Vitamin B12 Foods For Vegans (9 Top Sources)

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As a vegan, you know vitamin B12 is a key component of a healthy plant based diet. But what are vitamin B12 foods for vegans?

How does food affect my B12 status? Should I supplement?

You’ll want to read the entire dietitian written article to get the scoop. Lets dive in!

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This post was originally published on 2/17/22. The updated date is listed above.

9 Vitamin B12 Foods For Vegan

Vegan food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  1. Nutritional Yeast Fortified with Vitamin B12
  2. Plant Based Milk Fortified with Vitamin B12
  3. Vegan Cheese Fortified with Vitamin B12
  4. Vegan Yogurts Fortified with Vitamin B12
  5. Vegan Cereals Fortified with Vitamin B12
  6. Vegan Protein/Meal Replacement Bars Fortified with Vitamin B12
  7. Impossible and Beyond Burgers
  8. Loma Linda Veggie “Meats” (certain ones)
  9. Marmite

How much vitamin B12 do these products have? What other notable nutrients might they have? Lets get into those details next!

FYI: The nutrient values below are just examples, and do not represent all within a certain type of food. They can change as companies could change ingredients, you may have a different version of the product, etc. Check the nutrition facts panel for yourself!

While this is a discussion of vegan foods with vitamin B12, it’s widely accepted that a more consistent/reliable source would be through supplements. Those on diets containing plant foods in abundance (such as various vegetarian or flexitarian diets) or primarily vegan foods should talk to their doctor about supplementing.

Graphic with examples of food sources of vitamin B12 for vegans. Includes nutritional yeast and marmite fortified with vitamin B12, plant based milks, cheese or yogurts fortified with vitamin b12, vegan cereals and protein bars foritified with vitamin b12 and impossible, beyond burgers or loma linda products fortified with vitamin b12. disclaimer: ingredients may change. check the nutrition facts panel.

1. Nutritional Yeast Fortified With Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 fortified nutritional yeast probably has the most vitamin B12 per weight than any other vegan food! They can also provide other B vitamins, like biotin.

But what is it? And why does it smell so… different?

Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast (aka: unsuitable for rising dough) often from the strain called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.

We are not talking about bakers yeast (the kind you use for bread making)!

Nutritional yeast has been described as imparting a “cheesy flavor”, and popular uses for it include:

  • As a topping for popcorn
  • As an ingredient in vegan nut based “cheese” (such as cashew cheese)
  • For tofu dishes (ie: tofu scramble, ingredient added to breading for tofu, etc.).

The most important catch is that nutritional yeast may or may not be fortified with vitamin B12. However, most many available in the US are fortified with the vitamin- just double check the nutrition facts panel.

2. Plant Based Milk Fortified with Vitamin B12

Plant based “milks,” like soy, oat, and almond milk are gaining in popularity.

Depending on the ingredients, some may be described as creamy, nutty, or even grainy! Nonetheless, there are so many varieties you’re sure to find a tasty one.

When it comes to finding a vegan “milk” with B12, make sure you read the ingredients!

Some are fortified, some are not. I tend to see that many in the US are not always fortified with vitamin B12. Still, they may have some (but not all) important nutrients dairy milk may have provided, like calcium and iodine.

Picture of Silk organic unsweetened soymilk

3. Vegan Cheese Fortified with Vitamin B12

While it is rare to find vegan “cheese” fortified with vitamin B12 in the US, some do exist! I’ve seen some vitamin B12 in certain Violife and Daiya products for example (double check the label to be sure).

Just like the we’ve seen in our previous section, don’t assume your vegan “cheese” provides the same nutrients as dairy cheese, like vitamin A.

4. Vegan Yogurts Fortified with Vitamin B12

Finding a plant based yogurt with vitamin B12 in the US may be even harder than the cheese example!

When you do find them, they certainly can contribute to your vitamin B12 intake, and pair nicely with the next item on the list…

5. Vegan Cereals Fortified with Vitamin B12

B12 fortified vegan cereals are quite hard to find in the US, but they do exist!

And if you pair it with some fortified plant based milk, you up the nutrient content.

6. Vegan Protein/Meal Replacement Bars Fortified with Vitamin B12

Many vegan protein or meal replacement bars aren’t vitamin B12 fortified, but some are!

7. Impossible And Beyond Burgers

picture of impossible burgers

Both of these burgers have become very popular, possibly due to their similar taste to beef burgers.

The first time I had an Impossible burger, I wondered if I had actually ordered beef one instead! It’s that realistic of a taste. Wild.

8. Loma Linda Veggie “Meats” (Certain Ones)

picture of the vitamin and minerals on the nutrition facts label of Loma Linda Big Franks

I grew up eating the fake frankfurters as a child, so these bring back so many memories! And several (but not all of them) are vegan and fortified with vitamin B12.

Here’s a list of the Loma Linda products that have some amount of vitamin B12 in them and are labeled vegan:

9. Marmite

What is marmite? A yeast based extract spread (typically put on various types of bread), that has been described as having a umami flavor.

Vegemite 40% Less Salt may contain some vitamin B12 fortification as well-check the labels!

FAQ About Vegan Food and Vitamin B12

Why Do I Need Vitamin B12 as a Vegan?

First of all, everyone needs an adequate amount of vitamin B12! But vegans must either supplement or get sufficient vitamin B12 fortified foods consistently (and spaced throughout the day).

That’s because Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products that vegans avoid, ( dairy, meat, fish, and eggs). Using a supplement is widely accepted as a more consistent way to get vitamin B12. This essential nutrient is important to support the function of of our nerves and the red blood cell formation(1).

How Much Do I Need?

The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for non pregnant or lactating adults is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day(1).
Vitamin B12 absorption is a bit complicated (and it is absorbed even less at higher doses). So, we might need more than the RDA. The EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) suggests an Adequate Intake (AI) of at least 4 mcg per day for adults who are not pregnant or lactating(2).

For the cyanocobalamin form of vitamin B12, suggests a vitamin B12 supplement of about 50 mcg per day for adults under 65 years old.

Many factors could increase the amount of vitamin B12 you need, such as those who have malabsorption or gastrointestinal disorders or surgery on the GI tract. Older adults and those who have reduced Intrinsic Factor (a protein from the stomach that helps absorb vitamin B12 may also need more.

What Happens If I Don’t Get Enough Vitamin B12?

A vitamin B12 deficiency can have severe consequences including: megaloblastic anemia (larger red blood cells), nervous system disorders (such as cognitive impairment), gait problems, neural tube defects and developmental delays in infants born to vitamin B12 deficient mothers(5).
Case in point: make a plan to get a reliable source of this essential nutrient!

Can I Consume Too Much?

We aren’t quite sure how much is too much vitamin B12. An UL (upper limit) has not yet been set for vitamin B12 by the Food and Nutrition Board(1). However, this doesn’t mean that there are zero consequences for taking lots of vitamin B12, nor does it mean that an UL will not be set in the future. We need more research in this area. As a water soluble vitamin, excess can be removed.

Do I need A Vitamin B12 Supplement?

If you are vegan, you will likely need a a vitamin B12 supplement. If you are plant based or vegetarian you also might need to supplement as it can be more challenging to get enough(3). While you could meet your needs through foods fortified with vitamin B12, you would need to be consistent, and space intake of these foods throughout the day. That’s a a lot of stuff to keep in mind!

It’s widely accepted that the easiest way to be consistent is to take a supplement. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate type and dosage for your situation. He or she may want to check your B12 levels and other labs to assess your B12 intake, and decide on an appropriate dose.

Additionally, those with liver or kidney disease must talk to their doctor about a appropriate plan, as many vitamin b12 supplements contain the form cyanocobalamin, which contains some cyanide(4).

Other forms of vitamin B12 in supplements include methylcobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, and hydroxocobalamin. Injections are also available(1).

Will a Multivitamin Meet My Needs?

Some multivitamins may have enough vitamin B12, and others do not. Talk to your doctor about whether or not your multivitamin has enough vitamin B12 for you. Remember, your needs will vary depending on your health conditions, life stage, etc.

Can I get Enough Vitamin B12 Through Fruits and Veggies?

We do not have enough research to suggests that any fruit or vegetable will provide enough vitamin B12. Do not rely on plant food sources to meet your needs.
Again, active vitamin B12 is only found in animal products and foods that have been fortified with this nutrient.

Are Fermented Vegan Foods, like Tempeh a Good Source of Vitamin B12?

No. Some may have inactive B12 “analogues” (for lack of better word), but these are not the active form of vitamin B12 in the body. of vitamin B12- these analogues could actually suppress active vitamin B12 and contribute to symptoms of deficiency(6).
Again, the only vegan foods that contain useable vitamin B12 are B12 fortified foods, like we have discussed in the list above.

Final Words

Vitamin B12 foods for vegans include vitamin B12 fortified nutritional yeast, plant based milks and fake meats. Remember, they must be fortified with vitamin B12 as vegan foods. Other plant based foods do not provide active vitamin B12.

Vegans should talk to their doctor about an appropriate supplement regimen. Relying on fortified foods alone may not be the best strategy for several reasons, including the risk of being inconsistent or not eating enough for your unique needs.

Did this post help clarify your questions about vitamin B12 foods for vegans? Leave us a comment below!

And if you would like to learn more about keeping things 100% plant based, check out our post 
high calorie foods, and how to make a vegan grocery list.

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