Eating Vegan: The Elusive Vitamin B12
A long-standing myth about veganism is that animal products are the only dietary sources of vitamin B12. Here’s a little information about this critical vitamin as well as some easy ways to work it into your diet.
According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B12 is important for nerve health and red blood cell creation. B12 is also critical for making DNA. Certainly, it’s not a vitamin you want to be deficient in!
An average adult needs about 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day. Luckily, there are several non-animal ways to get that vital B12 into your diet, from superfoods to fortified ones:
Oh, nutritional yeast! How I love your cheesy flavor and your versatility. It’s tasty in everything from soups and stews to salads and potatoes, and just 2 tablespoons adds enough B12 to hit an adult’s daily requirements.
Brewer’s yeast can also provide B12 and is similarly versatile. Check the package, though – its B12 content can depend on the environment in which it’s grown.
Nutrient powerhouse spirulina is another excellent B12 source. The amount of usable B12 in spirulina can vary, so you’ll want to check out the nutritional information when you pick it up at the store.
Some of spirulina’s B12 is actually a B12 analog, which your body can’t use in the same way. Usable B12 comes from spirulina grown in an environment containing cobalt and is sometimes referred to as cobalamin.
Other sea vegetables are sometimes touted as a good veggie source of B12, but again, it’s not always in a form your body can use.
Many cereals and milk alternatives are fortified with B12. Again, you’ll want to read the nutritional information to see how much is in there, but with so many B12 fortified foods out there, it’s pretty easy to get your daily minimum if you do a little bit of label-reading and meal planning.
Have I missed anything, vegan people? I’m always looking to incorporate more B12 sources into my diet!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by shnakepup