A vegan diet is rich in vitamins but the vitamin B12 content in most vegan diets will be quite less. Many vitamin B12 foods are derived from animal sources including meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. None of these foods are allowed in a vegan diet, which means vegans have to find out vitamin B12 sources that are compatible with their diet choice.
Vitamin B12 And Vegan Diet
Compared to other vitamins, vitamin B12 is required in lesser amounts. Ten micrograms of vitamin B12 a day can suffice the B12 requirement of the body. In adults, it takes up to five years for the deficiency symptoms to surface if they are not taking enough vitamin B12. In some people, the symptoms may develop within a year.
B12 is the only vitamin that is not reliably supplied by a whole-food plant based diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
What Are The Symptoms Of B12 Deficiency?
Deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause nervous system damage and anemia. Most vegans do not have vegan deficiency because they consume enough B12 to avoid it. However, two subgroups of vegans are at a high risk of developing B12 deficiency; vegans who avoid fortified foods( including B12-fortified food) and breastfed infants of vegan mothers whose B12 intake is low.
B12 deficiency symptoms in adults include numbness, fatigue, blurred vision, lowered sensitivity to pain, tingling, poor memory, confusion, and hallucinations. The onset of symptoms is more rapid in infants than in adults.B12 deficiency causes loss of appetite and energy in infants. If left untreated, this could lead to a coma stage or death.
What Are The Vegan Sources Of Vitamin B12?
Here are the plant-based sources of vitamin B12.
B12-fortified vegetables are the commonly consumed plant foods to get vitamin B12. Vegetables in their original form cannot supply vitamin B12 and that is why we should consume B12-fortified vegetables in particular.
Fermented Beans And Vegetables
Soybean contains very low vitamin B12. However, its fermented form, tempeh has vitamin B12 in considerable amounts. 100 grams of tempeh contain 0.7-0.8 micrograms of B12.
Although in trace amounts, fermented Korean vegetables, broccoli, tassa jute, Asparagus, and water shied contain vitamin B12. However, that would not be enough to meet the daily B12 requirement of adults.
Two types of edibles algae, purple laver and dried green laver contain substantial amounts of vitamin B12. However, except these two, other edible algae contain no B12 or have only traces of B12.
If you are a vegan, it is always advisable to meet your daily B12 requirement by taking vitamin B12 supplements or eating B12-fortified foods. It is advisable to not rely completely on other vegan sources of B12 as most contain vitamin B12 in very small amounts.