Produced by microogranisms, vitamin B-12 is found naturally in animal foods but can be added to other foods. Vegan diets require careful planning to appropriately meet requirements since this diet excludes the naturally best sources of vitamin B-12. This nutrient serves critical roles as cofactors for enzymes, and vegans require as much of it as those on nonrestrictive diets. Deficiencies are consequential to health and require immediate attention by a physician. U.S. government dietary guidelines recommend 2.4 micrograms daily for everyone age 14 and older.
Key Vegan Sources
Because B-12 is found naturally in animal products, the best vegan sources of vitamin B-12 are foods that have been fortified with B-12. The highest sources include fortified rice, soy, oat and nut milks (typically containing 0.6 to 3.0 micrograms per 8-fluid-ounce serving, depending on the manufacturer) and fortified cereals (typically 1.5 micrograms per 3/4- or 1-cup serving).
Don't Look for B-12 in These Foods
While brewer's yeast, wheat grass, tempeh, fortified soy meats and spirulina have a reputation for containing vitamin B-12, these claims have not been confirmed in scientific studies. While these foods can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced, healthy vegan diet, you shouldn't depend on them as a high contributing source of vitamin B-12.
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Vitamin B12
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beverages, Almond Milk, Chocolate, Ready-to-Drink
- Taste the Dream: Soy Dream Enriched Original
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals Ready-to-Eat, General Mills, Rice Chex
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cereals Ready-to-Eat, Post, Cocoa Pebbles
- The Vegan Society: What Every Vegan Should Know About Vitamin B12
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12