Sourcing vitamin B12 for vegetarians is the most difficult task. Vitamin B12 is the most essential nutrient for vital bodily functions and can cause serious health issues in cases of deficiency. However, there are some vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians that are listed further in this article that can serve the purpose.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12 for Vegetarians
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin that cells require. Your DNA, blood cells, and neurons – all depend on it to remain healthy. Vitamin B12 is not produced by the body and it has to be derived from your diet or dietary supplements.
This vitamin is naturally found in animal products. Particularly good sources include meats, dairy products, and eggs. Because B12 is not naturally present in plant-based meals, vegetarians and vegans must make sure they consume enough of it daily to prevent a deficiency. Pernicious anemia and other major health problems can result from a vitamin B12 deficiency. The choice of b12 foods vegetarian is limited but still, there are excellent solutions available.
Vegans and vegetarians should be aware of the b12 foods vegetarian as well as b12 foods vegan. There are plenty of vitamin b12 sources for vegetarians. Vegans however have a very limited choice and have to greatly depend on b12 fortified foods and vegan vitamin b12 supplements. Some of the vitamin b12 rich foods vegetarian as well as vegans are given below.
- Dairy products
The easiest way of deriving vitamin b12 for vegetarians will be by including dairy products in their diet. You can get:
- 2 mcg of Vitamin B12 from a cup of low-fat milk which is 50% of your daily value
- 1 mcg of vitamin B12 from 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt which is 46% of your daily value
- 9 mcg from 1 ounce of Swiss cheese which is 38% of your daily value.
You can include all these dairy products in different portions of your diet like yogurt for breakfast, milk in the afternoon, and a few slices of cheese in your evening snack.
- Fortified Foods
Fortified foods are a great option for both vegetarians and vegans to get their daily requirement of vitamin B12. Fortified foods are good and convenient vitamin b12 sources for vegetarians as they are highly bioavailable, making it convenient for the body to absorb and digest the nutrient.
Cereal that has been fortified is an easy option. Most cereals contain 25% of the DV per serving. So, essentially read the label of your favourite cereal for vitamin B12 before making the purchase.
- Yeast with High Nutritional value
Nutritional yeast is another fortified food that includes vitamin B12. Many vegetarians turn to this dish frequently. Nutritional yeast enhances the flavour of food while also being good for you. Many people use nutritional yeast to give their food a cheesy or nutty flavour. The amount of vitamin B12 in one tablespoon of nutritional yeast that has been fortified to the fullest extent possible is 2.4 mcg or 100% of the DV.
While making vegetarian sauces, chilis, or curries, try adding nutritional yeast. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on air-popped popcorn for a nutritious snack.
Studies have shown that Nori, commonly known as purple laver, is a beneficial source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans. These algae are normally consumed in Asian countries. To get the recommended daily value of vitamin B12, you need to consume around 4 grams of dried nori.
This product can be purchased online or in Asian food markets. It is used for garnishing/flavoring/seasoning soups and snacks. and might make a yummy snack on its own.
- Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake Mushrooms are yet another source of vitamin B12 though not at a very high level. You should be roughly consuming about 50 grams of mushroom in a single meal to get the daily value of vitamin B12. But consuming this large quantity of mushrooms may not be a good idea. It is therefore recommended to have a variety of vitamin b12 sources in your diet.
However, for an additional B12 boost while preparing a delicious lunch or dinner, try including B12-containing mushrooms in your recipes.
Other fortified items that are good b12 vegan foods are soy, almond, oat, cashew, and coconut milk
Chickpeas are good vitamin B12 sources for vegetarians and vegans. Chickpeas also contain other essential nutrients like protein and fiber besides vitamin B12 which makes it ideal for your diet.
Vitamin B12 Dietary Supplements
If for some reason you are not able to include the above vitamin b12 for vegetarian foods, the next best option will be dietary supplements. These supplements are available in the form of tablets or self-dissolving strips.
Those who consume a plant-based diet may require extra vitamin B12 in the form of supplements, particularly if they are expecting or nursing. In addition, those who are elderly, have digestive issues or are using certain drugs such as proton pump inhibitors and metformin, may need to take a supplement.
Between around 56% of a dose of 1 mcg and 5% of a dose of 1,000 mcg, vitamin B12 can be absorbed differently. So, if someone takes vitamin B12 less regularly, they will need to take more of it overall to get the same amount of vitamin B12 absorbed.
The recommended dosage of vitamin b12 supplements for adults is either 50 to 200 mcg daily or 2000 mcg weekly. You can either choose a chewy tablet or a self-dissolving strip for maximum absorption.
However, in cases of severe vitamin b12 deficiency consult a doctor before going in for supplements as the dosage of supplements may not be adequate to reverse the deficiency. The doctor may suggest vitamin b12 injections for a higher dosage of b12.
Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin B12
The following are the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12:
- 14 years and above: 2.4 mcg
- 9 years to 13 years: 1.8 mcg
- 4 years to 8 years: 1.2 mcg
- 1 year to 3 years: 0.9 mcg
- 7 to 12 months: 0.5 mcg
- 0 to 6 months: 0.4 mcg
- During pregnancy: 2.6 mcg
- Lactating mothers: 2.8 mcg
How to Determine Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency if not addressed in the earlier stages can lead to serious complications. But how to determine the deficiency? There are warning signals when a person is vitamin B12 deficient. He/she will experience the following symptoms:
- Tingling in hands and feet
- Nerve damage
- Blurring of vision
- Sweating in excess
- Difficulty while walking
- Digestive issues
- Sore tongue
If any of these symptoms surface, it is time to visit a doctor. It could be a potential symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency. You will be recommended some clinical tests to determine the levels of vitamin B12 to draw a conclusion.
Vegans and vegetarians need to constantly watch what they eat to procure sufficient quantities of vitamin B12 from their diet. Food sources for vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans are limited and so vegetarians and vegans are more prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Animal-derived foods like dairy and eggs as well as fortified meals can provide you with vitamin B12. In some cases, algae and mushrooms can even replace your daily B12 requirement. To preserve optimal health, talk to your doctor about B12 dietary additions and have your levels checked frequently. To ascertain you get enough vitamin B12, you may want to use vitamin B12 supplements. These supplements are easy to procure.