It’s essential that all vegan diets contain a reliable source of vitamin B12. This nutrient is needed to help speed up reactions in your body, and deficiency can cause anemia and nervous system damage.
Alternatively known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 is extremely vital for our body’s functioning. Though not many take Vitamin B12 deficiency seriously, it is the most commonly and easily occurring deficiencies in humans. This water-soluble vitamin cannot be produced in and by plants or animals independently, therefore, the human body often falls prey to its deficiency as all Vitamin B12 sources include animal-derived items.
Sources of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is made by micro-organisms and isn’t produced by plants. Fortified foods and supplements are the only proven reliable sources for vegans:
- Fortified foods:
- Vitamin B12 is added to some alternatives to milk products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts, and breakfast cereals
- Eat these foods at least twice a day
- Aim for a daily intake of at least 3mcg (micrograms)
- Supplements: take either at least 10mcg daily or at least 2000mcg weekly
This might seem like a lot of vitamin B12 in comparison to the daily intake of 1.5mcg recommended for adults in the UK. However, these recommendations are safe and will help to ensure that you are getting enough. Your body absorbs vitamin B12 more efficiently in frequent small amounts, so the less frequently you consume it, the more you need. No upper limits have been set for vitamin B12 intakes because no toxic effects have been identified.
You may notice that there are supplements containing different types of vitamin B12. Cyanocobalamin is recommended, mainly because it is the most stable type. Your body converts it to the two active forms of vitamin B12, which are methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
“Vegetarians, especially the vegans, are generally at the risk of being deficient of B12. The vitamin is found chiefly in the non-vegetarian diet as well as in milk and dairy products. Those who follow vegetarianism or are vegan should make sure that they consult their medical expert and take multivitamins and B12 supplements on a regular basis. Vitamin fortified foods can also be added in their daily diet,” noted Dr. Ritika Sammadar from Max Healthcare Saket in New Delhi.