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Vitamin B-12 plays an essential role in a person’s health. A lack of vitamin B-12 in a person’s diet can adversely affect their physical and mental health.
Vegetarians and vegans must take particular care to consume enough vitamin B-12, as it is mainly found in meat, eggs, and dairy products. Therefore, it is more likely a vegan or vegetarian will develop a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
In this article, we look at how much vitamin B-12 is required and list good vegetarian and vegan sources.
List of B-12 foods for vegetarians
For vegetarians looking to increase their vitamin B12 intake, there are a variety of options.
Studies have found that consuming these foods does not significantly increase a person’s vitamin B-12 levels and can still lead to a deficiency.
A vegetarian should be sure to consume enough of the following foods on a regular basis. It is vital to understand how much vitamin B-12 these foods contain:
8 ounces (oz) of yogurt contains about 1.1 mcg of vitamin B-121 cup of low-fat milk can provide 1.2 mcg of vitamin B-121 oz of Swiss cheese can contain 0.95 mcg of vitamin B-121 large egg contains 0.6 mcg of vitamin B-12
Fortified cereals are a good choice as they have high bioavailability. This means that the vitamin B-12 does not have to break down before the body absorbs it.
Nutritional yeast is popular with both vegetarians and vegans because it is easy to add to dishes while cooking and has a rich, cheesy, nutty flavor. Nutritional yeast can be added to cooked meals or sprinkled on food and snacks. It is available to buy online.
To use nutritional yeast, a person can:
sprinkle it on popcornmix it into cheese saucesmix it into mashed potatoessprinkle over scrambled eggs or tofustir into a creamy soupadd to pasta dishesput it on salads
B-12 foods for vegans
Because vegans avoid all animal-derived products, they may rely on vitamin B-12 fortified foods, such as certain breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast.
For those who are already B-12 deficient, supplemental B-12 in the form of capsules or injections may be required. B-12 supplements are available to buy online.
For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.
Vitamin B-12 health benefits
Share on PinterestFortified cereals and non-dairy milks provide a plant-based source of vitamin B-12.
Ensuring a person includes enough vitamin B-12 in their diet is essential for optimum health. The health benefits of the vitamin include:
the formation and division of red blood cellsprotecting the nervous systemsynthesizing a person’s DNAproviding the body with energy
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of B-12 depends on a person’s age:
Adults and teenagers: 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per dayChildren between 9 and 13 years old: 1.8 mcg per dayChildren between 4 and 8 years old: 1.2 mcg per dayToddlers between 1 and 3 years old: 0.9 mcg per day
Infants between 7 and 12 months old require 0.5 mcg of B-12 per day, and babies less than 6 months old only need 0.4 mcg per day.
Pregnant women require 2.6 mcg, while breast-feeding women need 2.8 mcg per day.
B-12 deficiency symptoms
A vitamin B-12 deficiency can have severe consequences for a person’s health.
The doctor will ask about their symptoms and perform tests to determine whether a lack of vitamin B-12 is the cause.
Vegetarians and vegans should take steps to ensure they include an adequate amount of vitamin B-12 in their diet. Health professionals can provide advice on where to find sources of vitamin B-12 and how much they need to take.
Without maintaining proper levels of vitamin B-12, a person can suffer serious side effects, including nerve damage and depression.
Since no plant-derived foods contain vitamin B-12, vegans and vegetarians should be aware of alternative sources, such as fortified products.