Is Duckweed the Super-hero of the Plant Kingdom?

by Rolaika Mcfarlane

Usually, when you hear the word duckweed, you think of vibrant green leaves floating at the tops of ponds that are eaten by ducks, geese, and swans. Traditionally, some species of duckweed have been consumed by people in Asian countries such as Thailand, where it’s used in salads, vegetable curries and can be purchased at local markets. But according to scientists from Parabel, a US-based producer of plant protein ingredients, these picturesque plants provide more than just a pretty sight. According to Parabel, duckweed is a source of vitamin B12, and their duckweed crop contains approximately 750 percent of the US recommended daily value of the bioactive forms of vitamin B12.

Below, we’ve rounded up some ‘must know’ facts about Vitamin B12 and duckweed.

Duckweed…Come again?

Duckweeds are the smallest flowering plants known. Individual plants consist of a single, flat oval leaf no more than ¼ of an inch long that floats on the surface of still-moving ponds, lakes, and sloughs. Despite their diminutive size, the flowers of duckweeds can attract flies, mites, small spiders, and even bees that can spread the plant’s pollen.

Duckweed grows quickly and produces new offshoots rapidly. Dense populations are an important food source for aquatic waterfowl and fish but can become a nuisance to humans.

What exactly is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. It is also crucial to the normal function of the brain and the nervous system. The metabolism of every cell in the body depends on vitamin B12, as it plays a part in the synthesis of fatty acids and energy production.

Not getting enough of the vitamin B12 may lead to a deficiency for which vegans face the highest risk, as their diet excludes animal-sourced food products. People that follow a plant-based diet are recommended supplements, including B12, in order to fill in nutritional gaps.

Other groups that are at-risk groups include people with small intestine problems, gastritis, and celiac disease. In addition, inflammatory bowel disease may lead to a deficiency because the conditions cause the absorption of nutrients to be reduced.

Parabels’ findings and their meaning

According to Parebel, studies revealed its water lentil crop to contain forms of vitamin B12 including adenosylcobalamin (one of the biologically active forms of vitamin B), methylcobalamin (one of the most common forms of vitamin B12 found in supplements), and hydroxocobalamin (a form of vitamin B12.) Parabel claims independent tests have confirmed its water lentil crop (aka Duckweed) contains high levels of natural bioactive vitamin B12. The company said it has completed five independent, third-party vitamin B12 tests using the microbial testing method to quantify the amount present in a 100-gram sample over seasonal variations. Duckweed experts, claim the protein-rich plant has serious potential in the health and wellness market as a nourishing and sustainable food ingredient because, in addition to vitamin B12, it also provides essential protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Bottom Line

Duckweeds are highly nutritious and packed with omega acids, fibers and micronutrients and the research done by Parabel is potentially game-changing.

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