B12 Sources for Vegetarians

I am sure you have heard the concern expressed many times about the lack of Vitamin B12 sources for Vegetarians. It is one of the reasons so many persons are wary of adopting a vegetarian diet.

Hey! Guess what?

I have good news for you.  You can get your recommended daily intake of B12 even if you are a vegetarian.


vegetarian buffet



What is B12

Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that helps maintain the health of your nerves, brain, and is responsible for creation of your red blood cells.

Deficiency of this vitamin long term can result in nerve damage and may even lead to paralysis.

It sounds like a very important vitamin, doesn’t it?

It sure is.

Anything which helps your body produce DNA and red blood cells, supports your immune system, and encourages healthy nerve function is certainly important.

The problem is we often read or hear that Vitamin B12  is found naturally only in animal sources. That means people who don’t eat meat or dairy can have trouble reaching the daily recommended allowance of  2.4 micrograms (mcg).

But is this totally true?

Is there no other way we can get the required Vitamin B12 except to consume meat?

Hold on to your heart.  All is not lost.  Good news is coming.

We have heard it said  ever so often that one must eat meat or they will become deficient in B12.  As a matter of fact, this is cited often as the failing of a vegetarian diet.

We have seen those lists that are produced which show the foods high in Vitamin B12…….

shellfish, liver, crab, fish,  red meat etc.

You have probably experienced one or more persons telling you how deficient your diet is.

Well here comes the good news

There are other good sources of B12 for vegetarians (who  over and over have had to deal with the issue of persons trying to coax them to eat meat).

………..And they are mainly plant based.

After all, the diet of the first human beings was comprised of fruit, grains, nuts and vegetables as directed by the Creator Himself and they certainly suffered no nutritional deficiency. That diet can still safely apply to us today.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians are in a better position as they can get their B12 from egg and dairy products.

The Vegans have the greater challenge.

Ah! But there is still good news

Vegans can get their supply of Vitamin B12 from completely non-animal sources……..if you don’t include the human animal.

What do I mean by that…….

Well, did you know that your body produces Vitamin B12 through the action of good bacteria found in the intestines? Half of the B12 we need is produced by our own bodies and we only need a small amount each day.  Only 2.4 micrograms…… A microgram is really, really tiny.   The remainder which we get through our diets can be found in the following…..

Good Sources of B12 for Vegetarians


Alfalfa is a perennial flowering plant in the pea family. The seeds, seed sprouts, and leaves of the plant can be eaten.”

Soy sauce

Made from fermented soya beans, salt, water and barley or wheat flour. It is a popular condiment used regularly in cooking.

Fermented soy bean products like


According to Wikipedia, Tempeh is a traditional soy product originating from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form.




Miso is a  Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and sometimes rice or other ingredients. It can be used in many ways including as a salad dressing, in soups, in marinades and in place of soy sauce.

Sea Vegetables

Kombu, Wakame, Nori, Dulse.

These are all varieties of edible seaweeds.

There has been debates over whether these sea vegetables produce sufficient B12 to prevent deficiency and there are strong proponents on both sides of the debate.



Spirulina is a natural algae that is high in nutrients. It can be purchased from health food stores in powder form.  Like the Sea Vegetables, there is ongoing debate over spirulina as well.


Nutritional Yeast fortified with B12

According to Wikipedia “Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of  Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is sold commercially as a food product”.  It is popular with  vegetarians and adds a cheesy flavour to recipes.


Brewers Yeast (not to be confused with Bakers yeast)

Brewer’s yeast is a one celled plant and a very high powered food. It consists of 50% protein and is very high in B12.  It comes in various forms; powdered, flakes, tablet. Brewer’s yeast has a similar look to Nutritional yeast and is also derived from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but it is produced as the by-product of beer-making whereas the nutritional yeast is grown on molasses.

In addition……

Have you looked closely at the label on your box of cereal?  Chances are you will see B12 listed.

Many commercial products such as grains, cereals and milk substitutes are fortified with vitamin B12.

So many sources. Quite a bit, wouldn’t you say?

What is the worry about vegetarian not being able to access any source of vitamin B12 in their diet?

No worry at all.


Has this article helped to clear some of your doubts?

Please let us know in the comments section below.



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