B12 is one of those nutrients that you don’t hear much about. It’s in meat and eggs, so most people get plenty of it, but what about those who choose to abstain from all animal products? Are they destined for deficiency or can they get it from other sources? I asked a special guest blogger to give you the scoop, and here’s what she had to say.
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By Quinn Haisley
Did you know that Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins? Yup, there are eight! B12, in particular, is necessary for the proper formation of red blood cells, nerves and DNA. Most importantly for athletes, B12 provides energy. A lack of B12 in the diet can lead to a variety of problems, including anemia, tingling in the hand and feet, fatigue, memory loss, and hallucinations or paranoia—all of which are no bueno anyone serious about their sports! If you are a vegetarian or vegan, then you have probably heard rumbling about B12, since it is only naturally found in animal products such as eggs, meat, diary, poultry and fish. Those who consume a plant-based diet may choose to take a supplement or receive a B12 shot to prevent a deficiency. However, there are some vegan food options for those who want to include more B12 in their diet.
1. Nutritional Yeast– Bob’s Red Mill Large Flake Yeast, 8 Ounce
This deactivated yeast product is often used in vegan foods to give a cheesy or umami flavor. Don’t knock it til you try it! Just ¼ cup of nutritional yeast contains 58 micrograms of B12, which is more than twenty-four times the daily recommendation of 2.4 micrograms! Don’t be alarmed if your pee turns bright yellow after eating it–it’s just the water-soluble vitamin coming out in the urine.
2. Fortified Plant Milks– SOY DREAM Enriched Original Organic Soymilk, 64 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 8)
To make up for the lack of vitamin B12 inherently present in dairy milk, many varieties of plant milks, like almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk, are fortified with B12. These dairy alternatives can be used in place of regular milk in recipes or consumed as a delicious beverage option! Although the amount of B12 varies between kinds and brands, a cup of non-dairy milk may have up to 3 micrograms. However, it’s important to always check the label to ensure that it’s B12 fortified.
3. Fortified Breakfast Cereal– Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal, 1.4-Ounce Cups (Pack of 12)
Big name brands like Kellogg’s, Kraft and General Mills now add a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals to their cereals, including B12. Again, the amount of B12 will vary between cereals, but many have at least the daily recommendation, and many have more than that–Special K has 6 micrograms in one cup.
4. Meat Substitutes — Beyond Meat Beef Free Beastly Sliders, 8 Ounce — 7 per case.
Since meat is one of the natural sources of B12, many faux-meat products have added B12 into their products to substitute the real thing. It’s amazing how many faux meat products are out there, like replacements for burgers, sausage, chicken fingers, ribs, etc. Check either the ingredients list or nutrition facts panel to make sure that the product you are purchasing has been fortified with B12.
Otherwise known as seaweed, nori is a good source of B12. One small snack pack of crunchy roasted seaweed will provide your daily dose of Vitamin B12, but the jury is still out on whether or not the body easily absorbs this version of the vitamin. Still, nori is a healthy snack option, and there’s no harm in including it in your daily eats.