Why B12 is Essential in a Plant-based Diet

by | May 26, 2021


Vegetarians have wider options for B12 sources. These include eggs and dairy products, such as milk and cheese.

Vegans have a more limited list of options such as fortified foods, or those with added vitamin B12 , are a great source.

Natural foods such as nutritional yeast, yeast spreads, certain mushrooms, and some algae also contain vitamin B12.



One large, hard-boiled egg contains 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12, or 25% of your DV.

Eggs are high in protein which is another nutrient known to be lacking in some plant-based diets.

To eat more eggs, try having scrambled eggs for breakfast, adding a hard-boiled egg in salads, or enjoying more omelettes or quiches as a lunch or main.

Fortified foods

Foods fortified with B12 can help you meet your intake requirement daily to ensure you don’t end up deficient in this essential vitamin. These are a readily available source of B12 with high bioavailability for plant based living.

Fortified breakfast cereal is a good way to get your daily intake. Per serving, cereals often contain 25% of the DV, though this does vary between brands. Read the packaging to determine whether your favourite cereal has added B12.

Fortified foods are typically easy for your body to absorb, meaning they have high bioavailability rates, in turn helping the body accesss vitamin B12 more easily.

Nutritional yeast

This is a go-to food for many vegetarians and vegans.

Along with its nutritional benefits, nutritional yeast provides a depth of flavour to cooking or savoury toppings. It is used to add a cheesy/nutty flavour to dishes.

One tablespoon of fortified nutritional yeast provides 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12, or 100% of the DV.

Try adding nutritional yeast to vegetarian sauces, chilis, or curries. For a delicious, healthy snack, sprinkle nutritional yeast on air-popped popcorn.


Nori, also called purple laver i known as a good source of vitamin B12. This algae product is commonly eaten on the Asian continent.

Studies recommend eating 4g of dried nori to meet daily requirements for B12 intake.

It is used in sushi and may be a healthy and simple snack on its own, or can be used as sheets in a vegan lasagne.

Shitake mushroom

Like nori, some mushrooms, including shitake, contain relatively low levels of B12, meaning you would need to consume about 50g of dried shitake mushrooms to meet daily B12 requirements.

Try adding mushrooms that contain B12 into your cooking for a tasty lunch or dinner for an extra B12 boost.

Health benefits of B12

Vitamin B12 is essential to our daily diet because it contributes to vital bodily functions :

  • the forming and dividing of red blood cells
  • nervous system protection
  • DNA synthesis
  • energising the body

We don’t need huge amounts of vitamin B12 to maintain these important body functions. For adults, the daily B12 intake should be around 2.4 mcgTrusted Source.

Children require less vitamin B12.

Infants up to 12 months require only 0.5 mcg a day. Children aged 4-8 yrs old need 1.2 mcg a day.

A 2017 review of 18 studiesTrusted Source found that B12 deficiencies were more common among particular groups. Highlighting deficiency stats below:

  • 62% of pregnant women
  • 25–86% of children
  • 21–41% of adolescents
  • 11–90% of older adults

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