What is Vitamin B12 & How Do Vegans Get B12 Without Supplements

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and is also popularly known as Cobalamin. It plays a fundamental role in various chemical reactions that take place in the cells of a human body. It is crucial for the ideal functioning of the nervous system as it plays an important role in the synthesis of myelin and also in the maturation of red blood cells in the bone marrow.

It is one of the eight B vitamins and it consists numerous chemical-related compounds. In this article, we introduce you to vitamin B12 in detail as it is important thing you need to know before going vegan. We will include the importance of B12, common myths related to it, which foods include this vitamin and how can you consume this if you are on a vegan diet. So, let’s delve into the article without further delay.

What does Vitamin B12 do?

B12 is really crucial in the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system and also regulates the formation of red blood cells and DNA as well. The metabolism of each cell in the human body depends on it as it plays an integral part in the synthesis of energy production and fatty acids. It helps the human body to absorb folic acid and hence, aids in the release of energy. 

what does vitamin b12 do

There are millions of red blood cells produced every minute in a human body and this Vitamin helps in the multiplication of these cells. The low level of this vitamin results in the reduction of red blood cells, which can lead to Anemia. 

There are numerous other health benefits also offered by b12. It supports bone health and prevents Osteoporosis and may also reduce the risk of Macular Degeneration. B12 intake also enhances the mood and reduce the symptoms of depression as it reduces the production of serotonin in the body which leads to depressed mood.

Apart from these, it also gives your body a boost of energy. Therefore, it is advisable to consume b12 rich foods before intense workout sessions. Moreover, it also improves heart health by decreasing Homocysteine which is an amino acid linked to the risk of heart disease. 

How Much should you Consume Vitamin B12?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the U.S., teens and adults over the age of 14 years should consume 2.4 micrograms daily to maintain an adequate level in their body. On the other hand, Pregnant women are advised to intake of 2.6 micrograms in a day. The excessive intake of this vitamin is not harmful to the body in any way, but it is advised to consult a doctor before taking B12 supplements. 

B12 Deficiency Symptoms

The deficiency of B12 can result in severe and potentially irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system. Even the slightly lower than the normal level, results in some symptoms like depression, memory problems, fatigue and confusion, constipation, weight loss and loss of appetite.

vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms

These symptoms are not enough to diagnose your body with B12 deficiency. As the reduction level escalates, the individual starts facing tingling sensation in the hands and feet, numbness and difficulty in maintaining balance. Whereas, on the other hand, infants with Vitamin B12 deficiency may show some unusual movements like face tremors, feeding difficulties, eventual growth problems, irritation as well as reflex problems.

The deficiency of B12 also results in Anemia which can be diagnosed with the symptoms like fatigue, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. The individual can also experience weight loss, menstrual problems, diarrhea, pale or yellow skin and a sore mouth or tongue.

Common Myths About Vitamin B12

Myths about vitamin b12

There are numerous bits of gossip with respect to nutrient B12: a few people say it is only a creation, that it really isn’t required in any way; other individuals state that it is sufficient to eat organic product or unwashed vegetables to take it, or that this nutrient isn’t normally contained in meat. Here, we have explained several things about these myths and scatter a few fantasies and legends that are spreading through the Web. 

An aged soy item was wrongly shown in the past as a solid wellspring of B12, created by microscopic organisms during ageing until they found that the measure of this nutrient not an option to cover the everyday prerequisite.

Actually, nutrient B12 is missing from the plant realm, (an ongoing report shows the dried purple laver, nori, as could be allowed and just source), which clarifies why individuals who have plant-based eating regimen should fundamentally take nutrient B12 supplements.

A common myth that people with plant-based diet have is that it is superfluous to take this nuitrient since it is delivered by microorganisms in the mouth or in the gut, or that it is sufficient to eat products of the soil vegetables. 

The facts confirm that a few microbes in the human gut blend cobalamin, yet they are situated in zones where its retention is low and consequently happens in the sums which are not adequate to cover our body needs.

Another well-known myth is that meat doesn’t normally contain nutrient B12, yet this would be included as an enhancement in creature feed, proposing that even those individuals who pursue non-vegetarian eating routine would in a roundabout way accept this nutrient as an enhancement, similarly as veggie lovers do. A long way from it. 

Polygastric ruminants (steers, sheep, goats and wild oxen) don’t have to get nutrient B12 and other B nutrients from supplements, since bacterial amalgamation that happens in their intricate stomach related framework, permits the creation of a lot of this nutrient.

This is the motivation behind why meat and dairy items are normally rich in B12. Notwithstanding the endogenous generation, ruminants likewise take nutrient B12 from the utilization of scrounge, silage, feed and grass, loaded with microorganisms that orchestrate it.

Natural Sources of Vitamin B12

There are numerous foods that you can consume to maintain the level of B12 in your body. It is found in dairy products, eggs, mushrooms, algae and many more. You can try out Oyster Mushrooms which are rich in vitamin B12 and are vegan too. You can easily identify oyster mushrooms with the help of this article. And then, you can prepare Oyster mushroom recipes with it. You should consume the foods throughout your day as B12 is absorbed slowly in the body.

b12 rich foods

Dairy Products

If you are a vegetarian, dairy products are one of the simplest sources to consume B12. The products are easily available in the local grocery stores and you can consume them at any time of day. You can add yogurt in your breakfast, milk with the midday meal and can add a few slices of cheese to the salad or with an evening snack as well. 

  • Eight ounces of yogurt provide 1.1 micrograms of vitamin B12.
  • One ounce of Cheese provides around 0.9 micrograms of B12 whereas, one cup of low-fat milk offers 1.2 micrograms.


Another simplest and affordable source of b12 is eggs. You should eat 2-3 eggs in a day as one egg yields around 0.6 micrograms of b12. You can have a hard-boiled egg before or after your workout routine as it also maintains the protein intake. If you are not a fan of boiled eggs, then you can have scrambled eggs for breakfast as well. 


Cereals also contain different levels of B12, therefore you should always read on the packaging, whether your favorite cereal is offering the adequate amount of B12 or not. For a healthy cereal breakfast, you can add Kellogg’s corn flakes and grape nuts as well as they contain 1.5 micrograms of B12 in ½ cup serving.

The cereals can be easily digested in your body and they need not break down for the absorption process. That’s why your body can easily get B12 from these foods. 

Shiitake Mushroom

These are rare plant-based foods and can be consumed during lunch or dinner. You would require to intake around 50 grams of dried shiitake mushrooms to maintain B12 levels.

Nutritional Yeast

You can use nutritional yeast in a healthy vegetarian or a vegan recipe as it adds a cheesy flavor to the dishes. To add flavor, some brands add E631 and it is important to know whether E631 vegan or not. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast yields 4 micrograms of B12. You can simply sprinkle it on popcorn (Of course vegan popcorn) or add it in your favorite evening snack to combat the cheese cravings.

All the above-mentioned foods are just perfect for the vegetarians to maintain an adequate level of b12 in their diet. But what about the people who are non-vegetarians? Don’t worry, we have got some tasty options for you as well. 


The fishes are an excellent source of B12. If you are a fan of seafood, you can feed yourself best with B12. 75 grams of cooked clams consist of around 74 micrograms of b12. Other food options include tuna, mussels, sardines, herring and mackerel. 75 grams of any of these can easily maintain B12 in your body.


It is also an excellent source of b12 as one grilled flat steak provides around 200% of the RDI of B12. Apart from B12, it also provides vitamin b2, b3 and b6. If you want to consume a higher concentration of B12, then look for the low-fat cuts of meat and to preserve the B12 content, try to grill or roast the meat instead of frying it.


Salmon contains the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and it is a rich source of B vitamins as well. 178 grams of the cooked salmon pack more than 80% of the RDI of B12. Apart from this, it also offers a great amount of protein as well. 

How do Vegans get Vitamin B12?

With regards to plant-based sustenance, the most widely recognized queries you’ll hear will be about protein, calcium, and nutrient D. These are a piece of a solid eating regimen and generally, we tend to relate them with animal-based nourishments like meat, eggs, milk, and cheddar. 

In case you’re hoping to eat more plant-based nourishments, another supplement that you’ll need enough is nutrient B12. As per specialists from MIT, B12 is the most synthetically complex all things considered and it is likewise one of the most fundamental for human well-being.

As there are limited Vegan sources of B12 . And, as we discussed earlier, it is an important nutrient and should be taken everyday by individuals, here are some food supplements that Vegans can take to avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vegan Food Supplements

Supplements are considered by specialists to be probably the most ideal approaches to get vegan B12. Multivitamin tablets and chewy candies are bottomless decisions, yet B12 is additionally accessible in fluid and capsule structure, which you take sublingually (under the tongue).

Sublingual B12 is generally thought to be better consumed by the body, however, studies have demonstrated this is a fantasy. Deva Vegan Vitamins make cherry-enhanced sublingual capsules, Garden of Life makes veggie-lover agreeable cases and fluid B12, MegaFood makes tablets, and Mary Ruth Organics make vegetarian D3+B12 chewy candies.

You ought to consistently consult your doctor before bringing any new supplement into your eating regimen. Vitamin B12 foods vegans can have to avoid B12 deficiency are:

1. Fortified Nutritional Yeast

Fortified Nutritional Yeast for vegans

Nutritional yeast is a type of deactivated yeast and fortified foods that originates from the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It very well may be developed on an assortment of sources, including black strap molasses, sugar beets, and now and again. It’s without gluten, sans soy, and sans cholesterol nourishment that comes in yellow pieces. You can prepare vegan bread with nutritional yeast or you can bring a vegan one from the market like vegan sourdough bread!

It additionally has a gooey taste, making it incredible for making vegan lover cheddar and without dairy sauces. Not all healthful yeast is invigorated, so make certain to peruse the mark before making a buy. Notwithstanding, being an extraordinary substitute for mushy vegan plans, it can likewise be a decent wellspring of nutrients and minerals.

2. Fortified Plant-Based Milk

Fortified Plant-Based Milk for vegans

There are various plant-based brands that offer milk to meet your daily B12 requirements. ProVeg provides Silk soy milk, coconut cream (you can prepare it at home and make coconut cream pie at home for great taste), Eden soy extra and Tempt hemp milk. You can refer to other brands also that offer fortified foods that are B12 rich milk-like Cashew Dream, Califia Farms, Oatly oat milk, etc.

New brands keep on launching in the market since the vegan lifestyle came into the trend. Just make sure to check out the nutritional value on the packaging before making a purchase. You can prepare several desserts with this milk like smoothie with banana in it, homemade carrot cakes, Donuts and many such dishes.

3. Fortified Plant-Based Cereal

Fortified Plant-Based Cereal for vegans

There are some vegan cereals that are a part of fortified foods that has B12 and you can have them in your breakfast like Quaker puffed rice. To enjoy the hot cereal, you can try Kashi heart to heart instant oatmeal, which offers 100 per cent of the daily b12 recommended intake.

There are a lot of other brands also which you can consider to try new variants and make super healthy B12 vegan dishes by pairing them with fortified plant-based milk. 

The individuals who are strictly following a vegan and vegetarian diet, need to take an adequate amount of B12 in their diet with or without fortified foods in their vegan diet as they are more prone to get deficient of it. If you are one of them, you can also consult a health professional to find out the alternatives like fortified products if you are unable to find the natural sources of B12 that can be included in your diet without ruining it. 

Final Words

Vitamin B12 is a crucial nutrient that your body needs for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. It can be easily found in large amounts in animal-based products like Salmon, tuna, beef, liver, etc. But, sometimes it gets quite daunting for the vegans and vegetarians to find foods rich in B12 as there are less plant-based foods with B12 available in the market today.

We have mentioned some of the fortified products that can be considered under the vegan diet and for the vegetarians. Also, we have compiled some of the good food options. If you wish to have some healthy nutrient rich supplement instead, then you can try out vegan BCAA supplements.

Whether you are a vegetarian, non-vegetarian or a vegan, just make sure that you are taking an optimum amount of B12 in your diet as it’s deficiency can lead to some serious health issues or choose an optimal from the top vegan meal plan that provides all the nutrients required in your body.

Tully Zander

My life literally revolves around optimum health and sustainable living by being a devotional vegan. My mission is to create a community of like minded vegans to go forth in creating a better and brighter world for humans, animals and the planet. Just like Gandhi once said: “The greatness of a nation and it’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Gandhi

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