The human body needs a variety of different minerals and vitamins to survive, as nutrients play an important role in regulating the health of all body systems. Vitamin B12 helps protect the nervous system, form red blood cells, synthesize DNA, and provide energy for the body's cells. The amount of vitamin B12 an individual should take daily depends on their age, and for teenagers and adults, the daily recommended amount is 2.4 micrograms. As most sources of vitamin B12 are from dairy, eggs, and meat, vegans and vegetarians need to pay particular attention to their vitamin B12 levels, since they are naturally more prone to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Fortified Breakfast Cereals
Many individuals skip breakfast, but even having a little food helps restart their metabolism and provide energy for the day ahead. Some fortified breakfast cereals contain a lot of vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy function. If a cereal is fortified, it means it has extra nutrients added to help regulate the individual's body. Many breakfast cereals have vitamin B12 added to them, and individuals can look at the nutrition facts label on the box or package to see what other nutrients are inside. Studies have shown both adults and children who consume fortified cereals have healthier functioning from day to day. They're more likely to have the right amount of minerals and vitamins necessary for the day.
Fortified Milk Alternatives
Many researchers recommend drinking milk due to its high calcium levels. Vegans, though, cannot drink milk as it is an animal product. Thankfully, there are milk alternatives that can provide the same nutritional value, including vitamin B12. Like fortified cereals, fortified milk alternatives have been given additional minerals and vitamins to help regulate the body. The great thing is these alternatives can go in anything, including in cereal and smoothies. Individuals can also drink a glass of their chosen milk alternative, or use it to replace milk in many recipes. Coconut milk is a common alternative that contains many nutrients like potassium, iron, and magnesium. Vegans also need to pay attention to their iron levels, so fortified coconut milk is doubly helpful. Almond milk is another ideal dairy alternative, as is soy milk, provided these options are appropriately fortified with nutrients.
Nutritional yeast is a continued favorite of vegans all over the world. Not only can it help provide much-needed nutrients, but it also allows individuals to make delicious vegan versions of traditional dishes, including macaroni and cheese. If an individual consumes just a quarter cup of nutritional yeast, they can get up to 290 percent of their daily vitamin B12, making it a fast and easy option. The same serving size also gives individuals nine whole grams of protein. Some vegans can struggle to have adequate protein in their diet, since many sources of protein are meat and eggs. The difference between nutritional yeast and regular yeast is that nutritional yeast is deactivated and is usually derived from wood pulp or molasses. The majority of packaged and sold versions have been fortified with many nutrients, vitamin B12 being just one of them.
If individuals are concerned their diet doesn't include enough vitamin B12, there are supplements out there to help. Some multivitamins have the daily dose of vitamin B12, though not every multivitamin is vegan, which means individuals should do some research before purchasing a multivitamin to make sure they're getting a vegan option. Researchers recommend getting nutrients from diet first and supplements second, as the body has an easier time digesting food and absorbing its full nutrients than digesting supplements. However, supplements are still much better than not having enough vitamin B12. Studies have shown vegans who are conscious about their vitamin B12 consumption are much less likely to have vitamin B12 deficiency than meat-eaters who don't actively seek out vitamin B12. If individuals are concerned about the level of nutrients they're getting, they can talk to a nutritionist or s doctor for detailed advice.
Some meat substitutes have vitamin B12, and since many are made to mimic the taste of meat, they are the perfect options for individuals just starting to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. The best-known meat substitute is tofu, which is used all over the world. It's not always high in vitamin B12 by itself, but it can be fortified with vitamins and minerals. Tofu can be used to substitute seafood, beef, pork, and chicken in the majority of recipes. However, many individuals find they do not like the texture of many kinds of tofu. The good news is there are other meat substitutes out there that will help not only the texture issue, but also fill the vitamin B12 void left behind. More on those options to come.
Vegan Snack Bars
Vegans should have access to delicious, easy snack food just like everyone else. Some companies help make that a reality. Instead of using chemical preservatives and animal products to bind foods and increase shelf life, these companies use different recipes and formulas to create sustainable snack foods. There are vegan snack bars with a similar grab-and-go principle as granola bars, but they're packed with nutrition. In the past, nutrition bars for vegans have been difficult to find. Vegan consumers have remedied this by creating their own companies and putting out very competitive snack foods. Nutrition bars are more convenient than smoothies, and they're a lot easier to make than a home-cooked meal. Some of the bars are also free of grains and gluten, so vegans can even eat them and get their vitamin B12 dosage if they have a gluten intolerance. Different bars come in different flavors, and they all combine multiple natural ingredients to promote healthy nutrition.
Marmite tends to have a bit of a love-it-or-hate-it reputation due to the salty taste, so it might not be for everyone. Individuals who are fans of the taste, however, will be pleased to know that it's an excellent source of vegan vitamin B12. Marmite's main ingredient is yeast extract, but the formula also includes a blend of other spice extracts and vegetables to add flavor and texture. The spread is British in origin, though the scientist who invented it was a German chemist. He discovered when he brewed beer, he could make the leftover yeast into a gooey spread packed with protein. The spread first began to be sold commercially in 1902. Many individuals enjoy spreading Marmite on biscuits or buttered toast. Another recommendation is to spread Marmite, butter, and a piece of melted cheese on a piece of bread. Small amounts of Marmite can be added to dishes when cooking to add flavor.
Tempeh is a vegan protein and source of vitamin B12 and a vital staple in many vegan kitchens. It's especially vital for vegans who don't like the texture of tofu and need a substitute. Most individuals get their protein and vitamin B12 from meat and dairy products, but vegans need to get theirs in nuts and other plant-based sources. Tempeh is a soy-based product, so it's not good for those who have soy intolerances. If individuals don't have any issues with soy, though, tempeh is a versatile enough ingredient to be used in most dishes. If a recipe calls for meat, tempeh tends to be an acceptable substitute. To make tempeh, cooked soybeans are fermented and then formed into a firm and dense cake. The flavor tends to be strong and nutty. In addition, it can soak up flavors from the surrounding dish, so it always tastes like it goes with the other ingredients.
Shiitake mushrooms are popular mushrooms throughout the world, though they're originally native to East Asia. In addition to having a savory and rich taste, they're packed with nutritional content. About eighty-three percent of the world's shiitake mushrooms come from Japan. They can be purchased in dietary supplement form, dried, or fresh in the produce section of the supermarket. The mushrooms have a low calorie content and high fiber content. In addition to being a source of vitamin B12, the mushrooms are also strong sources of vitamins B5, B6, and D. Some of the minerals in the mushroom include copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, and folate. There's also a gram of protein in each serving, and the mushrooms share many amino acids with meat, so they're a good meat substitute for vegans. The nutritional content of each mushroom varies slightly based on the conditions in which the mushroom was grown, where it was stored, and how it was prepared in the dish.