Cyanide, How Not to Sell Veganism (and Speaking Schedule)

In case you haven’t seen them, here are a couple of blog posts from the past week that struck me as worth sharing. One is Jack’s discussion of the safety of cyanocobalamin, a cyanide-containing B12 supplement. Some vegans are choosing to seek out supplements that provide methylcobalamin due to fears about consuming too much cyanide. Jack’s post provides some perspective on this. The bottom line is that there isn’t enough cyanide in these supplements to be worrisome.

Also, take a look at this comment from TheVeganScientist, and you’ll see that if you want to be scared of something, it should be flaxseeds, not cyanocobalamin. (I don’t think you should be scared of either, though.)

The other important issue is that methylcobalamin appears to be less stable than cyanocobalamin, so it may not be as reliable a source of the vitamin. If you choose to use it, you may need much, much more than the 25 micrograms of cyanocobalamin that I recommend. Some are advocating use of methylcobalamin without pointing out this important difference in dosage requirements.  

The other blog post that caught my eye this past week is from Gena Hamshaw. It asks important questions about how we market veganism, and looks at the potential downside of campaigns that employ simplistic, unsupported, and sometimes hurtful messages. It’s a long post, but well worth reading.   

Finally, I’ve posted an updated speaking schedule for the Vegan for Life team (that would be Jack and me). If it’s convenient for you, I hope you’ll try to attend one of these talks. (Jack’s presentation on what the science says about vegan nutrition is probably the single best overview of this topic.) We’ll be updating the schedule as needed.

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9 Responses to Cyanide, How Not to Sell Veganism (and Speaking Schedule)

  1. Haley February 19, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Springfield, MO would love to be a stop for the Vegan for Life team :)

    • Ginny Messina February 20, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      I’d love to come to Springfield. :)

  2. Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler February 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm #

    Looking forward to hearing your talk at CT Veg Fest in April!

    • Ginny Messina February 20, 2012 at 8:32 am #

      Amanda, please be sure to introduce yourself to me in CT.

  3. Frank February 19, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

    Ginny, maybe this is silly but I take both types of B12 supplements, a sublingual cyanocobalamin and a methylcobalamin patch.  I only use the patch once per week and it has 1000mcg of B12 and the sublingual has 500 mcg which I take daily.  They both have 400 mcg of folic acid.  Last time I checked my blood work my B12 was 644 which I understand is good.  (I also take 2000 D2 per day.)
    There seems to be so much controversy about which is better so I just take them both!  Is this an ok method to getting B12??

    • Ginny Messina February 20, 2012 at 8:34 am #

      No, not silly. I understand wanting to cover all your bases. And I think it’s okay to take both. But you really don’t need the methylcobalamin. I’d stick with just the cyanocobalamin.

  4. Karen February 21, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    Hi Ginny, I take 1000 mcg of methlocobalim daily. Is that an appropriate amount? Thanks! Karen

  5. Dee February 22, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    See you at Ottawa VegFest!!!

  6. Michael Bluejay April 4, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    Hi Ginny. Dr. McDougall recommends methylcobalamin, not out of fears of cyanide poisoning from cyanocobalamin, but because he says the effectiveness of cyanocobalamin in preventing and treating B12-related conditions has been questioned: http://drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/nov/b12.htm

    I looked up the paper his footnote is based on, which is a letter to a medical journal: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1296017/pdf/jrsocmed00049-0065b.pdf

    That letter cites two journal papers, by the same author as the letter:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1293728/pdf/jrsocmed00105-0046.pdf
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1291478/pdf/jrsocmed00165-0053.pdf

    What do you make of that?

    Also, could you please share the data that you’re basing this statement on: “The other important issue is that methylcobalamin appears to be less stable than cyanocobalamin, so it may not be as reliable a source of the vitamin. If you choose to use it, you may need much, much more than the 25 micrograms of cyanocobalamin that I recommend.”

    I couldn’t find any data that suggests that one might need “much, much more” B12 if taken as methylcobalamin. I found some references that said that the methyl variety is slightly less stable, but nothing with any actual numbers, and I found no suggestion that we’d have to drastically up our intake if taking the methyl- form over the cyano- form.

    Incidentally,, NIH says that “Existing evidence does not suggest any differences among [B12] forms with respect to absorption or bioavailability.” http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminb12/

    Thank you very much, –Michael Bluejay

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