Wolffia globosa–Mankai Plant-Based Protein Contains Bioactive Vitamin B12 and Is Well Absorbed in Humans
Rare plants that contain corrinoid compounds mostly comprise cobalamin analogues, which may compete with cobalamin (vitamin B12 (B12)) metabolism. We examined the presence of B12 in a cultivated strain of an aquatic plant: Wolffia globosa (Mankai), and predicted functional pathways using gut-bioreactor, and the effects of long-term Mankai consumption as a partial meat substitute, on serum B12 concentrations. Methods: We used microbiological assay,
... ospray-ionization-tandem-mass-spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), and anoxic bioreactors for the B12 experiments. We explored the effect of a green Mediterranean/low-meat diet, containing 100 g of frozen Mankai shake/day, on serum B12 levels during the 18-month DIRECT-PLUS (ID:NCT03020186) weight-loss trial, compared with control and Mediterranean diet groups. Results: The B12 content of Mankai was consistent at different seasons (p = 0.76). Several cobalamin congeners (Hydroxocobalamin(OH-B12); 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin(Ado-B12); methylcobalamin(Me-B12); cyanocobalamin(CN-B12)) were identified in Mankai extracts, whereas no pseudo B12 was detected. A higher abundance of 16S-rRNA gene amplicon sequences associated with a genome containing a KEGG ortholog involved in microbial B12 metabolism were observed, compared with control bioreactors that lacked Mankai. Following the DIRECT-PLUS intervention (n = 294 participants; retention-rate = 89%; baseline B12 = 420.5 ± 187.8 pg/mL), serum B12 increased by 5.2% in control, 9.9% in Mediterranean, and 15.4% in Mankai-containing green Mediterranean/low-meat diets (p = 0.025 between extreme groups). Conclusions: Mankai plant contains bioactive B12 compounds and could serve as a B12 plant-based food source.