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- 1 What are the food sources of B12?
- 2 How much B12 do I need?
- 3 What are the different types of B12?
- 4 What should I look for when picking a B12 vegan supplement?
- 5 Working out which B12 supplement is best
- 6 Deva Vegan Vitamin B-12 Fast Dissolve Lozenges
- 7 Garden of Life MyKind Organic Whole Food B-12 Vitamin for Metabolism and Energy
- 8 MegaFood Vegan B12
- 9 GNCHealth Global Healing VeganSafe Vegan Vitamin B12
- 10 Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12
- 11 So which is the best B12 supplement for vegans?
For vegans, B12 is the nutritional equivalent of the perfect white dress shirt: it’s a necessity and, though there seem to be plenty available, it’s hard to find the right one for you. Because B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, vegans have to find the best b12 supplement that suits them in order to have a complete nutritional “wardrobe.”
The good news: there are lots of vegan-friendly B12 supplements on the market. The not-so-good news: unless you have a degree in nutrition, you may feel unsure about which one will work for you. Our guide and reviews will get you started on finding the best B12 supplement for your vegan lifestyle.
What are the food sources of B12?
B12 is used in the metabolic processes in every cell in the body. It is essential for energy production and the functioning of the nervous system, so it’s pretty important stuff! Unfortunately for vegans, the food-based sources of B12 are almost exclusively limited to meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, all of which are, obviously, derived from animals.
However, the animals themselves don’t produce B12. Rather, it’s made by certain bacteria and fungi in the animal’s body. Our internal fauna makes B12 too, but not enough to maintain good health.
The natural, vegan-friendly food sources of B12 are certain types of algae and brewer’s yeast. The edible algae enteromorpha and porphyra contain bioactive B12, though most common food algae do not.
Brewer’s yeast is a fungus traditionally used in the brewing of beer. Though the slightly cheesy flavor of brewer’s yeast might satisfy a craving for mac n’ cheese, it may be hard to work this food into your everyday diet.
Finally, some mushrooms and fermented foods contain B12 our bodies can use. However, B12 is present is such small amounts in these foods that you would be stuffed long before you had consumed enough to get your daily dose. Speaking of daily dose…
How much B12 do I need?
The current B12 DRI (or RDA, if you’re in the UK) is as follows:
- Adults and teens need 2.4 mcg (that’s micrograms) of B12 every day.
- Women who are pregnant or nursing may require a bit more: 2.7-2.8 mcg.
- In addition, people over the age of 50 may need to supplement B12 due to difficulties in absorbing the vitamin.
Interestingly, these figures were set in stone quite some time ago, so the data is currently being questioned by many, including Dr. Greger of nutritionfacts.org (see video below).
Now, it would seem, 4 to 7μg is in favor, but the official guidelines are yet to be updated and most B12 supplements contain doses much, much higher than the recommended daily allotment. The good news is that there is no established Upper Tolerated Limit on vitamin B12, meaning that for most people there is no risk in consuming higher levels of B12.
Some people argue that higher doses of B12 are required to ensure adequate absorption. In other words, our bodies are bad at taking up B12, so you need to consume a lot of it to acquire the bare minimum. High doses of B12 are also thought to increase energy and elevate mood. However, other research suggests there’s no benefit to taking B12 in large amounts. If you’re not sure, look for a supplement that has just the daily recommended amount or divide up larger tablets.
If you have chronic heartburn and regularly take antacids, you may need to take extra B12. Antacids prevent us from absorbing B12 from our food. Unfortunately, one of the symptoms of B12 deficiency is digestive issues, which may prompt you to take more antacids. Vicious cycle for the win.
If you’re still not sure, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor before you begin to supplement B12, if only to put your mind at ease.
What are the different types of B12?
Warning: this section contains compound names that may give you flashbacks to high school chemistry class. However, understanding the different types of B12 is essential in picking the best B12 supplement for your needs.
First, let’s discuss cyanocobalamin, which is a common synthetic form of B12. Cyanocobalamin is generally not the preferred form of supplemental B12 because your body must convert it into another form in order to use it. The extra required energy may interfere with absorptions.
Adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin are forms of B12 which are “bioactive,” or ready for the body to use. Because the molecule doesn’t need to be broken down or converted, this B12 is more quickly taken up and used in your body.
Both adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin are necessary forms of vitamin B12 that serve different functions in our cells. Some doctors recommend supplementing both forms while others claim it doesn’t really make a difference. Again, if you’re not sure, ask your doctor.
What should I look for when picking a B12 vegan supplement?
B12 supplements come in two general forms: pill and sublingual. Sublingual means “under the tongue.” Though many people believe that sublingual promotes more vitamin B12 absorption, there isn’t evidence that one method is more effective than the other.
Since these methods seem to be equally effective, you should pick whatever works best for you. Maybe the sweet taste of a lozenge encourages you to be diligent about taking your vitamins. Maybe you’d rather just pop a pill and be done with it.
Another consideration will be additional supplements and ingredients. B12 is often paired with B6 and folate since these vitamins work together in the body. However, there’s no reason why you can’t just take B12 on its own.
You may also want to consider the additives present in your B12 vitamin. For example, many of the lozenges or tablets are flavored with the artificial sweeteners xylitol and mannitol. Mannitol is a well-known trigger for people who suffer from migraine headaches and should therefore be avoided by migraine sufferers.
Xylitol is generally considered safe for people, but pet owners may want to find another supplement. Xylitol is poisonous to dogs and cats – even in small amounts. For this reason, some pet owners keep xylitol products out of their homes entirely.
Working out which B12 supplement is best
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. We know that’s a lot to think about!
While the finding the right B12 supplement for you will be largely subjective there are some clear favourites in the community, so we thought we’d take a look at a few here.
So, without further ado, here are our reviews of the top B12 supplements for vegans.
Deva Vegan Vitamin B-12 Fast Dissolve Lozenges
Each Deva Vegan Vitamin B-12 Fast Dissolve Lozenge provides 1000 mcg of B12 along with the recommended daily value of B6 and folic acid (also known as vitamin B9). These supplements come in berry flavored lozenges that dissolve under your tongue for fast absorption.
The B12 in Deva B12 lozenges is truly vegan and derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria.
Vegans and non-vegans alike say using these supplements increases their energy and feelings of well-being, and a few people who were low on B12 say their doctors recommended this product in particular. One woman’s doctor even suggested them in lieu of B12 shots!
Most people seem to like the taste of the lozenges too. However, a common complaint was that they take too long to dissolve and may leave a funny taste or texture in the mouth. If this is an issue for you, consider cutting the lozenge in half and taking one half at a time.
On the downside, Deva B12 Lozenges contains the artificial sweeteners xylitol and mannitol. For most people, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you suffer from migraines or have curious pets, you may want to consider another supplement.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Contains bioactive form of B12 for energy
✅ B6 and folic acid included
✅ Yummy, berry flavored lozenges
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ May take a while to dissolve
❌ Contains mannitol—possible migraine trigger
❌ Xylitol may not be safe for homes with pets
Garden of Life MyKind Organic Whole Food B-12 Vitamin for Metabolism and Energy
Garden of Life MyKind Organic Whole Foods B12 Vitamin comes in a spray bottle for easy dosing. Each dose of this liquid B12 contains 500 mcg from “over 30 fruits, vegetables, and herbs.” Though it’s not clear what exactly those “fruits, vegetables, and herbs” are, Garden of Life ensures its B12 supplement is completely organic, natural, and vegan-friendly.
In terms of results, many customers feel that using this product gave them a boost of energy. Several long-term vegans who’ve tried a lot of B12 products say this is the best they’ve tried. The raspberry flavor is not too sweet and has no aftertaste.
There isn’t much anecdotal evidence that Garden of Life Whole Food B12 helps vegans maintain good blood B12 levels. However, this product contains the methylcobalamin form of B12 which is known for effective absorption. Even if they don’t go to the doctor to have their levels checked, several vegans say they feel better on this B12 vitamin.
The biggest issue with this vegan safe B12 supplement is the packaging. Many people reported that the spray bottle tends to dribble after use, causing a mess and waste. Also, some customers reported that their Garden of Life B12 spoiled quickly or grew mold. Therefore. to be safe, you’re best off keeping this B12 spray in the fridge.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Easily absorbed form of B12
✅ Delicious raspberry flavor with no aftertaste
✅ Organic, whole food sourced
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Spray bottle may leak
❌ Some issues with spoilage
❌ Needs to be stored in the refrigerator
MegaFood Vegan B12
MegaFood B12 vegan vitamins follow the company’s “farm to tablet” approach of making supplements from real food. Their “Slow Food” process involves milling and dehydrating vegetables like beetroot and broccoli to yield truly natural vitamins.
MegaFood Vegan B12 provides 500 mcg of B12 along with B6 and folate. It also contains s. cerevisiae, the brewer’s yeast that is a natural, vegan source of B12. This tablet contains no artificial ingredients or sweeteners: just pop the easy-to-swallow “mini-pill” and your B12 needs are met.
The majority of customers seem to love MegaFood Vegan B12 and say it makes a big difference in their health. For vegans, this supplement seems to reduce their symptoms of B12 deficiency. Even for non-vegans, this supplement may enhance energy and increase feelings of well-being.
The primary complaint about MegaFood Vegan B12 is not about the supplement at all, but the packaging. It goes without saying that many vegans are concerned about the impact of waste on the environment. Several vegan customers were disappointed with the amount of plastic, cotton, and cardboard MegaFood uses to ship these supplements. Hopefully this is something they listen to and change in the future.
As a final potential downside, a few people reported the pills leaving an unpleasant aftertaste. Though they can be taken on an empty stomach, having your MegaFood B12 with a meal may reduce the aftertaste.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ All natural, real food ingredients
✅ May enhance energy and health for vegans
✅ Easy to swallow “mini-pills”
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Excessive packaging is not earth-friendly
❌ May leave an aftertaste
GNCHealth Global Healing VeganSafe Vegan Vitamin B12
A dropper full of VeganSafe B-12 – Vegan Vitamin B12 by Global Healing (GHCHealth) delivers 2,500 mcg of B12. Unlike many other supplements which only use one form of B12, Global Healing B12 contains 80% methylcobalamin and 20% adenosylcobalamin. You may remember from our buyer’s guide above that both forms of B12 are essential to cell function.
Besides a big dose of B12, the ingredients are minimal: vegetable glycerin and triple distilled water. Customers report that this liquid vitamin B12 has a sweet flavor, but some find it too sweet. The B12 liquid makes it easy to adjust the dose for what works best for you.
VeganSafe Vitamin B12 provides energy and balanced B12 blood levels to a variety of people. Vegans love it. So do people who are over 50 and bariatric patients who may have trouble absorbing B vitamins.
Besides complaints about the overly sweet flavor, some customers experienced headache and upset stomach with this product. Also, some people were disappointed at how quickly they went through the bottle. If VeganSafe liquid vegan B12 works for you, you may want to stock up so you never have to wait for a delivery.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Contains two bioactive forms of B12
✅ Works well for a variety of customers: vegan, bariatric, and over-50
✅ Minimal ingredients
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Flavor was too sweet for some
❌ May cause headaches and stomach complaints
❌ One bottle doesn’t last long
Jarrow Formulas Methyl B-12
Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 provides 2500 mcg of methylcobalamin B12 in sublingual tablets. There are a few flavor choices—cherry, lemon, and tropical— which are sweetened with xylitol. The tablets are designed to dissolve under your tongue.
The high dose of B12 in Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 seems to be perfect for patients with serious B12 deficiencies. If you don’t need as much B12, simply cut the tablets in half. This will also make a bottle last longer.
Based on customer reviews, there is no doubt that this vegan B12 gives people a surge of energy that lasts all day. In fact, it provides so much energy that some people had trouble falling asleep at night. The general recommendation is that you should only take Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12 in the morning.
The downside of this high a dose of B12 is the possible side effects. A few people claimed that taking this product caused their skin to break out. High levels of B12 have been linked to acne in some studies. Anxiety is another possible side effect of excessive B12, which some people claim to experience with taking Jarrow Formulas B12.
With that said, the majority of customers had no problems with this product. They feel more healthy and energetic. If you choose Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12, it may be wise to start with half a tablet or less to gauge how your body responds.
WHAT WE LIKE:
✅ Good flavor variety
✅ High dose of B12 to correct deficiencies
✅ Provides all-day energy
WHAT WE DISLIKE:
❌ Contains the artificial sweetener xylitol
❌ Must be taken in the morning
❌ Possible side effects from a whole dose
So which is the best B12 supplement for vegans?
Out of this impressive line-up, our pick for the best B12 supplement for vegans is MegaFood Vegan B12. We love the “farm to tablet” approach of developing supplements from whole food ingredients and the conservative 500 mcg dose of B12, along with vitamin B6, is likely to provide adequate levels for most vegans without overdoing things.
We also like that MegaFood Vegan B12 contains no artificial sweeteners, making it migraine- and fur baby-friendly. The pill form makes the supplement easy to use, but it doesn’t provide sweet taste as an incentive to take your vitamins.
MegaFood Vegan B12 is a good choice as a daily supplement for new or veteran vegans, anyone over the age of 50, or anyone who struggles to absorb B12. If the company’s overzealous approach to packaging bothers you, consider ordering multiple bottles at once or contacting the distributor directly.
There are very few nutrients that a vegan diet doesn’t provide in abundance. While most people may have to constantly monitor the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, vegans have to pay special attention to B12. In terms of overall health, it doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off!