You are here

3 Great Vegan Sources of B12

January 29, 2014

Main Image

Rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, plant-based diets provide us with a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals. However, there is one nutritional need that can’t be met from the sources above - vitamin B12.

While many people get their daily dose of B12 from animal byproducts such as meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy, those who practice a vegan or vegetarian diet must make more of a conscious effort to get enough of this valuable B vitamin into their bodies.

Low levels of B12 can lead to complications such as anemia, nervous system damage, and blood disorders. Additionally, those with a B12 deficiency are at potential risk for heart disease and pregnancy complications. Wondering if you fall into this category? Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, tingling in the arms and legs, and digestive issues.

Although plant-based individuals can face serious nutritional issues if they don’t supplement the vitamin into their diets, there are plenty of ways to do so. Read on to discover three leading ways vegans can obtain an adequate amount of B12.

Nutritional yeast. When it comes to hitting a B12 quota, this nutritional powerhouse has become a staple for many vegans. While nutritional yeast itself doesn’t actually produce B12, there are a number of brands such as Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula that are fortified with the vitamin.

A good rule of thumb when purchasing nutritional yeast is to avoid bins in health food stores because there is room for error. For example, the wrong brand of yeast may be stocked or the bottles could be exposed to the type of light that affects its nutritional value.

Fortified foods. Similar to nutritional yeast, there’s a wide variety of foods on the market that are fortified with vitamin B12. Select brands of soy milk, energy bars, and veggie burgers all offer the body an adequate amount of B12. However, it’s important to always check the nutritional information on the label to ensure that the food offers a sufficient amount of the vitamin.

Dietary supplements. Although fortified foods are a great way for vegans to incorporate B12 into their diets, supplements are the most effective method. When searching for a supplement you may see that there are two options: cyanocobalamin and methylcobalamin.

While cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12, research shows that methylcobalamin is actually better absorbed and retained within your tissues. Methylcobalamin is the specific form of B12 needed for nervous system, liver, and brain health.

In the United States it is recommended that an individual’s daily B12 intake is 2.4 micrograms and up to 2.8 micrograms for pregnant women and nursing mothers. When combining a supplement with fortified foods this daily recommendation can be easily achieved.

How do you receive your daily dose of vitamin B12?