If you are a vegetarian and are looking for good sources of vitamin B12, then you are in the right place. Let’s discuss the best vitamin B12 rich foods for vegetarians.
As you may already know, vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products like meat and seafood. This is why vegetarians and vegans have a difficult time consuming enough to avoid deficiency.
But, there are some vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 that you get through consuming food instead of taking a supplement (though it’s probably best to take one anyways). Let’s discuss those sources below.
Is vitamin B12 really necessary for good health?
Yes. Vitamin B12 or cobalamin is an essential vitamin that we need to function properly. It plays a few different roles in the body, but here are some of its main functions:
- Healthy red blood cell formation
- DNA synthesis
- Development and function of the central nervous system
So that being said, it’s important to ensure you are getting enough vitamin B12 to avoid deficiency. Adults require about 2.4 mg of vitamin B12 daily to avoid deficiency. You can get this from food or in supplement form.
Why are vegetarians and vegans at risk for B12 deficiency?
Most people get their vitamin B12 from animal sources such as beef, fish and poultry. If you consume animal products, you probably won’t have any trouble getting enough vitamin B12.
But, if you avoid animal products, it becomes more difficult to avoid deficiency. There are few vegetarian and vegan foods that are good sources of vitamin B12. That being said, there are some vegetarian and vegan foods that can help you avoid deficiency.
7 Vitamin B12 Rich Foods for Vegans
Let’s jump into the seven foods that are good sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans. Not all the options are vegan, but all are vegetarian.
#1: Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is by far the best vitamin B12 food for vegans or vegetarians. It contains about 8.3-24 mg per ¼ cup, which comes out to 345-1000% of your daily value.
That means that just one tablespoon already covers just about all your daily vitamin B12 needs. Nutrition yeast is a great alternative to cheese, especially parmesan, so simply add some on top of whatever you would have added cheese to.
#2: Cow’s milk
If you are a vegetarian, plain ole cow’s milk is a great way to get some vitamin B12 in your diet. It contains about 1.3 mg per 1 cup, which is about 54% of your daily value. So with just two cups of milk per day, you’ve already covered your vitamin B12 needs.
If you choose to avoid dairy, some plant based milk alternatives are fortified with vitamin B12, so be sure to check the label. It should list vitamin B12 or cobalamin as an ingredient and list how many mg and what percent value the milk provides.
Yogurt is another good source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. It provides about 1.0 mg per 6 ounce container, which is about 42% of your daily value of vitamin B12. This is a good amount for such a little container of yogurt.
Yogurt can be paired with a variety of nutritious foods like fruit, nuts and seeds or granola. It’s high in protein and perfect if you’re craving a sweet breakfast.
#4: Fortified breakfast cereals
You’d be surprised to know that fortified breakfast cereals can actually be a great vitamin B12 rich food. They provide about 0.6 mg per 1 serving, but it really depends on the brand, so be sure to read the nutrition label.
For an extra boost of vitamin B12, add some cow’s milk or vitamin B12 fortified plant milk. This makes for a tasty, B12 filled breakfast. A great way to start off the morning!
#5: Cheddar cheese
For me, I love any excuse to eat some more cheese. Luckily, cheddar cheese is a rather good source of vitamin B12. It contains about 0.5 mg per 1 ½ ounces, which is equal to about 21% of your daily value of vitamin B12.
If you want some extra cheesy flavor, make some cheddar macaroni and cheese and throw in a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast. This will boost the vitamin B12 content and the flavor.
Eggs are another vegetarian vitamin B12 food to consider adding to your diet. They contain about 0.5 mg per 1 large egg. This is about 21% of your daily value of vitamin B12.
Add an extra egg and you are already about 42% of your daily value! Eggs are also a great source of protein, making it a great food to add to breakfast to keep you full throughout the day.
Tempeh is a great vegan and vegetarian source of vitamin B12. It’s derived from soy, but has a firmer, meatier texture than tofu. It contains 0.1 mg per ½ cup, which equals out to about 4% of your daily value of vitamin B12.
Tempeh is great marinated and then fried or baked. It works very well in asian dishes, but can also be used as a meat alternative in just about any dish.
Should vegetarians and vegans take a B12 supplement?
If you are vegetarian or vegan, speak to your doctor to see if they suggest a vitamin B12 supplement. Low vitamin B12 intake can result in megaloblastic anemia, low white and red blood cell counts, fatigue, palpitations, pale skin and weight loss, so it’s important to avoid deficiency before it occurs.
There are several ways you can supplement with vitamin B12. You can take a vitamin B12 supplement in pill form or liquid form (sprayed underneath the tongue). Another option is taking a B complex vitamin, which contains a variety of B vitamins including B12.
You can also get vitamin B12 shots, which are administered by a medical professional. Another option is vitamin B12 nasal gel spray, which requires a prescription from a doctor.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article! For healthy recipes and nutrition tips, be sure to follow my social media @tasteitwithtia on Instagram and TikTok. Have a wonderful day!