If you’re considering adopting a vegan lifestyle, the first question that might come to mind for a nutrition-conscious person would be how do vegans get B12? And this is no surprise because the primary sources of B12 are the foods that every vegan should avoid eating like animal products including meat and fish.
Getting the necessary amount of Vitamin B12 every single day as a Vegan to maintain a healthy lifestyle is important.
Vitamin B12 delivers great benefits like boosting your day-to-day energy, preventing heart diseases, and improving memory.
So, if you’re a vegan, planning to become vegan, or just curious about how vegans can get Vitamin B12, then stick around as we have researched all the important details that surround Vitamin B12 intake for vegans.
How Much Vitamin B12 Does the Body Need?
The first thing that you might want to know is how much Vitamin B12 a person’s body needs. The recommended dose for an adult according to Mayo Clinic is 2.4 micrograms. This recommendation is for adults under the age of 50. But, consumption in higher doses is harmless.
The following are additional details for recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for different profiles according to Healthline and the National Institute of Health:
- 0 to 6 months – 0.4 mcg of Vitamin B12
- 7 to 12 months – 0.5 mcg of Vitamin B12
- 1 to 3 years- 0.9 mcg of Vitamin B12
- 4 to 8 years- 1.2 mcg of Vitamin B12
- 9 to 13 years- 1.8 mcg of Vitamin B12
- Adults over the age of 50 – 500 to 1000 mcg of vitamin B12
- Pregnant Women – 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12
- Breastfeeding women – 2.8 mcg of vitamin B12
Vegan Diet with B12
A vegan diet with B12 can be challenging because the sources of Vitamin B12 as mentioned earlier are mainly animal products but right now there are several B12 fortified foods that can support every vegan’s plant-based diet and promote enough Vitamin B12 intake.
The following are the best vegan B12 fortified foods and supplements:
Vegan Sources of B12
Let’s go ahead and take a look at the different vegan sources. These foods contain Vitamin B12 which can help prevent Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Nutritional Yeast as a source of Vitamin B12 for vegans is one of the most popular foods for vegans and vegetarians alike because it is known to be a powerful source of B vitamins, including B12. Just two tablespoons of nutritional yeast will give you the recommended daily value for Vitamin B12.
Moreover, nutritional yeast as one of the vegan sources of B12 is low in calories and fat but high in fiber which is good for digestion. It also contains other essential minerals like selenium and zinc.
You can find nutritional yeast in most health food stores. It is usually sold in flakes or as a powder. You can add it to different recipes for an extra cheesy flavor.
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that originates from Indonesia. It is made by culturing soybeans with a rhizopus mold. This results in a cake-like texture that can be used as a meat alternative.
Marmite + Yeast Spreads
Marmite plus Yeast Spreads are another good source of Vitamin B12. The taste is not for everyone but you can experiment and check if this will work for you. The combination usually yields 0.5mcg of Vitamin B12 for every 100 grams.
Fortified Soy + Almond Milk
Looking for foods for a plant-based diet with B12, another good option for vegans is the combination of fortified soy and almond milk. You will usually find this type of milk in the stores with a “fortified with B12” label.
Make sure to check the nutrition label before purchasing as some brands add Vitamin D instead of B12. A good rule of thumb is to choose the brands that have 2.5 micrograms or more per serving.
There are also plant-based meats that contain B12 as a good alternative for vegans and vegetarians to get enough B12. Not all plant-based meats are fortified with B12 so check the nutritional value if you buy one to make sure that the plant-based meat is a reliable source of B12.
Health professionals also recommend fortified breakfast cereals as a source of Vitamin B12. Just one cup of fortified cereal can provide up to six micrograms of B12.
Some of the most popular brands that offer fortified breakfast cereals are Kellogg’s All-Bran Complete Wheat Flakes and Post Shredded Wheat ‘n Bran.
Why Do We Need Vitamin B12?
You have learned about the fortified foods and supplements for vegans and vegetarians. To further discuss the importance of Vitamin B12 not just for vegan health but also for anyone who wants to after their health, the following are the main reasons why our body needs the daily intake of foods with vitamin B12:
Helps in the Production of Energy
Vitamin B12 as part of your diet is important for the metabolism of every cell in our body as it helps to convert carbohydrates into glucose which is used by our body as energy.
Keeps the Nervous System Functioning Properly
Vitamin B12 is also responsible for keeping the nervous system functioning properly. Vitamin B12 helps to produce myelin which is the substance that covers and protects our nerve cells.
Helps in the production of Red Blood Cells
Vitamin B12 is also important for the production of red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen around our body and vitamin B12 helps to prevent anemia which is a condition where there is a lack of red blood cells.
Maintenance of Normal Blood Homocysteine Levels
Vitamin B12 in your diet and exercising regularly can help in maintaining normal blood Homocysteine levels. If your blood homocysteine levels are elevated, this could increase the risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease.
Helps to Maintain a Healthy Digestive System
Helps to Maintain Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails
These are the main reasons why we need vitamin B12. As you can see, vitamin B12 is essential for our overall health and well-being.
The Best Vegan B12 Supplements
There are also Vitamin B12 supplements available on the market as a last resort. Supplements are recommended by the Mayo Clinic if you follow a vegan diet and don’t eat fortified foods.
The following are the best vegan supplements that contain Vitamin B12:
NATURELO Vegan B12
NATURELO Vegan B12 is a vegan supplement made through fermentation to provide higher B12 levels with a 1000 mcg dose of vitamin B12.
This Vitamin B12 supplement has spirulina that’s not only rich in Vitamin B but also protein, copper, and iron.
This reliable supplement, which is also a good vitamin B12 for vegetarians, is non-GMO, gluten-free, has no dairy products, and with no coloring, no preservatives, or no flavoring.
Live Conscious Vegan Vitamin B12
Live Conscious Vegan B12 supplies higher B12 levels with 5000 Mcg. This vegan supplement is a reliable source of B12 that is easy to be absorbed by the body and provides higher levels of energy.
This supplement, which is also good for vegetarians, is lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
Sundown Vitamin B-12
Sundown Vitamin B-12 is another one of the most reliable B12 vegan supplements with 1000 mcg time-release tablets.
This vegan B12 supplement for better health has high B12 levels that vegans and vegetarians need and with no gluten, no artificial flavors, no dairy, and is 100% non-GMO.
Solimo Vitamin B12
Solimo is another great source of Vitamin B12 for better vegan and vegetarian health. As one of the sources of Vitamin B12 for vegans, Solimo Vitamin B12 provides 3000 mcg of B12 to cover the amount of B12 that vegans need to take in the form of raspberry-flavored gummies.
This vegan and vegetarian supplement for great health is gluten-free, non-GMO, has no soy, and has no eggs, and dairy.
Deva Vegan Vitamin B12
Deva Vegan Vitamin B12 is another best vegan and vegetarian supplement that supplies 1000 mcg of vegan B12 Vitamins.
This supplement for good health also has Vitamin B6 and folic acid. This product does not contain eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, peanuts, wheat, and tree nuts.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
So how do you know if you’re lacking vitamin B12, not getting enough B12 from your diet, and need fortified foods and supplements? B12 deficiency in vegans is common so you need to be aware of the tell-tale signs.
The following are the common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Pale skin
- Yellowing of the skin
- Bleeding gums
- Brittle nails
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is best to consult with your doctor and have your blood levels checked.
Vegans have to worry no more when it comes to getting the necessary Vitamin B12 through fortified foods and supplements.
While it is always best to get your nutrients from whole foods, these fortified foods and supplements can help you ensure that you’re getting the right amount of B12 for optimum health.
If you have observed that you have symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency, it is also best to see your doctor so that you will be guided properly on the right supplements and changes in your diet.
How Do Vegans Get B12 FAQs
Which fruit is rich in Vitamin B12?
The fruits which are rich in Vitamin B12 include apples, bananas, blueberries, and oranges.
What is the most common cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
The most common cause of Vitamin B12 deficiency is a lack of an intrinsic factor. An intrinsic factor is a protein that is necessary for the absorption of Vitamin B12 in the small intestine.
What are the best sources of Vitamin B12 for vegans?
The best sources of Vitamin B12 for vegans include fortified foods and supplements.
Should vegans supplement Vitamin B12?
Yes, vegans should supplement Vitamin b12 especially If you found out or observed that you might be lacking the nutrient. It is also best to consult a healthcare professional to see if you have vitamin B12 deficiency.
Can you get enough Vitamin B12 from a vegan diet?
You can get enough Vitamin B12 from a vegan diet if you incorporate fortified foods and supplements into your diet
Which Vegetables are rich in Vitamin B12?
Vegetables that are rich in Vitamin B12 include butternut squash, mushrooms, spinach, beetroot, potatoes, and alfalfa.
Do any grains contain Vitamin B12?
There are no grains that contain Vitamin B12. However, some fortified breakfast cereals may contain the nutrient.
What is the best time of day to take a Vitamin B12 supplement?
It is best to take a Vitamin B12 supplement with a meal as this will help to increase its absorption.
What are the side effects of taking a Vitamin B12 supplement?
The side effects of taking a Vitamin B12 supplement are usually mild and may include headache, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. However, if you experience any severe side effects, it is best to stop taking the supplement and consult with your doctor.