5 Plant-Based Vitamin B12 Sources
I met a lovely dietician that my daughter’s pediatrician referred me to after I made the decision for us to have plant-based diets. She revealed to me that she was a vegetarian herself and fully supported my decision. Not only did she support my decision, but she assured me that all of our nutrition needs could be met. I felt relieved to know I had someone in my corner.
Obviously, a change in diet would result in a change in nutrient intake. While I hoped this would be all for the better, there were some possible concerns. The dietician made it clear that many people switch over and become deficient in vitamin B12! She said that it was mainly found in foods that come from animals. However, she let me know I could intake this vitamin via soy milk, fortified cereals, and vitamin pills. (Side note: I am not a huge fan of taking vitamins. I would much rather gain all my nutrients from my diet!)
Vitamin B12 is vital to the diet, because it helps keep nerve and blood cells healthy. Vitamin B12 makes the body’s DNA. This vitamin always can prevent megaloblastic anemia, which is an anemia that makes people tired and weak. Here are some ways to include vitamin B12 in your diet if you do not eat animal products or take a vitamin supplement:
1. FORTIFIED CEREAL
Around my high school years, my mom came out of what seemed to be nowhere and banned sugary cereals from our home! We no longer had the “luxury” of indulging in some of our favorite breakfast choices including: Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, Fruity Pebbles, etc. I ended up just asking for Rice Krispies and adding loads of sugar anyway. As the years went by, I ended up being mortified at eating a bowl full of sugar. (This coming from someone who has an insane sweet tooth almost every day!) I guess you can say I’ve been turned off of cereal almost entirely with the exception of Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries! For every 1 1/4 cup of this delicious cereal I eat, I am gettin 20% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12! Whenever I have fresh strawberries, I chop them up and add them to this cereal. This is not the only cereal that is fortified with vitamin B12. Just check the nutrition facts to find one you would like to try.
2. NORI (SEAWEED)
I most certainly have a slight obsession with sushi. Just one of many dishes that can be made vegan. When buying seafood sheets for sushi, pay attention to the percentage of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. Emerald Cove’s Sushi Nori has 80% of the recommended daily value! Watch out for others that may cost less, but only contain 20% of the recommended daily value of vitamin B12. Keep it simple by rolling up some avocado, carrot, and jasmine rice on a nori sheet, and enjoy with some soy sauce and wasabi! You could even get creative with what you roll inside!
3. NUTRITIONAL YEAST
Nutritional Yeast has become a cupboard necessity for me! I make festive tofu scrambles, creamy Alfredo sauce, and “cheesy” broccoli soup with nutritional yeast. That so-called “cheese” flavor really gets the job done. I have bought this in bulk at Whole Foods or in a plastic container by Bragg. I have heard many people vouch for sprinkling this seasoning over popcorn. Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning has 630% of the daily recommended value per two tablespoons! The excess amount of vitamin B12 will not go to waste either! Extra vitamin B12 is stored in the liver that our bodies will use when needed! (If your urine turns bright highlighter yellow, it is completely normal after digesting nutritional yeast.)
4. FORTIFIED NONDAIRY MILK
I was never the type of kid to voluntarily indulge in a glass of milk; unless it was strictly for cookie-dipping purposes only. So unless I used milk to wet my cereal, start my milkshake, or bake a treat, I have tended to avoid milk my whole life. I have yet to find an almond milk in the grocery store with vitamin B12, so I resort to soy milk (usually by Silk). Silk’s soy milk has 120% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12 per cup. I do not mind the taste of almond milk, but soy milk is a little harder to tolerate (for me personally). I have used it to make pancakes, soup, Alfredo sauce, peach cobbler, and more! I am going to be checking out different plant-based milks to find another kind with vitamin B12. I am in the middle of researching soy and the effects on the body. Soon I’ll be deciding if I want to cut back on soy or continue as I have been.
5. CHLORELLA (ALGAE)
The amount of vitamin B12 appears to be inconsistent across my search. However, Organika Organic Chlorella Powder has 92% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12 per one level teaspoon! It contains high levels of protein, 18 amino acids, chlorophyll, and other nutrients. This company’s chlorella is grown naturally in fresh mineral water pools from Taiwan. If you don’t want to take chlorella in capsules, add the powder to a glass of water, smoothies, dressings, sauces, or baked goods. The taste can be bitter, so just find a food or drink to level the flavor. This superfood might just be what you need!
I am far from this idea of a perfect vegan, and I am just wetting my foot in nutrition. I am no self-proclaimed expert. Like the majority of my blog posts, I am sharing information I have gathered that has been helpful and/or eye-catching to me! The idea that a vegan or vegetarian diet cannot accommodate the body’s need for vitamin B12 is simply not true. It may not be as easy to keep healthy vitamin B12 levels, but it is possible!
Love and Light,