Can I Take Vitamin B12 If I’m Not Vegan or Vegetarian?

Yes, you can still take vitamin B12 even if you are not vegan or vegetarian. While it is commonly known that individuals following a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, it does not mean that people who consume animal products are completely excluded from this potential concern. This article will address the importance of vitamin B12, its food sources, and the need for supplementation even if you are not a vegan or vegetarian.

The Role of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a crucial nutrient that plays several essential roles in the body. It is involved in the production of red blood cells, DNA synthesis, and the proper functioning of the nervous system. It is also responsible for maintaining the health of nerve cells and supporting brain function.

To ensure you are meeting your daily vitamin B12 requirements, it is important to consume an adequate amount through your diet or supplements.

Food Sources of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal-derived foods, which is why vegans and vegetarians are more at risk of deficiency. Some of the richest sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Beef, liver, and other red meats
  • Poultry, such as chicken and turkey
  • Fish, including salmon, trout, and tuna
  • Dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Eggs

These animal-based foods naturally contain vitamin B12. Therefore, individuals who consume these products regularly are less likely to develop a deficiency. However, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or have restricted intake of animal-based foods, you may need to consider other sources.

Supplementation: Ensuring Adequate Vitamin B12 Intake

Even individuals who consume animal products can experience a vitamin B12 deficiency due to various factors, such as poor absorption or digestive disorders. This is why it is important to consider supplementation to ensure adequate intake. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Vitamin B12 Supplements: These are available in different forms, including capsules, tablets, or sublingual (under-the-tongue) sprays. Consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage for your needs.
  2. Fortified Foods: Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, plant-based milk alternatives, and nutritional yeast, are fortified with vitamin B12. Check the labels to ensure the product includes an adequate amount of B12.
  3. Regular Check-ups: To monitor your vitamin B12 levels, it is advisable to have regular blood tests. This will help you assess whether your dietary intake and supplementation are providing sufficient levels of the nutrient.

Potential Consequences of Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to various health complications, regardless of dietary choices. Some potential consequences include:

AnemiaInsufficient red blood cell production can lead to fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Neurological IssuesVitamin B12 deficiency can affect the nervous system, causing symptoms such as tingling or numbness in the hands and feet, difficulty balancing, confusion, and memory problems.
Mood DisordersIn some cases, inadequate vitamin B12 levels can contribute to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

It is important to address a potential deficiency promptly to prevent these complications from worsening.


While vitamin B12 deficiency is more commonly associated with vegan and vegetarian diets, it can still occur in individuals consuming animal products. Whether you follow a specific dietary pattern or not, it is essential to ensure adequate intake of vitamin B12 through diet and/or supplementation. Regularly monitoring your vitamin B12 levels and consulting with your healthcare provider can help you maintain optimal health and prevent potential complications associated with deficiency.