Vegan sources of vitamin B12 / Prophylactic self-isolation series. Day 323rd.

According to the well-established mass media beliefs, food with vitamin B12 is a privilege of meat-eaters, while vegans and lacto-ovo* vegetarians are fated to serious illnesses. Is it true? Let’s take a deep look and discover what was already known, but now is proved by the same science.

* Lacto indicates that a person consumes milk and milk products, and ovo means that a person consumes eggs.

You may probably know that Japanese people did not consume meat for centuries. Anyway, they managed to be known as people possessing strong health, wisdom and longevity. Here below is the list of naturally occurring plant-derived food sources wedible mushrooms, ith high Vitamin B12 contents, as presented by Japanese scientists in 2014 (1):

  • Vitamin B12-Enriched Beans and Vegetables Produced Using Organic Fertilizers
    • adding an organic fertilizer such as cow manure to growing plants
    • treating vegetables with a solution that contains high levels of Vitamin B12
  • Fermented Beans and Vegetables
    • Fermentation of beans and vegetables with certain lactic acid or propionic bacteria may increase bacterial contamination during the process and therefore increase Vitamin B12 content
    • Fermented soy-based product called tempeh contains high amount of Vitamin B12 (0.7–8.0 μg/100 g)
  • Tea leaves as fermented black tea (approximately 0.1–1.2 μg Vitamin B12 per 100 g dry weight)
  • Only trace amount in of Vitamin B12 were found in broccoli, asparagus, Japanese butterbur, mung bean, sprouts, tassa jute, water shield and kimchi
  • Edible Mushrooms
    • Dried shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) contain significantly high amounts of Vitamin B12 (5.61 μg/100 g dry weight), as well as Lion’s mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus)
  • Black trumpet (Craterellus cornucopioides) and golden chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius) contain high levels of Vitamin B12 (1.09–2.65 μg/100 g dry weight)
  • Porcini mushrooms (Boletus sp.), parasol mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera), oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus), and black morels (Morchella conica) contain zero or trace levels (approximately 0.09 μg/100 g dry weight) of Vitamin B12
  • Edible Algae
    • Dried green laver (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple laver (Porphyra sp.) contain substantial amounts of Vitamin B12 (60 μg/100 g dry weight and 30 μg/100 g dry weight, respectively). Purple laver (Porphyra sp.) is a well-known Nori sheets
  • Microalgae Chlorella (Chlorella sp.)
  • Spirulina

Additional notes:

  • One should realize, seeking to reach the recommended daily doses by eating tons of algae is utopic. The most important thing is to keep in mind the vegan sources of Vitamin B12 and just include it in a daily ration.
  • Seasoning, toasting and prolonged cooking reduce the amount of Vitamin B12 in any of plant-based products, as well in eggs and milk products when cooked or pasteurized
  • The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of Vitamin B12 for adults is set at 2.4 μg/day in the United States (and Japan)
  • Bioavailability of Vitamin B12, in other words the level of vitamin’s absorption in the body, depends on many factors. One of them – proper functionality of a gastrointentional tract. In a normal gastric function, at acidic pH, digestion rate of Vitamin B12 is high, while in individuals with atrophic gastritis (pH=6-7), the absorption of Vitamin B12 decreases significantly. This is, however, valid for any type of food, whether it is vegan or non-vegan.

What is in my plate?

Personally, time to time I feel the need to eat Nori, can eat just four or five of them at once. I can eat them alone, or with my version of chickpeas hummus, or with soya submarines (my best ever recipe with Okara – the pulp of soy beans left after soy milk preparation)

I also like my home-made sauerkraut and make a specific cabbage drink form fermented cabbage, I call it Antidote.

cooked rice in a glass bowl with spoon and filler aside

Sometimes mushrooms, especially Porcini and Shiitake. For example, in my recipe of sushi with whole rice I use shiitake mushrooms. Tasty!

I do not take any B12 supplements, I do not need them. Yep, it is my case.


1. WATANABE, F., YABUTA, Y., BITO, T. and TENG, F. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians. Nutrients, 2014, vol. 6, no. 5. pp. 1861-1873.

The conclusions drawn and the assessment of the health benefits/risks are restricted to information appearing in the scientific literature

Images and text © Dr. A. Palatronis /

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