While vitamin B12 is mainly found in food of animal origin and is needed for functions such as forming blood cells and maintaining the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, including meats, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy. This is why those who eat fewer amounts of meat products or are vegan have to take B12 in the form of pills.
To help such people, researchers have found that the grain-based materials fermented with Propionibacterium freudenreichii have enough vitamin B12 to be nutritionally significant.
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient in the formation of healthy red blood cells and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 along with folic acid plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
With the help of Lactobacillus brevis in the fermentation process, vegans can also be guaranteed a sufficient and safe B12 intake directly from grain-based food, without pills.
“In situ fortification of B12 via fermentation could be a more cost-effective alternative. And as a commonly consumed staple food, grains are excellent vehicles for enrichment with micronutrients,” explains Chong Xie from the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, about the background of his doctoral dissertation.
Xie used 11 different grain-based materials and fermented them with Propionibacterium freudenreichii — the only B12-producing micro-organism accepted for food products.
Propionibacterium freudenreichii, the essential microbe in Emmental cheese, produced nutritionally significant amounts of vitamin B12 in most of the fermented grain materials. During the three-day fermentation process, rice bran and buckwheat bran had the highest B12 production. The addition of Lactobacillus brevis was able to dominate indigenous microbes during fermentation and greatly improved microbial safety during the fermentation process.