Vitamin B12 supplements – Fermentation vs. Plant-based


Vitamin B12 is one of the most well-known vitamins. Every single cell in our body needs vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, to function properly. It is involved in blood formation and cell division, energy and lipid metabolism; it is essential for the maintenance of the nervous system and plays a major role in detoxification processes. So yes, B12 is literally a multi-talent vitamin! Nevertheless, making sure to obtain adequate amounts through diet turns out to be quite challenging for a lot of people – not only for vegans and vegetarians. In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most frequent vitamin deficiencies worldwide. [1] Hence, it is not surprisig that the B12 supplement market is booming.


Interestingly not many people know where the B12 that’s put in their pills and capsules is actually coming from and how it is “made”. In this blog post we’ll give some insights to the production process of commercially available B12 and also discuss a more natural approach to B12 supplementation.


Vitamin B12 in Supplements: Where Does It Come From?


Vitamin B12 can only be produced by so-called microorganisms, microscopically small living beings such as bacteria. And that is basically the source of vitamin B12 found in the majority of B12 supplements sold around the globe. Large scale industrial production of vitamin B12 is a highly specialized and complex process that requires specific bacterial strains, lots of steps with several enzymic conversions and defined media conditions. [2]


What we should also keep in mind is that B12 is not just B12. Vitamin B12 defines an entire class of cobalamins with highly complex structures, including hydroxocobalamin, cyanocobalamin, nitritocobalamin, sulfitocobalamin, methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and many more which all have distinct physiological functions.


Most commercially availaible B12 supplements contain either methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin or both. These two cobalamin types are recognized as the most active forms as they act as cofactors in important metabolic reactions. Of course, producing such very specific B12 forms requires several adjustments to the already complicated manufacturing process.


Fermentation-based, isolated B12 in the form of a supplement is an effective and safe approach to improve one’s vitamin B12 status, no doubt about it. [3] That’s why we also include B12 from fermentation in our portfolio. Nevertheless, our bodys are designed to obtain nutrients like vitamins and minerals from unprocessed whole foods which is why we decided to look for a more natural B12-alternative.



The Power of Mushrooms: Vitamin B12 from Shiitake


Apart from bacteria, also fungi can produce vitamin B12. One prominent representative that contains considerable levels of active B12 is the shiitake mushroom. Unfortunately, one would have to consume around 50 g of dried shiitake in order to obtain the daily recommendations for B12 – which is a nearly impossible undertaking. [4]


The solution: A shiitake extract. And that’s exactly what we use for our Natural B12 supplement! For our product, the shiitake is cultivated and harvested in specialized and controlled organic farms in India and gently processed using only water-based solvents. This way we obtain a high-quality shiitake extract rich in organically bound vitamin B12.   


One of the advantages of the shiitake as a source of vitamin B12 versus fermentation-based supplements is that the extract offers not only one but an entire complex of bioavailable B12 forms, including both adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin. In addition, one capsule provides 100 mcg of vitamin B12 – which equals 4000% of the daily B12 requirements. That may be less than what most other B12 products contain, however, considering the natural origin of the vitamin, it’s quite impressive and more than enough to cover the body’s daily needs!


But there is - literally - more: Shiitake mushrooms are not only rich in vitamin B12 but also contain a variety of additional nutrients, including other vitamins, minerals and mushroom-specific polysaccharides that are well-known for their health-promoting benefits. So, for all those who attach particular importance to the quality and naturalness of a dietary supplement, our natural B12 from organic shiitake is an optimal solution – A B12 supplement with added benefits!


[1] Guney, Senturk & Dilek. Epidemiology of vitamin b12 deficiency, epidemiology of communicable and non-communicable diseases - attributes of lifestyle and nature on humankind. Fyson H. Kasenga, IntechOpen (2016)
[2] Fang, et al. Microbial production of vitamin B12: a review and future perspectives. Microb Cell Fact (2017)
[3] Paul & Brady. Comparative bioavailability and utilization of particular forms of B12 supplements with potential to mitigate B12-related genetic polymorphisms. Integr Med (Encinitas) (2017)
[4] Bito et al. Characterization of vitamin B12 compounds in the fruiting bodies of shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) and bed logs after fruiting of the mushroom. Mycoscience (2014)

Recommended Product

Natural Vitamin B12

Natural vitamin B12 from organic shiitake mushroom extract. Without additives and 100% vegan. Vitamin B12 contributes to the formation of red blood cells, the reduction of fatigue, the normal energy-yielding metabolism, and the functioning of the immune system.