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The Best Vegan B12 Supplement to Optimize Your Health

The Best Vegan B12 Supplement

A plant-based diet offers a wide range of health benefits, including decreasing disease risk and promoting longevity. But, getting the most out of it involves planning carefully.

As you probably already know, being a vegan means a higher risk of some deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency. In fact, if you were going to take only one supplement, vitamin B12 would be the one you choose.

That’s why this post focuses on the best vegan B12 supplements currently on the market.

We’re focusing on ones that truly are vegan, are reliable and don’t use any unnecessary additives. We also consider why B12 matters so much and why you can’t simply get it from your diet.

In a Hurry? Skip Straight to the Best Vegan B12 Supplements!

Why B12 is so Important

Like many vitamins, B12 is considered critical for health. In fact, it is one of the essential vitamins. It has many different roles, including implications for your digestion, blood, nervous system and DNA production (1).

Dr. Axe discusses many of these areas in more detail.

Consume too little of the vitamin and you’ll experience symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. These include issues like tingling, fatigue, weakness, digestive issues and memory loss.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is also surprisingly common. One recent study found that almost 30% of diabetic patients did not have enough vitamin B12 (2). Estimates of deficiency rates for the entire population vary wildly from 5.8% to 52% (3).

Regardless of the exact number, it’s clear that many people aren’t getting enough B12.

Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient and has many important roles.

Why Vegans Need Vitamin B12

The benefits of a plant-based diet are undisputed. The approach provides many more powerful compounds from plants, including polyphenols and anthocyanins. You also avoid many potential problems, such as adverse reactions to the lactose in dairy.

But, plants don’t contain the same nutrients as animal products.

You can meet most of the nutritional challenges with careful food choice.

For example, protein from animals is typically considered a complete source of protein, as it offers all the essential amino acids. This is what makes whey protein powder so powerful.

But, complete protein sources aren’t the only option. You can also combine multiple plant-based sources of protein to get the same amino acids. Some protein powder brands do exactly that. You can also get vegan protein from whole foods.

This isn’t true for vitamin B12.

  • The vitamin is actually produced by microorganisms. Animals eat those microbes. Some species have B12-producing bacteria in their gut too.
  • Because of this, vitamin B12 comes from animal products.
  • It’s commonly found in meat, poultry, eggs, milk and various milk products. These are all powerful sources – but they’re not very helpful for vegans.

Vegan Vitamin B12 Food Sources

The main vegan B12 sources are tempeh (a fermented soybean product, with some similarities to tofu) and some types of mushrooms. But, these don’t typically contain much vitamin B12 and plant-based vitamin B12 may not have the same benefits.

Nori (edible seaweed) contains a form of vitamin B12. This may have some of the same benefits as vitamin B12 but we don’t know that for certain (4,5). The same is true for spirulina and chlorella (6).

Even if these compounds do function like vitamin B12 – you’re not likely to get enough of it to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency.

The alternative is fortified foods.

  • These are foods that don’t naturally contain vitamin B12. Instead, vitamin B12 is added in.
  • Fortification is especially common in foods that are popular on a vegan diet, including nutritional yeast and almond milk. Breakfast cereal is often fortified with B12 as well.
  • Energy drinks and supplements often contain B-vitamins, including vitamin B12.
  • But, fortified foods are often highly processed and may contain additives that you don’t want.
  • They tend to rely on synthetic vitamin B12 as well. This type is less appealing and may offer fewer benefits.

Fortified foods are also less practical. It’s much harder to ensure you’re getting enough vitamin B12 and you don’t have the same control over quality.

Vitamin B12 is particularly important for vegans as there are few decent vegan food sources of the nutrient.

Supplementing Vitamin B12

Supplementation is healthiest and most reliable way to get the vitamin B12 that you need. The next section highlights some of the best choices out there.

Items were chosen for this list based on independent testing, along with other important criteria. Key considerations include the following.

  • Methylcobalamin vs Cyanocobalamin. B12 supplements come in two forms and you’re looking for the methylcobalamin one. It’s sometimes just called methyl B12. This version is obtained from bacteria, while the other is synthetic. As One Green Planet explains, the methyl version is more effective as well.
  • Look for liquid, sublingual or sprays, if possible. These forms of vitamin B12 don’t need to be digested first. This allows them to enter the bloodstream faster and may avoid some digestion issues. But, you can still get benefits from pill versions of B12 if that’s your preference.
  • Make sure the product is vegan. Some B12 supplements are suitable for vegans, others aren’t. Make sure you read the label carefully and look for any claims that the company makes.
  • Look at the ingredients. Some B12 supplements will contain extra ingredients, including artificial sweeteners and flavoring agents. A product with fewer ingredients is always ideal and much better for health.

You can also use these areas when shopping on your own to decide whether a vitamin B12 supplement will meet your needs.

Methyl forms of B12 are better than cyano alternatives.  Liquid, sublingual and spray products tend to be absorbed faster than pills

The Most Powerful B12 Supplements

These products are all suitable for vegans and are effective ways to get your vitamin B12 every day. There are multiple styles represented and you may find that some of the products fit your needs better than others.

Garden of Life B12

Garden of Life B12 Organic Spray
  • Type: Organic Spray
  • Flavor: Raspberry
  • Serving Size: 500 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 140
Advantages

Garden of Life is a well-known and popular brand. This product fares well when it comes to reviews. It is also certified organic and GMO-free. The spray makes it easy to use and should promote fast absorption.

The supplement also contains various plant-based ingredients, including a certified organic food blend. This blend may offer extra benefits but that aspect is debatable, especially as the dose is small.

Disadvantages

Although the reviews tend to be positive, some people have experienced issues with this product, including poor packaging and/or mold.

It also contains more ingredients than most other products (including stevia extract). The extra ingredients help ensure the spray tastes good – but they may not suit everyone.

BlueBonnet Earth Sweet Chewable

BlueBonnet Earth Sweet Chewable
  • Type: Chewable Tablet
  • Flavor: Raspberry
  • Serving Size: 5,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 60
Advantages

The flavors used here are natural, largely coming from fruit juice concentrate. BlueBonnet claims that this is an antioxidant sweetening mix, which is technically true. The supplements have passed independent testing as well.

The chewable nature should make these easy to consume and reviews suggest that they taste good. Because they are sweetened with juice, there are no artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols to worry about.

Disadvantages

These do contain sugar, which won’t suit everyone. They aren’t organic or certified GMO free either. While reviews on Amazon tend to be positive, there are relatively few of them. As such, this isn’t one of the most popular brands.

Deva Vegan Vitamin B12

Deva Vegan Vitamin B12
  • Type: Sublingual (dissolves under the tongue)
  • Flavor: Lemon
  • Serving Size: 1,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 90

In addition to B12, the supplement contains B6 (2 mg) and folic acid (400 mg).

Advantages

Reviews are generally positive, which is impressive for a dissolvable supplement. The tablets seem to dissolve easily, with minimal artificial flavor. The extra nutrients are also beneficial for health.

Disadvantages

The tablets contain xylitol, which is a sugar alcohol sweetener. Many people use it regularly, but it can cause gastrointestinal problems for some individuals. There are also other additives to ensure that the pills dissolve and taste decent.

If you’re wanting 1,000 mcg of B12 per day, the supplements may be a good choice. But, the B6 and folic acid may mean that you cannot simply take multiple pills to increase your dose.

Natural Health Goodies Methyl B12

Natural Health Goodies Methyl B12
  • Type: Tablet (slow dissolving)
  • Flavor: Berry
  • Serving Size: 1,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 100

These pills can be dissolved under the tongue or chewed. However, they dissolve slowly, so it’s normally better to at least break them in half before placing them under the tongue.

Advantages

Reviews are mostly positive and many people do enjoy the flavor. They are also gluten-free and are small, making them easy to take.

Disadvantages

The pills contain sorbitol and xylitol, which can cause gastric upset for some individuals. The flavoring comes from ‘natural raspberry powder’ and ‘natural strawberry flavor’, meaning there is no way to know precisely what is in the pills. Some reviewers have problems with the flavor, stating that it is too strong or simply unappealing.  

Pure Encapsulations – B12 Liquid

Pure Encapsulations – B12 Liquid
  • Type: Liquid
  • Flavor: NA
  • Serving Size: 1,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 30
Advantages

The liquid nature makes this a simple supplement to take and you can easily alter your dose. The brand is also a reliable one that typically receives good reviews. They have a strong focus on purity, which includes making sure all products are non-GMO and gluten-free.

This supplement uses relatively few ingredients as well. It relies on stevia leaf extract for sweetness, rather than a sugar alcohol. This should reduce the risk of any side effects.

Disadvantages

The product isn’t certified organic. The stevia may also be a problem for anyone who doesn’t like the taste of that sweetener. You also need to take an entire dropper full to get the 1,000 mcg serving. Some reviewers don’t like that aspect.

Solgar Vitamin B12

Solgar Vitamin B12
  • Type: Sublingual (dissolves under the tongue)
  • Flavor: Cherry
  • Serving Size: 1,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 60

Make sure you choose the right version of this product. Sogar has multiple B12 products. Some use methylcobalamin, while others do not.

Advantages

Solgar focuses on creating clean products, which includes ensuring they are non-GMO and gluten-free. Reviews tend to be positive and this is an inexpensive way to purchase vitamin B12.

Disadvantages

The supplement uses mannitol. This is another sugar alcohol that can sometimes cause gastrointestinal distress. The flavoring is ‘natural cherry flavor’, so the exact ingredients used to create it are not known.

VeganSafe B12

VeganSafe B12
  • Type: Liquid
  • Flavor: NA
  • Serving Size: 2,500 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 30

This product uses a combination of methylcobalamin (80%) and adenosylcobalamin (20%), which they claim is absorbed faster than methylcobalamin on its own.

Advantages

This is one of the few B12 liquids that isn’t filled with additives. In fact, the only other ingredients are vegetable glycerin and water.

Disadvantages

The lack of sweeteners gives this an intense flavor that some people cannot stand. Any B12 liquid supplement should be held in the mouth for 30 seconds before swallowing. So, if you cannot stand the taste, these drops won’t be beneficial.

Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12

Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12
  • Type: Tablet (slow dissolving)
  • Flavor: Cherry
  • Serving Size: 5,000 mcg
  • Servings per Container: 60
Advantages

This is a particularly high dose of vitamin B12 and is reasonably priced. As such, it’s a good choice if you want a significant amount of B12 per day. The brand also has other doses and flavors, so you can choose what suits you. Jarrow Formulas tends to have a positive reputation and gets consistently good reviews.

Disadvantages

Xylitol is used as a sweetener. This may be a poor choice if you’re sensitive to sugar alcohols.

What Dose Do You Need?

The recommended intake varies depending on your age group and gender. But, for most adults, the official daily value is 2.0 µg (micrograms) per day. This is sometimes written as 2 mcg as well. You can read more details here.

Some authors suggest a higher dose. For example, The Vegan Society suggests one of the following three approaches:

  • At least three micrograms of B12 from fortified foods two to three times per day.
  • A 10 microgram (or higher) B12 supplement every day.
  • A 2,000 microgram (or higher) B12 supplement each week.

The site One Green Planet suggests that 1,000 micrograms per day is a good starting point and that you may need to increase it from there.

So clearly, there is no consensus about ideal dose. But, these outcomes do suggest that two micrograms per day is the absolute minimum you need for health. Higher doses may offer additional benefits.

Official daily intakes typically consider the dose you need to avoid deficiency. For example, the recommended dose of vitamin D focuses on preventing rickets.

In most cases, recommendations don’t consider the ideal doses for vitamins or any benefits that come from higher doses. As such, they are only ever a rough guide.

Research also shows that vitamin B12 is safe, even in very high doses (7), giving you the ability to combine different approaches as you see fit. One technique may be simply to start with a lower dose and increase it over time until you see the benefits you’re hoping for.

The official recommended dose is two micrograms of B12 per day but a higher dose is still safe.

Vitamin B12 Side Effects

Vitamin B12 is generally considered safe. Side effects do exist but they tend to be rare and minor (8).

  • These include slight blood pressure increases, reddening of the skin and heart rate changes.
  • Such side effects are also reversible, causing no long-term harm.

Nevertheless, vitamin B12 can still interact with some medications. Other medications can affect how the body responds to vitamin B12. The Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet from the National Institutes of Health offers examples of specific interactions.

As a general rule, you should talk to your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions if you are on any medication. You should also ensure they know you're following a vegan diet.

Vitamin B12 isn’t associated with significant side effects but it can interact with some medications.

At Risk Groups

Some people may need more vitamin B12 or may be at a higher risk of deficiency. If you fall into any of these groups, you should talk to your doctor about ensuring you get enough B12 and can absorb it efficiently (9).

  • Older adults. Aging often decreases vitamin B12 absorption as the stomach does not produce enough hydrochloric acid. But, older adults can still absorb B12 from supplements and fortified foods.
  • People with digestive disorders or gastrointestinal surgery. Anything that significantly impacts the gut may reduce B12 absorption. People in this situation may need more B12 to avoid deficiency or may need to rely on supplements only.
  • Anyone with pernicious anemia. People with this form of anemia don’t produce the biological factor needed to absorb B12. High doses of B12 or vitamin B12 shots are normally taken to combat the issue.
  • People with limited animal product intake. Vegans avoid most food sources of B12, so they’re naturally at risk. The same is true for anyone who eats few animal products. This includes vegetarians and people who have a mostly plant-based diet.
  • Breastfed babies. If the mother is a vegan (or a vegetarian), the baby may not get enough B12.

Your doctor can also perform a blood test to see whether you are deficient in vitamin B12. This can help you determine whether you need to supplement the vitamin. If your levels remain consistently low, it may be an indication that you’re experiencing absorption issues.

People in at-risk groups may need more vitamin B12 or may need to take different approaches to obtain their vitamin B12.

Final Thoughts

The best vitamin B12 supplement will depend on your needs. But, the items featured in this list are fantastic places to start. They can all help ensure you get sufficient vitamin B12 to keep you healthy and to avoid any deficiency symptoms.

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The Best Vegan B12 Supplement to Optimize Your Health

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