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Vitamin B12 for Vegans

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

One of the main concerns that people have about a vegan diet is that they're worried about how the change will affect their health. In fact, there is this long-standing myth that vegans do not get enough—or any at all—vitamin B12 in their diet. This is simply not true - it is a myth that needs to get debunked!

While it's true that this essential vitamin is more challenging to find in a vegan diet, it is not impossible to get what our body needs. There are several vegan B12 sources available, such as fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, and vegan milk. Some vegetables and fruits also contain vitamin B12, such as seaweed and shitake mushroom.

And this is where it gets interesting. Unlike animal-based B12, vegan-friendly vitamin B12 is not bound to protein, giving it better bioavailability. In other words, the absorption rate through the gut lining becomes easier, as it doesn't rely on the efficiency of the hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes in the stomach to break it down into smaller components. This makes it easier to pass through into the bloodstream.

What is Vitamin B12 and what does it do?

Vitamin B12, also referred to as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that contains the mineral cobalt. It plays an important role in cell metabolism, nerve function, and red cell blood formation, as well as the production of DNA.

Vitamin B12 is important for the support and maintenance of the essential processes that keep our body healthy. Getting a sufficient amount of this vitamin can help prevent you from developing pernicious anaemia, a condition that affects the quality of red blood cells produced.

However, unlike most other vitamins, vitamin B12 can only be formulated by bacterial symbiosis. This means only specific types of bacteria can produce the vitamin. It is naturally present in some foods or added to others. It is also available as a dietary supplement, especially for those on a vegan diet.

Don't worry. Taking a vegan B12 supplement doesn't mean that you have a poor diet. Anyone—whether you're on an animal-based or vegan diet—can take dietary supplements. It's completely safe and normal. Learn more about how to take vegan supplements and which ones you actually need to be healthy.

Vitamin B12 deficiency: Signs and symptoms