Vitamin B12 Foods: 15 Best Sources of Vitamin B12 For Vegetarian

Reviewed By Experts

vitamin b12 foods

Have you heard of the nutrient cobalamin before? Cobalamin is the other name for vitamin B12. It is a vital nutrient that is crucial in various bodily functions, including nerve function, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis. [1]

Apart from this, B12 aids in averting megaloblastic anemia, a condition characterized by fatigue and weakness due to abnormal blood cell formation. Therefore, vitamin B12 is a vital vitamin. 

Vitamin B12 Benefits for Health

Research on vitamin B12 and its impact on various health aspects like heart disease, cognitive function, and energy levels show its benefits:

  1. Heart Disease and Stroke: B12 supplements and other B vitamins can lower homocysteine levels linked to heart disease and stroke. 
  2. Energy and Endurance: B12 supplements are often marketed to boost energy, athletic performance, and endurance. [17]

The daily requirement of the essential Vitamin B12

Your body’s daily need for vitamin B12 varies based on your age and life stage. Here’s a breakdown of the recommended daily amounts in micrograms (mcg) for different ages:

GroupRecommended dose
Birth to 6 months0.4 mcg
Infants 7–12 months0.5 mcg
Children 1–3 years0.9 mcg
Children 4–8 years1.2 mcg
Children 9–13 years1.8 mcg
Teens 14–18 years2.4 mcg
Adults2.4 mcg
Pregnant teens and women2.6 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women2.8 mcg

These recommended amounts outline the daily intake necessary to support various stages of growth, development, and overall health. Adjusting your diet or considering supplements can help meet these specific B12 requirements for optimal well-being. [17]

Consequences of low Vitamin B12 diet

If you are consuming a diet low in vitamin B12, you will start experiencing the various signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, as given below:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Weakness
  3. Pale skin
  4. Heart palpitations
  5. Loss of appetite
  6. Weight loss
  7. Infertility 
  8. Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  9. Nerve problems
  10. Balance issues
  11. Depression
  12. Confusion
  13. Dementia
  14. Memory problems
  15. Mouth/tongue soreness

Infants with a B12 deficiency may exhibit failure to thrive, developmental delays, and megaloblastic anemia.

Even without megaloblastic anemia, B12 deficiency can harm the nervous system, emphasizing the importance of prompt treatment. [17]

Jivha (tongue examination) and Netra Pariksha (eye examination) reveal prevalent indicators among patients with vitamin B12, including a coated tongue and pale-colored conjunctiva.

Vitamin B12 deficiency, if neglected, may lead to Pandu Roga. Pandu is primarily a condition dominated by Pitta. The disease comes with pallor, known as Panduta, a key and noticeable symptom of this ailment. Untreated Pandu Roga may cause irreversible nerve and brain damage, posing significant health risks.

Akshikuta Shotha, or periorbital edema, is observed in varying degrees among all patients, a recognized sign of Pandu vyadhi. Hrudspandan, or palpitations associated with Pandu, stem from inadequate nourishment and the deficient presence of Raktalpta, necessitating the heart to accelerate its pumping rate for swift blood circulation to body tissues. Consequently, palpitations emerge as a common symptom of this condition. [18]

The key challenge faced by vegetarians with vitamin B12

While vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal-based foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products, it can be challenging for vegetarians who follow an Ayurvedic diet to find vitamin B12 foods to meet their needs. However, vegetarians can incorporate several sources of vitamin B12 into an Ayurvedic diet to ensure adequate intake of this essential nutrient. This blog will explore the top 15 vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians. This blog will discuss the most nutritious vitamin B12 fruits and vegetables.

15 vitamin B12 foods Vegetarian Indian

1. Paneer

Paneer is a significant source of vitamin B12, providing at least 20% of the daily requirement. For instance, 100 grams of paneer contains approximately 0.8μg of vitamin B12, which accounts for about one-third of the daily requirement for adults. [2]

2. Milk

Milk is considered one of the best vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians. Consuming just 250 ml of cow’s milk is equivalent to meeting half of your daily vitamin B12 requirement. [3]

3. Curd

Curd or yogurt can be a good source of vitamin B12, providing 16% of the body’s daily requirement in just 170 gms. This makes it a viable option for meeting the vitamin B12 needs of the body. [4]

If you want to know more about curd, read our related article on – 20 Proven Benefits of Curd for Overall Health

4. Banana

Bananas are among the various fruits that are naturally rich in vitamin B12. Besides their nutritional value, bananas have several benefits for human health and well-being, as they are known to reduce stress levels, regulate blood pressure, and alleviate constipation and ulcer-related issues. [5]

5. Fermented Foods

Some fermented foods like Idli, Dosa, and Dhokla, commonly consumed in India, can be a natural source of vitamin B12. These foods are believed to contain small amounts of vitamin B12 due to the fermentation process, which may result in the production of this essential nutrient by certain bacteria. However, the vitamin B12 content in fermented foods can vary widely and may not always meet the recommended daily intake, making it essential to rely on other sources. [6]

6. Amaranth (Ramdana)

Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is known for its high protein content. It is also a good source of vitamin B12, with approximately 0.9 mcg of vitamin B12 per 100 grams of cooked amaranth. Amaranth can be used in a variety of Indian dishes and can provide a nutrient-rich addition to the diet. [7]

7. Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds are a good source of vitamin B12, with approximately 0.1 μg of vitamin B12 per tablespoon of sesame seeds. Sesame seeds can be used in various Indian dishes like chutneys, desserts, and snacks, adding a nutty flavor and a boost of vitamin B12 to the diet. [8]

8. Mushroom

Mushrooms are known to contain small amounts of vitamin B12. However, the vitamin B12 content in mushrooms can vary and may not be sufficient to meet the daily recommended intake. [9]

9. Almonds

Almonds are nutrient-rich nuts that are also a source of vitamin B12. The exact amount can vary, as low as 0.01μg per 100g serving. While they won’t satisfy your daily B12 requirement, they can still be consumed for their various health benefits as snacks, added to desserts or smoothies, or used in Indian sweets like Halwa. [10]

10. Spinach

Spinach contains around 0.14μg per 100g serving, which doesn’t meet the daily B12 requirement of around 2.4μg. It is highly recommended for its additional nutritional benefits. [12]

11. Cheddar Cheese

Cheddar cheese is a good source of vitamin B12, a vital nutrient crucial for nerve function and DNA synthesis. A 1-ounce serving of cheddar cheese typically provides around 0.5 micrograms of B12, contributing to the recommended daily intake. While cheddar cheese offers other nutrients like calcium and protein, it is especially valued for its contribution to B12 intake, making it a convenient option for those looking to boost their vitamin B12 levels within a balanced diet. [11]

12. Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals are fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12. Many manufacturers add B12 to cereals to enhance their nutritional value, especially for individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets, as B12 is primarily found in animal products. Fortified cereals provide varying amounts of B12 per serving, contributing significantly to the recommended daily intake. [14]

13. Tempeh

Tempeh, a fermented soy product, is a reliable source of vitamin B12. While soybeans typically have low or undetectable levels of vitamin B12, fermented soybean products contain a notable amount of vitamin B12. This increased B12 content in tempeh is believed to arise from potential bacterial contamination during fermentation, contributing to its elevated vitamin B12 levels compared to unfermented soy products. [13]

14. Tea leaves

Tea leaves contain varying amounts of vitamin B12, and the Japanese fermented black tea (Batabata-cha) notably reduces urinary methylmalonic acid levels, an indicator of B12 deficiency. Regular consumption of this tea provides 20–40 ng of B12. [15]

15. Edible Algae

Edible algae, like dried green laver (Enteromorpha sp.) and purple laver (Porphyra sp.), are globally consumed for nutritional benefits. These algae stand out for their significant vitamin B12 content, containing approximately 63.6 μg/100 g dry weight for green laver and 32.3 μg/100 g dry weight for purple laver. [16]

Vitamin B12 in vegetarian sources

Vegetarians can quickly fulfill their daily vitamin B12 requirements by including a few of the above sources that are readily available in India. Ayurveda recommends following a sattvic diet that incorporates vegetarian food sources.

FoodVitamin B12 per 100g
Paneer0.28 µg
Milk0.9 µg
Fermented Foods0.25 μg
Amaranth (Ramdana)0.9μg
Sesame Seeds0.24μg
Breakfast cereals0.6 μg
Cheddar Cheese0.5 μg
Tempeh0.7-8.0 µg
Black Tea0.1-1.2 µg
Edible Algae63.6 µg

Can Vitamin B12 supplements help? 

Vitamin B12 comes in various supplement forms like multivitamin/multimineral blends, B-complex supplements, or standalone B12 options, usually in cyanocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin, methylcobalamin, or hydroxocobalamin forms. Sublingual B12, dissolved under the tongue, is also available. 

Supplemental B12 doses widely vary, with some exceeding recommended amounts (e.g., 500 mcg or 1,000 mcg), yet only a small percentage is absorbed by the body; however, these doses are generally safe. Always check the Supplement Facts label for B12 content.

Prescription forms include B12 shots for deficiency treatment and a nasal gel spray. [17]

Where to buy vitamin B12 supplements?

You can buy vitamin B12 supplements from nearby pharmacies. Also, you can purchase these supplements from online stores and from some of the top brands as listed below:

Top-selling BrandsOnline Stores
HimalayaApollo 247
Patanjali1 mg
InLife Health CareHealthkart
Bliss WellnessNetmeds

If you have to take vitamin B12 shots, it is better to take it from a clinic or a pharmacy.

Price details

The average cost of vitamin B12 supplement is around  ₹100 to ₹ 300. The price, however, depends on the brand and the quantity.


1. Can vegetarians get enough vitamin B12 from their diet?

Vegetarians can get enough vitamin B12 from their diet by incorporating vegetarian sources of this nutrient into their meals. While vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal-based foods, there are several vegetarian sources such as paneer, milk, curd, bananas, fermented foods, amaranth, sesame seeds, mushrooms, almonds, fortified breakfast cereals, cheddar cheese, and spinach that can provide an adequate intake of this essential nutrient.

2. Can almonds and spinach alone provide enough vitamin B12 for vegetarians?

While almonds and spinach are good vitamin B12 sources for vegetarians, they may not provide enough to meet the daily recommended intake of this nutrient on their own. It is recommended to incorporate a variety of vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 into the diet to ensure adequate intake.

3. Are non-vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 the only option for meeting daily requirements?

No, several vitamin B12-rich foods vegetarian can provide an adequate intake of this nutrient, as listed in this article. Dairy products such as milk, curd, and paneer are good alternatives to non-vegetarian vitamin B12 food sources.

4. Is aging a factor in vitamin B12 deficiency?

Yes, aging is a factor. People over the age of 75 are at risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.

5. Which type of vitamin B12 supplement is better- the natural one or the synthetic one?

Your body better absorbs the naturally-occurring supplement. Therefore, the naturally occurring Methylcobalamin is your best bet.


While vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal-based foods, there are several vegetarian sources such as paneer, milk, curd, bananas, fermented foods, amaranth, sesame seeds, mushrooms, almonds, spinach, tempeh, cheddar cheese, edible algae, black tea, and breakfast cereals that can be incorporated into the diet to meet the vitamin B12 needs of the body. It is essential to choose various vitamin B12 Veg foods to ensure adequate intake of this essential nutrient and maintain a healthy and balanced diet. If you have concerns about your vitamin B12 intake, it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.


This Article is written from a health and wellness perspective and does not constitute medical advice. Kindly consult and follow the advice of a medical professional whenever necessary.


  1. Vitamin B12
  2. Nutritional Profile, Uses and Health Benefits of Paneer
  3. Daily milk intake improves vitamin B-12 status in young vegetarian Indians: an intervention trial
  4. B-complex Vitamins in Cultured and Acidified Yogurt1
  5. Musa paradisiaca L. and Musa sapientum L. : A Phytochemical and Pharmacological Review
  6. Diversity and Succession of Microbiota during Fermentation of the Traditional Indian Food Idli
  7. Effect of Dietary Amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus chlorostachys) Supplemented with Enzyme Blend on Egg Quality, Serum Biochemistry, and Antioxidant Status in Laying Hens
  8. Sesame (Sesamum indicum L.) Seeds in Food, Nutrition, and Health
  9. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians
  10. A fast, accurate and comprehensive LC-MS/MS method validation for the sensitive quantification of water-soluble vitamins in walnut, almond, hazelnut and pistachio fruits
  11. Bioavailability of Vitamin B12 from Dairy Products Using a Pig Model
  12. Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians
  13. Vitamin B12 production in soybean fermentation for tempeh
  14. Vitamin B12
  15. Occurrence of Vitamin B12 in Green, Blue, Red, and Black Tea Leaves
  16. Characterization and Bioavailability of Vitamin B12-Compounds from Edible Algae.
  17. Vitamin B12 Fact Sheet for Consumers

Dr. Deepa Kadam

Dr. Deepa has over 25 years of experience making her one of the notable medical professionals in the field of Ayurveda with expertise in Ayurvedic pharmacology.


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