Vitamin B-12 Foods For Vegans and Vegetarians

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Vitamin B-12 Foods For Vegans and Vegetarians


Vitamin B-12 or cobalamin is one of the most essential vitamins that play a vital role in maintaining physical and mental health.

Lack of this vitamin leads to but not limited to anemia, reduced healing, slow growth, neurological disorders and several mental health issues such as depression, phobias, psychosis, memory loss and several other psychiatric problems.

Vegetarians and vegans require extra care towards fulfilling their daily intake of vitamin B-12 and consume enough amounts. Let us understand how vegetarians and vegans can include B-12 in their diet.

 Vitamin B-12 sources for vegetarians and vegans

  • Yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Cheese
  • Fortified cereals
  • Tofu
  • Fortified plant-based milk, Fortified Soy + Almond Milk
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Marmite + Yeast Spreads
  • Plant-Based Meats
  • Tempeh
  • Chlorella
  • Nori Seaweed

Additionally, as per nutritionists adding algae, certain types of mushrooms too will provide small amount of Vitamin B-12 in your diet. Consuming these on regular basis is essential to help avoid nutritional deficiency. As per health experts certain foods made with lactic acid bacteria can be a source of B-12.

For Vegans

Vegans consuming plant based foods can rely on fortified foods that would supply ample amount of vitamin B-12 to their diet, such as:

  • Tempeh
  • Fortified breakfast cereals
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Fortified plant-based milk, Fortified Soy + Almond Milk
  • Marmite + Yeast Spreads
  • Plant-Based Meats
  • Vegan spreads

Adding Vitamin B-12 to your diet

Consuming vitamin B-12 requires knowing the amount of this vitamin in these foods:

  • 8 ounces (oz.) of yogurt contains about 1.1 mcg
  • 1 cup of low-fat milk can provide 1.2 mcg
  • 1 oz. of Swiss cheese can contain 0.95 mcg
  • Tempeh ½ cup 3% of daily value vitamin B-12

It is to be noted that fortified cereals are high in bioavailability; it simply means that it is easily absorbed in the body.

Vitamin-12 bioavailability varies as per the food form, for instance it is estimated that bioavailability of vitamin B-12 is three times higher in dairy products compared to non-vegetarian food sources, similarly amount of vitamin B-12 from dietary supplements would have 50% higher bioavailability compared to that of food sources.

Adding vitamin B-12 sources to your vegetarian and vegan dishes would mean including it in your cooking, here is how it is possible to add it to your platter:

Nutritional yeast is good for vegetarians and vegans, adding two tablespoons of nutritional yeast may contain 733% of the daily value for vitamin B-12. It is best to use it for cooking and adding it to your dishes. You will enjoy its rich flavor to the dish that would be cheesy and nutty.

You can easily add nutritional yeast to your cooked meals by sprinkling it on food and snacks in the following manner:

  • Sprinkle it on popcorn and tofu
  • Mix it into cheese sauces, mashed potatoes
  • Use it as dressing in salads
  • Stir or add it to creamy soup and pasta dishes

Why is vitamin B-12 essential?

In order to maintain optimum health and to derive the benefits of vitamin B-12 it is essential to understand how it benefits the human body, here is how:

  • Formation and division of RBCs or red blood cells
  • Protects nervous system
  • Synthesizing DNA
  • Providing optimum body energy

    Recommended daily allowance (RDA) Source of B-12 as per age group

  • Adults - teenagers: 2.4 micrograms (mcg)/day
  • Children 9-13 years old: 1.8 mcg/day
  • Children 4- 8 years old: 1.2 mcg/day
  • Toddlers 1-3 years old: 0.9 mcg/day
  • Infants 7- 12 months: 0.5 mcg /day, and babies less than 6 months old require 0.4 mcg/ day
  • Gestational women: 2.6 mcg, while nursing women need 2.8 mcg daily

These values are based on the USDA's daily guidelines. However, according to a report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015 a new 'adequate intake' of 4μg (microgram) per day for adults has been indicated.

Medical Disclaimer: The information and reference materials contained here are intended solely for the general information of the reader. Patients and consumers should review the information carefully with their professional health care provider. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians. You should consult your physician before beginning a new diet, nutritional or fitness program. The publisher or its management do not claim responsibility of this information.