1. What is it?
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and other one-celled organisms found in the small intestines of animals, including humans. While this vitamin is found mainly in animal products, small amounts can be found in plant-based products.
2. What does it do?
B12 is responsible for healthy functioning of the brain and nervous system as well as formation of red blood cells.
3. What are some good sources of B12?
Vegan or not, everyone should be taking a multivitamin that includes B12. With that said, you can also find this vitamin in certain fortified foods, including nutritional yeast, Kellogg’s corn flakes, Total cereal, certain meat alternatives, and Silk soymilk.
4. What kind of B12 supplement should I take?
Vitamin B12 supplements come in a variety of forms, including liquids, chewables, pills, and sublingual tablets or strips, which dissolve under the tongue. While many believe that sublingual forms are preferable, the most important thing is to take the supplement regularly.
5. How much do I need each day? How do I know if I’m getting enough?
The recommended dietary allowance for adults is 2.4 micrograms (not milligrams) per day, with increased requirements for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you’re not sure you’re getting enough B12, it’s best to meet with your doctor, who can order blood work to determine your B12 levels.
6. If we are not meant to eat animals, why do we have to take supplements?
B12 isn’t animal-based, and a lot of meat eaters can be deficient too. In fact, the U.S. government recommends that everyone over the age of 50 take a B12 supplement.
Humans used to get some of our B12 from drinking non-treated water or eating fruits, veggies, and grains that hadn’t been sterilized with soap. As hygiene standards improved, our needs changed.