Summary

  • B12 supplements are important for vegans but are often not taken, or are irregularly taken which puts people at risk of B12 deficiency.
  • The study tested whether B12 could be effectively supplemented through the regular use of a fortified toothpaste.
  • The treatment group who used the B12 fortified toothpaste had increased levels of B12 after the trial period and significantly higher levels of B12 than a placebo treatment group.

Take Home Message

The regular use of a B12 fortified toothpaste may be an effective form of B12 supplementation for vegans.

Paper's Stats

Animal Status

No animals were harmed for this research.

chemical structure of vitamin B12I was really excited to read the results of a new study testing whether vitamin B12 could be supplemented using toothpaste! Imagine it, no more forgetting to take that slightly weird tasting B12 spray. If it were in toothpaste it would just happen as part of your normal day, it almost sounds too good.

But why should we care about getting vitamin B12 anyway? Well, it’s really important for human health. And because vegans don’t consume animal derived products (which are a reliable source of B12) they are susceptible to B12 deficiency, which is pretty nasty.

To prevent these nasty symptoms, vegans need take regular vitamin B12 supplements. This isn’t too bad because there are plenty of tablets, sprays or nasal sprays that do the job well. However, despite the ease of taking B12 supplements many vegans don’t always do it or they do it irregularly. Developing an alternative method that makes getting a regular dose of vitamin B12 even easier would greatly reduce vegans risk of B12 deficiency.

One possible option is to use a B12 fortified toothpaste and get our B12 by doing something we do everyday anyway, brushing our teeth. But for this to be a viable option we need to know that B12 will be effectively absorbed if it is supplemented through the use of fortified toothpaste. A team of researchers from Germany set out to test this exact question.

How did they do it?

The researchers used a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study, which is a fancy way of explaining that they had a well designed experiment that controlled for bias. They invited vegans who had been vegan for at least 5 years, or at least 2 years and before that vegetarian, to take part in the study.

At the beginning of the study 76 vegans were randomly assigned to two treatment groups; one group received a placebo toothpaste with no B12, and the other group received toothpaste that had been fortified with B12. They all had their blood tested for B12 and then went home and used their toothpaste twice a day for 12 weeks.

At the end of the 12 weeks 66 of the participants returned to the clinic and had their blood re-tested.

So what did they find?

After the 12 weeks the  group who were using B12 fortified toothpaste had significantly more B12 in their blood then when the study began.  In contrast the placebo group had significantly less B12 in their blood then at the beginning of the study.

The B12 group also had significantly more B12 in their blood when compared to the placebo group.

What’s it mean?

It looks like a B12 fortified toothpaste could be a great way for vegans to get their vitamin B12. I can instantly see how this form of supplementation would make it much easier to ensure regular intake of B12. Rather than being something extra that has to be done each day it just fits in with a normal routine, no extra thinking required.

I think it could also help tackle the pesky, ‘but you need to take B12 tablets to be vegan’ excuse. If the supplementation becomes as simple as swapping toothpaste then it doesn’t require a very big change. It can also then be compared to other forms of regular supplementation in many countries like iodine fortified salt. This makes it less of a ‘vegan thing’ than just another benefit of our modern society.

Now, I really want to know where I can get some B12 toothpaste!

Title: Vitamin B-12–fortified toothpaste improves vitamin status in vegans: a
12-wk randomized placebo-controlled study

Authors: Anne-Kathrin Siebert, Rima Obeid, Stine Weder, Hussain M Awwad, Andreas Sputtek, Juergen Geisel, and Markus Keller

Journal: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Date PublishedJanuary 4, 2017

URLhttp://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2017/01/04/ajcn.116.141978.short?rss=1

Paper Access

Behind a Paywall

Research Type

Peer-reviewed research