B12 is an exceptional vitamin. It is required in smaller amounts than any other known vitamin. Ten micrograms of B12 spread over a day appears to supply as much as the body can use. In the absence of any apparent dietary supply, deficiency symptoms usually take five years or more to develop in adults, though some people experience problems within a year. A very small number of individuals with no obvious reliable source appear to avoid clinical deficiency symptoms for twenty years or more. B12 is the only vitamin that is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a varied whole food, plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, together with exposure to sun. Many herbivorous mammals, including cattle and sheep, absorb B12 produced by bacteria in their own digestive system. B12 is found to some extent in soil and plants. These observations have led some vegans to suggest that B12 was an issue requiring no special attention, or even an elaborate hoax. Others have proposed specific foods, including spirulina, nori, tempeh, and barley grass, as suitable non-animal sources of B12.
Very low B12 intakes can cause anemia and nervous system damage. The only reliable vegan sources of B12 are foods fortified with B12 (including some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals) and B12 supplements. Vitamin B12, whether in supplements, fortified foods, or animal products, comes from micro-organisms. Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimize potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.
Look for plant milks, yoghurts, breakfast cereals, spreads, yeast extracts and nutritional yeast products that are fortified with vitamin B12. For example, taking 300 ml of a fortified plant milk plus 30 g of a fortified breakfast cereal is a good meal to supply vitamin B12. Or try fortified yeast extract with fortified spread on whole-wheat toast, or macaroni with fortified nutritional yeast ‘cheezy sauce’.
|Almond milk, fortiﬁed with vitamin B12||1 cup|
|Coconut milk, fortiﬁed with
|All Plant foods such as Spinach, Coriander Leaves, Parsley Leaves|
|Soymilk, original, fortiﬁed with vitamin B12||1 cup|
|Ready-to-eat cereal, fortiﬁed with vitamin B12||½–¾ cup|
|Plain Yogurt||8 ounces|
|Ice cream, vanilla||½ cup|
|Kellogg’s Corn Flakes||3/4 cup|
|Grape-Nuts cereal||1/2 cup|
|Extra Soymilk||1 cup|
The following vegetables are good for people with B12 deficiency