What is vitamin B12, why is it crucial for vegans, where it can be sourced, and the role of supplements in maintaining optimal health.
Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you decide to go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. I always share the products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. Your support gives me an opportunity to run my blog full-time and keep providing more content. I really appreciate your help.
In recent years, veganism has gained immense popularity due to its numerous health and environmental benefits. A vegan diet is primarily plant-based and excludes all animal products, which can be a fantastic way to improve your overall well-being. However, there is one essential nutrient that vegans must pay extra attention to – vitamin B12. In this blog post, I will explain what vitamin B12 is, why it’s crucial for vegans, where it can be sourced, and the role of supplements in maintaining optimal health.
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a pivotal role in the functioning of our bodies. Vitamin B12 is made by micro-organisms and It is responsible for various essential processes, including the formation of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. B12 is unique among the B vitamins because it is not naturally present in plant-based foods, making it a vital nutrient for vegans to actively seek out.
Why is Vitamin B12 Important for Vegans?
- Avoiding Deficiency: Since B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods, vegans are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency. A B12 deficiency can lead to a range of health issues, including anemia, fatigue, neurological problems, and even irreversible nerve damage if left untreated.
- Long-term Health: Ensuring an adequate intake of B12 is crucial for long-term health and vitality. Neglecting this nutrient can have serious consequences, so it’s essential for vegans to be proactive in meeting their B12 needs.
Where to Get Vitamin B12 on a Vegan Diet
- Fortified Foods: Many plant-based foods are now fortified with B12, making it easier for vegans to meet their daily requirements. These include plant-based milk alternatives (such as almond, soy, or oat milk), breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, and meat substitutes. Always check the product labels to confirm the B12 content. To get an adequate dose of b12 consume a serving of b12-fortified foods three times a day (at each meal), containing at least 4.5mcg.
- Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is a popular staple in vegan kitchens. It not only adds a cheesy flavour to dishes but also contains B12. Sprinkle it on popcorn, pasta, or salads for an extra nutritional boost. Try my tomato and asparagus pasta and loaded fries recipes featuring nutritional yeast.
- Supplements: When it comes to ensuring a consistent and reliable source of B12, supplements are often the most practical solution for vegans. Vitamin B12 supplements are widely available over the counter and come in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, and sublingual (under the tongue) drops. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the right dosage for you.
Try this Loaded fries recipe that features nutritional yeast as an ingredient
Supplementing with Vitamin B12
Types of B12 Supplements
There are two types of B12 supplements – Cyanocobalamin and Methylcobalamin.
This is a synthetic form of vitamin B12 (cobalamin). It is one of the most commonly used and widely available forms of B12 in dietary supplements and fortified foods. Cyanocobalamin is created by attaching a cyanide molecule to cobalamin, forming a stable compound.
When you consume cyanocobalamin, your body has the ability to convert it into the active forms of vitamin B12 which are methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin. These active forms are used in various biochemical processes within the body.
Cyanocobalamin is chosen for supplements and fortified foods because it is relatively stable. It also has a longer shelf life compared to the active forms of B12. However, some people prefer to use supplements containing methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin directly. They believe these forms may be more readily absorbed by the body. Individuals with specific medical conditions, such as certain types of neuropathy, may also be advised by healthcare professionals to use specific forms of B12 supplements.
Unlike cyanocobalamin, which is a synthetic form of B12, methylcobalamin occurs naturally in some foods and is considered a more bioactive and readily absorbable form of B12.
This form of vitamin B12 is less stable.
Where to get your B12 supplements from?
There are so many different supplements on the market nowadays and to make this easier for you, I want to share my favourite vegan vitamin b12 supplements that I trust. I’ve been using Dr. Vegan for quite some time now and not just for B12 but for other supplements as well.
Dr.Vegan supplements are led by science, and formulated by doctors, specialists, and expert nutritionists. All their supplements are made in the UK and delivered in 100% plastic-free and certified home-compostable packaging.
In case you wish to order your vegan B12 from Dr.Vegan, you will receive Free UK delivery on orders over £10 through your letterbox in plastic-free and recyclable packaging with a unique, stylish refillable pill tin for free with first purchase. (As per the image below.)
The recommended daily intake of B12 for adults is typically around 2.4 micrograms (mcg). However, the optimal dosage may vary based on individual needs and health conditions.
To get an adequate dose of B12 through food, consume a serving of B12-fortified foods three times a day (at each meal), containing at least 4.5mcg.
Supplementing b12 is the best option to make sure you get enough of this vitamin – consume at least 25mcg cyanocobalamin daily or 2000mcg weekly as chewables, sublingual, or liquid supplements taken on an empty stomach.
Those over 65 years of age should take at least 1,000 mcg (µg) cyanocobalamin every day.
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient that vegans must pay close attention to in order to maintain their health and well-being. While it’s true that plant-based diets offer numerous health benefits, being mindful of nutrient deficiencies is crucial.
Incorporating B12-fortified foods and supplements into your diet, along with regular monitoring, can help vegans ensure they are meeting their B12 requirements and enjoy all the benefits of a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. Remember, when it comes to your health, knowledge and proactive choices are your greatest allies.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this website, thymewithtina.com is for information only. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
Additional References: Department of Health, 41 Dietary Reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom, The Vegan Society, vegansociety.com, British Nutrition Foundation, nutrition.org.uk
You might also like:
- Vitamin B12 for Vegans And Why Is It Important?
- Vegan food guide to Croatia (2023)
- High-End Vegan-Friendly Restaurants in London
- Best Vegan-friendly Sushi Restaurants in London
- Top 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in London (2023)