Top 5 Natural Vegetarian sources of Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

If you are vegetarian, or considering going vegetarian, then getting enough vitamin B12 should be of concern to you. A slight deficiency of vitamin B-12, or Cobalamin, 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. If you are not eating meat and want to maintain a natural diet then it is essential that you incorporate the natural vegetarian foods below into your diet. Vitamin supplements are also available.

#1: Cheese
The amount of vitamin B12 in cheese depends on type and variety, Swiss cheese provides the most with 3.34μg per 100g serving (56% DV), followed by Gjetost(40% DV), Mozzarella(39% DV), Tilsit(35% DV), and Feta(28% DV).
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#2: Eggs
When it comes to chicken eggs the raw yellow has most of the vitamin B-12 with 1.95μg per 100g serving (33% DV), however, this equates to 0.33μg per yolk or just 6% of the DV. The eggs of other animals are higher with a goose egg providing 7.34μg (122% DV) of vitamin B-12 per 100g serving, and a duck egg providing 3.78μg (63% DV).
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#3: Whey Powder
Once thought the sole domain of body builders, whey powder is now entering main stream as more people are going vegetarian. Whey powder is a common addition to breads and smoothies, 100 grams will provide 2.5 μg of vitamin B12 or 42% of the DV.
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#4: Milk and Yogurt
100 grams of non-fat yogurt provides 0.53μg (10% DV) of vitamin B12 and 15%DV per cup. 100 grams of reduced fat milk provides 0.46μg (8% DV) and 19% DV per cup.
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#5: 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 vegetarian 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.
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Health Benefits of Vitamin B12

  • Protect Against Heart Disease - Adequate levels of vitamins B12, B6, and B9 have been shown to lower levels of a protein in the blood: homocysteine. Lower levels of homocysteine has been shown to improve endothelial function, which in turn may boost cardiovascular health and decrease risk of heart attacks.3-5
  • Protect and Repair DNA to Reduce Cancer Risk and Slow Aging - Absorption of vitamin b12 and Folate (B9) is essential for DNA metabolism and maintenance which helps to prevent cancer and slow aging.6 Read full blog post here...
  • Protect Against Dementia and Cognitive Decline - Lack of vitamin B12 increases homocysteine levels, which in turn decreases the bodies ability to metabolize neurotransmitters.7 Due to limitations with creating long term controlled studies in human populations, no definite link between increased vitamin b12 levels and cognitive function have been found,8-12 however several observational studies suggest increased homocysteine levels increase the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and dementia,13-15 and low levels of vitamin B12 has been associated with cognitive decline.16
  • Alzheimer's Protection - A study has shown that a deficiency in Vitamin B12 and Folate (B9) can double the risk of Alzheimer's Disease.17
  • Energy and Endurance - A lack of vitamin B12 will lead to anemia and weakness. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are necessary to maintain normal energy levels. Claims of vitamin B12 as an energy or atheletic enhancer remain unproven.18
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People at Risk of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency

  • Older Adults who have Atrophic Gastritis - A condition affecting 30-50% of adults over age 50 and hampers their ability to absorb vitamin B12 from natural foods. Supplements are recommended for people in this group.
  • People with Pernicious Anemia - A condition that affects 1-2% of adults and can only effectively be treated with vitamin B12 injections or shots.
  • Vegans and Vegetarians - Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, however there are some natural vegetarian foods high in vitamin b12 and various fortified B12 foods for vegans.
  • Pregnant and Lactating Women who are Vegetarian or Vegan
  • People taking Certain Medications

How much Vitamin B12 is in Brewers Yeast?

Brewers Yeast is a rich source of nutrients, typically used for making beer, but can also be used to make breads and other consumables. There are conflicting reports on how much vitamin B12 brewers yeast provides. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that it provides no B-12. However, the nutrition facts from Now Foods lists a whopping 3 micrograms (50% DV) of vitamin B12 in two tablespoons of brewers yeast. This is way more B12 than what you can get from Marmite or other yeast extracts. So, as ever with nutrition facts, it is best to buy a product where you can consult the label for specific B12 content. One should also be cautious on counting on the yeast as a sole source for vitamin B12.

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Other Vitamin B Foods

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