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3 December, 2015

Why Vegetarians and Vegans May NEED Vitamin B-12 Supplements

Comments : 6 Posted in : Hot Topics on Health, Tips to make daily food healthy on by : apsara Tags: , , , , ,

We often hear stories like: “I took my B-vitamins and got a lot of energy that kept me going throughout the day.” There is a lot of truth in it.

Read to find out about a very important B vitamin that you may be missing! Sharing this post at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #97 co-hosted by Johanne @French Gardener Dishes and Liz @ Spades Spatulas and Spoons.

Where Vitamin B-12 Is Found In Nature:

B-12 is made by micro-organisms in soil and dirt, that also grow in the gut of herbivores. Herbivores that are grass-fed get it from the soil. They can also be produced by bacteria during fermentation of milk (yogurt).
Omnivores get their intake of this vitamin by regularly eating the meat of such animals. There is no known plant source of B-12; hence many vegans and vegetarians are deficient UNLESS they supplement or eat two full servings of B-12 fortified foods everyday.

Effects Of B-12 Deficiency include:

  • Initial symptoms: Sore tongue, poor memory, abnormal gait, blurred vision
  • Severe deficiency: Spinal cord degeneration and paralysis
  • High levels of homocysteine that can lead to heart disease and dementia (brain damage)
Homocysteine is a toxic metabolite that naturally builds up in the body. One of the main ways that it gets destroyed is by the intake of vitamin B12. Other pathways that get rid of it are through the action of choline, vitamin B-6 and folate.

Where to get it?

Vitamin B-12 fortified foods like
  • Yogurt, preferably made at home. There are many vegetarian kids who do not like the taste of yogurt. It would be a good idea to supplement their diet with vitamin B-12 tablets.
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes- a vegan substitute to impart cheesy flavor in food. It is a byproduct of molasses. Click on the link (in blue) to see my earlier post on it.
B-12 supplementation in the form of chewable/sublingual tablets (Dosage: Dr. Greger’s recommendation is 100 micrograms a day or 2000 micrograms once a week)


What If I Overdose???

The good news is that you CANNOT overdose on any of the B vitamins. They are water soluble and any excess in the body is excreted in urine.

I am not a doctor nor a nutritionist; just a well informed mom with extensive background in chemistry. I write these articles to spread awareness about nutrition and health. These are information I have gleaned from various books, talks and from personal experience.

References and further reading:

Vitamin B-12 Recommendation on NutritionFacts.org
What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B-12 From Vegan Society
Vitamin B-12 And Yogurt


6 thoughts on : Why Vegetarians and Vegans May NEED Vitamin B-12 Supplements

  • December 4, 2015 at 3:08 am

    Yogurt made at home or commercial yogurt with natural probiotics (bacteria) is an important source of vitamin B 12 for vegetarians, besides egg, if they do consume eggs. Fermented batters can also contain some B12 but may not be very bio- available. Hence, vegetarians must have yogurt (low fat) on a daily basis. Vegans usually need supplements. Hope this info helps! Keep up the good work!!! 🙂

    • apsara
      December 4, 2015 at 3:26 am

      Thank you for your valuable input! I will add this note.

  • December 4, 2015 at 8:33 pm

    This is so important! A few years ago I dropped all dairy products to follow a vegan diet and ended up very very unwell due to a vitamin B12 deficiency, I hadn’t researched what vitamins and minerals I would be losing from my diet 🙁
    I ended up having to have a set of B12 injections in quick succession and still have to have them every few months. Thank you for highlighting this x

    • apsara
      December 4, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Oh, Elaine, I’m so glad you got have got it under control. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • Liz
    December 5, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    I am neither a vegetarian or vegan but my Dr. recommended supplementing with B12. I notice a difference in energy. Thanks for posting and bringing this to FF.

    • apsara
      December 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      I’m glad that you find a difference after taking the vitamin, Liz. Thank you for co-hosting and sharing your experience!

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