27 October 2006

Vitamin B12 in a Vegetarian Diet

Vitamin B12 is essential for cell division, blood formation, maintenance of the nervous system and many other things. It is a vital element in any healthy vegetarian eating plan. Of all the B vitamins, B12 is the only one not found in plant foods. So for some vegetarians, B12 supplements or recourse to B12-fortified foods will be necessary. Fortunately, vegetarians (like meat-eaters) require only tiny amounts of the vitamin.

Sources of Vitamin B12 in a Vegetarian Diet

Ovo-lacto vegetarians obtain vitamin B12 from eggs, cheese and milk.
Stricter vegetarians must choose from vitamin B12 fortified cereal (eg. Nutri-Grain cereal; 1 cup provides your daily requirement), fortified soy milk, fortified meat analogues (vegetarian food products made from [eg.] soybeans to resemble meat or chicken), fortified nutritional yeast products (not baker's or brewer's yeast) and vitamin B12 supplements.

B12 Supplements for Ovo-lacto Vegetarians

For the lacto-ovo-vegetarian the present recommended dietary allowance is two micrograms per day for adults and teenagers, about 2.5 micrograms of pregnant and breast feeding women and one microgram or less for children.

Vitamin B12 in a Vegetarian - Bottom Line

Ovo-lacto vegetarians get vitamin B12 from eggs and dairy foods. Strict vegetarians need to eat vitamin B12 fortified foods or supplements.