Today, I wanted to address one of the most common questions asked by new vegans taking part in Veganuary. It’s also a question many of us get bombarded with by non-vegans, so it helps to have the right information…
Do I need to take a B12 supplement?
B12 is produced by bacteria that live naturally in the soil, as well as some bacteria in our guts. Unfortunately, due to modern farming methods, soil depletion and the extensive washing of produce, there is not enough in the ground to be passed to us via vegetables, or to the animals which graze.
Animals used for meat and dairy are therefore often supplemented with B12 and if you have been eating a non-vegan diet, your supplement has first been through the digestive system of another animal. This is not the most reliable form of B12 and lots of omnivores are often B12 deficient. In my honest experience, most of the people I know who have a B12 deficiency are omnivores.
Deficiencies can also be a result of not being able to absorb B12 from food, and can affect anyone. It’s generally recommended that everyone takes a supplement, or eats vegan foods fortified with B12. Two wonderful sources of fortified B12 include Nutritional Yeast Flakes & Koko Dairy Free, pictured below…
The Vegan Society state that besides supplementation, the only reliable source of B12 on a vegan diet is through fortified foods (cereal, nutritional yeast, plant milks and so on). In fact, as this B12 is not bound to protein, it is much easier to absorb than that found in animal protein.
Another source of B12 is organically grown, local vegetables, as these have not been chemically treated or over washed and may still contain some B12 from the soil.
So, although we may have less foods to choose from which provide us with B12, we are much more likely to be able to absorb them than those who rely on animal protein as a second-hand source of B12. Or we can supplement, as many vegans and non-vegans alike often do.
If you wish to supplement, I recommend Viridian highly, as one of the most ethical suppliers of vitamins and supplements…
As always, thanks for reading! I am not a qualified nutritional expert, but I have done my research over a number of years of being vegan and this is a compilation of my knowledge from various, reliable resources and research.