What’s the Best Vegan B12 Supplement?
Our Honest & Unbiased Review
Smart vegans make sure to supplement with this one vital nutrient: A vitamin B12 supplement.
So what’s the deal with this nutrient? Is it really necessary or can you meet your daily needs by eating a wide variety of plant foods?
Supplementation, in this case, is often necessary, as we vegans are at a higher risk for vitamin B12 deficiency.
If you’re wondering what kind of supplement you should get, this article will provide a range of options for vitamin B12 products that won’t go against our vegan lifestyle.
My go-to recommendation for a B12 supplement would be something simple, cheap, and effective (and of course 100% vegan without any gelatin or other animal products) such as:
Our Top Vegan B12 Supplements (2021 Updated)
1 – Livewell Vegan B12
The Vegan B12 from Livewell offers excellent metabolic and nervous system support.
Using this product has a lot of benefits such as improving mood, energy, and memory. It also supports the function of your immune system.
It comes with 100% Methylcobalamin B12 in a 5000 mcg Vegan Formula. By having a sublingual dropper, your body is able to absorb the product faster and therefore enjoy its benefits as well.
- Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin): 5000 mcg
- 100% Methylcobalamin B12 in 5000 mcg Vegan Formula
- Lactose, Gluten, and Soy-Free
- Sublingual dropper for faster absorption
- Lemon flavor for those who don’t like medicine-y tastes
- Some users complain about the dropper not working well
LiveWell is also proud to say that this is Highly Bioavailable – lactose-free, gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.
2 – Future Kind B12 Spray
Future Kind manufacturers B12 in its active methylcobalamin form in order to ensure bioavailability (a fancy word for better use by the body). Manufactured in the US at a GMP certified facility, their spray contains no sugar, starch, wheat, gluten, yeast, milk or soy derivatives.
Its recommended use is 5 times directly into mouth, once per day or as recommended by a physician or healthcare professional. Don’t worry, it comes in a delicious natural wild berry flavor so you won’t have to deal with any foul taste.
User reviews seem to praise Future Kind’s dedication to ultra sustainable packaging as well as the positive effect their B12 spray had on their health. The only downside is the fact that it is more on the expensive side. Still, considering that you’ll get a bang for your buck, I’d say the price-quality relationship is sound.
- Vitamin B12 (as Methylcobalamin): 500 mcg
- 500 Methylcobalamin B12 per serving
- 100% vegan and cruelty-free
- Third party tested on every single batch
- Expensive when compared to other vegan B12 products on the market
3 – Transparent Labs Vitamin B Complex
RawSeries Vitamin B Complex contains multiple B vitamins that can help you to regulate your energy levels and maintain your overall health. This is essential for us vegans and vegetarians who are lacking in some key areas of nutrition.
This product also sneaks in some extra ingredients to this B-Complex, including choline, inositol, and vitamin C.
All in all, RawSeries seem to have created a good all-rounder vitamins supplement for vegans who are not getting enough of the vitamin from their diet naturally.
- Vitamin B12: 1000 mcg
- Vitamin B6: 50 mg
- Vitamin B5: 100 mg
- Vitamin B3: 35 mg
- Boosts energy levels during workouts and training
- Helps improve overall brain function
- Combination of many vitamins/nutrients vegans often lack
- Also a beauty supplement – great for skin, hair, and nails
- Small amount of “filler” ingredients
According to the manufacturer, the supplement will lead to increased energy, enhanced carbohydrate metabolism, and improved brain function. It also is said to help with healthy maintenance and growth of skin, hair, and nails.
This is my regular B12 supplement, and I find it effective in keeping my energy levels optimum, especially on long days in the gym.
4 – VeganSafe B-12
This 100% vegan vitamin B12 supplement contains 80% methylcobalamin and 20% adenosylcobalamin, 2 forms of vegan B12 which are highly bioactive, meaning that the body is able to extract and absorb their nutrients more easily.
Methylcobalamin, or methylated B-12, is the purest, most active, and most bioavailable coenzyme form of B-12.
When paired with adenosylcobalamin, the other coenzyme form of B-12, forms the most potent B-12 combination available.
- Vitamin B12: 2500 mcg
- Easily absorbed by the body for better energy boost
- Helps improve cardiovascular health, mental focus, and nervous system
- Organic and vegan-friendly
- Quite expensive compared to other supplements
This one is also known to support the adrenal glands, red blood cell formation, and helps convert carbohydrates to glucose — the fuel your body uses for energy.
5 – Jarrow Formulas Methyl B12
Featuring Methylcobalamin, the most bioavailable form of Vitamin B-12, this vegan B12 supplement comes as chewable vitamins that has a nice natural cherry flavor.
Methylcobalamin (Methyl B-12) is better absorbed and retained than other forms of B12 (e.g. cyanocobalamin).
Methyl B-12 supports nerve tissue and brain cells, promotes better sleep, and converts (via methylation) homocysteine, an oxidizing metabolite, back into the amino acid methionine.
- Vitamin B12: 5000 mcg
- Helps enhance brain health and overall mood
- Helps promote high levels of energy and decreases fatigue
- Comes in three flavors; can be chewed or left to dissolve in the mouth
- Can cause breakouts and rashes for some people
It’s got a whopping 5000mcg of Methyl B12, which is ideal if your B12 levels are naturally low.
6 – Garden of Life B12 Vitamin
With a name as wholesome as “Garden of Life”, who wouldn’t trust this vegan B12 supplement? This spray-style supplement is fortified with methylcobalamin, allowing you to consume 500 mcg of b12 in a single spray.
Vitamin B-12 is known as the “memory vitamin,” and is water-soluble, so it needs to be replenished daily.
Vegans and vegetarians, can find themselves short on B-12, since B-12 is usually found in meat and dairy—all no-nos for vegans.
- Vitamin B12: 500 mcg
- Helps support energy, heart health, and metabolism
- Helps fight against anemia and improves the central nervous system
- Certified vegan and gluten-free
- Brand owned by Nestle, known for supporting controversial agriculture practices
While this product from Garden of Life may be a good supplement for a vegan’s B12 needs, some people may hesitate a little because of Nestle’s reputation in the vegan community.
7 – Nature’s Bounty
Nature’s Bounty contains B12 in the form of cyanocobalamin, which is one of the most well-researched sources of vegan B12.
These vitamins are not contaminated by any artificial nonsense, and they can be conveniently swallowed or dissolved in a hot drink to mask the taste.
This product also offers a convenient way to increase your intake of an essential vitamin that plays a key role in many areas, including the nervous system.
These easy-to-swallow vitamins are vegetarian-friendly and gluten-free.
- Vitamin B12: 1000 mcg
- Helps enhance energy levels and metabolism
- Made from well-researched sources of vitamin B12
- No artificial colors and flavors
- If for whatever reason you prefer another form of B12, then cyanocobalamin isn’t for you.
What is Vitamin B12 & Why is It So Important?
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin required for many vital functions in the body, such as the production of healthy red blood cells and proper neurological function. You only need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day – around three millionth of a gram (1) (2).
According to Dr. Jennifer Rooke from the Morehouse School of Medicine, both vegans and omnivores risk deficiency (3):
“animal products contain B12, and strict vegetarians/vegans are at risk for B12 deficiency, but absorbing B12 from animal products is a very complex process and people who eat meat may be at equal or greater risk for B12 deficiency.”
Do vegans really need b12 supplements?
Vegans need B12 supplements if they plan to continue their veganism long term. Right now, there are no noteworthy plant sources of vitamin B12 with high enough bioavailability to be considered as sustainable sources of the vitamin.
One study of 232 vegans found that half of them were categorized as deficient of this essential vitamin, concluding that it is largely missing from a vegan lifestyle (4).
You can also get vitamin B12 from vegan multivitamins. This way, you are also provided with other nutrients that your body is probably lacking as well.
How much b12 should a vegan take?
A vegan should take 500-1000 mcg of B12 once every few days. Although the RDA by the Food and Nutrition Board for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms per day, a significant portion of the B12 we consume is lost and our body doesn’t absorb it all (5).
As a result, 500 mcg only translates into about 10 mcg being absorbed. It’s difficult to take too much B12, so those living a vegan lifestyle should not be afraid to take high doses of this vitamin in the form of plant-based supplements (6).
What happens when your vitamin b12 is low?
When your vitamin B12 level is low, you may experience many negative effects. Pale skin, fatigue, mouth ulcers, dizziness, breathlessness, high temperatures, disturbed vision and mood swings are all tell-tale signs of a B12 deficiency.
B12 plays many important roles in your body’s nervous system and red blood cell production, so having too little B12 in your diet can take a toll on your body’s functioning.
Can vegans get b12 naturally?
Vegans can only get B12 naturally by consuming products that have been fortified with B12, such as certain brands of fortified almond milk and soy milk. Apart from that, vegans need to get their B12 by taking supplements.
Sadly, there are no reliable plant-based sources of B12 that are bioavailable enough to be noteworthy.
Which fruits and vegetables contain vitamin b12?
Plants such as mushrooms, chlorella, spirulina, and nori seaweed have been shown to contain some vitamin B12, however, these sources are known as B12 analogs, meaning that they are less potent or completely inactive (7) (8) (9) (10).
Some studies have suggested that plants, such as chlorella, may be able to provide a bioavailable form of vitamin B12, although the results were very varied, with different batches varying in their B12 content from zero to several hundred micrograms of B12. (11)
Plant-based B12 is hard to find, as Dr. Edward Group from the Global Healing Center explains (12):
“The majority of food sources for vitamin B-12 come from foods of animal origin, making vegan options somewhat limited. Certain soil bacteria synthesize B-12 and some people believe that eating unwashed vegetables may provide trace amounts of the vitamin. However, most people aren’t too keen on eating dirty vegetables.”
You can also check out best supplements from spirulina which can be added on top of your B12 nutrient.
Is B12 Considered Unnatural on a Vegan Diet?
First of all, as we’ve established B12 is not produced by animals, but by bacterial fermentation. Animals just have the capacity to absorb and accumulate B12 in their flesh and secretions.
Also, the B12 found in supplements is produced by the exact same bacterial activity as in the stomach of a ruminant or in soil – there’s literally no difference.
Secondly, back in the day, not the 70’s but tens of thousands of years ago, we lived in a more unhygienic environment compared to today’s modern society.
If you lived 150.000 years ago, you were probably drinking dirty water, eating unwashed fruits and veggies, unintentionally eating your own and others feces – all of which contribute to meeting B12 needs.
Considering that our requirements are microscopic, only a few micrograms per day, it makes sense that this would supply the tiny amount that’s required.
And even if it was the case that our ancestors relied on meat for B12 tens of thousands of years ago, exactly what relevance does that have for us right now? None.
It’s also practiced to give sheep and cattle supplemental B12 in order for them to reach optimal levels, which means meat-eaters are indirectly supplementing B12 by eating animal products.
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to get B12 directly from a supplement, instead of it having to pass all the way through a cow or pig or sheep that then has to die?
Cyanocobalamin Vs. Methylcobalamin
There are mainly two different forms of B12 available on the market:
Cyanocobalamin is bound to a cyanide molecule, and methylcobalamin is bound to methyl group of carbon and hydrogen. The most common form found in supplements is cyanocobalamin.
However, it’s been proposed that methylcobalamin is the superior alternative due to certain factors.
The theory is that the body absorbs vitamin B12 as cobalamin, but it must then further converted to a coenzyme form, methylcobalamin, to become metabolically active. B12, in the form of methylcobalamine, is bioidentical to the active form found in the body – basically making it more “body-ready” than other forms of B12.
Furthermore, some concerns have been raised in regards to exposing the body to cyanide by using cyanocobalamin. However this is not something you should worry about: many different foods you eat on a daily basis, such as flax seeds, contain small amounts of natural cyanide and the body is capable of dealing with this.
Now, what does the research say on the subject?
One paper from 2015 examined the various forms of vitamin B12 and concluded that: There was no benefit of using methylcobalamin over cyanocobalamin in terms of bioavailability, biochemical effects, or clinical efficacy (13).
Bottom line is that it doesn’t seem to matter much which form of B12 you choose because both work rather well. To ensure optimal uptake you could alternate between the different forms (probably overkill).
It also doesn’t seem to matter whether you go with a sublingual, meaning dissolved under the tongue, or normal pill that you swallow (14).
FAQ & Buyer’s Guide
What are the side effects of too much vitamin b12?
Having too much vitamin B12 can have side effects such as breakouts of acne and rosacea, a skin condition that causes a red rash on your face. Too much vitamin B12 has also been linked to health problems for people suffering from kidney disease or diabetes. However, most people will never take doses high enough to cause these effects.
What is the normal range for b12 levels?
The normal range for B12 levels in your blood is 200-900 (ng/mL). If your B12 levels are below 200 (ng/mL) or above 900 (ng/mL), you may need to speak to your physician about changing your vitamin B12 intake. Too much or too little B12 can cause various health and energy problems.
What is the normal range for b12 levels?
Pepsin helps with B12 absorption. Pepsin is an enzyme which helps to break proteins down into their amino acids, aiding with B12 uptake. Intrinsic Factor, a protein, also helps to absorb B12 in your stomach lining. Sublingual supplements also help absorption, as they bypass the stomach where the B12 is often destroyed.
What is the best way for a vegan to get B12?
The best way for a vegan to get B12 is to add fortified foods with B12 to their diet. Plant-based milk, soy products, and cereals are the most common options.
What are vegan B12 supplements made from?
Vegan B12 supplements are usually made by isolating the B12 from bacterial cultures that naturally produce it. The only other option is to extract it from animal products.
Our #1 Recommended Vegan Vitamin B12
The LiveWell Vegan B12 is our recommended vitamin B12 supplement out of all the products above. The product promises maximum strength and a highly bioavailable dose that will give your body’s mind and body the boost it needs.
You might enjoy this product if you’re looking for something to improve your mood, energy, and cognitive functions – overall health.
Just take note that the sublingual dropper may not be for everyone’s comfort. And though this might be a disadvantage for others, this helps in faster absorption so you can enjoy the benefits of the product quickly.
I hope this article was helpful and that you by now should be on your way to hopping aboard the B12 supplement train! Cho cho!
Another supplement you should highly consider is a vegan omega-3 supplement.