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I’m a strict vegetarian. How can I get enough vitamin B12?

The only good food sources of active vitamin B12 are animal foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, yogurt, and cheese. While some plant foods contain the chemical precursors to active vitamin B12, there are no known plant foods that provide consistent, dependable levels of active vitamin B12. For years, controversy raged over whether these precursors of vitamin B12 could alone provide adequate B12 nutrition for strict vegetarians (who eat absolutely no animal foods, including dairy products and eggs) or whether fermentation of plant foods could increase the bioactivity of these precursors. It is now generally accepted that plant foods supply inadequate levels of vitamin B12 activity for strict vegetarians.

Strict vegetarians should therefore do one or more of the following:

  • regularly consume foods that have been fortified with active vitamin B12, such as fortified breakfast cereals or bread products, fortified texturized vegetable protein (also called “TVP”), fortified soy products (like soy burgers, hotdogs, or breakfast patties), nutritional yeast, and yeast extracts
  • take an oral or nasal vitamin B12 supplement
  • receive vitamin B12 injections from their doctor

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