Vitamin B12: what are the safe sources?

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Elia Tabuenca García
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Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of our body and its deficiency can cause serious damage to our health. It is produced by bacteria and its presence can be detected in foods of animal origin, but, unfortunately, not in common plant foods, especially due to the hygienic reasons for which fruit and vegetables are carefully washed before consumption.



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La Vitamin B12 it is essential for the proper functioning of our body and its deficiency can cause serious damage to our health. It is produced by bacteria and its presence can be detected in food of animal origin, but, unfortunately not in the municipalities plant foods, mainly due to the hygienic reasons why fruits and vegetables are carefully washed before consumption.

Who decides to eliminate products of animal origin from one's diet, should turn to safe sources of vitamin B12 in order not to encounter possible shortcomings. They could affect not only those who follow one vegan diet, but also those who, following a vegetarian food or a diet that does not include the exclusion of any food, present at the level of the organism problems with the absorption of this fundamental vitamin.

Vitamin B12 is stored by ours liver and some people may have accumulated enough of it that they can do without taking vitamin B12 from supplements or from fortified foods for a shorter or longer period, after deciding to start following a completely plant-based diet. The amount of vitamin B12 stored by the body it is not the same for everyone. For this reason it is essential keep your vitamin B12 levels under control through special blood tests, in order to be sure not to run into deficiencies. The most effective tests involve measuring homocysteine ​​and methylmalonic acid levels.

According to reports from the Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition, very low levels of vitamin B12 can cause anemia e damage to the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is considered by vegetarian nutrition experts as lis the only element that is not reliably present in a completely plant-based diet, which must in any case include a large and varied consumption of fruit and vegetables.



Over time the natural presence of vitamin B12 has been suggested for some foods suitable for vegan diets, such as algae or yeasts. Later, however, it was verified that only one is present within them inactive form of vitamin B12, which would not be able to perform the functions it requires for our body.

- plant-based nutrition experts therefore recommend those who follow a vegan diet and / or who have found low levels or a deficiency of vitamin B12 in their body through special tests, to contact the only sources to be considered safe as regards the amount of vitamin B12 needed by our body.

The only safe sources of vitamin B12 currently available are supplements or fortified foods, in which this vitamin was added specifically to meet the nutritional needs of those who follow a plant-based diet. The presence of vitamin B12 in fortified foods enriched with it is usually indicated clearly on the packages or in the tables that report the nutritional values ​​of each product.

The Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition recommends vegans to follow at least one of the following tips about vitamin B12 to stay healthy and to get the maximum benefit from their diet:

1) Take fortified products two or three times a day, to obtain at least 3 micrograms of B12 daily;

2) Take it every day a supplement that provides at least 10 mcg of vitamin B12;

3) Take a once a week supplement that provides at least 2000 mcg of vitamin B12.



Among the foods fortified with vitamin B12 currently on the market there are some vegetable milk brands, of vegetable yogurt and breakfast cereals. It is necessary to check the vitamin B12 content of each serving to be sure that you are getting the amount of this vitamin necessary for your daily requirement.

In order to be sure that you are getting vitamin B12 in the most adequate quantities, the simplest way is to choosing a supplement. On the market it is possible to find supplements suitable for vegans to take daily or weekly. In case of deficiencies it is good to contact a doctor who can indicate the necessary doses according to your individual situation.

Intake of adequate amounts of Vitamin B12 appears even more important in case you follow one plant-based diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also in this case it is advisable to consult an expert doctor who can indicate the most appropriate dosage of vitamin B12 so as not to incur health risks for the mother or baby.

For further information in this regard, you can consult the page dedicated to vitamin B12 by the Scientific Society of Vegetarian Nutrition.

Marta Albè

Read also:

- 10 plant sources of calcium

- 7 Foods Surprisingly High in Fiber

- 12 sources of iron for vegans

- Not just fish: the 5 sources of omega 3

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