Natural Sources of Vitamin B12 For Vegetarians

Natural Sources of Vitamin B12 For Vegetarians

There are 13 essential vitamins required by the human body. Vitamins help us fight infections, aid in wound healing, strengthen our bones, and regulate hormones. Out of these 13, 8 come from Vitamin B, i.e., B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B6 (Pyridoxine), B7 (Biotin), B9 (Folate), and B12 (Cobalamin).

The majority of B vitamins are readily available in vegetarian food sources, as they are found in various plant-based foods such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. However, vitamin B12 is an exception, as it is primarily found in significant amounts in animal products.

Vegetarians, especially those following a vegan diet, may find it challenging to obtain sufficient vitamin B12 from natural food sources. If you’re concerned that you are unable to meet your daily vitamin B12 requirement, this article is here to help. Let's explore some natural sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians.

Why is Vitamin B12 Important?

Vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining a healthy body. It plays a key role in producing red blood cells, which carry oxygen to various parts of your body, ensuring proper energy levels. B12 also supports the health of your nervous system by aiding in the formation of myelin, a protective layer around nerves. It supports brain function and aids in the synthesis of DNA.

Without enough B12, you may experience:

  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Pale or Yellow Skin
  • Depressive Symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Mood Changes
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Smooth and Red Tongue
  • Mouth Ulcers
  • Tingling or Numbness in Hands And Feet

Severe B12 deficiency can result in serious issues like anaemia and nerve damage.

So, how much vitamin B12 should you take?

The recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 varies based on a person's age and life stage:

Adults and Teenagers: 2.4 µg per day

Children (9-13 years old): 1.8 µg per day

Children (4-8 years old): 1.2 µg per day

Toddlers (1-3 years old): 0.9 µg per day

Infants (7-12 months old): 0.5 µg per day

Infants (< 6 months old): 0.4 µg per day

For pregnant women, the recommended intake is 2.6 µg per day, while breastfeeding women are advised to consume 2.8 µg of B12 daily.

List of Top Natural Sources of Vitamin B12 for Vegetarians

1.  Milk and Dairy Products

Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese, contain calcium, protein, minerals, and a variety of vitamins, including Vitamin B12. What's great is that milk gets absorbed quickly and easily in the stomach compared to other sources. Just a 250 ml serving of milk provides about half of the daily vitamin B12 requirement.

When it comes to cheese, Swiss cheese is a top source of vitamin B12. Eating 50 grams of Swiss cheese gives you 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12.

2. Fortified Cereals

Fortified cereals, made by adding synthetic vitamin B12 to the grains, can be a good option for vegetarians and vegans. Food fortification is a process that involves enhancing the nutritional content of foods that may not be naturally present. Fortified cereals, such as bran and whole wheat oats, not only offer Vitamin B12 but also provide a boost of Vitamin A and folate.

Research suggests regularly including fortified cereals in your diet can help boost vitamin B12 levels. When choosing a fortified cereal, opt for varieties high in fibre or whole grains and low in added sugars or harmful additives like sweeteners for a healthier option.

3. Fortified Non-Dairy Milk

For those seeking a vegan alternative to dairy milk, fortified non-dairy milk like soy, almond, and rice milk can be a nutritious choice. While these milk alternatives may not naturally contain significant amounts of vitamin B12, most brands fortify them with this essential nutrient.

One cup (240 mL) of soy milk can provide up to 86% of the daily value for vitamin B12. B12. Another option is fortified almond milk, which contains around 1.08 micrograms of Vitamin B12 per cup. Almond milk is one of the best choices among Vitamin B12-rich foods for vegetarians.

4. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is another excellent natural source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. One serving of fat-free yoghurt provides around 43% of the daily value of vitamin B12. Studies indicate that the vitamin B12 found in yoghurt is absorbed more easily compared to the B12 found in chicken or meat. As part of a balanced diet, yoghurt not only provides B12 but also offers essential nutrients like calcium and protein. This makes it a wholesome choice for those following a lacto-vegetarian lifestyle.

5. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is a fortified food that is rich in vitamin B12, making it a popular choice for both vegetarians and vegans. Besides its nutritional perks, it adds a tasty depth to cooking, often lending a cheesy or nutty flavour to dishes.

Just one tablespoon of nutritional yeast that's 100% fortified provides 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12, meeting 100% of the daily value. A great way to enjoy it is by adding nutritional yeast to vegetarian sauces, chilis, or curries. For a healthy snack, try sprinkling it on air-popped popcorn.

6. Tempeh

Tempeh is part of traditional Indonesian cuisine that is becoming popular in India nowadays. It is a fermented soybean cake that is similar to tofu and is a good source of vitamin B12. Studies show that tempeh contains 0.7 – 8.0 μg/100 g of Vitamin B12. Additionally, the fermentation process during tempeh production may contribute to the increased Vitamin B12 content.

7. Paneer

Paneer, also known as cottage cheese, is an excellent source of vitamin b12 for vegetarians. It contributes to at least 20% of your daily vitamin B12 requirements. For instance, 100 grams of paneer provides around 0.42 µg of Vitamin B12. Additionally, paneer is a rich source of protein, making it a valuable inclusion in a vegetarian diet for overall health.

8. Vitamin B12 Supplements

People who are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, such as older individuals, pregnant or breastfeeding women, vegetarians and vegans, those with digestive issues, and individuals who have undergone stomach surgery, are often advised to take vitamin B12 supplements. These supplements contain synthetic vitamin B12, much like the B12 found in fortified sources, making them suitable for vegans.

There are various types of vitamin B12 supplements available, including sublingual (under the tongue), swallowable, chewable, or liquid forms. Doctors may also administer B12 through injections in severe cases. Research indicates that replenishing B12 levels in individuals with a deficiency can be effectively achieved through oral vitamin B12 administration or intramuscular injections. Studies show that after 90 days of either oral or injection use, individuals with low vitamin B12 levels experienced a replenishment of their stores.

Some Related Posts:


Vitamin B12 is not naturally produced in the body; thus, it must be obtained from food high in this nutrient. If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, these natural sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians will help you meet your daily requirements. However, if you are experiencing severe deficiency and conditions like anemia, or chronic fatigue, consult a doctor for proper guidance.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.