Vegetables and fruit do so many fantastic things for us… but there’s that little issue of Vitamin B12, the one nutrient we cannot obtain from any plant. And we need it. This water-soluble vitamin is essential to our bodies, as it helps maintain healthy nerve and red blood cells and is needed to make DNA.
In a 100% plant-based diet, there is no natural source of Vitamin B12, which is abundant in shellfish, meat, fish and dairy products. However, according to the Mayo Clinic “the human body stores several years’ worth of B12, so nutritional deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare”. B12 is an easy vitamin to incorporate without animal products, as most cereals and a number of vegan foods are fortified with B12. Earth Balance™ soy milks, for example, provide 50% of the recommended dietary allowance in a one-cup serving.
Some brands of nutritional yeast, a vegetarian and vegan favorite often referred to as “nooch”, are fortified with B12, as much as 150% in one serving. Nutritional yeast should not be confused with brewer’s yeast and not all varieties are fortified with B12, so seek out the Red Star brand or make sure the brand you are using contains added B12. Some varieties may also include whey (Red Star does not), so vegans should make sure to avoid any that contain added dairy.
Not only does nutritional yeast provide a variety of healthy nutrients, it’s also delicious! Later this afternoon, we’ll feature a recipe that uses nutritional yeast, an excellent source of vitamin B12 all packed into an extra tasty dish!
The government recommended dietary allowance for B12 is 2 to 3 micrograms (mcgs) per day, while Jack Norris, R.D, a plant basied dietician suggests from 4 to 7mcgs. It is not recommended to rely solely on fortified foods to get the full needed amount of B12 and for those on vegan diets, a daily supplement is strongly suggested.
How do you get your Vitamin B12? Do you take supplements, use fortified foods? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll pick one winner for today’s Everyday Giveaway to receive coupons for FREE Earth Balance®!