Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that keeps our metabolism running smoothly, maintains our brain health, and keeps our nervous system in check. Without it, we can experience fatigue, jitters, a slowed metabolism, nausea, tingling, and overall weakness.
The most common sources of vitamin B12 are eggs, red meat, and fish. Unfortunately, none of these foods are vegan. This means that vegans are more at risk to suffer from B12 deficiency than most people.
That being said, there are plenty of plant-based sources of vitamin B12. There are also vegan-friendly B12 supplements that are synthetically produced or come from plants.
You just have to know what you’re looking for and find easy ways of incorporating B12 into your diet.
In today’s post, I’m going to explain everything that you need to know about vitamin B12! I’ll show you some of the best plant-based sources of vitamin B12, the risks and symptoms associated with B12 deficiency, and show you some of the best vegan vitamin B12 supplements on the market.
It’s time to take your vitamins and take control of your health!
Is Vitamin B12 Vegan?
Vitamin B12, by itself, is 100% vegan. B12 has a complex molecular structure, making it the largest vitamin found in nature. The only problem is that some of the most concentrated sources of B12 are meat and animal products.
If you show up at your doctor’s appointment and they find out that you have a B12 deficiency, then they’ll typically recommend that you incorporate red meat or eggs in your diet a few times per week. Unfortunately, these aren’t vegan-friendly.
On the other hand, if you went to a vegan doctor, then they’d likely recommend several plant-based sources of B12, which I’ve outlined below.
Most of the vitamin B12 you find in commercial food products isn’t vegan either. For example, many mainstream brands of cereal or bread are fortified with animal-derived B12, making them non-vegan.
That’s why I always try to buy vegan cereal and bread, as they’re fortified with synthetic or plant-derived sources of B12!
Are There Plant-Based Sources Of Vitamin B12?
Yes! In fact, almost all plants contain at least some vitamin B12. However, certain plants contain a higher concentration of B12 than others.
For example, a handful of spinach or kale is way more nutritious than a handful of iceberg lettuce!
The Best Vegan Foods That Contain Vitamin B12
If you’re really deficient in vitamin B12, then you may need to take a concentrated B12 supplement. However, the best way to prevent yourself from becoming B12 deficient, in the first place, is to incorporate healthy B12-containing foods into your everyday diet.
Here’s a quick list of some of the best vegan foods that contain vitamin B12.
1) Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is one of the most concentrated vegan-friendly sources of vitamin B12! Depending on the brand, a single serving of nutritional yeast may contain upwards of 200% of your required daily value of B12.
Nutritional yeast is basically just the deactivated form of baker’s yeast. Nutritional yeast is fortified with added vitamins and minerals, making it an incredibly healthy supplement.
Nutritional yeast also happens to be a delicious vegan seasoning. It’s known for its cheesy, umami flavor and is commonly used as a base for vegan cheese or added to soups and salads.
Plus, it’s very affordable and widely available in most supermarkets.
2) Fortified Plant Milk
Instead of cow’s milk, vegans drink plant-based milk, such as:
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
- Cashew milk
- Oat milk
Plant milk is made by crushing nuts, soy, or oats and letting them sit in filtered water. Then, the mixture is filtered out into a milk-like beverage that has the same consistency as milk. You can even make your own at home:
While homemade oat milk or other plant milk are a decent source of vitamin B12, most store-bought plant milk is fortified with added vitamins and minerals. Vegan plant milk typically contains a healthy serving of plant-based or synthetically-derived B12.
Tempeh is one of my favorite foods and is an excellent source of vegan protein! It’s a traditional Indonesian dish that’s made from pressing dried, fermented soybeans into a thick bar. It’s a great source of natural probiotics, vitamins, and minerals.
Naturally, tempeh only has a small amount of vitamin B12. However, many of the best-selling brands of tempeh fortify their products with vegan-friendly B12.
Not only is seaweed 100% vegan but it’s also incredibly nutritious! Many species of seaweed are considered superfoods and contain many of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need, including vitamin B12.
5) Plant-Based Meat
Plant-based meat brands like Beyond Meat are all the rage right now. Plant meat is so popular that it’s even sold in Taco Bell, KFC, and Mcdonald’s!
Plant-based meat is typically made using a plant protein base, mixed with beans, legumes, dried veggies, and seasoning, making for a filling, protein-heavy meal.
Most plant-based meat companies also fortify their products with a vegan-friendly blend of vitamins and minerals, including B12. This allows vegans to get the same amount of vitamins and minerals as they would otherwise get from eating real meat!
Certain mushroom species can be an excellent source of B12. For example, 100 grams of shiitake mushrooms contain 5.6 micrograms of B12. Oyster mushrooms, parasol mushrooms, and porcini mushrooms are also excellent sources of B12.
It’s worth noting that mushrooms aren’t a complete source of B12. So you’d have to eat a lot of them to get your complete daily value of B12. However, when combined with other B12-containing foods like plant-based meat or nutritional yeast, you’ll have a B12-heavy meal.
What Happens When Your B12 Levels Are Low?
As I mentioned, vegans are at higher risk of becoming B12 deficient since they don’t consume meat. This is why it’s so important for vegans to supplement with vitamin B12!
Here are some of the most common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency:
- Chronic fatigue and constant tiredness
- Tingling or “fuzzy feeling” in the extremities
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble walking and balancing
- Nausea and dizziness
- Irritability and mood swings
People with a B12 deficiency may also experience short-term memory loss, as vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining your brain health.
B-Complex Supplements vs. Vitamin B12 Supplements: What’s Better?
If you’re looking for vegan vitamin B12 supplements, you’ll typically be able to choose between isolated B vitamins or a complete “B-Complex” supplement. Here are the key differences between the two so you can tell which is best for you:
|Vitamin B12 Supplement||B-Complex Supplement|
|Only contains vitamin B12.||Contains B12, along with other B vitamins, such as vitamins B3, B6, and others.|
|Typically contains a highly concentrated amount of B12. May contain up to 43,000% of your required daily value of B12.||Typically contains a more balanced level of B12 along with other B vitamins.|
|Designed to help those who are B12 deficient and need a concentrated supplement.||Designed for daily use to help maintain overall healthy B vitamin levels and prevent deficiency.|
The Best Vegan Vitamin B12 Supplements 2022
If you don’t have a vitamin B12 deficiency, then you’ll probably be just fine taking a B-complex supplement to help maintain healthy B vitamin levels.
However, if you’re deficient in B12 and experiencing symptoms, then your doctor may recommend that you take a more concentrated vitamin B12 supplement.
Here are some of the best vegan vitamin B12 supplements that you can use to boost your low B12 levels.
1) NATURELO Vegan B12 with Organic Spirulina (link)
A single capsule of Naturelo Vegan B12 contains 1,000 micrograms of B12, which is 41,667% of your required daily value. This makes it a highly concentrated supplement.
It’s also infused with spirulina. Spirulina is a natural superfood that’s a rich source of B vitamins as well as essential trace minerals like iron and copper.
I really appreciate the added spirulina in this supplement, which helps your body absorb it easier and provides it with a balanced dose of other healthy vitamins and minerals.
2) Global Healing Center Vegan-Safe B12 (link)
If you’re looking for an ultra-concentrated B12 supplement, then Global Healing Center’s Vegan-Safe B12 liquid is, by far, one of the most potent on the market! Each 1 ml serving contains 2,500 micrograms of B12, which accounts for 104,710% of your daily value.
The idea behind consuming it as a liquid (instead of a capsule) is that it’s absorbed more readily by your body. When taken sublingually (under the tongue) it can be directly absorbed by your body and skips the digestive process.
It also contains a blend of several energized trace minerals, which help your body absorb and process the B12 more efficiently.
The best way to prevent your body from becoming deficient in B12 is to consume a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fortified plant-based foods.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your vitamin intake, then you may want to consider taking a daily vegan B12 supplement instead.
Although it’s a rather controversial topic, some vegans (often known as “seagans”) support eating mussels and oysters, as they don’t have a central nervous system, making them closer to plants than animals.