B12 is a vital nutrient that is necessary for forming red blood cells and DN. It is important for the proper development of the brain and nerve cells. B12 is naturally found in dairy and animal foods such as fish, red meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. It is also found in fortified nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals, and enriched soy and rice milk. According to Harvard T.H. Chan of Public Health, “This is particularly important for pregnant women, as the fetus requires adequate vitamin B12 for neurologic development and deficiency can lead to permanent neurological damage.”
Even though vitamin B12 is stored in the body for up to two years until a deficiency forms, it’s important for vegans to take fortified B12 foods or supplements for proper neurological function. Since it is a water soluble vitamin, excess amounts will be urinated.
Here Are Vegan Foods Rich in B12
Nutritional yeast is rich in vitamin B12, antioxidants, protein, and minerals. It can help boost immune health and help lower cholesterol. According to Healthline, It is commonly used for seasonings in salad or pasta, for smoothies, a thickener for soups or sauces, and as a cheesy flavor in vegan sauces.
Fortified Non-Dairy Milks
Another common way vegans get B12 is through fortified plant based milks. For example, oatmilk, soy, hemp, coconut, cashew, or macadamia. Check the ingredients to make sure it is fortified with B12 as not all brands include the same nutrients and not all are fortified with B12.
Although fortified cereals do contain a healthy dose of B12, many contain too much sugar. To make the best selection of a fortified cereal, select one that is high in fiber and whole grains. Still, research proves that eating fortified cereals does help. Fortified cereal is a good option for those that choose not to take B12 supplements. This is especially important because as people get older, they absorb less B12.
Lower Sources of B12
Other sources of B12 that have a lower content are fermented tempeh, chlorella, and nori seaweed. Since there is less nutritional value of B12 in these foods, it is better to rely on fortified alternatives or supplements.
Types of B12
Methylcobalamin and Cyanocobalamin are the most common forms of B12 yet there is no evidence that supports one or the other as the better option. According to Healthline, the main difference is that Cyanocobalamin is a synthetic form of the vitamin that is in supplements while methylcobalamin is a natural form that can be found in both foods and supplements. Additionally, humans may absorb cyanocobalamin a bit better. Although the difference is not significant since results from research can vary depending on the age of the people in the studies.
B12 is definitely not a vitamin one should go without, especially vegans, since it is only naturally found in animal foods. It is crucial for cell and brain development. All people need B12 for healthy red blood cells, nervous system function, a healthy energy metabolism, and much more. So the next time you have cognitive difficulties, weakness, or tingling in your body, make sure to check for a deficiency and reach for the best B12 sources for you.
Article Written By: Shahristan Alhamy