Do I Need to Take Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps make nerves and blood cells. It is important in the manufacturing of DNA and helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.

Many sources say we only get vitamin B12 from eating animal products, but that's not the whole truth. Animals don't produce Vitamin B12, it comes from bacteria in the soil. Animals ingest vitamin B12 simply from living amid soil and eating from the ground. Animals raised in confinement, like chickens, are given B12 supplements.

When vegetables are plucked from the soil, they have vitamin B12 on their surface or in the skin, but when we wash and peel them, we strip them of most B12.

Some plant milks and cereals are fortified with B12. Nori seaweed, nutritional yeast, and dried shitake mushrooms are also good vegan sources. Scientists recently discovered B12 in water lentils, also known as duckweed. The Florida startup Parabel is working on a plant-based milk using water lentils, which are also high in protein.

Regarding supplements, there are two types of Vitamin B12, methylcobalamin and cyanocobalamin. Methyl B12 is preferred because it comes from natural sources whereas cyano is synthetic. Cyano is the type used in fortified foods, so it's best not to rely on those foods for your B12. Methyl B12 is harder to find; I usually find it in health food stores or online. Look at the ingredient list for the type and make sure it's methylcobalamin. (M is for ME!)

I use the one pictured here, Garden of Life Mykind Organic oral spray.