Q: “Should I take a B12 supplement if I’m vegetarian?”
C. Boyes, Tas
A: Vitamin B12 is only found in foods derived from animals such as milk, yoghurt, cheese, eggs, meat and fish. If you’re a vegan and don’t eat any of these animal foods you’ll need to include an alternative source of this vitamin, either from a B12 supplement or a food fortified with vitamin B12, such as some soy beverages (like So-Good).
Because extra B12 is needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s a good idea for vegans to supplement their diet during this time. This will ensure that their baby is able to build adequate stores of B12, which is needed for normal brain and nerve development. If you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian (you consume dairy products and eggs), your B12 is probably okay and you’re unlikely to need supplements, as you’ll obtain enough from them.
Mushrooms were once recommended as a source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians (as was spirulina, a blue-green algae, and tempeh and miso) but it’s been found that any vitamin B12 in these foods exists in chemical forms that are either inactive or are not able to be absorbed by our bodies, so don’t rely on these for your B12.