Best Sources of Vitamin B12 for a Plant-Based Diet

James Colquhoun JAMES COLQUHOUN

Struggling with energy levels? B12. Can’t make sense of your mood? B12. Dizzy and blurred vision? You guessed it, B12. If you’ve ever explored a plant-based diet or even practised complete veganism, B12 will be a familiar-sounding vitamin to you. That’s because, as amazing as plant-based diets can make us feel, they can also be one of the hardest places to find this essential nutrient. 

B12 is one of the B-group vitamins (there are eight essentials) that have widespread functions in the body. Vitamin B12, one of the most commonly occurring deficiencies due to dietary, lifestyle, and age factors, has a significant role in the production of red blood cells and DNA. Without it, our bodies can become nutritionally depleted.

Symptoms of deficiency can take years to show up and can sometimes be mistaken for folate deficiency. Some of the most symptoms include mouth ulcers, disturbed vision, pins and needles, weakness & fatigue, pale and jaundiced skin, significant mood changes, breathlessness, and dizziness.

Why do plant-based diets struggle with B12?

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is most abundantly found in animal products like pasture-raised dairy products, eggs, grass-fed meat organ meats, grass-fed meats, wild-caught salmon, wild-caught trout, clams, and sardines. It means that for vegetarians, you can become solely reliant on eggs and occasional dairy, and for those practising a vegan diet, you have to look elsewhere.

So what are the Best Sources of Vitamin B12 for a Plant-Based Diet?

Thankfully, there are some plant-based sources of B12 which means we don’t all have to rely on supplementation and fortified foods. The best sources include:

  1. Nutritional Yeast

  2. Seaweed

  3. Algae

  4. Mushrooms (in very small amounts).

Apart from mushrooms, we don’t often find these foods in an everyday diet. Even when we do make a conscious effort to eat them, we might not be getting enough. So we rely on some handy hacks to boost our intake.

Try supporting your B12 intake these ways:

  • Too much folic acid can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. Research suggests that high folate levels can even exacerbate the anemia and cognitive symptoms associated with a lack of vitamin B12, so ensure you are monitoring these.

  • Decrease your alcohol intake, as this has been shown to impair absorption

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