The B12 Breakthrough
So, on to my third question, based on the assumption that we did evolve on a plant-based diet, and then asking, how did we get our B12? To begin, let's examine an exciting new research paper from Switzerland that was recently brought to my attention by my colleague, Dr. Jeffrey Gates.4 (Please see related story). Dr. Mozafar, the investigator, wanted to know if plants fertilized with organic matter (cow dung in this case) rather than those grown in control soils might acquire higher levels of B12. He was relying on a considerable amount of older research going back to 1926. Plants grown in soil fertilized with organic matter contained more of some B vitamins than plants grown in chemically fertilized soil, thus yielding plant products better able to sustain growth in experimental animals. Mozafar hypothesized that B12 produced by soil microorganisms might be absorbed through the roots into the plant itself.
He investigated the question in a couple of ways. First, he showed for soybeans, barley and spinach - his three test plants - that those grown on soil fertilized with cow dung showed substantially higher levels of B12 than those grown without cow dung, the increases for barley and spinach being statistically significant. Then he examined the B12 content of soils that had been routinely fertilized over the previous 16 years either with inorganic or with a mixture of organic plus inorganic fertilizers, and found that those receiving organic fertilizer had significantly higher levels of B12.