One of the big criticisms of a vegan diet is that it does not provide all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 is the most popular vitamin that is referenced to prove how a vegan diet is not sustainable. This idea that B12 only comes from animal products is not true and I will help you understand why.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found in foods and in a supplement form. B12 is crucial to the nervous system, brain, red blood cells, and DNA. This vitamin is required for proper red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and neurological function. Vitamin B12 deficiency is characterized by a number of symptoms including fatigue, numbness and tingling in hands and feet, depression, poor memory, and other scary symptoms. Clearly, B12 is an essential vitamin that you want to make sure you are getting enough of.
The recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for B12 depends on your age. If you are over 14 years old, the recommended amount is 2.4 micrograms for both men and women. This is a small amount, but it is essential to meet this recommended amount.
Related: 5 Foods You Didn't Know Were Vegan
Is B12 Present In a Vegan Diet?
B12 is found naturally mostly in animal products. So can you get the recommended amount of B12 on a vegan diet? Yes! However, you have to make a conscious effort to do so. B12 is found in fortified vegan foods, such as non-dairy milks, breakfast cereals, meat alternatives, and nutritional yeast.
Should I Supplement B12
If you are not incorporating the fortified foods mentioned above into your diet on a daily basis, it is a good idea to supplement B12. I drink a small carton of soy milk everyday from my school dining hall, or I use the soy milk in my smoothies. However, one carton of this soy milk only has 20% of the RDA for B12. Therefore, I do supplement B12. You can find plenty of options for B12 supplements on Amazon. There is no scientific evidence showing a difference between eating foods with B12 and taking a supplement, so either option is acceptable. Be aware that supplements will contain significantly more B12 than the RDA. This is because our bodies only absorb a fraction of the B12 found in the supplement.
Hopefully this answered any questions about B12 and how to ensure you are getting an adequate amount on a vegan diet. If you want to learn more about B12, you can find more information here. Let me know below if you have any more questions about B12!