Vitamin B Complex vs B12: Comprehensive Guide for Vegans

How Do Vegans Get B12 Without Supplements

Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutrients our body needs to survive. Unlike many other vitamins that deal with one of two bodily functions, vitamin B12 works from your brain to your gut – keeping everything healthy.

What is Vitamin B Complex?

The class of vitamin B plays an essential role in the synthesis of red blood cells and cell metabolism. There are multiple vitamins in this class that share similar names, but they are individual distinct compounds, such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, etc.

B vitamins are all water-soluble. Many of them are widely known as their names and not by numbers, like biotin, folate, niacin, and pantothenic acid.

Benefits of Vitamin B Complex

Benefits of Vitamin B Complex

The whole vitamin B complex has many important roles to play in our body. Such as –

  • Improving cell health
  • Enhancing energy level
  • Making brain function healthy
  • Improving healthy appetite
  • Producing cholesterol and hormones
  • Toning muscles
  • Elevating the growth of red blood cells
  • Making your eyesight good
  • Refine your digestion
  • Making nerve function proper
  • Upgrading cardiovascular health

Roles of vitamin B in women

Vitamin B complex is very important for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding. They take part in a child’s brain development process and decrease the chances of birth defects.

Roles of vitamin B in men

The natural testosterone levels in men get reduced with age. Vitamin B helps to elevate that level. They may also play a very important role in muscle and strength building in men.

Types of Vitamin B

There are eight types of vitamin B, which are essential for different functions of our body.

Types of Vitamin B Complex

Thiamin helps in converting glucose into energy. It also plays a significant role in nerve function.

Riboflavin produces energy and helps make your skin and eyesight good.

Niacin converts fat, carbohydrates, and alcohol into energy. It supports the digestive and nervous system.

Pantothenic Acid metabolizes proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol. It also produces steroid hormones and red blood cells.

Pyridoxine supports carbohydrate and protein metabolism. It helps in the formation of red blood cells and the development of the immune function.

Biotin supports fat synthesis, energy metabolism, glycogen synthesis, and amino acid metabolism. Devoid of eggs, the vegan diet can be deficient in biotin. Hence it is advisable that vegans supplement with biotin capsules.

Folate takes part in forming red blood cells. It develops the fetal nervous system, cell growth, as well as DNA synthesis.

B12 is a water-soluble vitamin and is also popularly known as Cobalamin. Vitamin B12 produces as well as maintains myelin, which surrounds the nerve cells. It also plays a huge part in the formation of red blood cells.

Difference betweeen B Complex and B12

Vitamin B ComplexVitamin B12
TypesVitamin B Complex is a water soluble vitamin which comprises of eight types of vitamin B, which are essential for different functions of our body.Vitamin B12 is one of the eight B Complex vitamins. B12 is also water-soluble vitamin and is also popularly known as Cobalamin.
DeficiencyVitamin B Complex is not a common type of deficiency in vegans.Vitamin B12 is the most common type of vitamin deficiency in vegans.
SupplementsThey may contain all the eight vitamin B complex in one or individual vitamin B supplementsVitamin B12 are of 4 types, the most stable form of vitamin B12 is Cyanocobalamin. B12 suppplement come in many forms, be it chewable tablets or liquid supplement
BenefitsVitamin B complex plays an essential role in the synthesis of red blood cells and cell metabolism. Also boosts immune system, enhanced energy levels and supports cardiovascular health.B12 is crucial in the normal functioning of the brain & the nervous system. Also regulates the formation of red blood cells & DNA as well. It supports bone health, prevents osteoporosis & also boost energy

Vitamin B complex plays an essential role in the synthesis of red blood cells and cell metabolism. There are multiple vitamins in this class that share similar names, but they are individual distinct compounds, such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, etc.

Whereas B12 supplement is one of the eight B Complex vitamins. 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, how to get b12 as a vegan, natural sources of b12, common myths related to it, how much b12 should a vegan take, vitamin b12 foods for vegans and how can you consume this if you are on a vegan diet. So, let’s delve into the article ‘vegan sources of vitamin b12 without supplement’ without further delay.

How much B12 should a Vegan Take?

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. 

Anyone on a strict vegan diet, however, should take 250 mcg per day of a vegan B12 supplement since they are at a higher developing b12 deficiencies.

AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0-6 months*0.4 mcg0.4 mcg
7-12 months*0.5 mcg0.5 mcg
1-3 years0.9 mcg0.9 mcg
4-8 years 1.2 mcg1.2 mcg
9-13 years 1.8 mcg1.8 mcg
14+ years 2.4 mcg2.4 mcg2.6 mcg2.8 mcg

B12 Deficiency Symptoms

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deificiency

The signs and symptoms of b12 deficiency 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 of b12 deficiency like depression, memory problems, fatigue and confusion, constipation, weight loss and loss of appetite.

These vitamin b12 deficiency symptoms are not enough to diagnose your body. 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 signs of vitamin b12 deficiency 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

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 and B Complex

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. However, you need to identify the right type of oyster mushroom to get the required nutrition.

And after identifying the right mushroom you can prepare Oyster mushroom recipes with it. You should consume the vitamin b12 foods for vegans throughout your day as B12 is absorbed slowly in the body.

Non Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

Sources of Vitamin B12 for Non Vegans

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 sources 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. 

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. 

Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

Vegans Sources of Vitamin 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.

Vegan B12 Supplements are considered by specialists to be probably the most ideal approaches to get Vitamin B12. Multivitamin tablets and chewy candies are bottomless decisions, yet vegan B12 supplements are 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. Here are some vitamin b12 foods for vegans that they can take to avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency.

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.

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 rich in B12, 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.

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. 

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.

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 to find vitamin b12 foods for vegans 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 vitamin b12 foods for vegans. 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.

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