Are you vegan or vegetarian? The truth about vitamin B12

Are you vegan or vegetarian? The truth about vitamin B12

Do you not eat animal products? Then, you have to take vitamin B12 supplements. This nutrient is essential for the formation of red cells and the nervous system. Although you may have read all kinds of statements about it, some are not based on solid evidence. This article is going to be specially useful for vegans and vegetarians alike.

The purpose of this post is to discern between reality and legend. It is time to talk about the always polemic relation between vegan diets and vitamin B12 (click here for more information about this vitamin).

I am Vegan

The purpose of this post is to discern between reality and legend. It is time to talk about the always polemic relation between vegan diets and vitamin B12 (click here for more information about this vitamin).

The nutrient in discordance with vegetarian diets

Vitamin B12 is a must have for our health. In fact, it is in charge of producing red cells and ensuring the proper functioning of the central nervous system. To do so, it protects the myelin sheath of the neurons and supports the synthesis of neurotransmitters. To top it all, it also works as a coenzyme in several metabolic tasks.

Therefore, we cannot deny its importance supported by the scientific literature which has reached undoubted conclusions: vegans and vegetarians run an unnecessary risk by not taking a good dose of this vitamin.

That is why it is interesting to know how to meet the vitamin B12 requirements in order to not compromise our health. Then, this simple question for vegans and vegetarians has a very simple answer: if you want to avoid a B12 deficiency, you need to take supplementation.

Why is it so important to use vitamin B12 supplementation for vegans?

Because B12, also known as the “vitamin of energy” or cobalamin is available in animal products. Moreover, you need to take it on a daily basis in order to ensure its levels.

For vegans a vegetarians, the main issues lies in that most of vegetables do not contain vitamin B12. This is due to the fact that this vitamin can only be produced through bacteria in products that come from meat and thereof.

Then, are vegan diets counterproductive? This is not what we want you to think by any means. In fact, vegan and vegetarians diets have pros and cons, just like any other diet:

  • On the one hand, it lowers the risk of suffering some pathologies, such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes.
  • On the other hand, this diet does not meet the minimum recommended dose of vitamin B12 that our body needs. Although sunbathing can help to meet a high percentage of other vital nutrients, like vitamins and minerals.
Then, what can we do to fix this? Well, you can use vegan sources of vitamin B12. Undeniably, the most popular one is supplementation, as we are going to see now.

Hand holding two apples and hand holding a hamburguer

What is the incidence rate of low cobalamin in vegans and vegetarians?

The rate of vitamin B12 changes between vegans and vegetarians and the rest of the population. Those who eat meat obviously have a lower lack of cobalamin (read more).

Therefore, it is not a myth that vegans and vegetarians need to take B12 supplements. Although the information tells us that they are not the only ones that should. Why? Up to a 40% of the adult population have low levels of this vitamin. However, we cannot deny that if you do not eat meat, taking B12 supplements is more a necessity than a choice.

Symptoms and consequences

Vitamin B12 is absorbed through the diet, but it is also stored in the body, mainly the liver. Due to this, the onset of the symptoms does not happen immediately. Rather, it takes a long time before we are starting the experience the first effects.

A low B12 in vegetarian or vegan women is specially worrisome. This is due to the fact that it can affect the fetus and cause growth disorders. Moreover, some of the consequences of a vitamin B12 deficiency are irreversible, such as the loss of the myelin sheath.

Capsules on a leaf

Are there sources of B12 for vegans?

We have already mentioned that the main sources of vitamin B12 come from animals, particularly from:

  • Beef liver and clams
  • Poultry, fish, eggs, milk and almost all dairy products
Keep reading about the best sources of vitamin B12

But, are there fruit and vegetables that have B12? A lot has been said about this issue. The conclusion of this debate is that although many fruits are rich in complex B vitamins, they are not particularly rich in vitamin B12.

Therefore, mushrooms and algae may be the only vegetables that contain active vitamin B12. However, we are sad to say that this is only applicable to some species. For instance, the pearl oyster mushrooms native to Southern Italy or Sicily, or even rare species like the Amethyst Cantharellus.

Other possible vegetable sources of vitamin B12 are Shiitake mushrooms (although its supply changes depending on the climate and soil). Fermented products are also good sources, such as tea, sauerkraut or soy products (tempeh). However, their supply is very low (around 1 microgram per 100 grams of dry weight).

All in all, is the vitamin B12 from algae and vegetables enough? There is evidence that these products can help to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, they are not completely reliable, which is why we have to give bad news in this regard.

Vegan recipes rich in vitamin B12: a delicacy within your reach

Vegan and tasty? Awesome!

This is our premise when it comes to cooking vegan recipes. Once you try it, you will become addicted! Are you not good at cooking? No problem, this recipe is not only delicious, it is also very easy to make!

Vegan Bites

Vegan bites recipe

Depending on the type of soy, you may need to use a food processor or perhaps it will end up being too liquid. You can use oat flour or chickpea flour in order to thicken it.

Recipe Tips: Vegan Bites

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 40 minutes
  • Portion size: 1 Bite
  • Number of servings: 15
  • Cooking style: Mediterranean


  • 300g of textured soy
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 scoop of Nutri Greens by EssentialSeries
  • Spices: 1 tbsp of garlic powder, 1 tbsp of onion powder, 1 tbsp of oregano , 1 tbsp of ground cumin, ½ tbsp of black pepper
Nutritional Information per serving
of which saturates:0.14g
of which sugars:0.1g

How to make: Vegan Bites

  1. Putt he soy in a recipient or bowl.
  2. Add water until you cover the soy and let it settle until the soy softens.
  3. Grind the soy with a fork.
  4. Add the spices and a scoop of Nutri Greens. Mix it up.
  5. Make small balls with your hands. Put them in an oven tray with baking paper.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes at 170ºC until they are cooked.

Start taking B12 supplements and keep living intensely without compromising your health.

Are you vegan or vegetarian and you want to learn more about vitamin B12? Then keep reading:

  • Is an excess dangerous? See more
  • Check its chemical forms
  • Click here to find out more about this vitamin and the intrinsic factor
  • Do you know what may happen to your body if you stop eating meat?? Don´t miss the article dedicated to the subject.


Vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians Review

B12 for vegans and vegetarians - 100%

Risk of a deficiency? - 100%

Scientific tests - 99%

Advice - 100%


HSN Evaluation: 5 /5
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About Carlos Sánchez
Carlos Sánchez
Carlos Sánchez has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics, and therefore all his actions are rigorously backed by science.
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