Vegan B12 – Explained


Our ‘Explained’ series of posts aims to simplify the information surrounding vegan nutrition. This article discusses B12.

Key Points

  • B12 is important and you should ensure you are getting enough
  • It is not a hoax made up by anti-vegans
  • You can not get reliable and sufficient amounts of B12 through natural plant foods
  • The best and easiest way to get adequate amounts of B12 is via supplementation
  • You can top up B12 levels via fortified foods but it’s not as reliable and comes with a side of unwanted extras such as sugar and preservatives

The Infamous B12

B12 is always a hot topic surrounding veganism. It is naturally found within animal products and we are simply unable to get reliable and adequate amounts through eating plants.

B12 can be sourced easily and is not something vegans need to worry about too much. For those just starting out a plant-based diet, it’s worth noting that the B12 stores in your body can last between 2-8 years before depleting and showing symptoms of deficiency. So if you’re 6 months in and worried about B12, please relax.

Is B12 important?

Yes, absolutely.

However, the hysteria surrounding this nutrient is probably uncalled for and mostly perpetuated by vegan naysayers. The body requires very little B12, just 10 micrograms per day, the lowest amount required for any nutrient. Low levels of B12 can cause anemia and nervous system damage but it’s very rare that people reach this point.

There are no natural foods that contain reliable and adequate amounts of B12.

Vegan B12 Myths

B12 is a Hoax

At some point, you may meet other vegans that claim the B12 issues surrounding vegans or those eating a solely plant-based diet is a hoax. A lie made up by those trying to devalue veganism and expose the plant-based diet as flawed. B12 is not a hoax. The issues surrounding it may have been sensationalised by people but the importance of B12 is still valid and important.

Just eat lot’s spirulina, nori and tempeh

Some vegans claim that eating the above in abundance is a simple way to ensure you get enough B12. Unfortunately, we have no research or evidence to suggest that this is true or reliable.

Where to Source B12

There are two very simple ways to ensure you are getting enough B12 in your diet:

  1. Take a B12 supplement each day or heavier dosage per week
  2. Eat fortfied foods a few times a day

B12 Supplement

The best and easiest way to ensure you’re getting enough B12 is to take a vegan B12 supplement. The supplements are available in most health stores and pharmacies.

Things to consider when buying a B12 supplement:

  • Buy a methylcobalamin form of B12. It is has a better absorption rate than that of the cyanocobalamin forms
  • Make sure it’s vegan! Some
  • Consider a sublingual, spray or liquid. You don’t have to take a tablet. Ensure they are free from sugar or colourants.
  • Buy Quality. Don’t skimp on the quality of your supplement, invest in good products.

Recommended B12 Supplements





Dosage

The dosage of B12 will vary for each individual and you may want to speak to a doctor to discover your optimal dosage. Below are the general guidelines:

adequate-B12-levels-vegan

Fortified Foods

There are many foods available that are fortified with B12. By incorporating these foods into your daily diet you can work better towards getting adequate amounts of B12.

It’s worth noting that supplementation is a far more reliable way to ensure you are getting your B12. Fortified foods can be used to top up levels and should not be used solely as a source of B12. Note that they also usually contain added sugars, GMO, preservatives and other ingredients you may not want in your diet.

  • Cereals
  • Nutritional Yeast B12
  • Plant Milks
  • Meat Alternatives

Recommended B12 Fortified Foods





 Bottom Line

  • B12 is important and you should ensure you are getting enough
  • The best and easiest way to get adequate amounts of B12 is via supplementation.
  • You can get B12 through fortified foods to help top up levels but they also come with a side of unwanted extras such as sugar and preservatives you may not want.

For a complete and comprehensive overview of B12 please visit veganhealth.org

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