What are the benefits of taking vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is required for red blood cell formation, and neurological function.
Moreover, vitamin B12 plays an important role in synthesis of:
- proteins, and
- for almost 100 other different substrates.
How much vitamin B12 should you take per day?
Most people need approximately 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
Pregnant women need 2.6 mcg per day. Furthermore, lactating women need 2.8 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
Most noteworthy, vitamin B12 is low in toxicity. We can consume much more than the daily needs.
According to studies, even doses of 400 mcg per day, for years are unlikely to cause any health risks (1).
How much vitamin B12 should you take per week?
We only need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
Nowadays, vitamin B12 supplements are pretty cheap.
You can find vitamin B12 tablets containing 500 mcg, 1000 mcg, or even 5000 mcg.
You can take vitamin B12 supplements daily, or weekly.
If you prefer taking vitamin B12 daily, better consuming tablets with the lowest amount of vitamin B12. 500 mcg or even lower is good for you.
Remember… we only need 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day.
As vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, the extra vitamin B12 will be excreted through pee.
That’s the reason that vitamin B12 is low in toxicity. Even in high doses.
Do you need vitamin B12 every day or once a week?
On the other hand, you can take vitamin B12 supplements once a week.
In this case, prefer much higher doses. A tablet of 5000 mcg, once a week is enough.
Certainly, consult your physician. Especially, if you’re in medication. It seems that medication might adversely affect vitamin B12 levels.
Foods rich in vitamin B12
What foods are rich in vitamin B12?
Good sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, such as fish, meat, poultry, eggs, cow’s milk, and dairy.
But, vitamin B12 in animal sources isn’t a good reason to consume meat and dairy.
They are packed with saturated fats, and cholesterol. Most noteworthy, in many cases they contain hormones and antibiotics, as well.
Is vegan diet bad for you?
So, does it mean that a whole food plant-based diet is deficient in vitamin B12? Not at all…
Firstly, vitamin B12 isn’t produced, neither from animals, nor plants. Only bacteria can synthesize it.
Animals that eat grass, eat these bacteria, as well. Moreover, animal products may contain vitamin B12 because animals are given vitamin B12 supplements.
In older times, people drank water from wells and streams. This water was rich in vitamin B12. Nowadays we follow sanitized methods, killing bad bacteria, but also bacteria that synthesize vitamin B12.
The aftermath is vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegan foods rich in vitamin B12
Unfortunately, vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods. Only a few vegan foods can provide it.
How much vitamin B12 in a tablespoon of nutritional yeast?
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, grown in molasses. You can find it as powder or as flakes. Nutritional yeast tastes cheesy and creamy. It’s part of many vegan recipes, for flavoring purposes.
Nutritional yeast is rich in protein and B-complex vitamins.
According to manufacturer’s data, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains approximately 4 mcg of vitamin B12. That’s 160% DV (Daily Value).
Furthermore, there are nutritional yeasts fortified with vitamin B12. Look at the label, to see the amount of vitamin B12 per tablespoon.
Fortified nutritional yeast has approximately 7 mcg of vitamin B12 per tablespoon. That’s 290% DV.
Finally, according to a study, vegans benefited from consuming nutritional yeast. They raised significantly vitamin B12 levels after a few months.
Therefore, you can meet the daily vitamin B12 needs, consuming nutritional yeast. It’s a tasty and cheap.
Vitamin B12 content of chlorella
According to a study, consuming just a tablespoon (9 gr) of chlorella daily could help restore the vitamin B12 levels, in deficient vegetarians and vegans.
Most noteworthy, vitamin B12 in chlorella is bioavailable. Therefore, chlorella supplements is an excellent way for vegetarians and vegans to get all the vitamin B12 they need (2).
Always look at the nutrition facts of chlorella tablets. The vitamin B12 content may significantly differ among different chlorella tablets. Chlorella contains from 0 to 300 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 gr dry weight.
That’s due to the different production methods.
Contrary to other algae, chlorella is pretty safe for consumption. Other types of algae may contain huge amounts of iodine, making them dangerous for health. More here.
Moreover, other types of edible algae may be rich in vitamin B12, as well.
For instance, dried green laver seaweed (63 mcg per 100 gr) and purple laver seaweed (32 mcg per 100 gr) are both good sources of vitamin B12.
Dried purple laver is also known as nori. Additionally, nori has low iodine content. So, it’s also safe for consumption.
Is tempeh a good source of vitamin B12?
Another vegan food rich in vitamin B12 is tempeh. Although soybeans don’t contain any vitamin B12, tempeh is a good source (2). Due to the presence of bacterial during the production of tempeh.
Tempeh is produced from fermented soybeans.
Furthermore, the vitamin B12 content of tempeh may vary greatly. Tempeh may contain 0.7-8 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
The amount of vitamin B12 is highly depended on the production methods.
Unfortunately, other fermented soybean products don’t contain any significant amounts of Vitamin B12.
Other vegan foods that contain vitamin B12
All the other vegan foods contain only traces of vitamin B12. Certainly, they can’t help us meet the daily vitamin B12 requirements.
Vegan foods that have traces of vitamin B12 are:
- various types of tea leaves (0.1–1.2 mcg per 100 gr),
- porcini mushrooms,
- parasol mushrooms,
- oyster mushrooms,
- black morels,
- black trumpet,
- golden chanterelle.
Are fortified foods good for you?
Nowadays, vitamin B12 is added in many foods. Fortified foods are good for you, as the synthetic vitamin B12 is already in free-form.
This means that it’s highly bioavailable. More than 50% is absorbed.
So, you can prefer whole fortified cereals.
We need only 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 per day. Fortified foods contain much more.
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B12.
- The United Graduate School of Agricultural Sciences: Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians.
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Purification and Characterization of a Corrinoid Compound From Chlorella Tablets as an Algal Health Food.