Why You Need Vitamin B-12

For me, one of the best things about eating a plant based diet is getting all the vitamins and minerals I need through whole foods. Except for Vitamin B-12. B-12 is not found in plants or innately in animals. It is found in microbes in the ground.

These bacteria grow in the guts of animals, which is why their bodies and products can be a source of this vitamin. Our herbivore primate cousins get all they need ingesting bugs, dirt, and feces, and we may once have gotten all we needed by drinking out of mountain streams or well water. But now we chlorinate our water supply to kill off any bugs. - Dr. Michael Greger, NutritionFacts.org

So by eating meat we then get our needed B-12. However, by not eating meat now, I do have to supplement this vitamin with a daily pill. But why? Why is this one vitamin so important?



B-12 helps our metabolism function, and maintains and protects our central nervous system. Not getting B-12 in our diets can cause tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia. It can also affect our balance and increase our feelings of depression and confusion.

I've been taking a daily B-12 supplement for almost a year now and recently stopped for about a month only because I forgot to buy more supplements. During that month I noticed a drastic mood change feeling more irritable and even depressed at times. Once I realized I had stopped taking B-12 I started again and felt better almost immediately. I had no idea this vitamin affected me as much as it did until I stopped having it in my body.


I'm not one to recommend supplements when we can get all of our required vitamins and minerals through food, except again, for B-12. So taking one pill a day to keep our metabolism and central nervous system up and running isn't that big of a deal. The only thing to look out for is the specific ingredients in your B-12 supplement. I bought some from Trader Joe's and while they were readily available and affordable, the pills contained lactose in their ingredients. Taking a B-12 supplement with lactose while eating a plant based diet is a little counterintuitive, so just be sure to read the labels. I found Walgreens brand, CVS brand, and Nature Made brand all vegan and available at your pharmacy or online at Amazon

Also, some nutritional yeasts do come fortified with B-12, like Bob's Red Mill's Large Flake Nutritional Yeast.

And here are some recipes of mine that include nutritional yeast with fortified B-12:

Nutritional yeast recipes