As a veteran vegan I have always been asked this question “how do vegans get vitamin B12 considering they only eat limited foods?”
It is true that vegans tend to lack vitamin b12 in their bodies due to their diet.
The answer to this question is all about being knowledgeable and being selective with your food choices as a vegan. Not all plant foods have vitamin B12,so it is vital for all vegans to find foods with the maximun vitamin b12.
This is the reason I have done all the research for the past 10 years as a vegan to help myself in getting the proper nutrition with vitamins like protein, Iron and vitamin B12.
I will now be sharing what has worked for me in terms of the foods and what has not worked for me as a vegan for getting enough vitamin B12.
Why do we need vitamin B12 and how much do we need?
Before I get into “how do vegans get vitamin B12” I would like to outline the reasons why we need vitamin B12 in our bodies and the daily recommendations.
This will help you understand why you need vitamin B12 in your body in the first place.
Below are the reasons why we need this,often neglected, vitamin.
- Protecting the nervous system
- Formation of red blood cells
- Formation of DNA in the body
- Prevents Anemia
So how much do we need?
Do not worry I have got you covered with this too. Below are the recommended daily consumption intakes.
- Birth to infant (0-1 year)= 0.5 mcg
- Children (1-13 years)= 1.8 mcg
- Teenagers-adult(14+ years)= 2.4 mcg
- Preganat women = 2.8 mcg
Are supplements good for you?
The sad reality is that new vegans or many non-vegans think that to get enough vitamin B12 you need to use merely vitamin B12 supplements.
This is because people it is a well-known fact that vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal food.
I will not lie I have also been under this belief especially when I started the vegan diet in 2010. This is the reason why I used to rely on vitamin B12 supplements.
However, as I became accustomed to the vegan diet I was able to find out the best vegan foods for me that have worked well over the years.
Some foods I will list here may not be a good fit for you as you may be a bit different to me,but if you use all of them in combination or majority of them in your meals, regularly ,I do assure you that they will help with increasing your vitamin B12 content.
According to the Vegan society people who are at risk of Vitamin b12 deficient are infants of mothers who are vegan and long term raw food vegans and they generally need these supplements.
The symptoms of lack of Vitamin b12 can be even life threatening so it is vital to ensure you look at them carefully.
Having said all this about vitamin B12 and vegan foods, I would say that if you are critically deficient in vitamin B12 my number recommendation would be to focus most on vitamin B12 supplements and not too much on vegan foods high in vitamin B12.
I am not saying ignore these foods, however I am just saying that your focus should be on supplementing as you need something to kick into the body quickly.
Related: Vegan foods high in protein
Fortified cereal/Breakfast cereal
If you are reading this post I am sure you are not only asking yourself “how do vegans get vitamin B12?”, but “what are the best vegan foods to get high vitamin B12?”
For these questions fortified cereals (or any breakfast cereal) are your best bet for drastically increasing your vitamin B12 in your diet.
Cereals are the best out of all vegan foods because they tend to be filled with other nutrition since they can be mixed with other foods to increase the vitamins even more.
For example, you can eat them with fortified non-dairy milk (which is another huge source of vitamin b12 that I will talk about) which will drastically increase the vitamin B12 content.
The best thing about the fortified cereal is that they can be easy to consume as your breakfast daily unlike other vegan food sources of vitamin B12.
This,by the way,is my main way of consuming vitamin B12
When it comes to vitamin B12 you would not want to ignore marmite at all and I will explain why.
Marmite has been used over the years dating back from world war 1 by soldier to enhance their immune system due to being filled with powerful vitamins.
A study done at York University revealed that marmite has very high vitamin B12 content and by eating it regularly you can protect yourself from physical and mental disorders.
Fortified non-dairy products
The great aspect about the vegan diet is that it is filled with non-dairy products which are part of most vegans’ lifestyles.
The best move though is to ensure your dairy products are fortified with vitamin B12. This means checking the label when you buy your non-dairy products.
The great way to increase your intake again is to combine your non-dairy milk with fortified cereal as this will be a huge enhancer of vitamin B12 (this is what I do by the way).
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Now that you know the food that you need to increase your vitamin B12 consumption let us look at the symptoms of not having enough vitamin B12 in your body because the symptoms can be very bad.
- Blurred vision
- Numbness of body parts
- Nerver damage
- Weak body
- Poor memory or difficulty in remembering
- Mood swings
- Pale skin
- Ringing sounds in the ears (tinnitus)
There are also other foods you can focus on as a vegan to increase your vitamin B12. I do not use these for increasing my vitamin B12 but according to research I have found that these foods are a good source of vitamin B12.
These are the vegan foods recommended by Health Information:
- Nutritional yeast
- Meat substitutes
Take home message
Vitamin B12 is not just lacking in people who are vegans, but even people who are omnivores do get affected by not having enough of this vitamin.
This is due to their body not being able to absorb the vitamin B12 well in their body which leads to all the side effects,such as damaged nerves and weakness.
Vegans get their source of vitamin B12 from foods such as fortified non-dairy products, vegan spreads like marmite.
To get the maximum out of all these foods I do recommend people to eat a combination of these foods so that it will drastically increase the vitamin B12 in the body.
It is also wise to check the daily recommended intake for your age so you can ensure that you are eating the right amount of B12.
Remember the symptoms of not having vitamin B12 in your body can be even be life threatening so always take caution.
I hope you enjoyed this article and I hope it helped you get to know the foods that are high in vitamin B12 for a vegan diet.
If you have any questions you are more than welcome to leave your comments below. I will be more than happy to respond to you.