Vitamin B12 for Plant-Based Practitioners

Image: The Sleuth Journal

The most common concern for plant-based diet practitioners is whether are they getting enough Vitamin B12. It’s good to get yourself a little understanding about Vitamin B12 and what to do to get enough.

Which food contains Vitamin B12 naturally:

  • Meat, milk, and eggs, contain B12 and are essentially the exclusive source of the vitamin in the American food supply (not counting supplements or fortification).
  • Two varieties of edible algae (Dried green (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple (Porphyra sp.) seaweed (nori)) have been found to have active B12, but other algae have inactive B12-analog compounds that have no apparent benefit in animal metabolism.
  • Other plant-based sources have very little  B12 which is not sufficient.

What choice do plant-based diet practitioners have?

  • A daily dose of the smallest available tablet of B12 (usually 100 mcg) should be sufficient. (Dr Thomas Campbell, MD)

For exclusive plant-based eaters, good to get your B12 level checked every few years, particularly if you aren’t  taking any supplement.

B12 deficiency could cause:

  • A type of anemia (megaloblastic) and a neurological disorder (subacute combined degeneration). Symptoms of this type of anemia include: fatigue and weakness, weight loss, and sore tongue.
  • Permanent neurologic damage. Symptoms of this neurological disorder include: numbness and tingling of hands and feet, memory changes, poor balance, and depression
  • Infants can have developmental delay and failure to thrive.




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