Looking for vegan sources of vitamin B12? You’re in the right place!
It seems that as soon as someone finds out you’re a vegan they suddenly become super concerned with your diet and nutritional needs…
“But how do you get enough protein?”
“Humans need meat to survive”
“You need proper food for all those outdoor pursuits”
“Eating too much fruit and vegetables is bad for you”
We’ve heard it all before, and you probably have too. Especially when it comes to your B12 intake, boy do they suddenly seem worried about a b12 deficiency. They are right in being concerned though, B12 is mighty crucial and it’s one of the few things which isn’t as naturally occurring in vegan foods. There are still more than enough tasty options to keep your vitamin levels topped up so check through this post and make sure you’re getting your B12 fix!
Disclaimer: Products listed in this article are vegan at the time of writing however this may change over time as ingredients and manufacturing changes.
What is vitamin B12 and why is it so important?
Vitamin B12 is one of the eight essential vitamins your body needs to stay in tip-top shape, but why exactly is it so important?
It helps your body fight fatigue, whilst keeping your nerve and blood cells healthy so they can produce DNA. Not getting enough B12 in your diet can cause a deficiency and possible further health problems such as anaemia and heart disease.
Energy – B12 aids the production of red blood cells which carry oxygen all around our bodies and give us the energy to take on the day ahead.
Digestion – B12 supports healthy digestion and the absorption of vital nutrients.
Stress – B12 also contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system which can reduce levels of stress and anxiety.
An active lifestyle – Bottom line is: if you want to maintain an active lifestyle filled with adventure you need to have the right amount of vitamin B12.
Unfortunately, we don’t naturally produce B12 and so we have to get it from the foods in our diet. Plus, the less frequently you consume B12 the more you’re body will be craving it – it’s important to take in small amounts regularly as part of a balanced diet. Don’t panic if you don’t think you’re getting enough – deficiency symptoms take a long time to show- just slowly start to introduce more vegan B12 sources into your diet.
Is B12 more important for vegans?
This is a common misconception. B12 is important for vegans, omnivores, straight carnivores and everything in between – we all need it to survive. However, meat, dairy and seafood are particularly high in B12 and as we vegans opt for a cruelty-free diet, it’s important to get our recommended dosage from other sources.
How much vitamin B12 do you need?
For your average person, consuming 3mcg of B12 is enough, though more might be needed if you’re older or have other health issues. It’s also important to note, as herbivores, we’re often told to pay particular attention to vegan foods high in protein and also B12. Whilst they’re both important, it’s most important to have a balanced diet. Don’t just get your daily dose of B12 and protein from a block of tofu and then spend the rest of the day eating chips!
Unfortunately, B12 isn’t naturally found in vegan food… but don’t worry!
Vitamin B12 used to occur naturally on the surface of root vegetables such as beetroot and potatoes as well as in drinking water. Nowadays with the increase of pesticides and chemicals being used in food production, this is no longer the case. Damn chemicals.
B12 is produced naturally by certain bacteria and also in the colon of humans and other animals. So what is the problem I hear you ask? We produce it in our colon, located downstream from our small intestine, which unfortunately means we are unable to absorb this vital vitamin.
Animals, however, store vitamin B12 in their liver and muscles then passing it through to their eggs and milk. Humans thus get the vitamin by eating these parts of the animal – gross & cruel yes!
Do not fear, us ethical eaters can still easily get our recommended intake from B12 fortified foods and drinks. Check out the B12 vegan food list below for lots of tasty ideas!
The Best Vegan Foods with B12
1. Vegan cereal with B12
It’s a popular breakfast choice for people across the globe and why wouldn’t it be as it’s packed full of B12 goodness. Vegan fortified cereal is a great way to get your daily intake before you’ve even left your house in the morning. Do read the label though as some brands pack more B12 than others. Some of these brands include;
- Some Kelloggs cerals are vegan and have added B12
- General Mills Multi Grain Cheerios
A lot of supermarkets also do their own brands of fortified cereals so be sure to take a look when you’re doing your weekly shop. Also, be sure to check the sugar content as some cereals contain as much sugar as your average dessert!
2. B12 Fortified Vegan Milk
The perfect accompaniment to your B12 rich cereal is fortified milk. Many plant-based milks have added B12 which makes getting your recommended intake that much easier. You can add milk to your tea throughout the day or to recipes and before you know it you’ve got all the B12 you need without even having to try.
Many plant-based milks are fortified with B12 from soy to almond, cashew to coconut. The most environmentally friendly options are soy, oat or rice milk – so these are the ones we like. Altogether, this means a bowl of cereal in the morning can be one of the best b12 sources vegans can eat.
Whether you love it or hate it, Marmite is a great go-to choice if you want to up your B12 intake. Personally I love it and often find myself overloading sauces or smothering toast with the stuff. I have even been known to eat spoonfuls straight from the jar much to J’s disgust… Marmite is rich with B12 so tuck in and don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thing!
Outdoors fact: unfortunately it’s a common myth that mosquitoes don’t like marmite or people that eat it. Damn.
4. B12 Enriched Vegan Cheese
If you’re a fan of vegan cheese, we’ve got some good news: brands like Daiya actually have their cheese fortified with added B12 – woohoo – mac and cheese all round! Each serving (1/3 of the package) has 20 percent of the daily recommendation for calcium and vitamin B12 so you can tuck in guilt-free, almost.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Without a doubt, this is our favourite vegan food with B12. We add it to pretty much everything, it’s cheap, lightweight and is really useful to take on backpacking or camping trips. I think we hit our B12 with this stuff alone…
With a nutty, cheesy taste that gives dishes a further depth of flavour with use it in everything (we’re not kidding!). A lot of people use it in sauces and recipes but the folks at Mari Gold also suggest putting it on fruit, cereals and salads – the possibilities are endless!
6. Tofu or Tempeh
Another one of our absolute favourites! Tofu and tempeh are awesome ways to get more B12 into your vegan diet. Every brand is different so be sure to read the labels to be certain of how much it has each has per serving. We cook A LOT of tofu and tempeh at home and even take blocks on camping trips. Not only is it great B12 food, but it’s also a complete vegan protein source – winning!
7. B12 Enriched Drinks
It’s not just foods with B12, drinks have them too, with a number of brands now packing loads of added nutrients into their drinks. Sunshine drinks are infused with blueberries and you guessed it B12. Each can has 50 milligrams of caffeine and 100% of your daily vitamin B12 intake. You can quench your thirst with one of these drinks to give you B12 and a caffeine boost at only 60 calories.
B12 Supplements for Vegans
Whilst some prefer getting their nutrients from food, a B12 supplement can also be a good option if you don’t think you’re getting the right amount. This normally comes in the form of tablets and the B12 nutrient itself is completely vegan. As it’s generally aimed at vegans you don’t often have to worry about a gelatine coating and most of the time it’s pretty cheap.
The amount of B12 in each supplement will vary; some are intended to have daily, whilst others might be once a week. Take a read on the packaging to make sure you’re having the right amount at the right time.
Do you know of any other vitamin B12 foods for vegans? Let us know in the comments below!
Your Guide to the Best Vegan Foods with B12
So there you have it conscious consumers, some easy and downright delicious ways to get your recommended intake of vitamin B12 for vegans. We hope you’ve found this post helpful so you too can ensure you’re getting your daily intake. If all else fails there are multi-vitamins on the market that you can take daily, weekly or monthly and you need not worry about the ‘malnourished vegan’ comments ever again.
Now when someone asks you what B12 foods vegan people can eat you’ll know exactly what to say!