Sources of vitamin B12


Vitamin B12 is one of the greatest nutritional concerns for vegetarians and vegans, because vitamin B12 is generally found only in animal foods. If you’re concerned that you may not be getting enough B12, look for some of these foods.

Sources of Vitamin B12 for Vegans
Food Serving b12 (mcg)
Almond milk, fortified with vitamin B12 1 cup 3*
Coconut milk, fortified with vitamin B12& 1 cup 3*
Nutritional Yeast 1 tablespoon 2*
Soymilk, original, fortified with vitamin B12 1 cup 1.2*
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with vitamin B12 ½ to ¾ cup 0.6-6*

*May vary depending on product or brand.

Sources of Vitamin B12 for Vegetarians
Food serving b12 (mcg)
Yogurt, plain, low-fat 8 ounces 1.37
Milk, low-fat 8 ounces 1.15
Cottage cheese, 1% ¾ cup 1.07
Cheese, Swiss 1 ounce 0.95
Egg 1 whole, medium 0.39
Ice cream, vanilla ½ cup .26

All nutritional information from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference or food manufacturer labeling.

Do I need a VITAMIN B12 supplement?

As with all dietary supplements, it’s important to discuss B12 supplementation with your healthcare provider, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Your healthcare provider can help you determine how much (if any) supplementation is right for you. It’s important to consider that folate—typically high in vegetarian and vegan diets—can mask the presence of vitamin B12 deficiency. The preferred form of B12 supplements is cyanocobalamin.

Generally speaking, if you’re vegan (meaning you don’t eat ANY animal products), B12 supplements are recommended at levels that meet 100% or more of the recommended daily allowance. In fact, the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group suggests that vegans consume much higher levels of vitamin B12 (250mcg/day for adults) to compensate for poor absorption of supplements. Regardless of diet preference, the National Institutes of Health recommends that all adults over 50 years of age receive most of their vitamin B12 through supplements and fortified foods, due to impaired absorption that occurs during aging.

Vegetarian and Vegan Menu Plan Book

Tips for A balanced plant-based diet

Though often defined by what they don’t contain, plant-based diets are actually some of the most well-balanced, delicious eating patterns around. Here are a few plant-based recipes to get you started:

For a more guided look at how to build healthy vegetarian meal plans, check out our Oldways 4-week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan, which will help you create satisfying, balanced, budget-friendly meals inspired by cuisines from different cultures. The recipes are based off of the Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Pyramid, and feature an abundance of delicious, healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, herbs, and spices.

Kelly Toups, Director of Nutrition

Comments

Val Morrison
I had bariatric surgery in 2006. I am under doctor order to twice a day multivitamins, calcium and vitamin B12 supplement. I'm live WFPB since 2006. Lost over 200 pounds and need to know what produce I should be eating to stop taking these pills. Please help me!
kelly-oldways
Hi Val, That is quite an impressive transformation! We're not doctors, so can't comment on what types of pills you should or shouldn't be taking. We highly recommend that you work with a physician and dietitian in your area to find an eating plan that works for you. However, as noted in the article above, B12 is often recommended for folks on a WFPB diet because it isn't found in produce or unfortified plant foods.
Suzy
Hi Val! First of all so proud of you! That is a MAJOR feat losing all that weight and committing to living a healthier lifestyle! The thing about bariatric surgery is that is can cause your stomach to produce less HCL. HCl is needed to separate B12 from protein that it is attached to when it is consumed from food. Your doctor (and FYI I am not a doctor) may have you on a supplement so you can absorb the B12 despite a lack of HCL.
SuzyMorris
After bariatric surgery many people's ability to produce HCL declines. HCL is needed to separate B12 from protein, it is naturally attached to a protein when it is consumed in food, and it must be separated first to absorb it. A B12 supplement may have been prescribed to you so you can absorb it with a lack of HCL production.
Erin
Val Morrison, Look up druglessdrs.com they are awesome at what they do and I'm sure the will have some answers for you.
Renee C
Thank you so much for this article, I am a vegetarian and I constantly have people telling me I'm going to drop dead if I'm not getting the right balance of vitamins, now I know I can get b12 without meat or animal products. Thank you thank you thank you!
kelly-oldways
You're so welcome! We're so glad that you found this article helpful.
M J Greene
Have been taking Trader Joe brand B12 sublingual tablets. Does anyone know if these are actually valid.
kelly-oldways
Hi MJ, For advice on supplements, we suggest that you speak with your physician or dietitian. They might be able to offer additional insights or suggest specific brands.
Bruce
It is really obvious that begins and vegetarians don’t have a healthy lifestyle; may times people seem to do it just to be different or lose weight. If you have to supplement to be healthy, your diet is not healthy. I understand eating vegetarian meals every now and then, but not permanently. So many people have died and gotten sick because they are not educated about these diets. Please be careful to inform your readers that you can’t just start his diet without doing some research.
Sonya
Bruce, I appreciate your concern but really every one needs to look at sound nutrition advice. I am a successful vegan for 28 years. I exercise regularly and am known for my robust health and strength. I didn't choose this to be different, nor has anyone that I know who has chosen this. I think that accusation is unfair. Non-veggie folks are not necessarily more sound in their food choices. Believe me, being a health care provider for 40 years I have seen a marked rise in obesity and diseases related to unhealthy diets. I think promoting a way of eating that can promote health as well as the reduction of environmental stresses to the planet is completely appropriate and necessary. The tragedy surrounding avoidable serious health problems must be confronted head on and I believe organism is a quite reasonable option. Thank you for your time and best wishes to you!
Timmy
Just to clear up something you said about supplementing your diet. All factory farmed meat is now supplemented with B vitamins. The use of herbicides and pesticides kills the naturally occurring vitamins in the soil. So farmers have now started to supplement their cows with b vitamins. Which means a non meat eater supplementing with b vitamins is getting a cleaner source than the actual meat eater.
Carlos
Your comment is misinforming / if properly educated about vegan/vegetarian nutrition, it is much healthier than a diet with animal source products. Keep learning !
J
Sorry if I missed it, but I don't see it listed what the recommended MCG of B12 is anywhere. Would it be very difficult to get all B12 through the items listed in the Vegetarian list (e.g., cream cheese, yogurt) + a few things from the Vegan list such as fortified almond milk?
Timmy
2.4 mcg is the recommended amount.
Cyndi
I have taken B6, B12 sublingual tablets from Tri-Vita and feel confident in the quality and integrity of this company.
Leslie
Bruce, I have been a healthy vegetarian for 47 years. As you know, many people who eat meat also take ill and die. In fact, we all do. Information about good nutrition is readily available to anyone who is interested. I hope that everyone, whatever their dietary choice, would take advantage of both that knowledge and the bounty of nutritious foods available in our markets.
Mel
I am a vegetarian of three years and vegan of four months. I have yet to drop dead. (; I feel that many vegetarians and vegans are more informed about nutrition and health than their meat eating counter parts. ♡
Butchie
Mel and others, As long as you understand meat is a wonder food, all the rest is fluff. I admire your dedication to eating plants though- more meat for me!
Sibongile
Thank you for such an informative article. I have been vegetarian for the past 30years haven't faced any major health challenges. Why however wondering if my diet won't give me challenges at around 50 ( am approaching that mark now) I am happy I now know how to improve my vitamin B12. I am sorry Bruce I think you harsh to the vegetarians. Some people actually become vegetarian after getting advice from physicians as a way of improving their health. Every diet has it's down side.
kelly-oldways
We're glad you enjoyed the article!
Sood
Hello sir I am obese person . I am pure vegetarian. I am 5 feet in height and my weight 66 mg. I am anemic and deficiency of B12. And I taking supplement. And I start exercise last week. I gaining wait not reducing. I am very worried about my health. Plz suggest me what is Good for me.
kelly-oldways
We recommend that you speak with your doctor or a dietitian in your area to find an eating plan that works for you!
Maasai
Many people consider themselves vegetarian if they eat no meat..but continually eat process food..drink sodas high in white sugar and many other dangerous additives..process food has been robbed of natural nutrients from The Creator..when eating unatural foods made by man the body is robbed of various vital ingredients..leaving most being over weight perhaps obese and under undernourished..finding themselves having to eat more to compensate...maybe too much starch..doughnuts..bread..pasta as well as plenty dairy etc..one pount we are the only spieces that continually drink the milk from another mammal thats not designed for our species and still wonder why we have more Osteo porosis than any other country? What are you eating...
Jeffrey Pfeifer
The fortified foods with B12 is necessary because the natural source is from animal meat. Does that mean that vegan B12 is synthetic?
Jacke Rose
I've been vegetarian for 40 years, I'm 65 and have been getting B12 shots from my doctor for the past 3 or 4 years. I do this not because I'm vegetarian, but because, with age people do not absorb B12 as well as before. Actually, with age there are many adjustments needed in one's diet and exercise program.
kelly-oldways
Thanks for sharing your experience! I hope this helps give others an idea of how to discuss aging with their doctors.
Natsh kim
How did u get vitamin B12 before the shots?
Cool
Useful information.
Ken
Where does the B12 come from that's in supplements and/or fortified foods?
kelly-oldways
Cyanocobalamin is the most widely made B12 supplement forms, and it is made through bacterial fermentation or synthesized in vitro before it is crystallized. Fermentation is performed by a variety of microorganisms into a form of adenosylcobalamin, which is then converted to cyanocobalamin by adding potassium cyanide in the presence of sodium nitrate with heat. Most of it is made in France right now. Most of these supplements are marked “vegan” indicating that they are not made with animal sources. This is not the same form of B12 that is in animal foods.
Sara Webb
I've been vegetarian for the past 25 yrs and vegan for about 3 yrs. I can not digest dairy products and as result I gain weight. I have to take B-12 vitamin supplements and leafy green veg. juices. I have to tell you that I have never felt this good and energetic before.
Donna
What is in the vit b12 in the supplemented foods?
kelly-oldways
The B12 in supplemented foods is usually cyanocobalamin. It is made through bacterial fermentation or synthesized in vitro before it is crystallized. Fermentation is performed by a variety of microorganisms into a form of adenosylcobalamin, which is then converted to cyanocobalamin by adding potassium cyanide in the presence of sodium nitrate with heat.
farah naser
where can i find B12 in fruits?
kelly-oldways
Unfortunately there is not a significant amount of B12 in fruits. B12 comes from animal foods.
Santosh Kumar Rai
Sir, I want to know witch vegetables have b12, sources. Watch vegetables suggest you
Hannah-Oldways
B12 sources typically come from animal foods and not vegetables. The charts in the blog post above may be helpful for finding sources of B12. Some examples include fortified almond milk, yogurt, milk, cheese and eggs.
Senthil
Superb
Anonymous
Are there any nuts, fruits, vegetables, or grains that are high in b12?
Hannah-Oldways
Vitamin B12 is generally found in animal foods. The best plant-based food sources of B12 will be the fortified and dairy foods listed in the table in our blog post.
john
my grandfather ate mainly fruit from hjs trees vegetables from his garden meat occasionally excersized regularly lived to age ninety two years of age without any chronic diseases no b12 supplements no vitamin pills there is too much conflicting views about which is the best diet to follow whether it be vegan vegetarian paleo ketogenic etc my advice is keep it simple like my late grandfather did and your health should be okay
Debbie
Please watch "The Magic Pill"....Netflix

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