Great Ways to Get Your Daily Intake
Following a vegetarian diet can pose some restraints, health-wise and diet-wise. Primarily a plant-based diet, vegetarians don’t consume meat, with a large portion of their food being fruits, vegetables, seeds, beans, grains and nuts.
However, if you're not careful, the restrictive nature of this diet may lead to nutrient deficiencies.
For instance, B12 is commonly found in meat and other animal-based products. Yet, the vegetarian diet doesn’t include many of these B12-rich foods, which are needed for energy production, DNA synthesis, nervous system function, healthy red blood cells and more.
So, how can you ensure you don’t become B12 deficient? Here are five B12-rich foods for vegetarians.
1. Dairy Products
Yogurt can further make a great breakfast alongside granola, fruit and honey. About eight ounces of yogurt contains 46% of your daily vitamin B12 intake. Cheese, such as Swiss cheese, also has ample vitamin B12 content, meaning you want to sprinkle this on your salad and veggies!
It’s important to note that ovo-vegetarians exclude dairy products, whereas lacto-ovo-vegetarians only exclude fish, poultry and meat, allowing for the consumption of dairy products. So, again, it may depend on what type of vegetarian diet you follow as to whether dairy products work for you as a vitamin B12-rich food.
Most types of vegetarians eat eggs, and luckily, these are one of the best sources of vitamin B12, with each egg containing 25% of your daily recommended vitamin B12 amount. This means that four eggs offer all of your daily vitamin B12 needs, along with around 24- 30 grams of protein.
Eggs are also really easy to add to any diet, including most vegetarian diets. You can opt for an omelet or scrambled eggs in the morning or even an egg sandwich for lunch.
3. Fortified Cereals
If you’re a picky eater or none of the above appeals to you, fortified breakfast cereals often contain a good amount of vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
The downside is that these processed foods tend to contain a lot more sugar than other options. Excess sugar consumption is associated with an increased risk of diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and more.
Thus, if you decide to have this food in the morning, you may want to watch your sugar intake across the rest of your day to avoid going overboard.
4. Non-Dairy Milk
Non-dairy milk, such as almond milk, soy milk and coconut milk, are often fortified with vitamin B12. This allows non-dairy milk to be viable substitutes for cow’s milk, offering similar nutritional amounts.
If you go this route, check the label and ensure the milk you purchase contains vitamin B12. Usually, it will indicate this on the packaging, such as the ingredient list or nutritional label.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast gives way to a nutty and cheesy flavor in foods, and one tablespoon also contains 100% of your daily vitamin B12 intake. Many vegetarians choose this food because it’s easy to add to sauces, pastes, chilis, curries and more. You may also enjoy it sprinkled on popcorn, making it a very convenient option.
Other Tips for Getting Enough Vitamin B12
Here are a few more tips for ensuring you don’t face a vitamin B12 deficiency when following a vegetarian diet.
Take B12 Supplements
When all else fails, B12 supplementation each day can provide you with the amount you need to function at your best. Since it’s water-soluble, this supplement doesn’t necessarily need to be taken with food. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to consider having it alongside a meal each day.
Know the Signs
While symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency are rare, it’s common to feel more fatigued than usual. Some may also experience shortness of breath, vision problems or problems with memory or cognition.
If you suspect you may be deficient, it may prove worthwhile to get a blood test conducted at your doctor’s office to determine if this is the case or not (or if something else may be the cause of your symptoms).
Minimize Your Alcohol Consumption
Since B12 is stored in the liver, alcohol consumption may cause a depletion of this vitamin and a sluggish liver. Alcohol can also make it difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from the food you eat properly, as it can irritate the digestive tract.
At the end of the day, when following any restrictive diet, such as the vegetarian diet, you want to ensure you’re getting enough of all the necessary nutrients. This allows you to live your life the way you want and have the energy you need to get through each day.