It is usually believed that vegans and vegetarians do not meet their daily recommended nutrient intake. And while that isn’t completely true, they sometimes do struggle with the right nutrient dosage intake.
It is a well-known fact that vegetables and vegetarian food items contain all the essential nutrients and minerals required to fuel the body, but the quantity is often not enough, especially when one has completely shunned meat and dairy products.
Among those essential nutrients that we’re referring to, vitamin B12 is of key importance. It is vital for new cell growth and helps in keeping your DNA, blood cells, and nerves healthy.
However, for vegans and vegetarians, sourcing vitamin B12 can be quite a tedious task because B12 is mostly an animal-sourced vitamin. Thus it all comes down to choosing the right food items to incorporate into your diet so that you can fulfill your body’s B12 requirements.
The majority of plant-based foods do not naturally contain vitamin B12 but there are alternatives for our vegan friends. What they are is exactly what we are going to cover in this article.
Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegans
When it comes to a vegan diet, it is normal to fret about your nutritional intake. Vital to every cell in your body, vitamin B12 should be included in your list of essential nutrients.
Vitamin B12 is primarily associated with an animal-only derived nutrient. However, you will be surprised to know that achieving your daily dose of vitamin B12 can be made easy with the support of vegan-friendly supplements and fortified foods.
The following are the best vegan sources of vitamin B12:
The Black Morel mushrooms, Oyster mushrooms, Parasol mushrooms and Porcini mushrooms contain trace amounts of vitamin B12. 100 grams of these dried mushrooms contain 0.09mg of vitamin B12, which is a decent vitamin quantity.
On the other hand, species like the Golden Chanterelle and Black Trumpet have higher levels of vitamin B12 – approximately 2.65mg per 100 grams. Also, another variety of edible mushrooms include Shitake mushrooms that contain 5.6mg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
In short, the options are plentiful, and the choice is yours. Just remember to always purchase fresh produce. So instead of grocery stores, turn to farmers’ markets to get fresh food items.
2. Seaweed or Algae
Seaweed is an excellent source of vitamin B12. It is found that dried purple and green seaweed contain substantial amounts of vitamin B12. A study has shown that only 4 grams of the Nori seaweed contain 100% of the RDI or 2.4mcg of vitamin B12.
Although, digesting seaweed can be a problem for many individuals as it is a bit hard on the tummy. Plant-based proteins are already difficult to digest as it is when compared to animal protein and because vegans are already on a plant-based diet, their stomach does not produce strong digestive acids. Thus digestion can become a bit of an issue, especially if one is in transition. We would advise you to take baby steps when it comes to incorporating seaweed into your diet. Begin with the lowest dose and slowly work your way up.
3. Fortified Breakfast Cereals
You must already be familiar with fortified cereals. They are regular breakfast cereals infused with additional nutrients. But did you know that they contain a good amount of vitamin B12 as well? Yes, you heard that right! Ready-to-eat cereals like Kellogg’s All-Bran, Rice Chex, Malt-O-Meal Bran Flakes, Total Corn Flakes, and many other varieties contain good amounts of vitamin B12. And as for avoiding milk, you can always have your cereals with coconut or some other plant-based milk. This makes your daily breakfast not only incredibly tasty, but healthy as well. As a general pro-tip, we would recommend you get fresh coconut milk instead of packaged coconut milk powder to enhance the taste even more!
Many people don’t know this, but tempeh is a good source of vitamin B12. It is a traditional, fungal fermented product made from soybeans.
Ever since veganism propelled, Tempeh has become a popular food of choice for vegan diets. Tempeh contains pathogens like Klebsiella pneumoniae, which are known for producing vitamin B12. Nevertheless, you may still have to take other vitamin B12 supplements along with tempeh to sustain your recommended daily intake.
Tempeh is a superfood and offers many health benefits. For starters, it is beneficial to your gut health (just make sure it suits your digestive system!). We would recommend starting off with the lowest dosage and slowly increasing your tempeh dosage.
5. Fortified Plant Milk
Certain plant-based milks can also help you meet your vitamin B12 needs. Compounds like soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, nut milk, rice milk, etc. all contain good amounts of essential vitamin B12 minerals. You can take these milks with your breakfast cereals or consume them directly from a glass!
6. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast contains many B vitamins, including B12. In fact, it contains 30% to 180% of the recommended daily intake of B vitamins. In fortified form, it is highly rich in vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. Apart from B vitamins, it also contains trace minerals like molybdenum, manganese, selenium, and zinc. These nutrients are vital for gene regulation, immunity-boosting, and improved metabolism.
Mentioned above are plant-based superfoods that are rich in vitamin B12. They range from B12-rich cereals that can be taken in combination with B12-added fortified plant milks to B12 packed mushrooms that can be eaten as they are!
P.S Whichever of these B12 rich foods that you decide to take, make sure you consult your doctor before consuming them because some of them may be hard on the stomach and cause digestive system problems.