Anonymous asked in Food & DrinkVegetarian & Vegan · 1 decade ago

Vegans and B12 Supplements?

I keep seeing my fellow vegans advising vegan hopefuls to take vitamin B12 in supplement form. Some suggest that it's not available in vegan sources while others say it's a "must." Both nutritional yeast (which can be added to anything) and natto (which you can make at home) are vegan sources of vitamin B12.

If this is the case, why do I see my fellow vegans advising others that they must supplement with B12? Can anyone answer this? It's really confusing me.

Thanks and namaste. _()_


P.S. I also see people advising vegetarians to take B12 supplements. Not only can vegetarians consume nutritional yeast and natto, but B12 is also found in egg yolks and dairy products.

Update 2:

JASIN: I know vegans don't eat eggs or dairy. I never said they did, and actually provided vegan sources of B12. However, I will tell you that soy milk is not a natural source of B12, it's fortified with it so you may as well just take a B12 pill. Also, avocados are not a source of B12.

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The question is... when answering questions about B12, why don't I recommend nutritional yeast or natto as a natural source of vitamin B12 instead of a supplement. I have considered nutritional yeast used for vitamin B12-- and natto or fermented soybeans.

    I have read that Vitamin B12 is added to nutritional yeast, and that it doesn't have a whole lot in it. If you're eating only a few mcg as cyanocobalamin daily, I don't think it's going to do the trick. Even though your DRI for vitamin B12 is very small, your body still needs to process the cyanocobalamin.

    Here is information from registered dietitian, Jack Norris at Vegan Outreach

    "Brewer's and nutritional yeasts do not contain B12 unless they are fortified with it. At least two vegan B12-fortified yeasts are currently on the market: Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula and Twinlab Natural Nutritional Yeast (verified to be fortified with B12 via personal communication with Twinlab June 3, 2003). Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to relying solely on B12-fortified nutritional yeast for B12:

    * Nutritional yeast often comes from bins in health food stores. If not careful, it would be easy for a store employee to order the wrong nutritional yeast out of the distributor catalogs which often list many yeasts. It would also be easy to accidentally put the wrong yeast into the Vegetarian Support Formula bin.

    * B12 is light sensitive. Nutritional yeast is likely to be exposed to the light because it is often stored in clear bins or plastic bags.

    * At least one vegan who thought he was getting B12 from nutritional yeast developed B12 deficiency symptoms that cleared up upon taking a B12 supplement.

    If you are trying to use Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula for B12, make sure you are actually getting what you think. It is also best to keep it in the refrigerator or freezer, out of the light.

    Please note: Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast has many other nutrients and I eat it myself; but vegans shouldn't rely on it for their sole source of B12, in my opinion."

    The American Dietetic Association position paper on vegetarian diets stated, "vitamin B-12 must be obtained from regular use of vitamin B-12-fortified foods, such as fortified soy and rice beverages, some breakfast cereals and meat analogs, or Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast; otherwise a daily vitamin B-12 supplement is needed. No unfortified plant food contains any significant amount of active vitamin B-12. Fermented soy products cannot be considered a reliable source of active B-12" They reference two resources for the vitamin B12 info:

    Messina V, Mangels R, Messina M. The

    Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues

    and Applications. 2nd ed. Sudbury,

    MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers; 2004.

    Donaldson MS. Metabolic vitamin B12 status

    on a mostly raw vegan diet with follow-

    up using tablets, nutritional yeast, or

    probiotic supplements. Ann Nutr Metab.


    Also, this research states, "Fermented products, such as soy products like tempeh, do not contain substantial amounts of B-12. The amounts given on the labels cannot be trusted..." Reading further, "My advice to the vegan parents of a vegan child is that you have to provide a supply of vitamin B-12. Yeast grown on vitamin B-12-enriched medium is only the answer

    when some of the vitamin B-12-enriching medium is

    mixed in with the yeast that is eaten because the yeast

    itself does not contain active vitamin B-12; it contains a

    lot of analogues but not active vitamin B-12. Differential

    radioassay show that all the vitamin B-12 is accounted

    for by vitamin B-12-enriched medium rather than by

    the yeast itself. Vegans must get a source for vitamin B-12."

    What's also interesting in that paper is that they showed if you ingested your own feces (not recommended) you would actually get vitamin B12 that's made by bacteria in your own body. That's the ultimate natural source if you want. Ha! (no thanks). When it's made in your body, it's not absorbed at the place it needs to be until it passes back through your digestive system.

    I believe that if we were living out in the natural world, gathering our food and drinking from streams, we'd be consuming more than enough B12. But we're pretty clean with the things we eat, and we drink treated water.

    A supplement is a very inexpensive, easy way to ensure you're getting a tiny bit of B12 every day. Among other things I've read through the years, this is why I do not recommend nutritional yeast or natto in my answers, and instead recommend a very small, inexpensive daily supplement unless you're eating a lot of B-12 fortified foods. You can really eat the nutritional yeast for B12 as long as it's listed on the label, you're sure it's fresh, and you're eating plenty of it daily.

  • Robot
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I do not like supplement.I do not take them nor do I endorse them.

    Many people are not aware that dairy and eggs contain B12 because everyone goes around saying it is only found in meat.However, a little research can clear that up.

    I drink soy milk, not for the B12, because I like it.It just happens to have B12. Anyways, B12 is not something I am OMG concerned about.

  • 1 decade ago

    probably because b12 is in so few vegan things, most people don't even know what yeast and natto is. i've never even heard of natto.(just looked it up)

    so other vegans tell newbies to take supplements so the newbies do not get sick and blame it on being vegan and then they go back to lacto-ovo or meat eating. ew.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The nutritional yeast readily available in the UK doesn't contain B12.

    However, since many foods are fortified nowadays, I think it's almost impossible not to get enough B12.

    I think it's lack of information that leads others to suggest a suppliment.

    Source(s): vegan
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Vegans don't eat egg yolks and dairy products. If you want b12 as a vegan drink more soy milk and eat more avocados.

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