Are you a vegan or vegetarian? Maybe you’re feeling sluggish and tired… or even a little off balance? Perhaps you are missing something in your life, and that something could be B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for everyone, however since it is not produced naturally in plants it can pose a major problem for uninformed vegans and vegetarians.
So why do we need B12? It is absolutely necessary for the formation of red blood cells and proper development of the nervous system. If you don’t get enough B12 you are at risk of anemia, mood “disturbances”, a breakdown of cognitive function, loss of balance or just generally feeling strange. To avoid this, the recommended dose is 2 ½ micrograms of B12 a day. Yet, this can be especially difficult if you don’t eat meat. But don’t worry I got you! Here is a list of easily accessible foods and products where you can find your daily intake of B12, vegetarian style.
1. DAIRY PRODUCTS
Vegetarians that love dairy are in luck because dairy products are a great source of B12 (sorry vegans, but this won’t work for you). Thank goodness for dairy products because there is so much variety, from cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, and my personal favourite cheese, you can find substantial amounts of B12 in all of these products. For example, just 1 ½ ounces of Swiss cheese contains 1.7 micrograms of B12, and that’s more than half of your daily intake there. Just so you know, even ice cream contains B12!
This is also not a useful suggestion for vegans, but vegetarians will find this helpful. Not only are eggs inexpensive and easy to make, they are a great source of protein and B12. There is up to 1.6 micrograms of B12 in just two eggs!
3. FAUX MEATS
So you don’t want to eat meat but you still want some of its benefits? Then fortified meat analogues are a great thing for you. You can find all sort of meatless products including “beef crumble”, soy burgers, faux bacon, faux “phish”and even “chicken”. Though these products are highly processed they contain B12, lots of protein and less fat and cholesterol than real meat. Just one 2 ½ ounce soy burger contains 1.8 micrograms of B12, that’s the majority of your daily requirement right there.
4. BREAKFAST CEREALS
I am not talking about your childhood favourites, Captain Crunch and Fruit Loops. I am thinking more on the lines of that healthy stuff that old people eat, like All Bran, Muselix, Whole Grain Cheerios and Grape Nuts. Just kidding! These cereals are not for old people, but healthy ones! Fortified breakfast cereals are a great source of vitamins because they contain added nutrients like iron, folic acid, calcium, sometimes Vitamin D and B12. If you’re unsure whether or not your cereal is fortified and contains B12 all you have to do is check the label! I have included a link with over 200 breakfast cereals that contain B12 here. You will definitely be able to find a cereal or two that suits your cravings and nutritional needs.
5. NUTRITIONAL YEAST
Nutritional yeast is a flakey, yellowish brown substance. Okay, so it sounds a little nasty but I swear it isn’t. When added to warm dishes, it has a creamy texture and savoury taste. Vegans often use it as a substitute for cheese. The best part is that only 2 tablespoons contains 1 microgram! You can find nutritional yeast flakes at any health food stores and sometimes even in bulk!
6. WHEY PROTEIN (no it’s not just for beefcakes)
Make sure you are not buying whey powder because in this case you actually need whey protein. A cup of whey powder only contains about 8% of your daily intake of B12 whereas a ¼ cup of whey protein contains 1 microgram of B12, 42% of your necessary daily intake. Not bad, huh? Not only this, vegans and vegetarians will find that it is a great source of protein because your body absorbs it super quickly. You can definitely find whey protein at your local health food store but only at some grocery stores. So in that case I would recommend giving them a call in advance so you don’t waste the trip. TIP: If you mix it with regular dairy milk or fortified nut milks in a smoothie, you’re increasing your B12 intake quickly and easily!
7. ALMOND, OAT, RICE or SOY MILKS- fortified
One glass (250 mL) has up to 1 microgram of B12. If you add some of that with your breakfast cereal you have a significant amount of your daily intake covered. Keep in mind this is a vegan-friendly option too!
Taking B12 supplements is the foolproof way for both vegans and vegetarians to increase their B12 intake and can be purchased at any of your local health food stores! You can find them in chewable tablets, sprays or capsules that you can swallow! But according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, your body has a limited capacity to absorb B12. So there is really no point of ingesting more than 10 micrograms per day.