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Where Does the Vitamin B12 Come From in Corn-Fed Beef?

I recently answered this question; where does the Vitamin B12 in beef come from it they are fed corn? This is a legitimate question. For those who don’t know, corn contains no Vitamin B12. One of the strong points of beef is that it is high in B12, even if the beef was raised on corn.

The fact is that most vegetables are deficient in this essential vitamin, with the exception of soy. Grass and hay are also low in Vitamin B12 and beef don’t actually create it. Animals don’t, though meat and fish are high in this vitamin. The reason humans need it, in fact, is because our bodies can’t produce it.

So where does this vitamin come from? Cobalamin, the name for Vitamin B12, is essential for metabolism to occur in every cell of your body, after all.

We’ve previously touched on the digestive system of cattle. They have a four-chambered stomach. The first compartment is for the storage of food that is eaten. This could be corn, grass, hay, grain, or whatever. That chamber also contains bacteria that begin the breakdown of the stored food as soon as it enters. 

This is necessary because the food is normally nutrient-poor, so cattle need to be able to extract as many nutrients as possible out of that food.

One of the byproducts of the bacterial breakdown of the food is the production of Vitamin B12. When the cattle regurgitate this material (the cud), chew it, and swallow it so it passes into the next chamber of the stomach, they are ingesting not only the cobalamin that the bacteria has already produced, but they are also swallowing a large number of the bacteria as well. The bacteria also contain cobalamin.

The rest of the digestion process is complex, but the point is that this is where the Vitamin B12 comes from. In turn, when we eat the beef, we are consuming the cobalamin that was produced by bacteria in the beef’s stomach. Just like humans, the beef needs cobalamin for metabolism, so it is present in every living cell in its body. Humans don’t have the same bacteria in our stomachs, nor do we need them since humans weren’t designed to live on high-cellulose, low-nutrition food.

Here is the shocking part, perhaps. All Vitamin B12 comes from bacteria, even that found in soy and soy products. Many people don’t get enough cobalamin in their foods, particularly vegans and vegetarians, but regardless of what you eat, all the Vitamin B12 you get comes from bacteria, initially. Neither plants nor animals produce it on their own.

  • Did you know that Vitamin B12 was only produced by bacteria?

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Written by Rex Trulove

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