For a while now, critics of the vegan diet have complained about the vegan diets’ ability to provide protein and Vitamin B12.
We know the argument that ‘vegans don’t get enough protein’ is just a myth, and has been debunked over and over again… but what about Vitamin B12?
After all, Vitamin B12 is abundant in many animal-based sources of protein such as
- Red Meat (Beef, Lamb)
- Seafood and Shellfish
- Dairy Products (Yogurt, Cheese)
But what about us herbivores?
Are we left to suffer a lifelong crippling Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Let’s dive into the world of B12, and see how us vegans can get plenty of B12!
What Is Vitamin B12?
B12 is an essential part of the human body’s function.
The main job of Vitamin B12 is to aid in the development of our brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and creation of our DNA.
Wow, that seems like some pretty important stuff…
That’s because it is!
Your body needs Vitamin B12 in order to properly function and develop into a healthy human. Like many other essential vitamins and minerals, B12 is necessary.
And trust me when I say, you do not want a Vitamin B12 deficiency…
What Is The RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) Of Vitamin B12?
For adults, the RDI of Vitamin B12 is 2.4mcg.
That’s micrograms, not milligrams.
That certainly not a whole lot of B12, but you must be sure to obtain it.
What Symptoms Can You Suffer If You Have A Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
If you’re questioning your Vitamin B12 levels, and you suffer from these symptoms, it’s entirely possible that you have a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Pale or Light Skin: If your skin seems lighter than usual and you’re not sick, you might be deficient.
Fatigue: Lacking Vitamin B12 will cause a drop in production of red blood cells. With less blood cells moving around your body, you receive less oxygen to your brain and your muscles. This leads to tiredness and fatigue
Feeling Out Of Breath: For the exact same reason as fatigue, your body is not getting enough oxygen.
Brain Fog: If you’ve ever had brain, you know what I’m talking about. Almost like a cloud is shrouding up your thoughts and vision. Feeling like you’re lost.
Pain: If you suffer from aches and pains, or pins and needles, it could be due to the lack of red blood cells.
Mood/Energy Changes: This might be some of the most common symptoms. The scary thing is, Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked with brain illnesses like Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Scary stuff…
Of course, the only way to truly determine if you are deficient is with a blood test.
Don’t just assume you have a B12 deficiency. There’s a whole lot of medical issues that can be causing your symptoms.
The only true way is to get tested and speak with a professional.
Please consult with your medical doctor and do not self-diagnose yourself.
Should I Take A Vitamin B12 Supplement?
In the case that you are deficient in Vitamin B12, a quick fix will be to take a daily supplement.
Here’s the interesting thing about B12 supplements. Your body will actually take what’s needed, and forget about the rest. Most of the supplement won’t be absorbed.
Many supplements will offer ‘500mcg’ of Vitamin B12 per serving. But you’ll be lucky if your body absorbs more than 10mcg.
That’s because your body only really takes what it needs. After that, the rest will just be discarded as waste and pass through with the rest of your urine.
And since adults only need about 2.5 micrograms, the rest will be sent down the toilet.
If you’re vegan and do suffer from a Vitamin B12 deficiency, consider changing up your diet to accommodate B12. If you are still having trouble, then yes, you should certainly take a B12 supplemental pill every morning.
Where Do Omnivores Get Their B12?
If you eat meat, getting your daily intake of Vitamin B12 isn’t too difficult.
Most animal-based/meat sources of protein contain a good deal of the nutrient.
Foods like red meat, seafood, and eggs all have good amounts of Vitamin B12 that add up throughout the day to give you plenty of good ole’ B12.
Plant-Based Sources High In Vitamin B12
Now to the real question. Where do vegans get their Vitamin B12 from?
After all, much of this nutrient is found in non-vegan sources of protein!
But turns out there are a few plant-based sources you can acquire the nutrient from:
Plant-Based Milks: Plant-based milks are the best way for us vegans to get that much needed B12. Look for the fortified plant-based milks! These should have your daily RDI of B12 in 1 cup! Fortified almond milk contains 3mcg (micrograms) of the Vitamin B12 per cup. Regular almost milk contains about .6mcg of B12. For comparison, beef has only half that (1.5mcg) per 3oz. Consuming one or two cups of regular almond milk throughout the day is ideal to get some Vitamin B12 and will bring to around 50% RDI! Soy milk contains about 1.2mcg of B12. Other plant-based milks such as coconut, and hemp milk also have plenty of B12 as well!
Nutritional Yeast: This nutty and delicious spice is packed with over 3 grams of protein per tablespoon as well as a ton of Vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast can be added to almost anything. Shakes, smoothies, salads, vegetables, tofu, you name it! One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains about 5mcg of Vitamin B12. That’s over double the daily intake for adults!
Soy: For those think consuming soy is the plague, think again. There are so many benefits to consuming this wonderful food. Complete protein, lowers risk of heart disease, lowers risk of breast cancer, and yes… gives you a supplement of Vitamin B12 as well.
Cereal: Lots of plant-based cereals now contain a dose of Vitamin B12. But you have to look carefully. Similar to plant-based milks, look for the “fortified” versions of cereals. These are the ones that will carry the most of the essential vitamin.
Yes, vegans can get plenty of Vitamin B12.
You just have to watch your diet, like everyone else in this world.
Consume plenty of healthy and organic plant-based milk throughout the day and you’re sure to be fine!
If you really worry about having a deficiency, speak with your doctor and jump on a Vitamin B12 supplement!
Other than that, cheers and happy vegan-ing!