for cell growth and replication. It is more concentrated than other forms of B12 in the cerebral spinal fluid where it can be used by the central nervous system. It donates methyl groups to the myelin sheath that insulates certain nerve fibers. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy sleep/wake cycle, as well as normal nerve function.
The recommended dosage is often 1 – 5 mg taken sublingually daily – even for healthy people. The dosage used to treat neurological diseases, B12 deficiency and MTHFR/methylation issues etc. is often 5 – 20 mg plus taken sublingually daily, depending on the patient’s response.
I think more companies should copy the shape of this sublingual, and the smaller size. It’s so much nicer and easier to take. Some of the bigger ones can really irritate your mouth and just don’t fit in the mouth comfortably. This is a great product and methyl B12 and B12 generally is just so so important! 5 stars.
As you might imagine, I get into a lot of discussions about vitamin B12 on facebook and twitter, and also via email. Vegans have many good questions about this nutrient. And sometimes some not-so-good opinions about it.
This past year I found myself chatting with the editor of a vegan publication who insisted that my perspective on B12 supplements was outdated. She was convinced that supplements were unnecessary and knew this because of what she had learned on a holistic health cruise.
Okay, well I’ve never been on a holistic health cruise. And I have no doubt that some are better than others. It’s just that, when it comes to vacations, I lean more toward Yellowstone National Park or maybe poking around antique stores along the Maine coast. Whether or not those are the better choices, at least they aren’t sources of dangerous nutrition misinformation. And the idea that vegans don’t need to supplement with vitamin B12 is just that.
I don’t claim to know everything in the world about optimal nutrition for vegans. Nobody does. But based on the available evidence, I do know that—right now—the only responsible advice is for vegans to supplement with this nutrient. Current recommendations are for vegans to supplement with cyanocobalamin in one of the following three ways:
2.5 mcg two times per day
25-100 mcg daily
1,000 mcg two times per week
When I share this information on social media and elsewhere, people often want to know what brand of supplement I take and what brands I suggest. I’m currently taking a Safeway brand of vitamin B12 providing 1,000 mcg. I take it twice per week. It’s cheap and readily available. But when I started to dig around on the internet to find a few other brands to recommend, it turned out to be much more difficult than I expected.
I was looking for supplements that are vegan (which means no animal-derived fillers; the B12 itself is always vegan) and that provided cyanocobalamin. I also wanted one that doesn’t provide other nutrients.
Of the vegan supplements I found, most contained methylcobalamin, not cyano. And a few that contained cyanocobalamin provided a hefty dose of folic acid which may or may not be a problem.
Although there is some evidence that folic acid supplements could raise risk for cancer, the studies on this are conflicting. Still, it makes sense for vegans to err on the side of caution where these supplements are concerned. Our diets can provide plenty of folate (the natural form of the vitamin) and so we shouldn’t need to supplement with it. (The exceptions are pregnant women and women trying to get pregnant; they should take folic acid supplements.)
Many of the cyanocobalamin supplements seemed to be vegan, but it wasn’t always entirely clear that this was so. Almost all included stearate or magnesium stearate, ingredients that may or may not be vegan. Some brands, like mine from Safeway, specify “vegetable magnesium stearate,” but most simply don’t say.
Many readers of this blog are not concerned about these minute filler ingredients in which case any of the supplements below should be fine. But I’m providing the information about these ingredients for those who prefer to know.
With all of that in mind, here is a list of vitamin B12 supplements that provide cyanocobalamin with no additional nutrients.
These three brands appear to be vegan:
These brands contain either stearate or magnesium stearate of undisclosed origin:
Twin Labs B12 dots
If you know of other supplements to add to these lists, please share them below in the comments.
Supplements, vitamin B12
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131 Responses to Finding the Best Vegan Vitamin B12 Supplement
1. Priscilla February 6, 2015 at 11:51 am # I use Sundown Naturals sublingual B Complex (liquid drops). The bottle states it is a “vegetarian formula”. It provides 1200 mcg B-12 (as Cyanocobalamin). I buy it on Amazon but I have also seen it in some Food Lion stores. Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm # Okay, I’ll look into this one. It sounds like the one you are taking provides a number of different B vitamins–is that right? But it looks like they have a line that includes several different B12 options. Reply
▪ Priscilla February 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm # The Sundown Naturals B-complex with B-12 has (per 1 mL serving): –Vitamin B-2 (as riboflavin 5′-sodium phosphate): 1.7 mg –Niacin (as Niacinamide): 20 mg –Vitamin B-6 (as Pyridoxine Hydrochloride): 2 mg –Vitamin B-12 (as Cyanocobalamin): 1200 mcg –Pantothenic Acid (as Dexpanthenol): 30 mg Reply
▪ Andrea March 6, 2015 at 5:48 am # Hello i have found sundown B-Complex in tablets, it has 6mcg, according to the dosage should i split the tablets I can take 3mcg twice a day? Or should I go 5 tablets once a day so i take 30mcg daily? I’m confused! Reply
▪ Samantha August 20, 2015 at 4:35 pm # I’ve read that methylcobalamin b12 supplements are better for you than cyanocobalamin b 12 supplements. What is your opinion on the matter? Reply
▪ Ginny Messina August 22, 2015 at 12:26 pm # Samantha, this article explains why I recommend cyanocobalamin. http://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-primers/vitamin-b12-a-vegan-nutrition-primer Reply
▪ Michelle September 7, 2015 at 6:47 am # Ginny, The B12 I want to take contains folic acid and vitamin B6 along with the B12. “Megafoods B12″ is the supplement. What are your thoughts on the safety of taking synthetic folate (folic acid) as well as synthetic B6? Some science has claimed the folic acid supplements are harmful, and causative of disease. Thanks for any thoughts on this. Reply
2. Jim February 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm # What lead you to choose cyanocobalamin vs methylcobalamin? Doesn’t ingesting cyanocobalamin introduce cyanide into your body? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 6, 2015 at 12:20 pm # There is evidence that the methyl version may be less stable so that huge doses are required. And it just hasn’t been studied as well as cyanocobalamin. The cyano form does provide some cyanide but it’s a very tiny amount. Reply
▪ Cristina February 9, 2015 at 2:38 pm # I’m curious! Can you provide the peer reviewed study? I have studied bioinorganic chemistry, and from what I understand B12’s purpose is to transfer methyl groups, so buy ingesting the form without the cyanide group, I’d think it’d be more efficient? Reply
▪ Axel Lieber February 9, 2015 at 5:43 pm # Cristina, cyanocobalamin is usually preferred because it’s not susceptible to oxidation. The literature generally states that it is readily converted so really no point in fussing about it. Here is a link for you. I don’t have access to this so I don’t know what it says. If you do have access I would greatly appreciate if you could report back here what it says. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/17624648_Absorption_of_cyanocobalamin_coenzyme_B_12__methylcobalamin_and_hydroxocobalamin_at_different_dose_levels Reply
▪ Cara February 26, 2015 at 8:55 am # I don’t have access to the original paper, but I found a PDF that reports the results from that paper. http://www.michaelmooney.net/images/VitaminB12Comparisons.pdf Apparently the authors found that cyano and methyl B12 have similar absorption in humans at doses of 1 to 25 mcg, and the % absorption drops off as the dose increases. (Note that B12 supplements can be as high as 5000 mcg!) Reply
◦ Angie June 26, 2015 at 4:07 pm # just watched this video by a doctor who has researched B12 ,which totally contradicts your claim about cyanocobalamin, in fact says it is simply the cheapest to manufacture, is very bad for us and should be totally avoided https://www.youtube.com/user/GlobalHealingCenter?v=C4CuwUV0k20 Reply
▪ Ginny Messina June 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm # He also believes in detox diets. I wouldn’t take his opinions too seriously. And I wouldn’t look to chiropractors for advice on nutrition. Reply
3. Aaron February 6, 2015 at 12:32 pm # I use Whole Foods brand Vitamin B12. It’s 500mcg as cyanocobalamin (no folate or other micronutrients). Reply
◦ Bobbi February 7, 2015 at 3:09 pm # I use Whole Foods brand also. Reply
◦ David Sonenb February 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm # Whole foods brand has stearate. Reply
4. Casey February 6, 2015 at 1:21 pm # I use the target brand one right now. Reply
5. Melissa February 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm # Alicia Silverstone has partnered with Garden of Life to produce a line of vegan supplements. Among them is a spray b-12. I thought you might like to know :-) Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:30 am # I had looked at these, and they all seem to be methylcobalamin. Reply
6. Alison February 6, 2015 at 7:22 pm # I’m in Australia, and we have a brand called Nature’s Own, which do a few different B12-alone formulations at different strengths (1000, 250), all cyanocobalamin and with no added ‘yeast, gluten, lactose, sugar, artificial colours or flavours, artificial sweeteners or preservatives, dairy products or animal derived products’ (quoting the label) Reply
◦ Renée February 9, 2015 at 8:51 pm # I also take Nature’s Own, blend it into our homemade milk, equivalent to what’s in commercial fortified milk. I emailed the Nature’s Own a while back to be pedantic, they said it’s suitable for vegans. Seems to be in most Australian supermarkets and chemists. I did the Cornell/T Colin Campbell Foundation plant-based nutrition course – a staff member recommended Jarrow methyl supplements (sublingual/chewable) if people were concerned about B12 (pregnancy, long-term vegan, other reason to suspect low levels), otherwise take no supplements (possibly this is what is recommended on “holistic health” cruises as well?). I’ve been taking both supplements recently… Food and yeast is generally fortified with cyano, yes? So I’m taking in that as well… I’m debating whether to ditch the methyl due to higher cost/lesser shelf life… or whether to ditch the cyano and eat more nutritional yeast/fortified snacks… although the tasty methyls are popular with my kids… Will probably just keep doing what I’m doing… assuming that’s not too much… B-12 is water-soluble so it’s ok to get a bit extra, yes? Especially since methyl could be less reliable… Haven’t got my latest blood tests back yet… Reply
7. Andrea February 7, 2015 at 3:31 am # I use Kind Organics B12, which is also fortified with some omegas. http://www.gardenoflife.com/Products-for-Life/mykind-Organics/Organic-B-12-Spray.aspx Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:30 am # Thanks for this info–this is methylcobalamin, though, not cyano. Reply
8. Denise February 7, 2015 at 4:07 am # Pharmassure B-12 says vegetarian on the bottle. It has 500 mcg of cyano. Reply
9. Erin February 7, 2015 at 5:05 am # Hmmmm… “Vegan for Life” (Chapt 3, “Vitamin B12: The Gorilla in the Room”, section “Meeting Vitamin B12 Needs” – location 750 in the Kindle version) says I need to take 1,000 mcg of B12 three times per week as a regular supplementation dose. I’m confused… is the 1000 mcg 2x/week in this post an updated recommendation…? Or was 3x/week a typo…? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:32 am # I think the Vegan for Life rec was a typo or just a mistake since Jack and I both recommend 2x per week. But really, 2-3 times per week is reasonable. Reply
10. Jaya February 7, 2015 at 8:06 am # I use Deva which I buy on Amazon or Veganessentials.com. It’s methyl though. Reply
11. Matt February 7, 2015 at 8:11 am # Wait — cruises aren’t the ultimate source of scientific knowledge??? Reply
12. Eve-Marie Williams February 7, 2015 at 8:24 am # I am taking Dr. Fuhrman’s daily multivitamin for women, which includes 40mcg B12 as methylcobalamin. I am not taking any additional B12 supplement. Now I am confused because I trusted Dr. Fuhrman to provide everything I needed in his multi, and to provide a product that stays on top of the most current research – do you think I need to switch to cyanocobalamin? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:34 am # I think you need to switch to either cyanocobalamin or take a much bigger dose of methyl–probably around 1,000 per day, although it’s not really known how much is enough. Reply
13. Annemarie February 7, 2015 at 8:30 am # Favourite is LifeGive B-12 Forte from the Hippocrates Health Institute. If you’ve ever heard Brian Clement speak you know how strongly he recommends B12 for everyone not just vegans. My second preference is Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw B-12. Reply
14. David February 7, 2015 at 8:37 am # I also use Whole Foods brand vitamin B12 500 mcg in a sublingual/chewable tablet with 100 tablets per bottle at ~$6-7 a bottle (have to get chewable since my partner can’t swallow pills very well). It does have magnesium stearate but the bottle indicates the supplement is vegetarian. Reply
15. Natasha Sankovitch February 7, 2015 at 9:32 am # I’ve been reading about the difference between cyanocobalamin B12 and the methylcobalamin B12, and I choose methylcobalamin, I used Kirkland’s B12 (Costco’s brand). Reply
◦ Barb February 9, 2015 at 10:12 pm # Me Too! Reply
16. Amy February 7, 2015 at 9:44 am # This blog is excellent – reasoned, practical and extremely well written. Though I am not yet vegan, I am working toward that, and I am so glad I have this information as a reference. My concern about any supplements was given a bit of credence by this recent article in the New York Times about herbal supplements that were not to be trusted. I always wonder about the supplements I take, such as vitamin D, and hope the companies are honest ones. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html?pagewanted=all Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:37 am # Yes, I’m concerned about that, too. I think it’s less likely to be a problem with something like B12 than with herbal extracts, but it’s true that it’s hard to know what you’re getting with supplements. One thing you can do is look for those that carry a USP logo on them which shows that they have been verified to contain what they say they contain. Reply
17. Richard February 7, 2015 at 9:44 am # I’m a little hesitant to go with Spring Valley (Walmart’s brand) after the recent scandal involving Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc., allegedly selling fraudulent supplements: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/new-york-attorney-general-targets-supplements-at-major-retailers/?_r=0 Right now I take a Nature Made 1,000 mcg tablet every day. I know that’s more than the recommendation states, but I do it in the hopes of mitigating my chronic fatigue syndrome, even if only by a little bit. (I know that the Nature Made line may not be vegan; I just can’t afford to go with all-vegan supplements right now. My actual diet is vegan.) Is it true that you shouldn’t take B12 in tablet form if it’s not chewable or dissolvable? I’ve heard some people say that, while others say that you’re okay so long as your tablet contains cyanocobalamin in the amounts you list in this blog post. Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 7, 2015 at 10:40 am # I’m less concerned about their nutrient supplements than the herbal ones, but I agree that it’s a legitimate concern. I don’t think your supplement absolutely has to be chewable or dissolvable, but it could help you absorb the nutrients in the pill. In your case, it makes sense to choose one that you can chew (or that dissolves). Reply
18. alejandra February 7, 2015 at 10:36 am # what about intramuscuar? which is the dose?? Thanks Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm # Alejandra, I don’t know what the dose is for intramuscular injections. It depends to some degree on the situation and is actually a medical issue rather than a nutritional one. So your doctor would know more about this. Reply
19. Dan February 7, 2015 at 11:19 am # Thanks for this article, it’s very timely for me as I just picked up a B12 supplement again the other day, after being without for quite a few months. I picked up a brand from Bellingham Community Co-op which seems to be their own brand. I was a little confused by the options in store, so I’m pleased to see this one meets all your recommendations! This one has 1,000mcg cyanocobalamin, and lists the magnesium stearate as being from vegetable source. In fact it even specifically labels the bottle as being suitable for vegans. I had been curious about the dosing, as the dosage recommendations on the bottle are one a day, which seemed excessive for 1,000mcg. Having read this post my bottle will now last >3 times as long! Reply
20. Gary Safron February 7, 2015 at 11:42 am # i take NOW 1000 B 12 mcg supplements. NOW is a local Chicago company with extremely high quality control standards and have been in business 40 years. They recommend to take 1x per day but I only take twice a week. It says. Vegan on the bottle. The cost is very reasonable as 250 lozenges cost $11.00. Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm # Gary, I did check out NOW supplements because I know this is a good vegan brand. But I couldn’t find anything that met my criteria. The one with cyanocobalmin also had folic acid. And the other was methylcobalamin. Did you find something different from this? Reply
21. george jacobs February 7, 2015 at 11:58 am # Here’s a list of B12 with cyano: http://www.iherb.com/Vitamin-B12-Cyanocobalamin Reply
22. Lani February 7, 2015 at 12:14 pm # I was told that you could take 2500 mg sl once a week. I have been doing that for awhile now and blood levels have been ok. Is this not appropriate? What if blood levels go higher than norm? Is that a problem? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm # No, it’s not really a problem if blood levels go higher than normal–although it can be a sign that you can back off a little bit on supplements. It sounds like what you’re doing is working for you! Reply
23. Raisa Jari February 7, 2015 at 12:31 pm # I have been going by your Becoming Vegan book and use B12 fortified nutritional yeast every day (2 T in the morning). I also drink a couple of cups of fortified soy milk in the evening. Is this not enough? Should I be switching? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm # Raisa, what you are doing is actually the same as my first recommendation–to consume 2 doses of B12 per day providing 2.5 mcg per dose. So I think what you are doing is fine. Reply
24. Steph February 7, 2015 at 12:50 pm # Question regarding children, ages 9 and 10: Because I can’t find a very low mcg B12 for the recommended daily dose, I’ve been giving my sons 750 mcg of cyanocobalamin (Whole Foods brand) twice a week. I am wondering, is there no concern about cyanide for children at these doses? I can split the 500 mcg tablets into fourths with a pill cutter and just give it to them every day, but that would be 125 mcg, above the recommended daily dose, which is 20-75 for their age group, according to Jack Norris…I don’t think I can split them smaller than that. Would that be better? 700 mcg per week vs. 1500, but more per day than recommended. Just to complicate things, the newly vegan son eats some B12 fortified foods, and the younger, who is not a vegan, eats a hamburger a week, though no other amimal foods (picky eater). Thank you for any insight. Sorry for the novel. Reply
◦ Stephanie February 9, 2015 at 7:41 am # On thought, I’m going with the split pills, daily dose. I wish someone would make a plain, chewable B12 at lower doses! Thank you for the great blog and books! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:33 pm # I think what you’re doing right now is fine. You are on target with the dose, and it’s an amount that is providing only the tiniest amounts of cyanide. And even with a few servings per week of fortified foods or animal foods, I’d stick with your current approach. Reply
▪ Steph February 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm # Thank you! Reply
25. Radha Sahar February 7, 2015 at 1:05 pm # Thank you for your wonderful service through this blog, Ginny. I really appreciate your knowledge and generosity to share it. We are vegan, supplement each day, and get a free blood test each 6 months to monitor our B12 levels, which seem to be OK. But a friend, who is on a mainstream, diet including meat (and too much alcohol), is regularly deficient in B12 despite his blood level reading normal!!!(according to his doctor, who prescribes intravenous shots every so often to keep him on track … is that the alcohol?) Rather puzzling! To add to my confusion, naturopaths here in New Zealand claim that methyl is better absorbed by the body. One friend had been taking cyno for years, was suffering from extreme exhaustion and was alarmed to be diagnosed with pernicious anemia. She switched to methyl and has regained a good level. Could it be that people vary as to what type of B12 they absorb? If so, the issue is not so clear. And if blood levels can also be counted on only to some extent, it is extremely confusing! The natural questions to then ask, are (1) what is the safe B12 dosage limit? – (so we can take a bit more, or some of each form, to ‘cover’ us if we are tired etc), and (2) to what extent does B12 need it’s other B vitamin components in order to be well absorbed? And if we need more of the B vit group, what components are most important, and safe to supplement with? I don’t like taking supplements of any kind, and only take B12, an occasional Vegan DHA/EPA, and some Vit D towards the end of winter. I tell all people interested in vegan diet that they must take B12 – and give them a link to your blog of course! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:39 pm # Yes, alcohol can definitely affect B12 levels. I don’t know why your friend would do better with the methylcobalamin than cyano, though. There are all kinds of possibilities, including different dosages or even the quality of the supplements. As for the highest amount to take, there is no good info on that and excess B12 is generally excreted from the body. But I wouldn’t go crazy with it and would try just a little bit above my recommendations if you feel that you need it. Reply
▪ Radha Sahar February 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm # Thank you Ginny. Good advice. I might alternate the methyl (Source Naturals 1 mg daily), with cyno for a change. Your advice on cyno is new to me, and I know this is the standard form prescribed by doctors. It is only naturopaths who are currently recommending methyl. Considering most of them here recommend people eat plenty of raw cows milk, butter, coconut oil, and avoid all soy, as if it were poison, and grains are also ‘bad’ I’ve serious reservations about where they’re coming from. Their ‘methyl’ might be yet another ‘health-fashion trend’. I feel healthy, am monitoring well, and my levels are ‘good’, but I would like to learn more as to why cyno is better, as this is of crucial importance to vegans, as you say! – any links? Thanks again, Radha Reply
26. Miriam February 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm # I use Solgar, 1000 micrograms, cyanocobalamin http://www.solgaronline.co.uk/Vitamin-B-12-1000ug–250-Nuggets–sublingual_p_705.html Thanks for your excellent blog Reply
27. Brandon Becker February 7, 2015 at 3:08 pm # Nature Made told me via email in 2012 that their B12 in tablet form contains no animal-derived ingredients. So unless something has changed in the formula since then, it should still be vegan. I currently take Solgar’s B12 1000 mcg nuggets 1-2 times per week: http://www.solgar.com/SolgarProducts/Vitamin-B12-1000-mcg-Nuggets.htm They are vegan, taste good, come in a glass bottle, and aren’t expensive. Reply
28. compostbrain February 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm # I have been a vegan since 1992 and have never taken a b12 supplement. I recently had my b12 tested and it was normal. I believe this may be because I regularly ingest nutritional yeast. What is your view on this as an alternative to b12 supplementation? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm # If it’s nutritional yeast that is grown on a B12-rich medium, then I think it’s a good way to get B12. Reply
◦ rk1967 February 9, 2015 at 1:42 pm # Hi, many people say their b12 level is normal, but never post the results. I have seen the normal range listed from 250-900. I was tested at 700-900 during my recent tests. Just curious what others consider normal. Thanks Reply
29. risa m. mandell February 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm # thanks for your article re B12! i use MegaFood Balanced B Complex (megafood.com); it’s label shows, Certified Vegan vegan.org. the Supplement Facts show Vitamin B12, 25mg S. cerevisiae 125mcg and if i’m understanding correctly, that’s 2083% of the Daily Value. i take 1/2 tablet 2-3x/wk. Reply
30. Melody February 8, 2015 at 9:31 am # I’ve been taking NOW B12 (cyanocobalamin) 1000 mcg twice a week for quite some time. I’ve been vegan for many years. I was recently diagnosed with B12 deficiency in spite of this. My B12 level was normal, but I had an elevated methylmalonic acid. I’ve had no symptoms of B12 deficiency. I was told by MD to increase to 1000 mcg daily and will be re-tested after 6 months. Reply
31. edo February 9, 2015 at 4:33 am # I some time back read the Vegan Health text ( http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/noncyanob12 ) on different forms of B12 and have since then hedged my bets. I take 1,000 mcg cyano twice a week and 1,000 mcg methylcobalamin once a week. But that text also mentions a third form adenosylcobalamin, which I’ve never seen in listed in a product. Do you have any comment on that third form of B12 Ginny? Reply
32. L C February 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm # I’ve been trying to find a brand that is effective and safe for my 2-year-old daughter. I would prefer not to give her a multi-vitamin chewable, but all the b12 sprays (which are mostly methyl anyway) I can find say “not intended for children” on them. As a nutritionist, Ginny, what is your take? My daughter currently drinks enough fortified soy milk every day to be ingesting about 100% of the adult intake recommendation, but I am hoping to decrease her intake of that soon (it’s got more added sugar than I’d like). The two nutrients it provides that I can’t seem to find good replacements for are b12 and iodine. She already takes a chewable D supplement, and other than that her diet should be giving her what she needs. Your advice would be so much appreciated! Reply
33. Andy February 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm # Hi Ginny Thanks for this information. I’m taking 1 a day of Veganicity 100 B12 Cyan. It states vegan on the label… Reply
34. Lois February 9, 2015 at 1:53 pm # Ginny, all my vegan vitamins and supplements are from Deva (on Amazon). Just confirmed the B12 is methyl with 400 mg folic acid. I take one every 3 days. Am also getting another 400 mg folic in their daily multi. Is that too much and do I need to switch to a cyano B12? Reply
35. Jada February 9, 2015 at 1:54 pm # I take Vitamin World’s B12 it’s sublingual,5000MCG, is that too much? My son(13 yrs. old) and I take it once a week. Reply
36. Jordan February 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm # I was under the impression that methylcobalamin was the best form of Vitamin B-12 to take. Why is cyanocobalamin superior? Reply
◦ pgyx February 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm # I, too, am under the impression that methylcobalamin is a more usable form than cyanocobalamin. I take it only intermittently (working on doing it regularly) and my serum B12 level was ~700. I use Source Naturals and now Joel Furhman’s prenatal vitamin which has folate instead of folic acid. Reply
37. email@example.com February 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm # What do you think about Pure Advantage B12 500mcg Methylcobalamin Vegan Certified? It’s not on your list 🙂 I’m taking one year, and it cool Reply
38. Prema February 9, 2015 at 3:03 pm # I buy SOLAR sublingual B12 100mcg. It just says cobalamin but does not specify methyl or cyan. it does mention vegetable magnesium stearate. I do believe it is all vegetarian. I did ask for vegetarian source at the health food store. I just started taking B12 after reading about its importance. I have been vegetarian (no vegan, I eat some dairy occasional organic eggs, but not daily). I have been following this diet for 42 years. Reply
39. Glenn February 9, 2015 at 3:14 pm # I live in Canada and found a cyanocobalamin that’s suitable for vegans from Sisu Products: https://www.sisu.com/sisu/products/product.jsp?category=500&sub=501&id=32 Reply
40. Ingrid February 9, 2015 at 4:51 pm # Great article Ginny – thank you so much! I learned the hard way that I couldn’t take 1000 mcg B12 daily (I’d heard that extra is excreted.) My blood levels were quite high. I’m happy to see that your recommendation to take 1000 mcg twice weekly is what I’m currently doing. This is my first time on your site. I’ll definitely be back! Reply
41. Allison February 9, 2015 at 4:57 pm # I take Garden of Life methylcobalamin spray. It provides 500 mcg/spray and I take one spray/day. I recently had my vitamin B12 level checked and it was at 916 pg/mL. The range is 211-911 pg/mL. I think it’s safe to assume the methyl form is working appropriately. Reply
42. Carolyn February 9, 2015 at 5:28 pm # I take methylcobalamin, which is the superior form of B12 and is better assimilated into the body. Reply
◦ Axel Lieber February 9, 2015 at 7:22 pm # Carolyn, do you have a scientific (i.e. peer-reviewed, published) source for your claim that methylcobalamin is “superior”? All I could find in the literature is that cyanocobalamin is readily converted to methylcobalamin etc in the human body and has the added advantage of being stable (methylcobalamin is susceptible to oxidation). I would be most obliged if you could post links to the science. Reply
◦ Jim February 9, 2015 at 8:34 pm # Cyna has to go through a conversion process in your body to turn it into a Methyl for your body to absorb it. Why would anyone recommend otherwise? Personally I use Jarrow’s 1000 mcg daily. It’s Vegan friendly. To shake things up, I’ll use Garden Of Life’s organic spray. Reply
43. Mindy Maree February 9, 2015 at 6:23 pm # I have been taught that Methyl- and not cyano- is the preferred one. Why do you go with cyano- and not methyl -? Reply
44. zsfcxfd February 9, 2015 at 6:57 pm # How to increase Vitamin B12 content in a person aged 73 (male)? Eats a healthy diet! Not a vegetarian or a vegan. Is it possible to do it without supplements? Would really appreciate a reply! Thank you! Reply
45. Ann February 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm # Bluebonnet Earth Sweet Chewable Vitamin B12 5000mcg has the Vegan icon on the bottle. i take it once a week. Reply
46. Ann February 9, 2015 at 7:45 pm # add to above that Bluebonnet is cyanocobalamin form Reply
47. Sandy February 9, 2015 at 7:57 pm # In Canada I take Jamieson Natural Sources B12, 1,200 mcg twice a week. It is Cyanocobalamin which gradually releases the B12. Also contains cellulose, diccalcium phosphate, vegetable magnesium stearate, water-soluble cellulose, Brazialian palm tree wax. No salt, sugar, starch, gluten, lactose, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Reply
48. Kristin February 9, 2015 at 9:43 pm # I have been taking NutraBulk B-12 sublingual lozenges, 2500 mcg once a week (well, trying to remember to take them weekly). They specify vegetable magnesium stearate, and they use cyanocobalamin. I’ve been vegan for 8 or 9 years (vegetarian before that since 1995) but have never had my B12 levels checked. Need to add that to my next blood work. http://nutrabulk.com/ingredients/b-vitamins.html Reply
49. paolo firlano February 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm # Hello, I take Phoenix Long-life 2000 micrograms weekly. What do you think? Reply
50. Stephen February 9, 2015 at 10:22 pm # I take Deva Vegan B12 Reply
51. Caleb February 10, 2015 at 12:49 am # Thank you for an interesting article. I was just wondering if you have more information regarding the differences between different forms of B12. I see many asking in the comments about it, maybe you could share your views in the article? Personally I have settled for 1000ug hydroxycobalamin drops ~1/week, which seem to be working, but I would be interested in what litterature says about it. Thanks! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 11, 2015 at 10:50 am # Yup, I’m working on a primer on B12 that will address these differences. Reply
52. Trae Palmer February 10, 2015 at 4:02 am # I’m currently taking a Sprout’s brand methyl B-12 at 1000 mcg per day, but I do have a bottle of the Nature’s Bounty (2500 mcg cyanocobalamin) product on hand that I was planning on using after I’d gone through the bottle of the methyl B-12. The methyl B12 I have is in a dark glass bottle, but I’m wondering if I should just get rid of it and switch to the Nature’s Bounty one I have immediately. I also drink several sevings of fortified plant milk and use fortified nutritional yeast daily. Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 11, 2015 at 10:49 am # The 1,000 mcg of methylcobalamin might be okay, especially if it’s protected from light. But again, we just don’t know for sure how much methyl is enough. Reply
▪ Trae Palmer February 16, 2015 at 6:34 pm # Thanks for the reply ! I’m thinking I might just use up the rest of the methyl to avoid wasting it and in the future just buy the cyanocobalamin form. The methyl product I have open is stored in a dark medicine cabinet and the bottle’s glass is quite dark, so it’s *probably* protected from light, though I’m considering moving it to my refrigerator to further slow degradation. What’s funny is that the methyl form is about all that’s available now at my local health food store, yet at Fresh & Easy near me, which is conveniently open 24 hours, they have a vegan cyano product, so it’s actually much easier for me to get the more stable form, as well ! :) Reply
53. janet @ the taste space February 10, 2015 at 4:29 am # Hi Ginny, I actually take methyl, but the same company has a cyano version. http://www.naturalfactors.com/caen/products/detail/2826/vitamin-b12 I find the SL dose so much easier so I will probably continue with it. Great post though. It bothers me when vegans do not supplement at all with B12. Reply
54. Sally February 10, 2015 at 5:36 am # I take Solgar B12 2000mcg liquid drops (cyanocobalamin) Out of all the B12 I have tried, I find this one the best and this one helped increase my B12 levels so I didnt need to get shots. It does however come combined with other B Vits, but I don’t mind that as I find B vits work better as a package. Personally I would avoid supermarket brand vitamins (here in the uk) as I don’t trust the quality of the supplement. I tend to stick with Solgar, Biocare and Seagreens. http://www.solgaronline.co.uk/Solgar-Sublingual-Liquid-B12-2000ug-with-B-Complex–59ml_p_554.html?gclid=CKLrp4K-18MCFWfKtAod_xcAwg Reply
55. Michelle February 10, 2015 at 8:08 am # Hi Ginny! Thanks for the article. I have noticed that most (?all) of the B12 supplements on the market are sublingual. Why is that? I know people with true pernicious anemia, who don’t make intrinsic factor in the stomach, cannot absorb B12 through the GI tract and therefore need B12 either in an injectable or sublingual form. But for those of us without pernicious anemia, is there any difference between sublingual and a regular oral tablet? Or are the manufacturers just making the sublingual to capture the pernicious anemia market? thanks! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina February 11, 2015 at 10:48 am # I think they are probably marketing this as better because it is absorbed directly without digestion. And as you noted, it could be for some people. For most of us, swallowing a pill is just fine. And chewing it before you swallow it could add a little advantage. Reply
56. Clementine February 10, 2015 at 8:59 am # SOLGAR, sublingual/chewable vit B12 (cyanocobalamin) 1000microg twice a week, suitable for vegans Reply
57. Julie February 10, 2015 at 5:40 pm # Hi thanks for the helpful info & comments of fellow readers. Which cyano based b12 supplements can be purchased in England,? I read somewhere that b4 u supplement, u should check to see if you are actually deficient, otherwise your body can build a resistance to it. Thanks to all who reply ;) Reply
58. Allan Ng February 11, 2015 at 9:43 pm # Thanks for the article. Didn’t realized twice a week (1000 mcg) would be enough. We have been taking 500 mcg daily for a long time. Sundown Naturals which is Cyano with other nutrients and similar to Safeway brand it list the following as other ingredients: Dicalcium Phosphate, Vegetable Cellulose, Vegetable Stearic Acid, Silica, Vegetable Magnesium Stearate. Will try 4 times a week instead of 7 Vegans from Singapore. Reply
59. Carolyn February 15, 2015 at 5:40 am # Hi Ginny, Any suggestions for someone with a cobalt allergy? When I started taking b12 I broke out in rashes and eventually had skin patch testing done that determined cobalt as the cause. I stopped taking it and my skin cleared, but I’m concerned about becoming deficient. Thanks! Reply
◦ Sep September 17, 2015 at 10:28 am # Hi Carolyn Did you find out which Vitamin B-12 does not have cobalt in it. I am taking iron supplements and Mason B-12 at the same time. Not sure which one of it is causing me difficulty breathing. Thanks. Reply
60. Juliana February 22, 2015 at 5:07 pm # We take Pure Vegan B 12. It provides 500 mcg. Now recently I have purchased Garden of Life organic B 12 which is Non Gmo, organic and gluten free certified. Reply
61. Sarah March 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm # Hi Ginny, I am a graduating dietetics student and am considering the switch to a vegan lifestyle for environmental reasons. I am studying the advanced micro-nutrient metabolism materials right now. I don’t understand why there isn’t a B-complex vitamin out there for vegans that has only the B-vitamins we need and in the amounts we need them. We can measure percent content in foods and percent absorption; there is no reason we can’t formulate a complex that actually supplements our nutrition needs instead of overdosing on vitamins that vegans are adequate in. I think we should find a venture capitalist to make one for us. I don’t think it would be hard to find someone in this budding health conscious environment. – Sarah Reply
62. Roxxi March 24, 2015 at 12:05 pm # Ginny, Thank you for your wonderful blogs. I’m trying to figure out cyanocobalamin vs. methylcobabalamin. I just learned in my medical nutrition therapy class in college that 10% of people have problems converting unmethylated folate in enriched foods to active methyltetrahydrofolate. So everyone should take methyfolate and methylcobalamin supplements. What do you think about this? Also what about this article that states methylcobalamin is much better, opposite from what you are saying. and is this website even reliable since I see that they do promote certain supplements. http://www.methylcobalamininfo.com/methylcobalamin-vs-cyanocobalamin/ Thank you for your thoughts! Reply
63. Karen May 9, 2015 at 6:01 am # I have Vit B-12 deficiency. I’m in need of a Vit B-12, 500 mg, sub-lingual that is safe for someone with Fructose Mal-absorption. I can not have any artificial sweeteners, juices, molasses, honey for sweeteners. No dairy, wheat, gluten, and chicory/inulin. Any suggestions for where I’d find this. I haven’t had any luck so far. Reply
64. angelica June 13, 2015 at 11:04 pm # Just when I thought I had the answer (sublingual methylcobalamin), I run in to your article, Ginny. Is the article here not valid?: http://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-health/vitamins-minerals-and-more/vitamin-b12-your-key-facts/what-every-vegan Reply
◦ Ginny Messina June 26, 2015 at 5:40 pm # Angelica, I don’t think this article mentions methylcobalamin, does it? I think that the recommendation for a daily dose of B12 is too low (the article is several years old), but other than that, the info seems good. The Vegan Society is generally a good source of nutrition information. Reply
65. Kim June 22, 2015 at 1:53 pm # I see some others with kids are having a hard time finding a B12 supplement too. My baby is only 14 months old and it’s recommended she only take 10mcg/day of B12. Help! I cannot find any tablet/liquid/spray anywhere close to this low amount and I do not want to give her a mega dose. In fact, I called MyKind organics about their organic B12 spray (500 mcg) and they said they would not recommend giving her this high of a dose. I do not want to rely on fortified processed cereals for her to get this nutrient and currently she is not drinking enough fortified non dairy milks to meet this requirement. Any suggestions or supplements to recommend? There seems to be a need for a lose-dose kids B12 supplement! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina June 26, 2015 at 5:35 pm # Kim, if she is getting vitamin B12 from formula or fortified soymilk and is consuming it several times a day, she doesn’t need that 10 mcg. She would be fine with 2 to 3 servings per day with each providing about 1.5 mcg. Reply
66. Rebekah June 28, 2015 at 10:41 am # I eat a plant-based vegan diet and have been taking trader joe’s b-complex daily supplement (vegan, with b12 as cyanocoblalamin) for about the past seven years. I’ve recently read articles/blogs that indicate I should not do this, especially because there is 400mcgs of folic acid in the tablet. There is also 50mcgs of b12. I looked into the nature’s bounty b12 as recommended above, and the label instructs taking one 2500mcg daily. Is this right? I’m a little confused about the amount. Though I would like to start taking this nature’s bounty tablet, I’m concerned about taking too much… but I do prefer to take a supplement daily. Any advice will be gratefully received! Reply
◦ Ginny Messina June 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm # Rebekah, you don’t need that much every day. You could take the Nature’s Bounty supplement a couple of times per week and that should be plenty. Reply
67. Brett Scriver July 6, 2015 at 5:18 pm # I came across the Radiance Platinum brand of B12 (cyanocobalamin) at CVS. They say “vegan” right on the label. http://www.cvs.com/shop/vitamins/vitamins-a-z/vitamin-b/radiance-platinum-vitamin-b-12-tablets-1000mcg-skuid-964490 Reply
68. Sarah August 10, 2015 at 4:13 pm # I have read taking more than 20mcgs of B-12 is not recommended because it can cause rosacea outbreaks (which I have) and etc. Is that not correct? Reply
◦ Ginny Messina August 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm # There are a few case studies suggesting that some people may have skin reactions to vitamin B12. But there isn’t much research on this and I don’t think it’s very common. And almost all B12 supplements have much more than 20 ug. Reply
69. James September 12, 2015 at 3:02 pm # I use DEVA’s vegan daily multivitamin which has 100 mcg of cyano. Reply
70. Gary Transom October 1, 2015 at 7:35 pm # Hi guys. I have been a vegan (fully) for 10 years now and b12 deficiency has been a curse and i do not wish to enroll doctors because of the closed way they approach things, twice now i have had to have injections of B12 which will be made from something synthetic, any way just i recently i have put myself thru hell seeing if my body would fix my extreme tiredness by doing that which it needs to do, it would not so i finally secombed and now i have to have a truckload of the stuff to remove the tiredness problem. As you may know that b12 is not available in the natural or unnatural world, of food, there are only 2 places that we can get b12 and that is from dirt, and inside our gut. B12 is a waste product of a bacteria. I am very stubborn when it comes to the ‘system ‘ telling me things and i am very suspect of everything coming at me, i knew in my heart of hearts that there will be a way to find b12 in the natural, it was right under my nose all the time and i have used this source before for healthy living but not for b12 at the time, now is different so i searched and searched and this is what i found. HEMP milk, has in one glass 25 percent of our daily intake of b12, it also has 10 amino acids amongst other things. Check it out you will be amazed. happy vegan to you Gary Reply
71. Steve One Cat October 9, 2015 at 1:29 am # I looked at Nature Made’s ingredients, and they contain gelatin, which is not vegan. Reply
72. Laura November 1, 2015 at 9:47 pm # I am taking a liquid spray b12 from wholefoods. But what about my kids…what is the dosage for them and where is best to buy for them. I have been giving them the spray as I know you can’t overdose on b12 but it does say not intended for children. I can’t seem to find one for them that is not a multi vitamin. A spray seems to be the way for kids though! Reply
73. Raviprasad P Rao November 25, 2015 at 3:03 am # Hi Ginny, I am having vitamin B12 deficiency since I am a vegan. I do take eggs. Symptoms are really scary like short of breath, nervousness, weakness, fatigue tingling of hands, coldness, numbness in the hands, legs etc. I am taking green leafy vegetables, brocolli, onions, garlic, ginger, cabbage, carrot, beans, soya milk, low fat milk, dark chocolate, parsley, fruits only apple. I am taking nuerobion 100 mg right now. In fact, I would like to switch over to mega food vegan B12. how is this product basically, is there any side effects/interactions with other medicines. whether it will boost my vitamin B12 levels. I am taking valis 80 mg BP medication at present. Or do u think, other medication for Vitamin B12 is better than this. Pl let me know your opinion on this. Reply
74. Kristin December 3, 2015 at 11:23 am # The Nature’s Bounty option is 2500 mcg, but the instructions say to take daily. How frequently should it be taken? Reply
75. Adela January 2, 2016 at 9:54 am # Hello Ginnie, and HEALTHY, HAPPY VEGAN NEW YEAR!!! I just bumped into your article for which thank you so much as we need someone to scrutinize our vitamins and other nutrients! I notice you didn’t list Deva Vitamins. I take their B12 1000 mcg plus, as you probably know, B6 and Folic Acid. And I only now realize it doesn’t contain “cyanocobalamin”, only “methylcobalamin”. What do you suggest? I anticipate my thanks for prompt response. :o) Reply
76. Margaret January 6, 2016 at 9:03 am # I am quite surprised you are recommending cyanocobalamin. It is not as bioavailable as methylcobalamin and so the body needs to convert the cyanocobalamin to the methylcobalamin. in addition, doesn’t the body then need to excrete the remnants of the cyanide after it’s been metabolized? Also no discussion of tablet vs liquid form. Cyanocobalamin may be stable but liquid will always be absorbed more efficiently than tablets. I use Vegan Safe Bioactive B12, which is a blend of methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. it is made by Global Healing Center. I used to use cyanocobalamin to treat my B12 deficiency after being vegetarian for a long time, but after about a year, my hair started falling out. I no longer have this problem. Reply
◦ Ginny Messina January 6, 2016 at 9:58 am # Margaret, this article explains why vegan nutrition experts recommend cyanocobalamin. http://www.theveganrd.com/vegan-nutrition-primers/vitamin-b12-a-vegan-nutrition-primer Reply
▪ KJ January 6, 2016 at 11:00 am # Your explanation for why cyano is better than methyl is really not impressive. You prefer cyano because there is more research done on it? I have been taking the methyl form for several years (prior to that have regularly used Red Star nutritional yeast, and I am a 45-year vegan. No signs or symptoms of B12 deficiency. Everything I have read leads me to believe the methyl form is superior. Reply
▪ Ginny Messina January 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm # Yes, the fact that there is more research on it allows us to make appropriate recommendations to protect vegans against deficiency. Because of the lack of research on methylcobalamin, and the fact that we know it isn’t as stable or reliable, it’s difficult to know how much people actually need to prevent deficiency. Therefore, it is risky to depend on the methyl form of this vitamin supplement. That’s why vegan nutrition experts who have looked at the actual research recommend cyanocobalamin. I’m not surprised, though, that everything you’ve read says otherwise. There is tons of misinformation about this on the internet. And since it can take several years to develop a deficiency of B12, people may not realize that they are not supplementing appropriately. Reply
77. Black Bean Queen January 7, 2016 at 4:31 pm # Ginny, I am so glad I found your site! This was a very helpful and informative article. I’m not vegan, but I’ve been vegetarian for over 2 years, and I only consume eggs and yogurt on occasion. I know B-12 supplementation is a good idea for vegans and strict vegetarians, so I am thinking about it. I bought a 500 mcg supplement from one of the brands you suggested in this post. Would taking it 3x- 4x/week likely be adequate? Or less frequently, since I sometimes consume eggs or yogurt? Reply
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CARE PLUS http://www.purpleturtle.co.uk/acatalog/Care_Plus_Insect_Repellents.html
The Care Plus range of insect repellents includes s
omething for everyone – DEET lotions and gel, Picaridin (an effective alternative to DEET) and Citriodiol (a natural insect repellent derived from Lemon Eucalyptus Oil).
The EcoGuard range of insect repellents contain Saltidin (Icaridin) – an insect repellent that was developed as an effective alternative to DEET. Many people find it more pleasant to use than DEET as it is odourless with a light, clean feel.
Some below products MIGHT be ok – i have not looked at them
The Autan Tropical Insect Repellent Pump Spray contains Icaridin – an effective alternative to DEET that is more pleasant to use. It is also known as Saltidin or Picaridin and it is odourless with a light, clean feel.
Avon Skin So Soft is a dry oil body spray that many people swear by for dealing with midges. It isn’t intended for use as insect repellent in the UK but it does actually contain both Citronellol and Limonene which are used as ingredients in many insect repellents.
It’s also a very pleasant product to use – not suprising really given that it is part of the Avon Cosmetics range – and this may be the secret of its success: people don’t mind applying it in copious quantities, whereas more standard insect repellents might be used a little too sparingly.
Avon Skin So Soft is supplied in a 150ml pump action spray.
Ben’s Insect Repellent has a strong reputation and a loyal following throughout the world – particularly in the USA where Ben’s 100 has achieved almost cult status. The full range includes both DEET and natural insect repellent and After Bite is the product of choice for many travellers.
making the stuff para-menthane-3,8-diol
Method for producing para-menthane-3,8-diol
US 5959161 A
To offer a method of producing useful para-menthane-3,8-diol having the excellent repellent action to harmful living things, including noxious insects, in high purity and high yield, simply, and economically by the use of citronellal as a raw material compound.
The above-mentioned problems are resolved by the production method of this invention wherein citronellal is treated with aqueous sulfuric acid solution of 0.02 to 1.0 wt. % in concentration to produce para-menthane-3,8-diol. In case of recovering the produced para-menthane-3,8-diol, a method is preferably adopted, wherein after the reaction product is extracted with an aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent of 5 to 8 in carbon number, the extract is cooled down at temperature higher than the melting point of said aliphatic hydrocarbon solvent and of -10° C. or less to crystallize para-menthane-3,8-diol.
They are for skewering food and for building sculptures. And round toothpicks harm teeth and gums.
Almost as good as Interdens, if not better.
Sweden or Switzerland or Norway, they all seem to rebrand for various companies, so i would recommend buying from Japanese as they are artisans when it comes to woodsticks. and all automated, so still get the good price.
Who made them? Interdens by GSK Glaxo Smith Kline UK and Stim U Dent by Johnson & Johnson. I have never tried the Stimudent by either the original or the latest Chinese version marketed by natural dentist, so i cannot compare the Japanese one i recommend
I have used interdens since my mother introduced them to me as a child, in the 1960′s. Mother had all her own teeth and she used interdens daily. the text is true “With a proper programme of oral hygiene you and interdens can help keep your natural teeth for life. “
They are the next best thing to having a neem tree – and they are affordable. They make sense to children, to adults to everyone. Get them. You won’t regret it.
The text on the interden packet:
DIRECTIONS FOR USE Hold interdens stick near the centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt edge next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion. Interdens sticks remove plaque from the interdental spaces, cleansing surfaces not reachable by a toothbrush. Help you keep your natural teeth for life. Use anywhere, any time.
Interdens are recognized by the dental profession as a valuable aid to good oral hygiene and health. They are produced from a specially selected grade of wood for their ideal texture, and are impregnated with a breath freshener to refresh the mouth.
Regular use of interdens effectively remove plaque (a sticky, bacteria containing film) from those surfaces of the teeth and gums which are not reached by ordinary toothbrushing.
The bacteria in the plaque change sugar from food which we eat or drink, into acid, which attacks the enamel of tooth causing caries (decay). They also produce toxins which can cause inflammation of the gums.
Removal of the plaque by a regular daily use of toothbrushing techniques and interdens will help you maintain a healthy dental condition.
With a proper programme of oral hygiene you and interdens can help keep your natural teeth for life.
Please note interdens may be soaked for a period in warm water which has a softening effect for care of tender gums. Use for children only on dental recommendation.
My Review for Jordon Woodsticks
artificial mint flavour
imbued with toxic fluoride
wood is not as soft, so breaks more easily in teeth
these are made in norway, where they use the white birch.
Komon Pattern Triangular Toothpick 3 Sets x 3 from Osaka Prefecture
APPROX 10 cents each without postage from japansquare.com
This item won the gold prize in the TRADITIONAL JAPAN category of the “Most Charming Japanese Souvenir Contest 2011″ held by the Japan Tourism Agency.
With this triangle-shaped dental pick made for cleaning the narrow space between teeth, you can remove plaque using the top two surfaces, lightly press the interdental papilla with the bottom surface to massage your gums. This massage facilitates blood flow which helps prevent gum disease. These toothpicks are popular in the U.S. and Europe. You can easily take them with you to clean your teeth right after your meal. They are considered to be the most important tool for preventing gum disease in the U.S. and Europe.
●Material: Hokkaido White Birch
●Made in Osaka Prefecture
●Brand Name: Cleardent
●Color/ Design A x 3 sets, Design B x 3 sets
●Approximate Size: 65 x 5 x 220mm
●Product Weight: Approximately 6g
●Total Weight Including Packaging: Approximately 23g
●Contains: 9 packs (3 sets x 3)
●Comes with portable case
●Triangular dental toothpicks are used to conveniently clean between the teeth.
The original purpose of traditional toothpicks was for putting on food. That’s why they are called cocktail picks and are treated as kitchenware. Those round cocktail toothpicks can damage your gums.
Te Pe Dental sticks without fluoride
apparently made in Sweden
TePe Munhygienprodukter AB
SE-213 76 Malmö
Tel: 040-670 11 00
Fax: 040-670 11 11
It is recommended to use dental sticks nightly between all the interdental spaces to help prevent overnight bacteria growth. Choose a wooden stick size that will fit your interdental spaces. If necessary, let your dentist or dental hygienist find the right size for you. For extra caries protection, choose a fluoride impregnated dental stick. If you use fluoride impregnated dental sticks, wait at least half an hour before you eat or drink. The released fluoride will then stay in your mouth and help prevent dental caries.
Moisten the dental stick in your mouth before using it. This will make it last longer, be more pliable and have a better fluoride effect. Move the dental stick, flat side against gum tissue, back and forth in each interdental space. Dental sticks will clean larger surfaces if angled. If you hold one or more fingers against your chin, you will get more stability and better control.
6 Reasons Why Dentists Recommend Triangular-Shaped Wooden Dental Sticks!
1. The triangular shape.
Designed in the shape of an isosceles triangle, fit perfectly between your teeth. By placing the base of the triangle against the gum tissue, you can remove plaque from the inner tooth surfaces and massage the gum tissue all in one motion.
2. The tapered point.
The tapered point fits so perfectly between your teeth, no matter how tall or short that space is. Perfect for dislodging food particles and plaque – keeping you clean and comfortable.
3. The wood.
Made of special wood that creates the ideal texture and flexibility when wet, they squeeze in between teeth and remove sticky plaque before it becomes tartar (the stuff your dental hygienist has to scrape off during your cleanings). And the wood is biodegradable and comes from managed forests.
4. They stimulate your gums.
They will remove plaque and food from between your teeth, but that’s only the beginning. The in-and-out motion used also stimulates blood flow to your gum tissue – keeping your gums nourished and healthy.
5. They’re safe.
The flexibility of the wood means they will bend or break if you push too hard – they will never shift or damage your teeth. (Don’t try that with a conventional wooden toothpick!)
6. You’ll actually use them!
They unchain you from your bathroom sink – remove plaque after every meal, on the phone, watching TV, in the car, after you go to bed. Seriously. Anywhere, anytime.
a bit off topic — over the years, every time i need a mattress, i go in search of healthy-in-every-way mattresses. this time i am looking for a shiatsu mat for my ZenThai Shiatsu Practice
until i get the one i want i have bought a futon for $40 on gumtree – mattress is TOO THICK – I will discard the base or keep it, so that i can keep the mat aired.
I really want 100% latex. latex has been for me, the very bestest thing to lay on. also it is waterproof – a huge plus. i have found a source of two doubles – 3.5cm thickness (1.37795276 inches) and 66″ x 80″. not quite as large as typical shiatsu size. however this is a bonus, rather than a neg. they will fit in the back of my car, flat. and they will fit on a double bed.
double size is 137cm (approx 54 cm) x 188cm (approx 74 cm)
i really like the look of this FLAX and WOOL – IN AUSTRALIA also
SIZE of typical shiatsu mat is:60″ (152.4000cm) x 84″ (213.3600cm)
LINKS THAT LOOK GOOD – i have not used any of these
Soy Memory Foam Mattresses not Healthy
Soy memory foam mattresses or biofoam mattresses are all the rage these days. It’s time to break down what soy memory foam mattresses or plant based memory foam mattresses are all about.
Only 5-20% of the mattress is actually made up of soy. This would be fine if companies marketed them as eco-friendly mattresses which contain x% of soy. However companies mislead you, calling them soy memory foam mattresses or soy based mattresses and claim they’re healthy.
Misleading the public into thinking products are green, natural or eco-friendly is called green washing. There is no monitoring of these claims.
Essentia is the only company to have invented a natural memory foam mattress that’s made from rubber tree sap, NOT petroleum based.
No Benefits to Soy in Mattresses
There is very little benefit to putting soy in a mattress.
In fact the company behind soy-based ingredients, called BiOH® polyols, is Cargill.
Cargill is also the world’s largest soybean processor and trader. Their soy based ingredients are genetically engineered. Genetically modified foods are still banned in Europe and more than 40 countries now require GMO labeling. USA and Canada are not among them.
3,800 barrels of oil are saved when 100,000 mattresses are manufactured with soy-based foam. You’d expect considerable savings for the consumer right? Nope. Soy-based memory foam mattresses or bio foam mattresses are actually more expensive than regular memory foam even though they cost less to produce. Companies overcharge since they can promote the “eco-friendly” characteristics.
Replacing a portion of the chemicals in foam makes it 5-20% healthier. Is 5-20% good enough?
Are Bio Memory Foam Mattresses Environmentally Friendly?
No. The expansion of soy plantations in countries such as Brazil and Argentina means that rain forests are being completely slashed and burned, eliminating critical habitats for many plant and animal species. Every day 86,400 football fields of rainforest are cut down to mainly make room for livestock, soy, palm, and corn.
Genetically modified soy accounts for 93% of all soy grown in the United States as of 2010.
What’s that Chemical Smell from my Soy Foam Mattress?
People who’ve purchased soy memory foam mattresses are experiencing strong chemicals odors, smells or off-gassing. Soy does not produce this odor, the odor derives from the harsh chemicals used to make these synthetic foams. Green tea leaves or industrial perfumes are often added as an attempt to mask the odor.
Are Bamboo Mattress Fabrics Eco-friendly?
Soy memory foam mattresses are often wrapped in bamboo fabric. The percentage of bamboo is anywhere from 20-60% bamboo.
You guessed it. Bamboo fabrics are far from eco-friendly. The final product is considered man-made, so they aren’t biodegradable.
According to the OTA, Organic Trade Association, “bamboo may be a more ecologically sensitive source of feedstock for rayon production, the rayon itself is not distinguishable from rayon produced from any other feedstock, and uses a lot of toxic chemicals in the process. So while the bamboo itself may be considered environmentally friendly, the production of rayon is not, and the public should not be misled into thinking that the bamboo derived fiber can be considered “natural” – it is clearly synthetic. There are a lot of misconceptions about the “natural” label too, whether it is related to food or textile products.”
Where to Buy Soy Memory Foam Mattresses?
Soy memory foam mattresses have been seen on QVC in the U.S. and The Shopping Channel in Canada. Many brands sell soy memory foam mattresses. Chances are your local store probably has a bio memory foam brand. It may also be marketed under plant-based mattress, biofoam, eco foam mattress or eco-friendly memory foam mattress.
The foam industry is very small. There are only a handful of companies in the USA making polyurethane foams and memory foam. Almost all mattress companies buys from one of these manufacturers or import foam from Europe or China. The rest is marketing.
If you made it this far, well done. You’re now a little more equipped when the mattress salespersons says to you “it’s a soy memory foam mattress”. If you want a true, natural memory foam mattress check us out.
Did you know that you can make your own coconut oil toothpaste with just a few simple ingredients that you have in your kitchen?
Not only is coconut oil toothpaste effective, with it you can avoid all of the chemicals and toxic ingredients in commercial toothpaste and save money!
I started making my own toothpaste a little over a year ago after discovering a few ingredients in a “natural” toothpaste that I wasn’t comfortable using. This toothpaste is a great alternative and is very easy to make!
Ingredients to Watch Out for In Toothpaste
All commercial toothpaste contain harmful and toxic ingredients, such as; titanium dioxide, FD&C Blue Dye # 1 & 2, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium fluoride. These ingredients can also be found in toothpaste that is labeled “all natural”, particularly sodium fluoride. These chemicals are not only harmful to your delicate tooth enamel, they also affect your overall health! Glycerin is another ingredient to be cautious of as it can inhibit remineralization of teeth. It is often an ingredient in fluoride-free toothpaste as well.
How Coconut Oil Toothpaste Works
Coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal! Studies have shown that coconut oil destroys the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. The other primary ingredient in this toothpaste is baking soda. Baking soda is a very mild abrasive which aids in cleaning and whitening teeth, and restoring pH balance.
Homemade Baking Soda and Coconut Oil Toothpaste Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
• 2 tablespoons Baking Soda
• 10 drops of Peppermint oil (optional)
*You can make a larger or smaller batch depending on how long you would like it to last and what size container you’re storing it in.
1. Mix baking soda and coconut oil in a small container, until it forms a paste like consistency
2. Add several drops of peppermint oil and mix (*peppermint is optional)
simply a wonderful page of dental hygiene during medieval era ….
Dental Hygiene Recipes and Suggestions
Hildegarde of Bingen, Physica, 1158 (German)
“One who wishes to have hard, healthy teeth should take pure, cold water into his mouth in the morning, when he gets out of bed. He should hold it for a little while in his mouth so that the mucus around his teeth become soft, and so this water might wash his teeth. If he does this often, the mucus around his teeth will not increase, and his teeth will remain healthy. Since the mucus adheres to the teeth during sleep, when the person rises from sleep he should clean them with cold water, which cleans teeth better than warm water. Warm water makes them more fragile.” (Book 2, Section 2]
Provided is a goblet and pitcher of cold water.
What happened when I tried it?
I took a mouthfull of cold water immediately upon getting up, and swished it around the mouth until it warmed up a bit (1-2 minutes), then spat it out. My mouth certainly felt less gunky and some of the early-morning buildup appeared to be gone.
Would it work?
Bearing in mind that people in the middle ages and Renaissance seldom if ever drank plain cold water, a quick morning rinse might well remove some of the tartar and bacteria that attack the teeth. Holding cold water in the mouth for a few minutes, swishing it around and spitting it out, certainly leaves the mouth feeling cleaner, especially when done first thing upon awakening. It would certainly loosen stuck particles of food adhering to the teeth.
Wine Rinse and Herb chewing
Trotula, 11th Century, On Women’s Cosmetics (book 3)
“The woman should wash her mouth after dinner with very good wine. Then she ought to dry [her teeth] very well and wipe [them] with a new white cloth. Finally, let her chew each day fennel or lovage or parsley, which is better to chew because it gives off a good smell and cleans good gums and makes the teeth very white.”
Provided is a [empty] goblet of which would hold white wine, a white cloth for polishing the teeth, and green herbs to chew.
White wine was my choice because in the few instances where type is specified in other tooth care items I’ve looked at, it has been white. Fennel and Parsley are included because that is what is available fresh at this time of year. Lovage, a slightly soapy tasting relative of celery, is not commercially available. All of these have seeds, but I choose to go with the fresh plant material since parsley is generally the herb, and I generalized from there that lovage and fennel would also be the herbs rather than seed.
What happened when I tried it?
Rinsing out the mouth with wine loosened some particles of food, and certainly left the mouth feeling less gunky– but this might have been influenced by the use of a white wine. I suspect the percieved cleaning effect varies depending on how dry the wine is. Rubbing the teeth with the cloth removed more tartar and food particles. Chewing either fennel or parsely made the mouth smell of those herbs, not of the previously consumed food.
Would it work?
Essentially, you are washing the mouth out with an alcohol (though slightly sweet alcohol) and chewing green herbs that are high in chlorophyll. It has been established for years that chlorophyll is what allows parsley to kill bad breath and fishy or garlic breath. Fennel and lovage would also add a spicy scent to the breath. So the wine might kill some bacteria and loosen stuck food, and the chlorophyll would help with any bad breath.
Bankes’ Herbal, 1525
“For the stinking of the mouth and filth of the gums and of the teeth, wash thy mouth and gums with vinegar that mints have been sodden in; after that, rub them with the powder of mints or with dry mints.”
1 pint jar filled with mint sprigs (Mentha Citrata, orange bergamot mint)
1 pint red wine vinegar
Vinegar was poured over the mint and left to steep all winter; for use, the vinegar is poured off and used to rinse the mouth.
Finely cut dried mint is provided to rub the teeth with.
I used Mentha citrata because that was what I happened to have a lot of. Mentha citrata is not the North American Bergamot, but a variety of plain European mint that is carries a whiff of the bergamot citrus fruit. While I can’t document that this particular variety existed in Europe before 1601, its existence as a cultivar is quite possible. Walafrid of Strabo (9th century) points out how vigorously mint hybridizes: “Mint. . . in all its varieties. How many there are I might as well try to count the sparks from Vulcan’s furnace beneath Etna.”
Mint’s action against halitosis and indigestion was well known to period herbalists and appears again and again. It’s also associated with eating, as in Ovid where someone rubs the table with the herb before setting the table for dinner .
What happened when I tried it?
Oh, my mouth felt clean all right! I had to rinse with water after ward to remove the tart taste. I don’t know that it reduced the tartar content, but I certainly felt that I had killed the germs that caused bad breath. I smelled strongly of mint vinegar for about 15 minutes at least afterward.
Would it work?
The acidic nature of the vinegar might discourage some bacteria as well as eating into tartar a bit, and the minty flavor would refresh; the gums might also help in cases of gum sores and gum disease. Rubbing the teeth with anything would also help remove accumulated sugars and gunk.
Wine washes and tooth rubbing
Gilbertus Anglicus, [England], 11th century
“. . . let the mouth be washed with wine that birch or mint has simmered in. And let the gums be well rubbed with a sharp linen cloth until they bleed. And let him eat marjoram, mint, and pellitory, til they are well chewed. And let him rub well his teeth with the chewed herbs and also his gums. . . .
And let him drink every evening wine that hyssop, or cinnamon, or spike, or quibibis (fruit of Piperaceae, Piper cubeba) has simmered in.. . And after every meal, let him wash well his mouth and rub well his gums and his teeth so that no corrupt matter abides among the teeth.”
Redaction #1: Mint wine [in deference to site policies, this wine is with the Brewing entries across the street]
6 sprigs of fresh spearmint/garden mint about 3-4″ long, with about 40 leaves between them.
2.5 cups white wine
Simmered until all the mint is light brown in color, then poured into a container and allowed to steep.
Redaction #2: Mint wine [in deference to site policies, this wine is with the Brewing entries across the street]
2 tablespoons of dried peppermint
1 cup white wine
Simmered for half an hour and set aside to cool.
The dried mixture came out more flavored, but I think the fresh version might be more chemically active.
Fresh marjoram and mint, equal parts
Just to make the instructions complete, I include here a paste made of marjoram and mint. Unfortunately, you cannot obtain pellitory commercially, and my pellitory-of-the-wall plant has not come back this spring. Rather than leaving the judges to masticate their own, I’ve combined equal parts of the fresh leaves in a mortar and pestle.
Gerard says, “Sweet marjerome is a remedy against cold diseases of the braine and head, being taken any way to your best liking,.. the leaves are excellent good to be put into all odoriferous ointments, waters, pouders, broths and meates” and combined with the mint (whose digestive properties are covered above)
Redaction: After-dinner wine [in deference to site policies, this wine is with the Brewing entries across the street]
1 tablespoons of cinnamon (cassia) chips or one cinnamon stick
1.5 cups of red wine
Simmered for 20 minutes
I used red wine mostly as an alternative to the white, though it also seemed more of an after-dinner drink. Of the four possible additives (hyssop, cinnamon, spike, or cubebs) I chose cinnamon/cassia as the most like a hypocras (after-dinner mulled wine) spice by itself. All of those period herbs/spices were considered heating and astringent.
I used cassia (the type of ‘cinnamon’ sold in American stores) instead of true cinnamon because that was what I had available; I probably would have used a larger quantity of cinnamon had I used that instead of cassia.
This left a harsh tasting wine, but the quality of the wine seems to be more indicative of the product than the presence of cinnamon.
What happened when I tried it?
Rinsing with the mint wine and rubbing with a cloth made my teeth feel cleaner and less gummy. The faint odor of the mint lingered for a few minutes. Chewing the herbs made my breath sweeter. Rubbing them on my teeth caused some of the green to stain the teeth, though, but it eased some of the soreness of the rubbed gums. The After-dinner wine didn’t seem to do much, but rinsing the teeth and rubbing them felt significantly like modern toothbrushing.
Would this work?
Rinsing the mouth with alcohol, especially combined with an herb known to combat digestive illness and halitosis, would be a good first step in cleaning the teeth. Rubbing the teeth with a high chlorophyll, low sugar paste would also remove stuck food and buildup, and help with bad breath, and the recommendations to clean the teeth and to finish meals with wine with antiseptic spices might well cut down the buildup and disrupt the lives of bacteria in the mouth.
Rosemary Charcoal Rub
Bankes’ Herbal, 1525 [English]
“Also take the timber thereof [rosemary] and burn it to coals and make powder thereof and put it into a linen cloth and rub thy teeth therewith, and if there be any worms therein, it shall slay them and keep thy teeth from all evils.”
I burned about a small plant’s worth of dried rosemary stems, and wrapped the remains in a piece of linen. For convenience, I’ve drawn this package tight with a piece of string, though the original users probably simply made a twist in the fabric. It didn’t seem reasonable to sew this closed or make a permanent rubber in any way, since the damp ash/charcoal would probably be discarded.
Burning rosemary is a long and ardous process: I finished it by browning the remaining sticks in an iron pan on the stovetop! I suspect using the actual wood from the trunk of a more mature rosemary bush would be better.
Rosemary charcoal is also used in a mixture of rosemary charcoal and ‘burnt alum’ to be rubbed on the teeth that appears in Plat’s Delightes for Ladies, originally published 1602. The author of Banckes’ Herbal, as well as other herbalists, had great faith in rosemary’s “worth against all evils in the body.”
What happened when I tried it?
As when the teeth are rubbed with a regular cloth, some of the gunk came off on the teeth. The charcoal inside did add to the abrasiveness. The ashy taste was not exceedingly pleasant, but the wet bundle of ash did make a decent rubber and tasted better than regular wood ash.
Would it work?
The ashes would certainly help change the pH of the mouth temporarily; also, the rosemary is somewhat antiseptic, though burnt it would have lost most of its essential oil. As in the other cases, the best benefit of this recipe would come from rubbing the teeth with the cloth and the slightly abrasive charcoal.
Sage tooth whitening scrub
Gervase Markham, The English Housewife. 1615
“For teeth that are yellow:
Take sage and salt, of each alike, and stamp them well together, then bake till it be hard, and make a fine powder thereof, then therewith rub the teeth evening and morning and it will take away all yellowness.”
I wasn’t sure whether the sage should be fresh or dried, so I tried it both ways. I also wasn’t sure if ‘of each alike’ meant equal volumes or equal weights.
Redaction: Mixture #1
1 quarter cup of dried sage leaves, firmly packed.
1 quarter cup of seal salt
Ground together in a mortar until combined into a sort of green salt mixture, spread on a baking sheet and heated at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes, and 350 for 30 minutes
The mixture never showed any sign of hardening. The mixture did make a strong, bitter/astringent tooth powder though, when I tried it.
Redaction: Mixture #2
60 fresh (small) sage leaves
2 tablespoons sea salt
I beat the sage leaves into the salt in groups of 10-20 leaves, adding sufficient leaves to form a rather dry paste. More sage and less salt would have formed a thicker paste; I may try that next time. When spread on a baking sheet baked for 20 minutes in a 300 degree oven, it did form a hard crust. I left it in the oven overnight to dry, crumbled it up, and stored it in a container.
From the results, I suspect that equal weights of salt and sage are meant, and that the fresh sage is indicated.
Belief in sage’s antiseptic and healing properties is cited in Banckes’ Herbal: “It will make a man’s body clean; therefore who that useth to eat of this herb or drink it, it is marvel that any inconvenience should grieve them that use it.”
What happened when I tried it?
I rubbed some on my teeth with a finger, and also tried it with a toothbrush. The effect was similar to toothpaste, though a bit mouth-puckering. Certainly, gunk was removed from the teeth and the breath was fresher; the mouth (after rinsing) felt cleaner too!
Would this work?
Salt is one of the common alternative tooth brushing powders suggested in modern texts, and its granular nature would help polish the teeth. The chlorophyll in green herbs such as sage freshen the breath, and sage is a somewhat astringent/antiseptic, so it might promote gum health and discourage bacteria growth. It certainly worked fine as a tooth powder.
Breath freshening powder
Gilbertus Anglicus, about 1400, English
“And let him use this powder: Take of pepper, one ounce; and of mint, as much; and of rock salt, as much. And make him to chew this powder a good while in his mouth, and then swallow it down.”
1 oz pepper
1 oz dried peppermint leaves, ground
1 oz kosher salt
I chose to use dried peppermint because a powder is indicated. This recipe created a lot more than could be concievably used at one sitting, so I suspect a spoonful or less, chewed and swallowed, is indicated.
What happened when I tried it?
This recipe produces a spicy, hot tasting, slightly abrasive chew, which certainly makes the mouth feel fresher. I didn’t think my teeth were markedly cleaned, though.
Would it work?
The salt, the essential oil in the peppermint and the almost caustic oil of the pepper would combine to make the mouth at least temporarily hostile to bacteria. It would also give the patient a temporarily positive breath smell, and chewing the salt might loosen some food particles.
Gilbertus Anglicus, 15th century, English
“And let him use these pills that are good for all manner of stinking of the mouth: Take of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and mace, eight drams; of red sandlewood, ten drams; of quibibis, seven drams; of cardamom, five drams. Mix them with the juice of mint and make pills of the size of a fig. And let him to have two of them under either side of his tongue at once.”
One (modern) dram is a little over a teaspoon, so I cut the recipe down significantly:
1 tsp. Saunders (red Sandalwood)
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Mace
3/4 teaspoon Cloves
3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
scant 3/4 teaspoon Cubebs
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
1-2 bunches mint
The other spices were ground and combined.
The Mint was macerated in a food processor and the juice strained through a muslin bag to wet the spices. The resulting paste was rolled into balls about the size of a dime, which were really too big to fit two under the tongue, but smaller than figs. I’m not sure how the original author would fit two fig sized balls under the tongue– perhaps he was thinking of raisins.
What happened when I tried it?
I tried putting one pea sized ball under one side of my tongue. There was a certain amount of burning sensation caused by the hot spices, but the breath was noticeably sweet!
Would it work?
The patient would certainly have breath that smelled of spices and the essential oils of the spices could well disrupt the life cycles of bacteria that cause bad breath either in the mouth, sinuses or stomach. Both Spices and mint were believed to promote digestion, and good digestion was believed by all authors to assist with bad breath. I’m unclear on the reason for including red sandalwood– it’s a food coloring and the modern stuff has no smell of its own, but would stain the inside of teeth a bit. It doesn’t produce the tartar-test red effect, because sandalwood isn’t soluble in water, just in alcohol.
Women’s Breath freshener
Trotula, 11th Century, On Women’s Cosmetics (book 3)
“I saw a certain Saracen woman liberate many people with this medicine. Take little bit of laurel leaves, and a little bit of musk, and let her hold it under the tongue before bad break is perceived in her. When I recommend that day and night and especially when she has to have sexual intercourse with anyone she hold these things under her tongue.”
Provided are 3 redactions:
- fresh bay leaves (to try)
- a bay leaf treated with musk fragrance (to smell)
- some bay leaves soaked in orange-flower water (to smell or try)
A laurel leaf is in fact a leaf of the bay laurel, called ‘bay leaves’. A piece of bay leaf about 1 cm square seems to be the most manageable and comfortable size, especially if it is to be kept in place during vigorous exercise.
Natural musk is an animal product, in texture similar to an oleoresin. However, since we now consider it cruel to slaughter deer simply for the contents of the glands in their buttocks, the real thing is no longer available. In Australia, musk flavored Lifesavers are available, but I was unable to find musk food-flavoring here in the US. So I had to settle for a non-foodsafe synthetic musk fragrance
oil, Jakarta Musk, and mix it with the bay by anointing the leaf with it.
Kirel from the SCA-Cooks list suggested that the flavor of musk is in the same category as orangeflower water. So I’ve also soaked a bay leaf in some orange-flower water. My experience of medieval and renaissance recipes is that musk is generally used more for scent than for medicinal properties, so this substitution would not likely decrease any medical properties. Orange-flower water is mentioned in the Manual de Mugeres, a Spanish text, so while it might not have been available to the original readers of Trotula, it would be available in the Mediterranean later on, and used for perfuming purposes.
What happened when I tried it?
When I tried keeping the bay leaf alone under my tongue, it didn’t give off much smell. In an attempt to increase the odor, I chewed on it a bit. However, the essential oil of bay thus realized burns the mouth, so I don’t recommend it. I believe that the breaking of the fresh leaf should be enough damage to the leaf to release the oils. I wouldn’t recommend keeping the bay leaf under the tongue for any long period of time, though, since oil of bay in large concentrations can be toxic.
Would this work?
Bay oil is a considered antiseptic by essential oil specialists, and also has a pronounced scent. It might stop the bacteria causing the smell. The sweetish scent of musk would also overpower any nasty smells, and, as the author suggests, is also associated with sexual pheromones. [The use of musk in Australian LifeSavers candy suggests that they, at least, consider it a positive breath scent.]
Markham. The English Housewife, 1615.
“To make teeth white.
Take a saucer of strong vinegar, and two spoonsful of the powder of roche alume, a spoonful of white salt, and a spoonful of honey: seethe all these till it be as thin as water, then put it into a close vial and keep it, and when occasion serves wash your teeth therewith, with a rough cloth, and rub them soundly, but not to bleed.”
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp. pickling alum
1 tsp. white salt
1 tsp. honey
Heated together until incorporated, then simmered about 5 minutes longer.
Alum or burnt alum appears with regularity in recipes for mouth- and tooth- cleaning, as well as in some 19th century household aids recipes. For instance, burnt alum is in a recipe in Plat’s Delightes for Ladies. Some forms of alum, when exposed to water, are supposed to form a weak sulfuric acid, so this mixture is probably not very safe to use on mucous membranes, like the inside of the mouth. Certainly, the pickling alum bottle warns that it tastes sour when dry but in pickling solution becomes neutral– so I tested a tiny bit on the tip of my tongue and was rewarded with a significant burning sensation. I used pickling alum since Mistress Anne Liese’s dyeing website suggests that it is most likely to be the period form of alum.
The teaspoon measure of the alum, salt, and honey may have been too small, and perhaps the 1/2 cup of vinegar too big, though 1/2 cup fit just right into one of the modern saucers I have; as soon as the mixture was incorporated, it was ‘as thin as water’. I didn’t want to add too much alum to the solution, so I compromised on the teaspoon measure.
The vinegar I used was plain red wine vinegar, 5% acidity; period vinegar would have been rather stronger– 7% to 15% acidity. I was unable to find a stronger vinegar in my local stores and didn’t want to take a chance on adding vinegar concentrate to this particular chemical experiment. I used red wine vinegar because I was too cheap to use white wine vinegar. Since this is a British recipe and no particular vinegar is specified, cider vinegar might be substituted. (I have no references to cider vinegar, but hard cider was a well known drink in Britain; cider vinegar would have been a by-product of home production of cider.)
What happened when I tried it?
I tried this on my teeth (it’s essentially a strong traditional pickling brine) and found they certainly felt very clean, even days later, compared to the untreated side of the mouth. I suspect this would be a bad thing to use on a regular basis, because of the alum solution.=
Would it work?
Well, this acidic mixture certainly pulled gunk off my teeth and made them feel fresher. It might also kill germs (or at least seriously inconvenience them) because of the acidic nature of the mixture. It might also cause decay of the enamel of the teeth, though.
Anise, Caraway, Fennel Comfits
Idea from Rumpolt, recipe from Plat’s Delightes for Ladies, 1602.
Rumpolt, Ein Neu Kochbuch, 1581.
“Of assorted sugar comfits (as) from the apothecary. . .
2. Anise coated.[with sugar] . . .
6. Caraway coated.
7. Fennel coated.”
1/2 cup each caraway seed, anise seed, fennel seed
Syrup: 1 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water
Water and sugar are mixed together and heated. Once the mixture has combined, the heat is adjusted upwards until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, about 240 degrees Fahrenheit. It will be ready when a drop dropped into a glass of water forms a soft ball rather than a splat on the bottom.
Put half of one type of seeds (do one type at a time) into the bottom of a small, round metal bowl. Ladle on one tablespoonful of syrup. Stir quickly with a fork, using a scraping motion. Add the rest of the seeds to this mixture, which will first become a sticky ball and then separate out into smaller sections. Stir and squash until seeds have separated and cooled. Add another spoonful of syrup and repeat. Continue this process until comfits are covered with the appropriate amount of sugar. As the coating gets thicker, you may need to cool the comfits between coats in the freezer or out of doors. Be sure not to let the syrup crystallize– if it does, add water, stir it in, and bring back up to temperature.
These comfits would be served after dinner to clean the breath and combat indigestion and gas. Gerard’s Herbal says of anise seed: “Being chewed it makes the breath sweet.” Of caraway, Gerards’ says “The seed confected, or made with sugar into Comfits, are very good for the stomacke, they helpe digestion, provoke urine, asswage and and dissolve all windinesse; to conclude in a word, they are answerable to Anise seed in operation and virtues.”
Note: the directions used here are more similar to those in Plat’s Delightes for Ladies than to Rumpolt’s. To save space, those instructions have been omitted from this documentation.
What happened when I tried it?
These comfits give the feeling of freshening the breath for 15 minutes or so, up to half an hour. Eating a lot of them seems to alleviate gas as well.
Would it work?
Well, they certainly don’t prevent tooth decay, but all three seeds (anise, caraway, and fennel) have carminative effects, widely commented on by the Renaissance herbalists. Even today, Indian restaurants serve candied seeds of this type to combat indigestion and sweeten the breath. They certainly make my breath fresher when I use them.
Other mouth care information:
The Islamic sources make extensive references to the Prophet using a mouth-cleaning stick, either a toothpick or some sort of scraper. (http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/hadeeth/riyad/08/chap215.htm).
The Welsh apparently also had a tooth-care regimen, according to Giraldus Cambrensis’s “Journey through Wales”: “Both sexes take great care of their teeth, more than I have seen in any other country. They are constantly cleaning them with green hazel twigs, and then rubbing them with woollen cloths until they shine like ivory. To protect their teeth they never eat hot food, but only what is cold, tepid, or slightly warm.” (http://www.swanseamass.org/wales/travel/gerald1.html#hair)
- An Herbal  Also known as Banckes’ Herbal. Author unknown, published 1525. Facsimile/transcripted edition, ed. by Larkey & Pyles. (NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1941)
- Genders, Roy. Perfume through the Ages. (New York, Putnam, 1972)
- Gerard, John. The Herbal, or General History of Plants. (Dover, 1975)
- Gilbertus Anglicus, Compendium of Medicine, Wellcome MS 537, about 1400 A.D. translated by Susan Wallace. Web: http://skell.org/SKELL/compintro.htm
- Hildegarde of Bingen. Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica: the complete English translation of her classic work on Health and Healing. Trans. from the Latin by Patricia Throop. (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts, 1998).
- Lawless, Julia. The illustrated encyclopedia of essential oils: the complete guide to the use of oils in aromatherapy and herbalism. (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1995)
- Manual de mugeres en el qual se contienen muchas y diversas reçeutas muy buenas, 16th century, English translation by Karen Larsdatter, Web http://www.geocities.com/karen_larsdatter/manual.htm
- Markham, Gervase. The English Housewife: containing the inward and outward virtues which ought to be in a complete woman…, first printed 1615. Published 1986 by McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal; edited by Michael R. Best
- Munson, Jennifer, “Mordants and Metal Dyes,” Anne Liese’s Fibers and Stuff. Web: http://www.geocities.com/anne_liese_w/Dyeing/dyemordants.htm
- Ody, Penelope. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. (NY: Dorling Kindersley, 1993)
“p-dental-care-msg”. Stefan’s Florilegium [computer file]. http://www.florilegium.org/files/PERSONAL/p-dental-care-msg.html Accessed March 26, 2003.
- Plat, Hugh. Delightes for Ladies, originally published 1602, edited by Violet and Hall Trovillion from the 1627 edition. (Herrin, IL: Trovillion Private Press, 1939)
- Porta, John Baptist. Natural Magick, 1558 and onward, from the 1653 edition. Transcribed by Dr. Laura Balbiani. Web: http://members.tscnet.com/pages/omard1/jportat5.html
- Rumpolt, Marx. ” Von allerley Zucker Confect,” Ein Neu Kochbuch. 1581. Translation by M. Grasse. Web: http://clem.mscd.edu/~grasse/GK_zucker1.htm
- Sembera, Kyle. “Evolution and Analysis of the Toothbrush,” Mechanical Advantage, March 2001: 10(3). Online at: http://www.asme.org/mechanicaladvantage/March2001/toothbrush.html
- Strabo, Walafrid. Hortulus. Translated by Raef Payne. Commentary by Wilfrid Blunt. (Pittsburgh: Hunt Botanical Library, 1966)
- The Trotula : a medieval compendium of women’s medicine. Trans. and ed. by Monica Green. (Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001)