We'll explain why the body relies on vitamin B12, where B12 actually comes from and why you should pay particular attention to it in a vegan diet.
What you’ll learn:
- What every Vegan should know about Vitamin B12.
- Do I get enough Vitamin B-12 in a plant-based diet?
- Which foods contain vitamin B12?
- Where do you get B12 as a vegan?
- Vitamin B12 tablets for adults and children
- How much B12 do I actually need during the day?
- What happens if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency?
- Where does vitamin B-12 come from?
- Why is it not possible for vegans to get vitamin B-12 via plants?
- Where do the animals get vitamin B-12 from?
What every Vegan should know about Vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient - not just for vegans. Without adequate intake, serious long-term health problems can occur.
Of all the nutrients that vegans need to be aware of, Vitamin B12 is on top of the list. In particular, it contributes to the formation of red blood cells, supports your body in DNA replication and ensures a healthy nervous system.
If you lack B12, you are putting your body at high risk, which can have dreadful consequences.
Do I get enough Vitamin B-12 in a plant-based diet?
Unfortunately, no. For a vegan diet, it is recommended to take regular vitamin B12 supplements.
Plants contain only a small amount of vitamin B12 because it is exclusively derived from microorganisms, e.g., Bacteria from which soil is formed. These bacteria are produced in the forestomach by ruminants. Therefore, cows do not need any additional supply from the outside.
Nevertheless, their food is mostly fortified with vitamin B12 to increase their own production. Omnivores thus indirectly also take supplements.
Which foods contain vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found mainly in animal products (meat, fish, milk & dairy products, eggs).
Vegetable foods contain only insufficient vitamin B12. Small amounts are found in fermented products. But these are not enough to meet your vitamin B12 needs.
Where do you get B12 as a vegan?
Unfortunately, as a vegan, you dono’t get Vitamin B12 from any natural sources. Not even as an omnivore. Omnivores also indirectly consume dietary supplements because the food animals get, is fortified with vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 tablets for adults and children
Although vitamin B12 is already in some soy drinks and tofu, we recommend from our own experience to additionally take vitamin B12 tablets. The body can only absorb vitamin B12 in small amounts. It would be best to take the preparation several times throughout the day.
For example, if you have a 20 μg (micrograms) dietary supplement, you should take it at least twice a day to meet your daily requirement. Another option would be to take a very large amount of vitamin (500 - 2000 μg) once a day.
At first glance, this may seem startling. You don’t need to worry about it though. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), even at very high doses of 1000 to 5000 μg (micrograms), there are no negative health effects.
Vitamin B12 tablets for adults We have already tried a few vitamin B12 tablets on Amazon and are finally very satisfied with these:
Those are vegan and gluten free and you can get it for $25.79.
How much B12 do I actually need during the day?
The German Nutrition Society recommends a daily intake of 3.0 μg (micrograms) per day for teenagers and adults.
What happens if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency?
Typical deficiency symptoms include:
- Disturbed energy metabolism (chronic fatigue and tiredness, difficulty concentrating, muscle weakness)
- Nerve damage (pain, numbness, tingling, paralysis, coordination disorders, memory disorders)
- Anemia (poor performance, immunodeficiency)
- Disorders of the hormone and neurotransmitter metabolism (mental-psychological disorders, depression, psychosis)
- Indigestion (constipation and diarrhea)
- Inflammation (in the mouth, stomach, and intestine)
Often these symptoms gradually appear over several months to a year before they are due to a B12 deficiency. If you suspect a problem, see your doctor, as each of these symptoms may be caused by issues other than B12 deficiency.
Infants typically show a faster onset of symptoms than adults. A B12 deficiency can lead to energy and appetite loss. If not responded immediately, it can lead to coma or even death.
Again, there is no utterly consistent pattern of symptoms. Infants are more sensitive to permanent damage than adults. Some recover entirely, others show delayed development.
Where does vitamin B-12 come from?
Vitamin B-12 is not produced by plants or animals, only by microorganisms. Microorganisms that produce vitamin B-12 also live on plants.
Why is it not possible for vegans to get vitamin B-12 via plants?
As we usually wash fruits and vegetables before we eat it, we also rinse the microorganisms off the plant. But that does not mean that you can take vitamin B-12 from plants if you don’t wash them anymore.
The reason for this is our sick ground. Within a square foot of land, there are living billions of microorganisms that are important for plants. In a sick soil, the nutrients cannot be kept and the microorganisms “starve”. As a result, fewer and fewer bacteria that produce vitamin B-12 are on our plants.
Where do the animals get vitamin B-12 from?
Pigs, chickens, and livestock in factory farming no longer have the ability to take up vitamin B-12 via plants because they do not have a spout in the meadow. Therefore, their feeds are supplemented with vitamin B-12. If you eat eggs, chicken, turkey or pork, you also get your vitamin B-12 via dietary supplements.
Ruminants, such as cows, produce vitamin B-12 themselves. Specifically, microorganisms that live in the rumen of ruminants produce vitamin B-12. The cow is thus not dependent on vitamin B-12 in their feed.