For last week’s book excerpt from the Energy Drink Guide, we talked about what vitamin B6 does. This week, we move into the Vitamin B12 chapter. Before we can talk about what B12 does, we have to talk about where it comes from…bacteria!
Did you know ALLB12 comes from bacterial fermentation?
Vitamin B12 can be found in food sources like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy because the animals are the vessel for this bacterial fermentation. Plants don’t make B12, and they only provide B12 if they’ve been contaminated with soil that contains it (e.g. from the animal gut to the poop to the soil to the plant).
Certain natural vitamins are superior to their synthetic counterparts, and vice versa — remember when we talked about synthetic vs natural folate and the bling rings? But with vitamin B12, all B12 compounds are made through fermentation of bacteria, fungi, or algae.
Whether this fermentation occurs in the stomach of a cow or in a lab doesn’t affect the active structure or function of the vitamin.
Okay, phew – so B12 comes from bacteria…and that’s fine…
…But we’re not done with the fear-mongering.
DO NOT PANICif you come across a website that suggests synthetic B12 is poison because it’s cyanide. The association is irrelevant, just like the association between Chloride and SODIUM Chloride. The context makes all the difference. Furthermore, the dosage makes the difference between a poison and a cure (paraphrasing the Father of Toxicology, Paracelsus).
To learn more about B12 and the other B-vitamins, stay tuned for next week’s book excerpt as we continue our page-by-page exploration through the Energy Drink Guide (now on Audible!!!).
Here’s a recap of the quick reviews posted this month for the “Science of Energy Drinks” series on the GreenEyedGuide Instagram and Facebook pages: Bai Sparkling Antioxidant Infusion, Cocaine Energy, and Monster Ultra Violet.
You’ve probably seen this story on CNN and other outlets. There are some additional details I want to add based on the 10 years I put into researching energy drinks and their ingredients. In the CNN article, I do understand why it’s mentioned this man had excessive folate and vitamin B12 levels, and yet the blame for the liver problems went not to B12 nor folate, but exclusively to niacin. Excessive folate masks B12 deficiency; excessive B12 doesn’t have documented symptoms, and excessive niacin HAS in fact caused liver damage. Liver damage may occur at 1.5 GRAMS (1500 mg). However, the man in this story reportedly only consumed 5 cans with 40 mg niacin each, or 200 mg niacin total. That doesn’t seem like enough to hit toxicity levels. Another thing to consider is how Niacin Flush occurs at 30 mg; if someone was consuming an excess of niacin, usually they’d feel it.
I’m always aggravated when “energy drinks” are treated all the same. Have you see the “energy drinks in disguise” I’ve been talking about here on this blog? Do you even realize how different the New Age of energy drinks more closely resembles “functional beverages” than the energy drink stereotype. But I get it — some stereotypes are just too persistent.
In that case, what aggravates me most of all in this particular story is how the caffeine content is curiously missing from the details collected or any of the blame assigned/implicated in this piece. It’s aggrivating to me when a news story casually implies energy drinks have caused a medical condition, and yet the details of that energy drink are missing. What OTHER ingredients were in there? Any EGCG? How much caffeine? How much sugar?
This is important because there are some really critical details missing from the news stories, and yet they’re not wrong. It’s TRUE that TOO MUCH Niacin can hurt your liver. But HOW MUCH is TOO MUCH? (1.5 GRAMS) That’s what is missing from these news stories. That’s what I want to share with all of you. There’s no need for panic, but there IS a need to be more informed.
Reference used for the vitamin information – Are You A Monster Or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks http://amzn.to/2bjHRbk
Maybe they will achieve a “transparent menu” as expressed by Mr. Ron Shaich, founder and chief executive officer. HOWEVER, I believe consumers would benefit much more from this if Panera was scientifically transparent about WHY each ingredient was coming out. Instead of providing a list of ingredients and building the stigma around them, how about a short statement about what that ingredient is, what food science function it holds, and why it is deemed no longer necessary.
Without such explanation, this list is just another source of ambiguous diet advice based on fear. Looking at their list (available here), I can agree with some of their decision for removal. Yet other ingredients strike me as odd inclusions. What good is a clean label if you can’t also come clean about why certain ingredients had to go?
Perhaps I’ll take it upon myself (with the help of my favorite dietitians, culinologists, and fellow food scientists) to provide such a supplement to Panera’s list…
Do you believe in destiny? I’m not talking about “That wizard came from the moon” Destiny; I’m talking about strange coincidences that catch you by surprise and make you smile. This month’s pick happens to be the source of such a surprising coincidence. It’s a product I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, but was waiting for the right opportunity. Little did I know the stars would align when that opportunity came along.
The Energy Drink of the Month for January 2015 is Steaz Blueberry Pomegranate Organic Iced Green Tea.
Other flavors are available, but I’m always a sucker for the blueberry and pomegranate flavors. Steaz also makes an unsweetened iced tea, but I prefer a little sweetness to cover the bitter tannin tea notes.
NOTE – this product only has about 15 milligrams of caffeine, so it’s a very weak energy drink, Fatigue Level 1 for sure. Steaz also has an energy drink line (100 mg caffeine per 12 oz can), but I’m not a huge fan of their energy drink line and I’ll explain why later.
5 Reasons to Love Steaz Iced Green Tea
ONE- When the Stars Align
Aside from being a potentially great tattoo or necklace charm, the Steaz logo has an intriguing story. See for yourself.
Since I write the Energy Drink of the Month blogs the weekend before the 13th, I just happened to be watching the NFL Division Playoffs all weekend. That’s when I saw it:
Since three of the four quarterbacks playing for a spot in Superbowl XLIX wear number 12, I find the significance of number twelve in the Steaz logo highly amusing. But there are other, more significant reasons to like Steaz.
TWO-Green Tea-based Beverages
Chemically speaking, caffeine is caffeine is caffeine. The molecule itself and the effect this molecule has on the body does not change based on the source of that molecule. However, there are “food matrix effects” that can have their own influence on the body. Think of all those little creatures that attach themselves to sharks and whales. Like the shark, certain molecules don’t just float around all by themselves, they form attachments to other molecules, which can change the behavior of each. This is one reason it’s so hard to prove the health benefits of antioxidants – take them out of a food and it’s rare to see the same physiological effect. Eating concentrated blueberry powder is just not the same as eating whole raw blueberries.
The food matrix effect is why I prefer to get my caffeine from green tea. Of course, coffee provides a plethora of health benefits, but tea is the second healthiest beverage on the planet, second only to water. The health benefits of coffee and tea are beyond the scope of this post, but you can learn more about these health benefits and read the “Coffee Vs. Tea” comparison in the Energy Drink Guide.
THREE-Organic, Natural Ingredients
FACT: Every ingredient put into a food or beverage product must be GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”) or an approved dietary additive. I don’t believe a lot of the fear campaigns about artificial ingredients, but I choose to limit them in my diet. Steaz does not use artificial ingredients, which earns them a point.
FOUR-Body, Mind, and Soul
Sometimes when I travel for work, my options for caffeine are limited, and I feel compelled to say an apology to my body for what I’m about to put in it. I hate when the only energy drinks available are the super-sugary ones, or when the only freggie smoothies available have more sugar than a half-pint of ice cream. I feel good when I drink Steaz, not just because of its ingredients, but because of the company’s commitment to its farmers, its CO2 footprint, and to Fair Trade.
FIVE-Flavor and Sugar
I can’t deny my sweet tooth, but I try to limit added sugars wherever and whenever I can. I don’t like to drink my calories unless it’s a protein shake for breakfast en route to the gym. The blueberry pomegranate iced tea product has only 10 grams of sugar per serving, or 20 grams of sugar per can. That’s the perfect range for me, just enough sugar to make it enjoyable to drink, but not so much sugar I feel guilty about it. Plus, I make it a point to never finish a whole can in one sitting.
The Less-Than-Stellar Side of Steaz
There’s a reason why “marketeers” and food scientists can’t always get along. Marketing will want to say what the consumers want to hear, and scientists often don’t speak the same language as everybody else. Now if we could all just embrace a little more science (and the metric system?), what a wonderful world it would be.
ISSUE A: Steaz energy drinks have 23 grams of sugar per 8 ounces. For a lot of consumers, that’s too much. There isa zero-sugar energy drink, but I have yet to find it anywhere I’ve found the other Steaz teas. When I’m anything more than Fatigue Level 1, the Steaz teas aren’t going to cut it.
ISSUE B: Meaningless marketing claims drive me crazy! “Clean energy”? Just say “sustainably sourced”. As a Quality Assurance professional for a billion-dollar supplement line, I’ve rejected too many green tea leaf powders for heavy metal and food micro issues to swallow the “clean” claim. Sustainability means much more to me, and I can’t be the only consumer who feels this way.
ISSUE C: Fear-mongering marketing claims also drive me crazy. “Chemical free”? Everything in the Ingredient Line has a chemical bond, and doesn’t Sodium Citrate sound like a chemical to most people? Spreading fear of chemicals is a slippery slope that puts the emphasis on the wrong arguments. A claim like “no artificial ingredients” seems much more meaningful to the average consumer. (related post: Fear and FACTS)
If finding healthier sources of energy is part of your New Year’s Resolutions, give Steaz a try. Oh, and don’t be afraid of “chemicals” because your entire body is naturally comprised of them.