How to get B12 as a vegan has to be the number one question we receive! B12 is found in animal products and so vegans do not come across it as easily as those who eat meat. It’s worth being aware of this as you really do need it in your diet.
Although we can thrive on a plant based diet (don’t worry) many vegans take vitamin B12 supplementation which we will come onto in a moment, but B12 can be found in many fortified foods as well. Let’s start off with the basics and find out exactly what vitamin B12 is and what its function is in the human body.
If you are new to veganism and need any other tips, we have everything from a how to go Vegan guide, free meal plans, and beginner grocery lists that you can check out.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that protects our nervous system and keeps our DNA material inside its cell (Office of Dietary Supplements, 2019). It also helps to prevent anaemia, specifically mesoblastic anaemia. Red blood cells can become too big and not function properly when there is a b12 deficency.
Symptoms of a B12 Deficiency
Those lacking in B12 may experience tiredness, weakness and general lethargy. If a B12 deficiency affects the nervous system, symptoms such as tingling in the hands and feet may occur. This can lead to damage of the nervous system and so it is extremely important to ensure you are getting enough B12 in your diet as a vegan.
Nervous system damage is really serious so we have got to make sure we are looking after our body. A plant based diet is more than suffice in many ways and as I mentioned you can get B12 through food, it’s just one of those vitamins that could be missed if we don’t ensure we are getting enough.
How Much B12 do I need?
Everyone is different when it comes to B12. Especially if you have any other conditions that may hinder your absorption of B12. However the National Institute of Health say the following amounts of B12 is the recommended daily amount by age and circumstance:
|Up to 6mths||0.4mcg|
|7 to 12 mths||0.5mcg|
|1 to 3 yo||0.9mcg|
|4 to 8 yo||1.2mcg|
|9 to 13 yo||1.8mcg|
|14 to 18 yo||2.4mcg|
|Pregnant teens & women||2.6mcg|
|Breastfeeding teens & Women||2.8mcg|
You can keep a food diary to begin with to check how much B12 you are consuming. Like we mentioned previously, everyones absorption will differ and so it’s worth finding out if you are getting sufficient amounts.
Home B12 Testing Kit
You can ask your doctor to take a blood test and check your B12 levels but you can also do a home testing if you want something convenient. There are a tonne of options on the market but the best and most widely recognised is ‘Lets Get Checked’.
They actually test for tonnes of health conditions, from sexually transmitted disease testing, to women and mens health.
You will need to prick your finger for a few drops of blood. Very similar to how a diabetic would test their sugar level. It’s not painful, you just need to make sure you have a clean finger, that is not freezing cold, otherwise you’ll struggle to get the sample.
It’s really very simple and something worth considering if you are concerned you are not getting enough B12 in your diet.
Find out your B12 status by getting a kit. You can also check a tonne of other vitamin levels. They offer a complete essential vitamins test.
Once you’ve taken the test, you just need to send it back in the provided packaging. I found this company incredible efficient, I received the pack really quickly after ordering it.
B12 Rich Foods
The good news is there are a tonne of foods you could already be eating that may be fortified in vitamin B12. Make sure to check the labels and cross examine with your recommended daily allowance.
I personally get a reasonable amount of B12 in my diet through the following products:
Vegan Oat Milk
I am a big fan of Oatly milk. Although the barista one is intended for coffee and tea, we also use it on cereals too! The creamy consistency is just so good! You can see our full guide to vegan milks here.
And obviously since we are on the subject of B12, this product has 0.38ug in 100 mls. So a standard glass of milk or there about would be 30% of your recommended daily allowance of B12.Check out prices of Oatly here.
Nutritional Yeast (NOOCH)
Nutritional yeast flakes or NOOCH as it’s sometimes referred to is a great addition to any meal. I literally sprinkle this gold on all of my food. It does give a nutty flavour to food and as mentioned, it’s in so many different vegan recipes.
You need to ensure you pick up the fortified one, as they don’t all have B12 additive. All of the brands differ when it comes to the amount of B12 you can find in a serving. For example one particular brand has 2.2mcg per 5g serving. That is almost the full required amount for an adult per day.
Check out prices of NOOCH.
Marmite is a British food that is most commonly used as a spread on bread or stirred into soups. It is a nutritional yeast spread that is quite pungent in flavour. I can personally say I am a BIG FAN of marmite.
Luckily, it is available in the US on amazon. It is very much an acquired taste, you either love it or hate, there is no in between. Marmite lovers are generally addicted to it, so watch out for your new food obsession! It has a tonne of health properties and contains high amounts of B12 in just one serving.
Check out prices of Marmite here.
Vegan Cereals With B12
So many cereals nowadays are fortified with B12, oh and they are plant based (of course). Here’s a few:Corn Flakes Weetabix Cheerios
Many vegans will say in order to make sure you are getting exactly what you need, it’s best to take a vitamin supplement that contains B12.
Although I am happy that I am eating good amounts B12, it is a bit of a job to make sure I am hitting the required amount every single day, especially since I am watching my kids diets as well.
For this reason, we all take a supplement. There are a tonne out there, however the Solimo timed release one for adults has a lot of positive reviews.Click her for Solimo B12 prices.
If you have little ones, they may need supplementation if they are vegans as well. My kids don’t mind taking it too much, they generally taste good to kids!
Check out the prices of Burst B12 for kids here.
We hope you found this article useful. Before you go, make sure to check out our vegan recipes. We specialise in all things lunches.
Disclaimer: This post is not intended as medical advice, please speak to your medical practitioner if you have a concern.
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