Vitamin B12 may not be so easy to come by for vegans. It is an important vitamin that should be a part of your diet. So, it’s best to get vitamin B12 sources for vegans from fortified foods.
Why don’t Vegans Get B12 in Their Diet?
B12 is found in the soil. Animals graze and ingest much of that soil, thus taking in this important vitamin. Meateaters then get the vitamin from the animal, so the animal is like the middleman here.
Interesting fact: a vitamin B12 deficiency is found not only among vegans, but also among non-vegans.
Well, here’s the thing about cows and other animals used for human consumption; I mentioned grazing as the method for them to ingest vitamin B12, but … animals at factory farms don’t eat grass and they certainly do not go outside to graze. The majority never even see the sun until the day they are loaded on the truck that drives them to the slaughterhouse.
Factory farm animals are fed corn, wheat, and soy that comes from intensive industrial farming where lots of pesticides are used. The animals eat those pesticides too, and pass them on to the humans who eat them. So, they do not ingest any B12, nada …
This is why the middleman does not deliver the expected vitamins.
Going Back in Time
Nowadays most of the soil is ridden with fertilizers and pesticides, killing off all nutrients, including vitamin B12. In past times, before the Industrial Revolution, the soil did not suffer from so many human made poisons, so even people who ate little to no meat got a good intake of vitamin B12.
- The vegetables they farmed had soil on the roots or stems when they were pulled out, and before preparation they were not as meticulously desinfected as they are nowadays, leaving that healthy soil on the plant ==> B12
- Water was not polluted yet. People often drank brownish water from a river or from a well – yes, I know, it looks dirty and not like something you would drink. That brown or dirty color was due to soil in there, and that soil provided ==> B12
Where to Find Vitamin B12?
There are several options. You can find B12 in fortified plant-based milks, such as almond, rice, soy, nut milk, and others. It is important to note that not all plant-based milks have this vitamin. Always read the ingredients on the box to make sure that it is included.
Some meat substitutes can also provide this vitamin, but please check the labels on the package to make sure it is there.
Nutritional yeast is an excellent (and delicious) source of vitamin B12. It’s actually not like the yeast that you use for baking. It’s used for cooking and frying (and salty bakes). It adds flavor to many dishes, and it is great for pasta sauces, pizza, and cheese sauces. Nutritional yeast has a yummy cheesy flavor.
Vegan spreads and breakfast cereals can also have vitamins B12 in their ingredient lists, but just make sure to doublecheck.
And beer is another great source for vitamin B12. I know, I just gave you another excuse to open a bottle of beer 😉 Not every beer will have vitamin B12, but many do, and even if they don’t, they are still a rich source of B vitamins. Vitamin B2, for example, increases during the brewing process.
Supplements are another good way to get B12.
Why is Vitamin B12 Important?
It is essential for many reasons. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause the following symptoms:
- nerve damage
- weakness, fatigue
- blurred vision
- difficulty walking
- problems with the digestive system
- a sore tongue or mouth ulcers
- feeling faint or dizzy
- mood swings
- a decline in memory, judgment, and understanding
- pale skin
- loss of appetite
- ringing or buzzing in the ears
It is best to see a doctor when you’re having some of these symptoms, so that he or she can determine if this is caused by a lack of vitamin B12 or if there is another reason. These symptoms could also be linked to other causes, so that is why it is recommended to see a professional. Remember, the doctor knows best. 😉
Including a healthy amount of vitamin B12 in your diet can bring the following benefits:
- formation and division of red blood cells, and anemia prevention
- it gives you an energy boost
- protecting the nervous system
- may benefit your brain by preventing the loss of neurons
- may improve mood
- may prevent major birth defects
- may support bone health and prevent osteoroposis
- may reduce the risk of macular degeneration
- may improve heart health by decreasing homocysteine
- supports healthy hair, skin, and nails
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is necessary for your health. Fortunately, there are several ways to obtain it, also in a plant-based diet. If you are not vegan, please make sure you still get a healthy intake of vitamin B12, since meat isn’t always a guaranteed way to obtain it. In fact, why not cut out the middleman and get straight to the natural source? 🙂
Let me know in the comments below if you have any more questions.
10 thoughts on “Vitamin B12 Sources for Vegans – Get Your B12 on That Shelf”
I have been taking B12 for some years now but I wasn’t aware of where this vitamin comes from and I’m actually surprised of the whole process. I am not vegan so I don’t have a lot of knowledge on this, but I am grabbed by the idea of becoming one. I have a question, do vegans only exclude everything that involved animals, but do they also avoid GMOs in their bodies from other sources?
Vegans exclude any products that contain animal ingredients. Some still consume GMO, junk food, and/or processed foods, and there are others who exclude those as well. It all depends on each individual.
Vitamin B12 is very important and after reading your article it has made me realize that the foods I have been consuming may not have this vitamin.
I have been considering changing my diet to a more plant based diet overall and I think your products would be great to add.
Could having too much vitamin B12 have any side effects on the body?
Thank you for your informative article.
Feel free to check out my website for plant-based recipes and cookbooks, and any other tips that may come in handy.
Since B12 is a water-solluble vitamin, even in high doses it is considered safe, but supplementing withe excessive high amounts of this this vitamin may have some side effects such as outbreak of acne …A study in pregnant women found that a high dosis of vitamin B12 could increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder in the baby.
hello dear, awesome review you have here on the benefits of vitamin B12,not just to Wiggins but to everyone in general vitamin B12 is of great benefits to us…Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak. Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food….
Thank you for your comment, Evans!
I have a few vegan friends, and I learned about this through them. It can be challenging for vegans to get some nutrients that you typically get from animal-based products. They have to get smart when eating.
I knew that we get B-12 from meat, but I hadn’t given a thought to the way they’re fed. It makes sense to assume the amount of B-12 is negligible given the circumstances.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but experts always agree that we should get our nutrients from foods rather than supplements. Personally, I try to stick with foods, although we all know anything is rarely natural these days. The struggle is real.
Thanks for sharing.
I agree with what experts say, to get your nutrients naturally from food instead of supplements. I prefer to do that too. You raise a good point, though, it is hard to find natural foods these days. Sometimes supplements seem to be our best bet …
Thanks for your comment!
This is an amazing article. I read it word by word and found it super fascinating especially the soil part. I grew up on a farm or could say on an organic farm where nothing artificial was used. We grew everything and consumed everything. Nobody was ever deficient in any nutrients. My family looked well and healthy and hardly ever got ill!
I strongly believe going back to the basics is the answer to alot of our physical and mental illnesses.
Thanks for for this amazing reminder
Thank you for your comment! Going back to basics and avoiding all that processed food will certainly help a lot 🙂 I agree.