Vitamins and minerals help keep our bodies healthy and functioning as they should.
A healthy and varied diet should give your body all the nutrients you need, but there are some vitamins that might be harder to get from food if you’ve got dietary restrictions.
One of those is vitamin B12, which if you’re following a vegan diet can be harder to get.
Here’s all you need to know about it, including how it helps your body, where you can get it in your diet and if you should consider taking a supplement.
How Vitamin B12 Helps the Body:
According to the NHS (1), B12 and folate, perform several important functions in the body, including helping make red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy. It can also help you to get energy from your food.
If you don’t have enough, it could lead to a deficiency.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency:
If your body doesn’t have enough vitamin B12 or folate, you may experience symptoms such as (2):
- Extreme tiredness
- A lack of energy
- Pins and needles
- A sore and red tongue
- Mouth ulcers
- Muscle weakness
You should see your GP if you think you may have a deficiency.
Sources of vitamin B12 from your diet:
Good sources of B12 in your diet are:
- Some fortified breakfast cereals
If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet alone. But, it is not naturally found in fruit, vegetables and grains, if you follow a vegan diet you may not get enough of it.
Being vegan and vitamin B12:
There are some sources of vitamin B12 which are suitable for vegans, this includes some alternatives to milk products or vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals. The Vegan Society (3) recommends eating these foods twice a day or taking a supplement.
For other vitamins that are harder to get from a vegan diet: here’s our blog.
Where to get vitamin B12 supplements:
You can get supplements online or in your local LloydsPharmacy. You could try:
Nu U Nutrition Vitamin B12
This supplement is suitable for vegetarians and vegans and comes in a specially designed tablet that melts under your tongue for superior absorption.
You should not take supplements as a substitute for a varied, balanced diet or a healthy lifestyle.