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It is a proven fact that vitamin B12 is better absorbed from dairy products

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Are consumers aware that vitamin B12 is much better absorbed when drunk in cow’s milk than when taken in vitamin supplements? One glass of milk can provide 50% of an adult’s daily B12 vitamin requirement. The results of a study on this topic, which was conducted in Sherbrooke, were published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada research scientists at the Sherbrooke Research and Development Centre conducted their study on pigs, which have a very similar digestive system to that of humans. The research scientists gave pigs either cow’s milk or vitamin B12 supplements to compare the absorption rates of this vitamin. They found that vitamin B12 that is naturally present in cow’s milk is absorbed two times better than synthetic vitamin B12 is. Pushing their research further, they even discovered how to produce a superior cow’s milk that could meet 75% of an adult’s daily requirement. These discoveries are fantastic news for consumers.

In another study, the research scientists went on to investigate whether vitamin B12 in other types of dairy products is better absorbed than a synthetic supplement is. For comparison purposes, pigs were given a meal of cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, yogurt, tofu (completely free of vitamin B12) or tofu with added synthetic vitamin B12. The research scientists compared the levels of vitamin B12 in the pigs’ blood in the following hours and discovered that cheddar cheese wins hands-down over tofu enriched with synthetic vitamin B12. Twenty-three hours after the pigs ate the meal, the vitamin B12 from the cheese had a bioavailability of 33% in comparison with 17.5% for the synthetic vitamin B12 in the enriched tofu. Cheddar cheese is therefore one of the best natural sources, after cow’s milk, of vitamin B12, perhaps even the best.

Other studies on feeding vitamin B12 and folic acid to cows and breeder sows in the form of supplements concluded that they enable cows to produce more milk and sows to give birth to a larger number of stronger piglets.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is contributing to the development of an innovative agriculture sector.

Key discoveries (benefits)

Photo Gallery

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Dr. Christiane Girard leads a scientific team that assessed the degree of absorption of vitamin B12 that is naturally present in dairy products.
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Vitamin B12 in cheddar cheese is better absorbed than a synthetic vitamin B12 supplement is.

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