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Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)


A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to anemia, fatigue, mania, and depression, while a long term deficiency can potentially cause permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system. Vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, is naturally found solely in animal foods and thus vegans have to supplement their diets with fortified foods or supplements.

Fortified Cereals
A wide array of cereals now exist with the percent daily value (DV) of vitamin B12 added in. Vegans can eat the cereal with soy, rice, or almond milk.
List of Cereals High in Vitamin B12.

Fortified Soy Products
Most vegans consume soy both as a dairy substitute, and as a source of protein. Many soy products now come fortified with vitamin B12. Check the nutrition facts of the product to be sure.

Fortified Drinks
As more and more people are becoming vegan companies are seeing the benefit of fortifying drinks with vitamin B12. Drinks like Vitamin Water provide a health alternative to soft drinks.

Yeast Extract Spreads (Marmite)
Yeast extract spreads are popular in Britain and Europe, and have started to gain popularity in the U.S. A good vegan source of protein, the spread also packs a lot of vitamin B12. One hundred grams provides 0.5μg (8% DV) of vitamin B12, that is 0.03μg (1% DV) per teaspoon.
Click to see complete nutrition facts.

Vitamin Pills
Consuming vitamin B12 directly through pills is a great way to to ensure proper levels of vitamin B12 with little fuss. A wide variety of supplement pills are readily available at vitabase.com





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Comments.
Name:Gingras
Location:Connecticut
Subject:How is Vitamin B12 Made?
Good article, thank you for sharing. I am having trouble understanding how b12 supplements are made. If vitamin b12 is only found in animal products, then how do they isolate it without using animal sources? This has been puzzling me for a while, any help would be appreciated!
Posted on 2011-10-06 09:38:46
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: How is Vitamin B12 Made?
Hi Gingras, thanks for your question. All vitamin B12 is in fact manufactured by bacteria! This is true even for the vitamin B12 found in animal foods. Some people claim that they can obtain vitamin B12 from the bacteria found on plant foods, but these claims are controversial. The fact that vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria also explains why yeast extract spread is a good source, though even the spread is likely fortified. Taking this fact into account supplements of vitamin B12 are created by growing bacteria and extracting the resulting vitamin B12 (cobalamin). You can read more about it on the vitamin B12 wikipedia page.
Posted on 2011-10-06 09:50:50
Name:Rachel
Location:Taiwan
Subject:How is Vitamin B12 made?
What do the animals have? Why is meat rich in vitamin b12? Don't animals eat only vegetables? Look at cows, they eat only grass but they are good source of protein and vitamin B12. If we eat meat, we are getting second hand protein or second hand energy, so why don't we eat the way they eat? Get first hand energy from plants the way animals are doing. Eat plants.
Posted on 2012-03-06 19:46:51
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: How is Vitamin B12 made?
Hi Rachel, thanks for your question. As stated in the previous post, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria. Animals, like cows, which only eat plant foods have specialized digestive systems that allow them to ferment bacteria. The bacteria that grows in this fermentation provides them with vitamin B12 and even extra protein. Humans lack this digestive ability which is why they need to obtain vitamin B12 from animal foods or supplements.
Posted on 2012-03-06 20:21:28
Name:Jero
Location:England
Subject:B12 Content and Products
Would like to point out that Marmite provides 60% of DV per 4g serving according to label info. And that there are other yeast extracts such as Meridian Organic Yeast Extract and VitaminR among others that are far more ethical than Unilever.
Posted on 2012-03-28 16:28:12
Name:Rose Stevenson
Location:Toronto, Ont.
Subject:B12
My husband's b12 is very low what foods can I give him to bring the b12 up? Please let me know, I am so scared.
Posted on 2012-04-03 13:49:09
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12
Hi Rose, thanks for your question. First, don't worry, if his level was very low than the health professional who ran the test would likley have given him a B12 shot or supplements. Assuming your husband is vegan you can really only give him fortified foods, like cereals or soymilk that has b12 added in. For faster results, you can also try supplements. Please note that it might take 2 weeks to a year to fully restore his levels of vitamin B12.
Posted on 2012-04-03 14:09:23
Name:Ashley
Location:Ontario
Subject:B12 in Spirulina?
Just wondering why there are no vegetables or fruits listed in the b12 section? I know for sure that Seaweeds such as spirulina are very high in B12 even more so than any animal. This shoud definitely be put on both lists!
Posted on 2012-04-27 08:47:31
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12 in Spirulina?
Hi Ashely, thanks for your question. Basically, vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is created by bacteria inside certain animals, who later concentrate the vitamin, and therefore vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal foods. The nutrition facts for spirulina do not list any vitamin B12 content, perhaps the spirulina product you are consuming is fortified with vitamin B12? For vegans, spirulina can be a great high protein food.
Posted on 2012-05-04 01:49:43
Name:High Salt
Location:Oz
Subject:Yeast Extract Spreads Problem
The problem with Yeast Extract Spreads (Marmite) - is you only get a small amount per 100gm serving but you get high DVs in other areas that you might want to avoid.

Vitamin B12 0.5μg 8%
Sodium 2962mg 123% (this is already too high)
Thiamin 9.7mg 647% (not a known issue)
Riboflavin 14.3mg 841% (while this can be toxic if injected, it isn't a problem taken orally)
Niacin 97mg 485% (this will be a problem when you reach levels of 1g per day)
Posted on 2012-12-29 22:12:04
Name:Felipe
Location:Brasil
Subject:B12 in our own body?
I heard at a speech on veganism that human beings don't need to ingest b12 as we supposedly produce it in our body and our saliva has b12. Can you confirm that information?
Posted on 2013-01-15 20:30:43
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12 in our own body?
Hi Felipe, thanks for your question. It would be difficult to prove or disprove whether humans manufacture B12 in their bodies. B12 is made by bacteria, and bacteria exists in humans, so perhaps it is possible. However, it is very unlikely that this creation of vitamin B12 is enough to meet a person's requirements. If people could make all the vitamin B12 they needed, then there would be no vitamin B12 deficiency, and there would be no need to pay attention to vitamin B12. Most cultures in the world that have close to vegan diets incorporate some kind of animal food, and the reason is vitamin B12. You can stay vegan and get enough vitamin B12 from supplements and fortified foods. Hope that helps.
Posted on 2013-01-16 16:19:06
Name:Gunjan
Location:Alberta, Canada
Subject:Vitamin B12 creation in humans?
have a question related to your answer that you gave to 'HealthAliciousNess' to her "How is vitamin B12 made?" question. You responded to that person that humans don't have the ability to do the fermenting of bacteria. Do you know why that is? I thought that the human body is the most efficient system, and works better than any animals' or plants' bodies, so then why do we lack this ability to create vitamin B12 which is so important to our bodies without the help of meat or animal by-products? Thanks in advance for your response :)
Posted on 2014-03-17 11:49:28
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
Hi Gunjan, thanks for your question. Different animals can hold and incubate different bacteria at different times and places in their bodies. It appears my first post was wrong, and humans can actually ferment the bacteria for vitamin B12. The problem is that vitamin B12 is a very complex vitamin, and it is difficult for the body to extract and absorb it. So while the body can ferment the bacteria, it happens at a part further down the digestive tract, where it cannot be absorbed.
Posted on 2014-03-18 15:14:08
Name:Nyasha
Location:Zimbabwe
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
What about this I hear about bacteria in the mouth that can actually synthesize the B12 while we sleep. Some recommend that vegans should gurgle a cup of water each morning and drink before brushing the teeth. What's the truthfulness of these sentiments?
Posted on 2014-04-03 04:20:09
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
Hi Nyasha, thanks for your question. Given that there is quite a lot of competition among bacteria in your mouth, and that you should clean your mouth to prevent bacterial growth before sleeping, it seems unlikely that a bacteria which produces vitamin B12 would be able to flourish in sufficient quantities to make any meaningful amount of vitamin B12. Basically the sentiments are not justified.
Posted on 2014-04-03 22:25:14

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Comments.
Name:Gingras
Location:Connecticut
Subject:How is Vitamin B12 Made?
Good article, thank you for sharing. I am having trouble understanding how b12 supplements are made. If vitamin b12 is only found in animal products, then how do they isolate it without using animal sources? This has been puzzling me for a while, any help would be appreciated!
Posted on 2011-10-06 09:38:46
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: How is Vitamin B12 Made?
Hi Gingras, thanks for your question. All vitamin B12 is in fact manufactured by bacteria! This is true even for the vitamin B12 found in animal foods. Some people claim that they can obtain vitamin B12 from the bacteria found on plant foods, but these claims are controversial. The fact that vitamin B12 is synthesized by bacteria also explains why yeast extract spread is a good source, though even the spread is likely fortified. Taking this fact into account supplements of vitamin B12 are created by growing bacteria and extracting the resulting vitamin B12 (cobalamin). You can read more about it on the vitamin B12 wikipedia page.
Posted on 2011-10-06 09:50:50
Name:Rachel
Location:Taiwan
Subject:How is Vitamin B12 made?
What do the animals have? Why is meat rich in vitamin b12? Don't animals eat only vegetables? Look at cows, they eat only grass but they are good source of protein and vitamin B12. If we eat meat, we are getting second hand protein or second hand energy, so why don't we eat the way they eat? Get first hand energy from plants the way animals are doing. Eat plants.
Posted on 2012-03-06 19:46:51
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: How is Vitamin B12 made?
Hi Rachel, thanks for your question. As stated in the previous post, vitamin B12 is made by bacteria. Animals, like cows, which only eat plant foods have specialized digestive systems that allow them to ferment bacteria. The bacteria that grows in this fermentation provides them with vitamin B12 and even extra protein. Humans lack this digestive ability which is why they need to obtain vitamin B12 from animal foods or supplements.
Posted on 2012-03-06 20:21:28
Name:Jero
Location:England
Subject:B12 Content and Products
Would like to point out that Marmite provides 60% of DV per 4g serving according to label info. And that there are other yeast extracts such as Meridian Organic Yeast Extract and VitaminR among others that are far more ethical than Unilever.
Posted on 2012-03-28 16:28:12
Name:Rose Stevenson
Location:Toronto, Ont.
Subject:B12
My husband's b12 is very low what foods can I give him to bring the b12 up? Please let me know, I am so scared.
Posted on 2012-04-03 13:49:09
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12
Hi Rose, thanks for your question. First, don't worry, if his level was very low than the health professional who ran the test would likley have given him a B12 shot or supplements. Assuming your husband is vegan you can really only give him fortified foods, like cereals or soymilk that has b12 added in. For faster results, you can also try supplements. Please note that it might take 2 weeks to a year to fully restore his levels of vitamin B12.
Posted on 2012-04-03 14:09:23
Name:Ashley
Location:Ontario
Subject:B12 in Spirulina?
Just wondering why there are no vegetables or fruits listed in the b12 section? I know for sure that Seaweeds such as spirulina are very high in B12 even more so than any animal. This shoud definitely be put on both lists!
Posted on 2012-04-27 08:47:31
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12 in Spirulina?
Hi Ashely, thanks for your question. Basically, vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is created by bacteria inside certain animals, who later concentrate the vitamin, and therefore vitamin B12 is found naturally only in animal foods. The nutrition facts for spirulina do not list any vitamin B12 content, perhaps the spirulina product you are consuming is fortified with vitamin B12? For vegans, spirulina can be a great high protein food.
Posted on 2012-05-04 01:49:43
Name:High Salt
Location:Oz
Subject:Yeast Extract Spreads Problem
The problem with Yeast Extract Spreads (Marmite) - is you only get a small amount per 100gm serving but you get high DVs in other areas that you might want to avoid.

Vitamin B12 0.5μg 8%
Sodium 2962mg 123% (this is already too high)
Thiamin 9.7mg 647% (not a known issue)
Riboflavin 14.3mg 841% (while this can be toxic if injected, it isn't a problem taken orally)
Niacin 97mg 485% (this will be a problem when you reach levels of 1g per day)
Posted on 2012-12-29 22:12:04
Name:Felipe
Location:Brasil
Subject:B12 in our own body?
I heard at a speech on veganism that human beings don't need to ingest b12 as we supposedly produce it in our body and our saliva has b12. Can you confirm that information?
Posted on 2013-01-15 20:30:43
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: B12 in our own body?
Hi Felipe, thanks for your question. It would be difficult to prove or disprove whether humans manufacture B12 in their bodies. B12 is made by bacteria, and bacteria exists in humans, so perhaps it is possible. However, it is very unlikely that this creation of vitamin B12 is enough to meet a person's requirements. If people could make all the vitamin B12 they needed, then there would be no vitamin B12 deficiency, and there would be no need to pay attention to vitamin B12. Most cultures in the world that have close to vegan diets incorporate some kind of animal food, and the reason is vitamin B12. You can stay vegan and get enough vitamin B12 from supplements and fortified foods. Hope that helps.
Posted on 2013-01-16 16:19:06
Name:Gunjan
Location:Alberta, Canada
Subject:Vitamin B12 creation in humans?
have a question related to your answer that you gave to 'HealthAliciousNess' to her "How is vitamin B12 made?" question. You responded to that person that humans don't have the ability to do the fermenting of bacteria. Do you know why that is? I thought that the human body is the most efficient system, and works better than any animals' or plants' bodies, so then why do we lack this ability to create vitamin B12 which is so important to our bodies without the help of meat or animal by-products? Thanks in advance for your response :)
Posted on 2014-03-17 11:49:28
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
Hi Gunjan, thanks for your question. Different animals can hold and incubate different bacteria at different times and places in their bodies. It appears my first post was wrong, and humans can actually ferment the bacteria for vitamin B12. The problem is that vitamin B12 is a very complex vitamin, and it is difficult for the body to extract and absorb it. So while the body can ferment the bacteria, it happens at a part further down the digestive tract, where it cannot be absorbed.
Posted on 2014-03-18 15:14:08
Name:Nyasha
Location:Zimbabwe
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
What about this I hear about bacteria in the mouth that can actually synthesize the B12 while we sleep. Some recommend that vegans should gurgle a cup of water each morning and drink before brushing the teeth. What's the truthfulness of these sentiments?
Posted on 2014-04-03 04:20:09
Name:HealthAliciousNess
Subject:RE: Vitamin B12 creation on humans?
Hi Nyasha, thanks for your question. Given that there is quite a lot of competition among bacteria in your mouth, and that you should clean your mouth to prevent bacterial growth before sleeping, it seems unlikely that a bacteria which produces vitamin B12 would be able to flourish in sufficient quantities to make any meaningful amount of vitamin B12. Basically the sentiments are not justified.
Posted on 2014-04-03 22:25:14

Post a comment.
Name:          
Location:       
Email:(Optional)
Subject:         

Spam Prevention *(REQUIRED):
Enter the last three letters of this sentence.

References

    • USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20.