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Vegan B12: How Dietary Restrictions Affect Vitamin Intake

If you are a vegan, you may be aware of the vitamin deficiencies that can occur as a result of not eating meat. While some of these nutrients can be obtained from other sources, meats often contain these nutrients in quantities that help individuals meet daily dietary requirements.

One of the biggest challenges for vegan is the intake of B12. You see, unlike the other B vitamins, vitamin B12 is usually not found in plant foods. So what options does someone that adheres to a vegan diet do? Without a healthy supply of B12, a negative health state known as pernicious anemia. This condition affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients such as vitamin B12, despite supplementing your diet with the vitamin. This can then lead to problems that affect other bodily systems.

This is contrary to vegans who may choose this diet to be more healthy, not less. Fortunately, there are now some ways for people to get vegan B12, no matter how often they do or do not eat meat.

First, let’s clear up some misperceptions about vitamin B12 consumption. When the conversation about meat and B12 comes up, vegans may incorrectly assume that all meat contains vitamin B12, and that all omnivores get an ample supply of this vitamin. This isn’t the case. The only meat products with optimal levels of B12 are clams and cow liver. In America, these foods are sometimes less often found in the home. The more conventional beef, fish, and chicken does have vitamin B12, but not enough to satisfy a person’s daily requirement (at least in normal portions). Thus, meat eaters may be B12 deficient even though they think they’re absolutely fine.

Still, this doesn’t solve the problem for vegans about how to get vegan B12. Fortunately, this is where the story takes a happier turn. It’s easier than ever to get the B12 you need, and you may already get it without realizing it! Here are some of the best sources of vegan B12, which you already may use.

  1. Fortified Cereal. You may never have thought about your morning bowl of Frosted Flakes as a health food, but cereals like these are almost always fortified with vitamins including vitamin B12. Food companies and the government both understand that humans usually don’t eat as they should, so the addition of vitamins to processed foods is not uncommon. A single serving of the right cereal will give you just about 100% of your daily intake needs. If you are a cereal lover, then you’ve had what you need all along!
  2. Supplements. Synthetic and plant-derived vitamin tablets are available in many forms. If you take a vegan multivitamin, it almost always includes vitamin B12 as a result of knowledge about a lack of naturally occurring vitamin B12 in vegan diets. If you think your diet is uniquely deficient in B12, a single supplement pill taken daily may help to fill nutritional gaps. However, if you have been deficient in the past, check with a doctor because your ability to absorb this supplement may be compromised.
  3. Vegan Foodstuffs. Vegans have unique dietary needs and offerings at the local grocery store or farmer’s market may have already been added to the food selection. similiar to how companies fortify cereals.

Vegans have nothing to worry about as far as vitamin B12 goes because this vitamin has been added to foods that are safe for vegans to eat, and also supplemented in processed foods eaten by large percentages of the population. Now that you know where to get your B, you won’t have trouble eating enough of it every day.