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Vitamin B12 for Vegans

Updated on October 10, 2014

Vitamin B12 for vegans has always been a controversial topic. It is one the reasons the vegan diet is frowned upon in western culture. However, Rastafarians and Hindu followers have lived a full life on a vegan diet without any issues or complication. As a matter of fact, vegans tend to live a much healthier life than most meat eaters who get plenty of vitamin B12. Furthermore, if Vitamin B12 is so lacking, then all vegans should suffer from stunted mental and physical growth. Obviously this is not the case (though it can happen). This brings me to my main point; Vegans do get vitamin B12 in their diet without being conscious of it. I will also discuss why western cultured or modern vegans receive less of the vitamin than third world or naturally vegan cultured societies. However, first let us try to define and understand what vitamin B12 is.

What is Vitamin B12

It plays a major significant role in the brain and nervous system. It also plays an integral role in blood cell and DNA formation. Vitamin B12 can only be formed by bacteria. It is biosynthesized from the earthly element called cobalt. This can happen inside or outside of the stomach.

Are There any Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12?

  • Fortified vegan foods come to mind such as brewer's and nutritional yeasts. The B12 in these foods are synthesized from bacteria cultures.
  • Algae or seaweeds such as nori and spirulina are a controversial source of B-12. This is because some research has shown it may not be bioavailable for digestion.
  • Tablet supplements are the most popular form that vegans use to increase their vitamin B-12 levels.

How do some vegans get Vitamin B12 unintentionally?

This is an interesting point and western cultured vegans should pay attention. The reason why third world and eastern cultured vegans are less likely to have vitamin B12 deficiency is because their food normally comes directly from the soil or fruit trees. For example, the potato is pulled directly from the ground and put into the pot. Therefore, at some point the bacteria and the cobalt from the dirt gets on our hands and may get to our mouths.

In modern day culture the vegetables and fruits are washed with chemicals that kill the good bacterial flora and remove the earthly elements like cobalt.

That is why you rarely hear of this topic amongst vegans in third world countries.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

  • Higher homocysteine levels which are a stress precursor may occur. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce homocysteine levels.
  • Delusions, hallucinations, depression and dementia can also occur. Maybe that’s why vegans are so spiritual.
  • Peripheral neuropathy is one of the more serious threats and should be resolved as soon as possible. The symptoms are tingling sensations throughout the body along with weakness of muscles.

To Supplement or not to Supplement, That’s The Question

If you do not eat vegetables that have soil on it or came directly from the ground, please supplement. Please consult your medical doctor for more information.

Do You Take Vitamin Tablets?

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Disclaimer: Please note that this Site is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care provider.


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    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect jtrader. I am more than happy to share this information.

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      Good to learn of the unintentional sources Rasta. I never thought of those.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect SweetiePie. If we listen to our bodies, it will tell us what we need to eat. This phenomenon is mostly observed amongst pregnant women. However, it is a natural ability everyone has. Just like how I tried fish a couple times, but I wasn't feeling it. Stay true to your diet.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 3 years ago from Southern California, USA

      I am not entirely vegan because I eat yogurt sometimes, but I think a fully vegan diet can be a great thing. My parents were vegan until I was five, and we were mostly vegetarian, even though I ended up eating chicken a few times a week as I got older. I got to the point last year I do not want to eat meat any more, and I feel much better now that I am not. Meat eaters who tell vegans and vegetarians they are missing things from their diet are often missing things from theirs as well. I believe everyone should eat the way they want, but eating a healthful diet for me is what is making me feel best. I also am happy this diet no longer has meat, and on days I am fully vegan I feel really great.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect MsDora. That is true especially those in colder countries that have less sunlight.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very useful and encouraging. I've heard that vegetarians suffer from deep depression eventually, because of the lack of B12. Thanks for doing and sharing the research. Voted Up!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect manatita44 . That is a very long time. I have only been a vegetarian for 12 years. I love it.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect word55. Sounds like you are very much in control of your destiny. I am happy to hear that this article will help to make you an even better vegan when start that diet again.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect DDE. Thank you very much for the energy.

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect DDE. I tried my best to make it very useful. This is a topic I talk about frequently.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Nice one Rasta.

      I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and have been so for 32 years. I supplement milk mostly with soya, rice milk plus, but I take the occasional diary.

      useful Hub.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Excellent hub here rasa1, I appreciate vegans, I've been one off and on. I lost a lot of weight this way. I started eating meat to put weight back on but now I'm preparing to become vegan again (3rd time) and hopefully for keeps. I need the vegan diet that will help me keep the weight on because I exercise daily because I'm just used to it. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Interesting and very useful rasta .Thank you for sharing. Voted up.


    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting and informative about Vitamin B12. I found this hub to most useful.