Plant-based diets contain no reliable sources of vitamin B12. Vegetarians who also consume milk get some B12, but eggs are not a reliable source. Vegetarians and vegans must insure sufficient intake with dairy, B12 supplements, and/or by consuming foods fortified with B12.
There are no fruits, vegetables or grains, not even strictly organic ones, that are proven sources of vitamin B12.
Plant-based sources such as fermented soy products, seaweed, and spirulina have not been proven to be reliable sources of vitamin B12 nor have they prevented B12 deficiency in vegans. Some of these products may even contain substances that block absorption and worsen vitamin B12 deficiency.
Eggs and Vegetarian Nutrition
Eggs contain vitamin B12 but eggs are also believed to contain substances that block its absorption. Because of this, the U. S. Department of Agriculture is currently researching the bioavailability of vitamin B12 from eggs. The study will be concluded in August, 2010. Until then, eggs should not be considered a reliable sole source of B12.
Milk as a Source of Vitamin B12
National Institutes of Health reports 0.9 mcg of B12 in 8 ounces of milk but they don’t say whether that is for raw or pasteurized milk. Pasteurization destroys some vitamin B12 and some of the proteins that aid its absorption.
According to Raw-Milk-Facts.com, raw cow’s milk has 1.07 mcg per 8 ounces. Doctors Bill and Martha Sears (AskDrSears.com) say that cow’s milk has 5 times more vitamin B12 than goat’s milk.
Cheese is a good source of this vitamin and it can also be found in other dairy products.
Fortified B12 Food Sources
A number of foods are fortified with vitamin B12. A few examples are given below:
Brewer’s and nutritional yeasts do not contain vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. One fortified brand is Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula.
Fortified cereals are available. Total and Grape Nuts supply 100% and 25% of the RDA of vitamin B12, respectively. Buttery spreads may be fortified. Smart Balance 37% Light Buttery Spread, for example, has 20% of the RDA of vitamin B12 in 1 tablespoonful.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the RDA is 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 daily. There are no reliable plant-based food sources of this vitamin. Milk and dairy products, fortified foods, and supplementation are the available sources of vitamin B12 for people eating a plant-based diet.
Gina Buss. Vitamin B12 in a Vegan Diet: The Dreaded Debate. VegFamily.
No author given. Information Sheet: B12. The Vegetarian Society.
No author given. Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health.
No author given. Got Goat’s Milk? AskDrSears.
No author given. What’s in Raw Milk? Raw-Milk-Facts.
Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig. Vitamin B12: Vital Nutrient for Good Health. The Weston A. Price Foundation.
No author given. B12 in Tempeh, Seaweeds, Organic Produce and Other Plant Foods. VeganHealth.
No author given. Research Project: Eggs as a Source of Bioavailable B12. U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Reed Mangels. Vitamin B12 in the Vegan Diet. The Vegetarian Resource Group.