While vitamin B-12 isn’t readily available in unprocessed plant-based foods, your needs can easily be met by taking sublingual vitamins or regularly eating B-12 fortified foods.
Vitamin B-12 is the only nutrient that is not supplied by a whole foods vegan diet. It is essential for nervous system health, so every vegan needs to take this nutrient seriously. People with low B-12 levels often have elevated blood levels of homocysteine, which is associated with increased risk of heart and circulatory problems.
The easiest and most reliable way to meet your B-12 needs is to take a vegan B-12 sublingual tablet. You let these tablets dissolve under your tongue, and the B-12 enters your body through being absorbed by the blood vessels in your mouth. Either take a daily B-12 tablet containing from 25 to 100 micrograms of cyanocobalamin, or take a 1000 microgram tablet twice a week. Note that many brands of B-12 contain methylcobalamin, but cyanocobalamin is currently considered the better choice by nutritionists who’ve carefully studied the topic.
Foods commonly fortified with B-12 include non-dairy milks, cereals, meat substitutes and some brands of nutritional yeast. Note that B-12 fortified foods are supplemented with the very same B-12 that gets put into tablets, so obtaining your B-12 through food is in no way more “natural” than getting it through tablets. Additionally, it may be difficult to meet your B-12 through supplemented foods, since comparatively few products are fortified, and B-12 fortification of foods is often at low levels.
For most vegans, it’s therefore much easier and more reliable to simply buy a bottle of vegan B-12 tablets. Sublingual B-12 supplements are easy to find online or at any natural foods store.
- B-12 in Nori (Jack Norris)