The Ministries of our Church
Berean Health & Temperance
The Need for Vitamin B12
The human body stores several years' worth of vitamin B12 in the liver, so nutritional deficiency of this vitamin is extremely rare. However, deficiency can result from being unable to use vitamin B12. Inability to absorb vitamin B12 from the intestinal tract can be caused by pernicious anemia.
Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get vitamin B12 in their diet. Vitamin B12 is especially important in pregnancy and lactation and for infants and children.
Reliable Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12
A number of reliable vegan food sources for vitamin B12 are known. One brand of nutritional yeast, Red Star T-6635+, has been tested and shown to contain active vitamin B12. This brand of yeast is often labeled as Vegetarian Support Formula with or without T-6635+ in parentheses following this new name. It is a reliable source of vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a food yeast, grown on a molasses solution, which comes as yellow flakes or powder. It has a cheesy taste.
The RDA for adults for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms daily. About 2 rounded teaspoons of large flake Vegetarian Support Formula (Red Star T-6635+) nutritional yeast provides the recommended amount of vitamin B12 for adults. Another source of vitamin B12 is fortified cereal. For example, Nature’s Path Optimum Power cereal does contain vitamin B12 at this time and about a half cup of this cereal will provide 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12. We recommend checking the label of your favorite cereal since manufacturers have been known to stop including vitamin B12.
Other sources of vitamin B12 are vitamin B12 fortified soy milk, vitamin B12 fortified meat analogues (food made from wheat gluten or soybeans to resemble meat, poultry, or fish), and vitamin B12 supplements. There are vitamin supplements that do not contain animal products.
Vegans who choose to use a vitamin B12 supplement, either as a single supplement or in a multivitamin should use supplements regularly. Even though a supplement may contain many times the recommended level of vitamin B12, when vitamin B12 intake is high, not as much appears to be absorbed. This means in order to meet your needs, you should take a daily vitamin B12 supplement of 5-10 micrograms or a weekly vitamin B12 supplement of 2000 micrograms (4).