Bee Pollen and Vitamin B12 - The Answer May Surprise You
Many vegans have a problem getting enough vitamin B12. The effects of not getting enough vitamin B12 take years or even decades to show up, but when they occur they are serious. It's possible to get a kind of anemia that taking iron won't help, the blood vessels can become inflamed by homocysteine, and it's even possible to develop Alzheimer's-like health problems, all from the lack of a few milligrams of vitamin B12.
Bee pollen-which is a plant product, although it is collected by bees-is a vegan food that is rich in amino acids and antioxidants and other vitamins, but what about vitamin B12?
The answer probably is not what you would expect. There is an expectation that since bee pollen is a terrific food and vitamin B12 is a needed nutrient, it must be in there, somewhere. But vitamin B12 is one nutrient that bee pollen does not provide (despite what other sites tell you).
Trace amounts of vitamin B12 are produced by any kind of animal flesh. About 30 years ago, British scientists set about to unravel the mystery of why vegans in India seldom suffered vitamin B12 deficiencies but vegans emigrating from India to Britain often did.
The scientists found that the difference was the high-pressure washes used to prepare vegetables for market in the UK. Indian produce contained tiny, almost invisible insects that British produce did not. Those tiny insects were the source of vitamin B12 in the Indian diet that was missing in the British diet. Also, the feces of aphids sticking to plant leaves were a particularly rich source of the vitamin.
We are not going to recommend any brands of bee pollen that would contain any tiny insects or their bodily wastes for added vitamin B12! Moreover, the assertion that pure bee pollen must be a good source of vitamin B12 because it's good in so many other ways is just wishful thinking. (The site owners are wishing you would buy their products.)
Plant pollens have enzymes that act independently of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 vital for humans but it's not vital for pollen. Bee pollen won't provide any significant amount of vitamin B12 for you. There are tiny traces of vitamin B12 in bee pollen, but not enough for humans, dogs, or cats.
However, we do recommend that vegans use pure bee pollen products. Here is why:
Vitamin B12 acts in harmony with other B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6. You don't just need vitamin B12. You also need these B vitamins-especially if you are not getting enough vitamin B12. Bee pollen also contains chemicals that bind other B vitamins such as biotin and turn them into a slow-release form. Biotin helps your cells make energy. Bee pollen helps your cells make energy more reliably.
This means you still need another source of vitamin B12, but that's easy to get. Take a complete B vitamin supplement, and focus on bee pollen for its antioxidants and immune modulating benefits.