Everyone needs vitamin B12, but for vegans, it can be tricky to find.
Unlike what most people believe, it’s not that difficult to meet the vast majority of your nutritional needs while following a vegan diet. However, there are a few vitamins and nutrients out there that aren’t so easy to come by as a vegan, and vitamin B12 is certainly one of them. B12 is essential for so many functions and systems throughout the body, including the formulation of red blood cells, nervous system function, brain function, the regulation of DNA and so much more. But, naturally, it’s found in mostly animal products, including beef, ham, fish and dairy products. So, where can you find B12 as a vegan?
There are many vegan and vegetarian-friendly foods that are fortified with B12 that can help you meet your nutritional needs through your diet. Studies have shown that people who receive B12 from uncooked fortified foods, such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, nutritional yeast or cereal, have a better vitamin B12 status than those who receive it through fish, poultry or meat. This has lead to the conclusion that cooking may possibly damage B12, but the evidence is limited. Even so, uncooked food sources are a safe bet for many vegans.
Other foods commonly fortified with vitamin B12 include nutritional yeasts and meat substitutes. Much like with fish, poultry and other meat sources, these are typically cooked prior to eating, which could compromise the B12. However, most B12 losses are typically between 10 and 50 percent, and studies show that losses of 50 percent or higher typically involve boiling.
If you are relying on nutritional yeast for your B12 intake, keep in mind that vitamin B12 is light sensitive, and those clear bottles of nutritional yeast could easily be compromised during transport. And, please note that, despite popular opinion, nutritional yeast isn’t a natural source of B12; it has to be fortified with it. Most nutritional yeasts are fortified with B12. Just make sure you read the label.
Foods that are fortified with B12 often contain B12 in varying amounts, so if you’re planning on meeting your B12 needs through fortified foods alone, you’ll need to make it a point to know exactly how much you’re consuming and make sure you’re meeting your dietary needs.
The other major way that vegans can ensure they are getting plenty of vitamin B12 in their diet is to take a supplement. This is the most sure-fire way to ensure that you’re getting an adequate amount of B12, but you should always make sure that you carefully read the labels on your supplements. Animal-derived ingredients and by-products are used for everything from filler to coloring in many supplements on the market, and the only way to ensure that you’re not accidentally consuming these ingredients is to read labels and always make it a point to buy vitamins for vegetarians and vegans.
To learn more about vitamin B12, including why you need it and the consequences of not getting enough of it, check out our guide to B12. In the meantime, shop with us. We offer a variety of vegan supplements, including Adult Daily Gummy Vitamins, with plenty of B12 to meet your needs. Shop today!