Vitamin B-12 for Vegans: Yes or No?

YES.

If you are a vegan, any type of vegan, PLEASE supplement your diet with vitamin B-12.

Now, I can only speak from personal experience because I am not in any way a medical professional capable of providing supplement advice. I can only tell you my story and how I learned the hard way that I need to supplement my vegan diet with B-12. When I went raw, I spent about 2 months without supplementing at all. Since my parents were nervous wrecks worried about me changing my diet so drastically (I went from meat eater to raw in 24 hours), they did way too much googling on the topic of supplementing and sent me to see my family doctor. Guess what, as annoying as parents are, they are often very right. Mine were right. My B-12 levels were scary low. My doctor told me to go back to eating meat OR to supplement with vitamin B-12 immediately, and for as long as I intend to remain a vegan.

Where does B-12 come from? Well, all animal foods provide some level of vitamin B-12, which comes from bacteria in the animal’s intestines or from their diet. Since my ancestors and your ancestors have eaten animal and dairy products for centuries on end, we’ve actually grown completely reliant on B-12 for our bodies to function properly.

From my research, there are TWO reliable sources of vitamin B-12 for vegans:

  1. Foods fortified with B-12 (like nutritional yeast grown on a B-12 rich medium; OR
  2. Liquid or tablet supplements.

Nutritional Yeast

I do eat nutritional yeast. I actually LOVE it in all types of sauces. I could shamelessly link a recipe with nutritional yeast as an ingredient right now, but I will resist this urge. However, even though I do eat nutritional yeast occasionally, and the brand I buy does say that it is a source of vitamin B-12, I do not feel 100% comfortable with relying on my occasional intake of nutritional yeast to supply my body with the needed dosage of the vitamin in the long run. So, nutritional yeast is great. But if I were you I’d supplement with a B-12 tablet (described below). This is the brand of nutritional yeast that I buy from Amazon.com:

B-12 Supplementation

My doctor told me that I need from 4 to 7 mcg of B-12 vitamin per day. This dosage is personalized for me, based on my weight and height by my own doctor. Make sure to ask your doctor what they think is the right dosage is for you. I’ve looked it up and the RDA for vitamin B-12 is actually 4 mcg. I get my B-12 tablets on Amazon (yes, I buy literally everything on Amazon recently). I chose “Jarrow” brand because I know the ingredients are derived 100% from plants. I hate when I’m looking for a supplement and see that gelatin is an ingredient (ground animal bones). That defeats the purpose. If you are trying hard to be vegan avoiding all animal products, remember to make sure your supplements are vegan as well. So this is the one I buy: