The German Vegetarian Society (VEBU), in conjunction with the natural cosmetics company Sante, has developed an organic vitamin B12-enriched toothpaste whose efficacy has been confirmed by test results presented in Germany earlier this month. This is good news for vegans and aging people who are more likely to suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency.
One hundred and twenty seven healthy vegans and vegetarians aged 18-64 took part of the test over a period of five weeks. During this period, participants were not allowed fortified foods (vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid) or supplements. Half of the participants got the real thing (therapy group) and the other half was given a placebo toothpaste. The researchers compared blood sample test results before and after, including serum vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin II (a marker of vitamin B12 depletion) and homocysteine, a type of aminoacid that in high levels is linked to cardiovascular disease.
In the case of B12, the people who used real vitamin B12 toothpaste saw their median serum increase by almost 50 percent. In the placebo group it went down 22 percent. In the case of holotranscobalamin, it increased by 65 percent. Finally, homocysteine values decreased by 14 percent.
The toothpaste provides 100 µg of vitamin B12 per gram of toothpaste. With two brushes a day, the daily intake is approximately 3.6 µg, which is more than the recommended 2.4 µg required daily by adults (pregnant women need 2.6 µg and breastfeeding women need 2.8 µg). Exceeding the dose causes no harm at all.
The classic protein question that vegetarians and vegans often hear – and which prompts most of them to roll their eyes with mild exasperation – is a misguided one. The true nutritional Achilles’ heel for plant-based dieters is vitamin B12, which is made by microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that live in water, soil and the digestive tracts of animals. It is absorbed in the small intestine of humans with the help of a protein called intrinsic factor, which is secreted by the stomach and which some people, especially as they age, may lack.
B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, heart and nervous problems as well as higher chances to develop dementia. Taking sub-lingual supplements is the most efficient way to ensure the recommended intake, which led the clever folks at VEBU to conclude that making a B12-enriched toothpaste could do the same job, but more efficiently.
The toothpaste is a practical and valuable tool to ensure proper vitamin 12 intake and help vegans stick to their diet, besides producing a very convenient side effect: a clean, fresh mouth.