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How Do I Get Enough Vitamin B12 on a Vegan Diet?

 

People following a vegan diet are often concerned about getting enough B12.  We checked with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)  to get their guidance about supplementing vitamin B12.  PCRM suggests that anyone following a vegan diet take a B complex supplement.

 

The main nutrient vegans should plan for is vitamin B12. It is essential for healthy nerves and healthy blood. It is made by neither animals nor plants; it is made by bacteria. Presumably, before the advent of modern hygiene, the bacteria in the soil and on plants provided traces of B12. However, those sources are certainly not reliable nowadays. Deficiencies are rare, but they manifest as nerve symptoms that may be irreversible. So be sure to get your B12 from a daily multiple vitamin, a B12 supplement, or fortified foods (e.g., fortified cereals, soymilk, etc.)

Overall, vegan diets provide better nutrition than any other kind of diet—with plenty of protein, calcium, and iron, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals—without the problems posed by animal fat and cholesterol. But it’s essential to include a source of vitamin B12. And it couldn’t be easier to do.”

PCRM points out that these days, even plant and fermented foods, such as spirulina, sea vegetables, tempeh, and miso, do not provide an active and reliable source, so vitamin B12 must be obtained elsewhere in the diet.  PCRM recommends nutritional yeast, such as Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula, as a reliable source of vitamin B12.  They encourage us to be sure to check the Nutrition Facts Label or the ingredient list to ensure that the nutritional yeast includes the active form of vitamin B12, called cobalamin or cyanocobalamin.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include fatigue, weakness, tingling in the arms and legs, digestive disturbances, and a sore tongue, and may lead to anemia and more serious disorders of the blood and nervous system.

 

Thanks to PCRM for sharing this information with the Yummy Plants community! For more information about vegan health topics, visit Dr. Neal Barnard’s blog.

4 Responses to “How Do I Get Enough Vitamin B12 on a Vegan Diet?”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Definitely check with your healthcare practitioner regarding the amounts: it’s different for men, women and children. And it’s different for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  2. Misty says:

    This is fantastic information. I recently began taking supplements and I love my Arbonne products. Not only are they vegan certified, but they are also all derived from botanicals and made without artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners.
    Arbonne’s essential Power Packs (dietary vitamin supplement) contain 50mcg (833% Daily Value) of B12 as cyanocobalamin. The Power Packs also contain 20 essential vitamins and minerals….plus much more. The other product that I love for my B12 is the Arbonne Antioxidant & Immunity Booster. It is a 3oz shooter that contains 6mcg (100% Daily Value) of B12, as well as enough antioxidants that you would have to eat 5000 calories to get the same value! WOW!
    Ok, sorry for the plug, but I just love my products and can’t help but share anytime anyone is looking for something I can provide! Look me up if you’re more interested in either of these options: http://www.facebook.com/mistyarbonne

  3. George says:

    How much to take? Different for men and women?

  4. Colleen says:

    I urge fellow vegans to supplement B12 right away! I started to get a deficiency about 5 months into it and it took doctors a long time to diagnose me. There are days where it is painful to move my upper body and legs especially and am on a prescription anti-inflammatory as well as a B-complex to help fix the nerve damage I have due to my deficiency. A multivitamin simply is not adequate enough, please don’t learn the hard was as I have- the hard way includes blood tests, physical therapy and medications.

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