Health & Habits
How to Get Vitamin B12 from Foods
Posted March 28, 2022
We’ve covered the benefits of vitamin B12 here, so stressing the importance of vitamin B12 may be redundant. In short, vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient, meaning the body needs it to remain healthy. It must be consumed through the foods we eat, since our bodies are unable to produce it on our own. It’s used for so many processes, including red blood cell creation, DNA synthesis, energy production, and brain and nerve cell protection. If we don’t get enough B12 in our diet, we run the risk of developing a nutrient deficiency, which unfortunately many people around the world encounter. Signs and symptoms of a deficiency can include headaches, confusion, weakness, fatigue, and anemia.
The most common dietary sources of B12 consumed around the world are animal products such as meat, dairy, seafood, and eggs. For those who follow whole food plant-based diets, tracking vitamin B12 intake is essential. Vitamin B12 isn’t naturally found in plant-based foods, but there are an increasing number of foods that are fortified with B12 to help us meet our nutritional needs.
In terms of fully vegan B12 sources, B12 fortified foods are widely regarded as being the most reliable. Interestingly, a study in 2000 found that vitamin B12 from fortified foods was actually linked with a better status than intake from animal products. Researchers hypothesized that the B12 in meat and dairy might actually be damaged during cooking, whereas the form used in fortified foods tends to be more stable with heat.
With that in mind, some of the best foods include:
1. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a type of inactive yeast, meaning it can't be used to bake bread. Instead, it has a cheesy, nutty flavor that we can sprinkle over popcorn or pasta in place of cheddar cheese. A 16-gram serving of nutritional yeast contains 60 calories and 24 mcg (1,000% DV) of vitamin B12. Additionally, it also offers 8 grams of protein per serving and contains all nine of the essential amino acids our body requires for tissue growth and repair.
2. Fortified breakfast cereals
Breakfast cereal is another food that may be fortified with vitamin B12, which is great for vegans and vegetarians. It’s important to choose a high-fiber, high-protein cereal without added sugar, as the sugar could bump up our calorie intake without providing any nutrients. One 28g serving of Quaker whole heart oat cereal contains 105 calories and 1.3 mcg (54% DV) of vitamin B12.
3. Fortified plant milks
Fortified plant milks are a very convenient way to stay on top of our B12 levels. Some of the best sources include almond, coconut, oat and soy. There’s typically 0.9mcg in 100g of fortified soy milk, but it’s best to go for the unsweetened varieties, as the flavored ones contain a lot of added sugar. With any one of these choices, we can get a day's worth of B12 (2.4 micrograms) in just one cup. Plant milks can easily be used in cereal (hot or cold), lattes and hot chocolate, or for our baking needs.
4. Fortified juices
The market has exploded with options to meet demand for health drinks like bottled juices. A notable brand that creates B12 fortified juice is Naked, which sells their Blue Machine juice with 250% DV of B12 in 1 cup. Another brand, Bolthouse Farms, sells their Daily Greens juice (108% DV in 1 cup) and Berry Boost (96% DV in 1 cup). Again, it’s important to be mindful of the sugar content in these beverages.
5. Nutritional supplements
Many people often debate which vitamins are most important for our overall health. Omega-3 and vitamin D are all among the most contested, but vitamin B12 is almost always agreed upon. It’s important to choose a supplement that can be immediately absorbed into the body, which often is not in pill form. Pills often take too long to disintegrate and some of the nutrient particles inside the pill won’t dissolve, preventing absorption of all the great nutrients promised on the label. The safest and most enjoyable way to consume our vitamins is by opting for a gel with premium ingredients for optimal absorption.
Essential by Vedge checks all the boxes, combining four daily nutrients - B12, D3, Omega-3 and K2 - all in one easy-to-take capsule. It’s free of pesticides, metals, herbicides, residual solvents, and is fully vegan. Many B12 supplements contain fillers, binders, coatings, high fructose corn syrup and other genetically modified sweeteners, but Essential was designed with premium ingredients to be safe and effective for keeping us at our best.
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