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Vegan Foods That Are High in Vitamin B12

I'm not a full-fledged vegan by any means, but I'm up for trying a delicious animal-free meal every now and then. But even when going vegan on occasion, I can see how careful you must be when planning what to eat, including thinking carefully about nutrition.

Of course, since vegetables are the stars in a vegan diet, there's no lack of options that are chock-full of vitamins — except for ones only found in animal products, like vitamin B12. And while vitamin B12 deficiency is rare, the nutrient is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system as well as healthy blood cells, so it's important to get enough in your diet. Most women need 2.4 mcg of the vitamin a day (a little more if you are pregnant or breastfeeding).

Since the best sources of B12 come from meat, fish, eggs, and chicken, long-time vegans may need to look to other sources to make sure their levels of B12 stay full. Besides taking a vitamin supplement, which vegan-friendly foods are high in B12? Find out after the break.

  • It's not in tempeh. Contrary to what many people believe, fermented soy foods like tempeh and miso, as well as seaweed, are actually not good sources of vitamin B12, because the amount of the vitamin they do contain is inactive.
  • Think fortified foods. Lots of vegan-friendly products have been fortified with added vitamins, including vitamin B12. A cup of Silk soy milk (the refrigerated kind) has half of your daily value of B12, and some common breakfast cereals (like Grape Nuts, which is fortified with 25 percent of the recommended daily value of B12) are vegan as well.
  • Nutritional yeast. Specialized formulas of this cheesy-flavored powder have tons of vitamin B, including B12, and are especially made with vegans in mind. Sprinkle the yeast anywhere you would use cheese, like salads, soups, or pasta.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
Join The Conversation
fryebrandon1 fryebrandon1 4 years
Great Read! Protein and Vitamin B12 are the two things that concerned me when I went vegan. I quickly did my research and became informed of what foods and/or supplements I needed to add to my diet. It's because of articles like yours that I was able to transition safely. I decided to create a site informing others as well. In fact, I just wrote an article on B12. Thanks again for your hard work!
Minjie Minjie 6 years
Why does every discussion between people who choose to eat meat and people who don't have to be based wholly in extremes? Not all farmers inject and supplement their cattle with growth hormones and vitamins, and there are plenty of perfectly healthy vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores, as well as those who aren't careful enough in what they ingest, and therefore have metabolic related illnesses. I am a nurse, and I see some very unhealthy people who have become that way from eating in unhealthy ways, whether they be vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous. All of us should be careful about what we put into our bodies, and it has become easier and easier to source the foods we eat, and ensure that we are not filling ourselves with unhealthy chemicals, while still ensuring we get all of the vitamins, minerals and trace elements that are important to our health. It should be recognized that simply eliminating one food or another that has been deemed to be "cancer causing" does not guarantee our health.
SavvyVegetarian SavvyVegetarian 6 years
Correction to previous comment: Sorry, I meant to reference the comment by romeac. I agree with AllVegan. :-)
SavvyVegetarian SavvyVegetarian 6 years
Thanks for writing about this important issue. Re: AllVegan's comment. Not true that B12 deficiency is almost unheard of - it affects 30 - 50% of people, both vegan and omnivore, esp people over 50 who have lost the ability to absorb it through the stomach and intestines. Maybe once upon a time in ideal conditions, there was plenty of B12 in soil, water and air, and we got what we needed automatically. but not these days. Vegans are vulnerable because B12 isn't found in most vegan foods. Vegan children are esp vulnerable because they haven't built up stores of B12 from years of eating animal foods. B12 deficiency has serious consequences, so to be on the safe side, vegans shouldn't rely only on enriched foods, or nutritional yeast, and certainly not on sea vegetables or fermented foods. A sublingual methylcobalamin spray is the best absorbed and reliable source of B12 supplementation I've found. I use Pure Advantage brand 500 mcg methylcobalamin spray, vegan certified. It's cheap to buy on Vitacost and lasts for months. If you take a sub-lingual supplement regularly you should be ok., but vegans should have a blood test for B12 levels once a year.
GummiBears GummiBears 6 years
Meh, I'm not a vegan but I take liquid supplements since it is easier to swallow..
amber512 amber512 6 years
I have zero desire to drink soy milk, but I also don't eat meat. So I'll be getting my B-12 elsewhere.
romeac romeac 6 years
"I can see how careful you must be when planning what to eat, including thinking carefully about nutrition." Actually the exact opposite is true. Vegans who eat a wide variety of any whole foods, minimally cooked, and pay no attention to specific nutritional requirements, have vastly better nutrition than 99% of omnivores. I shall crush this b-12 myth now: Cows don't eat meat yet they are not deficient in b-12. How is that possible if b-12 is not found in plants? It's possible because they eat dirty food, and drink dirty water populated with the microorganisms that create b-12 in the first place. These microorganisms also exist in their intestines (as they do in ours) so they create their own b-12 (as we do) so long as they intake cobalt - which is found in organic and many non-organic fertilizers. This is why being deficient in b-12 is almost unheard of. Which makes it all the more ridiculous why the subject is so over-discussed, but it is so over-discussed because meat eaters want to use it to show that a vegan diet is unhealthy, unnatural and deficient.
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