The mollusks (shellfish) as a group all contain high levels of vitamin B12, as does beef liver, but this is vegan diet society, so we’re going to discuss some good quality sources of vitamin b12 suitable for vegan and vegetarians.
Wait, I thought plants don’t contain any vitamin B12?
Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get vitamin B12 in their diet ¹.
Sometimes vitamin B12 has been reported in seaweed, mushrooms, miso, tempeh, and other fermented foods.
While these foods may indeed have active forms of the vitamin in or on them, they should not be regarded as an adequate and reliable supply of the vitamin.
Fortified Foods or Supplements for Vitamin B12
Many foods are fortified with vitamin B12 and are suitable for vegans and other plant based diets.
Certain other at risk populations for vitamin B12 deficiency are also encouraged to supplement their diets with this essential nutrient, such as the elderly, who may not have adequate stomach acid to cleave the vitamin from protein.
Adult vegans and vegetarians can easily get the 2.4 recommended micrograms of vitamin B12 by consuming fortified cereals, soymilk, nutritional yeast, tofu, energy bars, and many other products.
Please check your food labels and you will learn which of your favorite foods are already being fortified with vitamin B12.
You will also no doubt be getting some amount of vitamin B12 from bacterial presence on or in the food you are already eating, again, please do not rely on these small amounts as they will not add up to the necessary daily amount.
Supplements are also a very inexpensive and effective way to make sure you are getting vitamin B12.
A daily or weekly vitamin B12 supplement should be adequate in most cases to insure yourself against deficiency.
Top Foods for Vitamin B12 that are Vegan
Here’s my list for vegan foods containing vitamin B12:
- Nutritional Yeast – sprinkle this on popcorn or broccoli
- Soymilk – or another B12 fortified non-dairy milk
- Tofu – check the labels to make sure it is fortified
- Cereal – many vegan breakfast cereals are fortified with B12
- Tempeh – many contain vitamin B12, read those labels
There are many vegan foods that contain trace amounts of vitamin B12 due to bacteria being present on or within the food.
Bacterial action alone should not be relied upon for adequate dietary intake of vitamin B12 in a vegan, vegetarian, or other plant based diet.
It is both economical and advised to eat a diet fortified with vitamin B12 or to take a vitamin B12 supplement to make sure you are getting the recommended amount and to avoid the symptoms and health risks of vitamin B12 deficiency.