When people decide to pursue a vegetarian or vegan diet, a primary concern is getting enough B12. Most people get this essential nutrient from animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but fortunately, there are vegetarian and vegan-approved foods that are also rich sources of B12. Here are some great ones to add to your meals.
If you’re a vegetarian, you can still get B12 from eggs and dairy, but you can also source it from nori, nutritional yeast, and mushrooms. A daily dose of B12 measures out to about 50 grams of shiitake mushrooms, but don’t worry, with many sources to choose from, you don’t have to eat mushrooms at every meal. If you eat dairy, yogurt is a great B12 source choice because it offers beneficial probiotics as well.
For vegans, cheese and milk are not an option, but fungi, algae, and fermented foods contain B12 too! If you’re looking to get the most out of your fermented foods, consider making them yourself at home. The commercial production process can kill off some of the vital B12, so fermenting at home is a good way to preserve those nutrient levels.
Fortified foods are another good option. Many cereals are “fortified,” meaning they have B12 added to them. Check the label of your favorite breakfast cereal and how much B12 you get from one serving. Much like vitamin D and calcium, there are also B12 supplements available to substitute in some of your nutritional needs.
Why do we need B12? This essential nutrient plays a role in many of our bodies’ functions. It helps synthesize DNA, protect nerve cells, metabolize our food, and produce red blood cells. Many people considering plant-based diets worry about meeting their daily nutrient needs. Fortunately, there are many healthy B12 options so you can eat meat-free and nourish your body.