Vitamin B12 is involved in helping the body make red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy, as well as releasing energy from food. The NHS recommends about 1.5 micrograms (mcg) a day of Vitamin B12 for adults aged 19 to 64.
It is arguably the hardest nutrient to get from a plant-based diet as it is primarily found in animal sources - such as meat, fish, shellfish and dairy products. As for vegan sources, the NHS recommends to opting for a supplement or plant-based foods known to be fortified with B12 including:
✔️ Natural yeast – 5 mcg / 10g*
Vitamin B12 is often added to natural yeast to help combat deficiency in plant-based diets which makes it a great versatile source. Make sure to check your labels and choose a brand that is fortified with Vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast flakes are the perfect cheese substitute to sprinkle on dishes such as soups, sauces, salads, and pasta. Plus they're also a rich flavoursome ingredient when home baking savoury bread, scones, and muffins
✔️ Breakfast cereals - 2.5 mcg / 100g*
A lot of breakfast cereals already come fortified with B12 and iron. For example, 100g of Sainsbury's Wholegrain Bran Flakes include 2.5 mcg of B12 and 7mg of iron (which is about 50% of the daily intake recommended for women aged 19-50 by the NHS).
✔️ Unsweetened soy or oat drinks - 0.38 mcg / 100ml*
An easy win here, especially if you combine it to fortified cereals. A glass of 200ml of Oatly Original Oat Drink for example accounts for 0.76 mcg of B12, nearly half of your recommended daily intake.
Good to know: Fermented products such as tempeh and miso, shiitake mushrooms and algae (including spirulina and nori) are sometimes listed as good sources, as they have substances chemically similar to Vitamin B12. However, studies have shown these substances do not work in the body in the same way as the active vitamin so these foods cannot be relied upon as sources of Vitamin B12.
Speak to your GP for further information and recommendations specific to your personal health condition.
Sources: NHS, Vegetarian Society.