How Do Vegans Get Enough B12 on a Plant-Based Diet?

How Do Vegans Get Enough B12 on a Plant-Based Diet?

Vitamin B12 is one of the most crucial nutrients your body needs.

It performs several chemical and metabolic functions, such as DNA and RBC formation, ensuring healthy brain function and good nerve tissue health.

Therefore, consuming an adequate amount of vitamin B12 each day is important.

While foods such as fish, red meat, eggs, liver, poultry, and dairy products contain the highest amounts of vitamin B12, they're something vegans cannot consume for obvious reasons.

Then, how do vegans get B12 on a plant-based diet? Read along to find out.

Yes, vitamin B12 is majorly in non-vegan foods, but that doesn't mean a plant-based diet completely lacks it.

This blog talks about seven vegan and plant-based food sources of vitamin B12 that you can rely on to ensure adequate intake and prevent the vitamin B12 deficiency.

You'll also find easy ways to include vitamin B12-rich foods in your diet. So, read in full.

What if you Don't Take Enough B12?

Inadequate intake of vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which is often characterized by the following:

  • Anemia 
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Difficulty in thinking and reasoning
  • Weakness or Fatigue
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Swollen or inflamed tongue 

What is the Recommended Intake of Vitamin B12?

According to NIH, adults and teens above 14 years of age should take 2.4micrograms of Vitamin B12 every day. However, pregnant women can go for 2.6 mcg, while lactating women can have 2.8 mcg of B12 daily. 

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin B12

Helps Prevent and Treat Depression

Vitamin B12 is known to improve mood and release stress. It synthesizes and metabolizes serotonin, a chemical responsible for improving mood. However, its deficiency can sometimes lead to clinical depression. Fortunately, by consuming B12 in the right doses, you can prevent that from happening.

Helps With Pregnancy Health

Having deficiency at the early stages of pregnancy in women can affect the child's health, leading to neural tube birth effects and even low birth weight. However, adequate levels of B12 can ensure a healthy pregnancy, childbirth, and healthy development of a baby's brain and spinal cord.

Reduces the Risk of Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration is an eye disease that particularly affects the center of the vision. It is a type of vision loss that occurs gradually and is common among people over 50 years of age. Consuming B12 supplements or foods rich in B12 can lower the homocysteine in the bloodstream, further lowering the risk of macular degeneration.

Improves Heart Health

B12 deficiency can increase the level of homocysteine, eventually leading to circulatory health problems. However, by consuming vitamin B12, you can lower the homocysteine and thus improve your heart health. 

Let's learn how do vegans get B12.

7 Vegan Foods Rich in Vitamin B12 

1.    Mushrooms

Mushrooms like parasol mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, black morsel, and oyster mushrooms are some species that consist of B12 traces. Other species, like the Black trumpet and Golden Chanterelle, have higher amounts of B12. However, dried shiitake mushrooms are the richest and the most beneficial in terms of Vitamin B12 amounts, making them a great plant-based B12 source for vegans and vegetarians. 


How Much Vitamin B12 Do Mushrooms Provide?

  • Porcini and Parasol Mushrooms consist of 0.09μg per 100grams of dry weight. 
  • Black Trumpet and Golden Chanterelle consist of 09-2.65μgper 100grams of dry weight
  • Dried shiitake mushrooms have the highest B12 amount, which is 5.61μg per 100 grams of dry weight.

How Do Vegans Get B12 From Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are quite delicious and can be easily incorporated into many dishes. They give a great umami flavor. Therefore, you can use them in pasta dishes, risotto, and stir-fries. You can even have them as a quick snack.

2.    Nutritional Yeast 

Nutritional yeast is a perfect option for vegans looking for a reliable B12 source. Once you enter the world of veganism, you will use them a lot. It is a form of deactivated yeast similar to the one people use to make bread. But the only difference is that it is deactivated. It is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and high-quality protein, along with Vitamin B12. 


How Much Vitamin B12 Does Nutritional Yeast Provide?

16 grams or around 1.5 tbsps. of nutritional yeast can provide 24mcg of Vitamin B12

How Do Vegans Get B12 From Nutritional Yeast?

You can sprinkle yeast on the top of your salad or other foods, like seasoning, mix it into mashed potatoes or cheese sauce, add it to pasta dishes, or stir it into a creamy soup. 

3.    Tempeh 

Tempeh is one of the best-fermented foods (made from fermented soybeans) that benefits your digestive health and is a good source of vitamin B12. It's a soy-based food that is majorly used as an alternative to meat by vegans.

Soybeans do not have B12 Vitamin, but the amount of B12 found in Tempeh is produced during fermentation. Apart from being a great source of B12, Tempeh also reduces the risk of cancer, improves heart health, and manages menopause symptoms.


How Much Vitamin B12 Does Tempeh Provides?

There is about 14.8 mcg of Vitamin B12 per 100 grams of Tempeh.

How Do Vegans Get B12 From Tempeh?

Tempeh is versatile and nutritious, and easy to incorporate into a diet. It is mostly seasoned to increase flavor and then crumbled, sauteed, or baked to add to a variety of dishes. You can also add it to wraps or sandwiches.

4.    Kombucha 

Kombucha is a pretty good source of Vitamin B12. It consists of several other varieties of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B6, and B12 in specific. The nutrients in it will keep your blood cells and nerves healthy and even prevent megaloblastic anemia. Kombucha tea is also a mood enhancer that will lighten your mood.


How Much Vitamin B12 Does Kombucha provide?

A cup (8 ounces) of Kombucha tea provides you with 100% of your recommended daily allowance of B12.

How Do Vegans Get B12 From Kombucha?

A little bit of Kombucha goes a long way. Therefore, you must drink not more than one or two cups of Kombucha a day. It is better to start slow as too much of it can affect your gut microbiome. You can opt for a Kombucha drink made of natural ingredients and pair it with pickled onions, seasonal sprouts, or pickles.

5.    Kimchi

Kimchi is a fermented food made of Korean cabbage, Mustard leaves, Yeolmu, etc. The Korean or Chinese Cabbage, one of the main ingredients of Kimchi, boasts vitamins like Vitamin B12, A, and C and over 34 amino acids, too.


How Much Vitamin B12 Does Kimchi Provide?

Kimchi consists of about 0.013 to 0.03 mcg of Vitamin B12 per 100 grams. 

How Do Vegans Get B12 from Kimchi?

There are plenty of recipes for making Kimchi at home. You can add whatever variations you like. The most important step in making the perfect Kimchi is keeping it in a cool place to ferment before the unwanted bacteria starts to grow. You can eat it as a side dish or pair it with some rice.

6.    Fortified Foods

You can always turn to fortified foods to get in some Vitamin B12. The most commonly found fortified foods are cereal, fortified juice, and milk alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, etc. These foods have added Vitamins like Vitamins D, E, A, B6, and B12. 

There are chances the nutrients in the fortified foods might get lost after cooking or storing them in certain ways. So, it is better to consult your nutritionist to advise you on the best ways of storing and cooking them so that the nutrient content remains intact and you get all the benefits.  


How Much Vitamin B12 Do Fortified Foods Provide?

How Do Vegans Get B12 From Fortified Foods?

You can always pair fortified cereals with some fortified juice or fortified soy milk and consume them whenever you like.

7.    B12 Supplements 

Yet another answer to how do vegans get B12 is via vegan supplements. There are several vitamin B12 supplements in the market you can rely on. Most of the time, vegan supplements are made using natural plant-based ingredients. So, they're generally safe for consumption.  

However, several things must be considered before choosing the right multivitamin or supplement for your body. For instance, several medications might cause a problem if mixed up with a supplement. That is why you must consult your healthcare advisor before you take any supplement to boost your nutrient intake.

The amount of B12 in each supplement will vary. Some are meant to be taken daily, while some are done weekly. 

Wrapping Up

Now that you know how do vegans get B12 on a plant-based diet, it's time to include all these delicious foods in your routine. While it can be hard initially, especially if you're a newly turned vegan, you'll eventually get the hang of it. And in case you're wondering how do vegans get protein or how do vegans get calcium or iron, you can check out our other blogs (please interlink out other blogs here).


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