Dietary supplements, such as the vitamin B sup...

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unmodified food starch

See unmodified starch.

unmodified starch

Commercial source: vegetable.
Used in: gravies and soups.
Definition: Chemically untreated starch used as a thickener.


Commercial source: vegetable.
Used in: ice cream, sauces, beverages, desserts, baked goods.
Definition: A common flavoring derived from the vanilla bean.

vanilla extract

Commercial source: vegetable.
Used in: baked goods, desserts, confections, beverages.
Definition: A flavoring made from the vanilla bean.


Commercial source: synthetic.
Exists in: vanilla extract, potato peelings.
Used in: butter, margarine, chocolate products, desserts, ice cream, baked goods, root beer, liqueurs.
Definition: A synthetic flavoring used as a substitute for vanilla extract.


Commercial source: vegetable.
Used in: salad dressings, ketchup, sauces, relishes, breads.
Definition: An acid regulator and flavoring agent in which acetic acid is the active component.

Product information: The Vinegar Institute, an association of vinegar manufacturers, reports that sugar vinegar is not derived from refined sugar. They also say that only mineral or synthetic filters are used in the vinegar industry.

vinegar, distilled

See distilled vinegar.

vital wheat gluten

See wheat gluten.


Commercial source: Typically synthetic, bacterial, or fungal. See specific vitamins for more information.
Exists in: all living organisms.
Examples: vitamin C, vitamin B-12.
Used in: enriched foods, dietary supplements.
Definition: Substances which are essential in small amounts for human health.
Typically Vegetarian

vitamin A

Also known as: vitamin A acetate, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin A propionate, retinol.
Commercial source: Typically synthetic or animal-synthetic.
Exists in: milk, eggs, some fish oil. Many orange and yellow vegetables contain a substance which is transformed in the body into the vitamin.
Used in: skim milk, dietary infant formula, blue cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, milk, margarine, frozen egg substitute.
Definition: A vitamin necessary for cell growth and the prevention of night blindness.
May Be Non-Vegetarian

Production information: Rhone-Poulenc Inc., a manufacturer of this vitamin, reports that a petrochemical is used as the starting material. The vitamin may be combined with acetic, propionic or palmitic acids and used in foods in this form. (See entries for acetic, propionic, and palmitic acids).

vitamin B-1

See thiamin.

vitamin B-2

See riboflavin.

vitamin B-3

See niacin.

vitamin B-5

See pantothenic acid.

vitamin B-6

See pyridoxine.

vitamin B-12

Also known as: cyanocobalamin.
Commercial source: bacterial, fungal, or synthetic.
Exists in: meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products.
Used in: nutritional supplements, breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, processed foods.
Definition: A B vitamin which is essential for the formation of red blood cells and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system.

Production information: Rhone-Poulenc Inc. and Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., two of the largest producers of this vitamin, report that bacterial fermentation is their method of manufacture.
Read bottom of this page for more info on B12.

vitamin C

Also known as: ascorbic acid, iso-ascorbic (erythorbic) acid, sodium ascorbate, sodium isoascorbate.
Commercial source: Typically synthetic (from corn).
Exists in: many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits.
Used in: beverages, potato flakes, breakfast foods, bread dough, canned and frozen processed foods, processed meats, frozen fruit, dry and fluid milk.
Definition: A vitamin necessary for the maintenance of body tissues and normal bones.

vitamin D

Also known as: calciferol, ergocalciferol (vitamin D-2); cholecalciferol, activated 7-dehydrocholesterol (vitamin D-3).
Commercial source: animal (sheep wool, fish), fungal. Vitamin D-2 is made on a commercial scale from yeast. D-2 may be used to fortify milk, butter, margarine, breakfast cereals, infant dietary formulas. D-3 synthesis begins with cholesterol from oily wool. Most vitamin D in vitamin pills is in the form of D-3. Foods, including milk, may also be fortified with D-3. Some vitamin D in vitamin pills and foods (including milk) may be derived from fish oil.
Exists in: fish oil, fish organs, egg yolks.
Used in: milk, butter, infant dietary formulas.
Definition: A vitamin which is essential for the normal development of bones and teeth.
Typically Vegetarian

Production information: Rhone-Poulenc, a manufacturer of vitamin D-3, begins its synthesis with cholesterol from oily wool. Tropicana Orange Juice has stated that their vitamin D3 is synthetic and not animal derived. Unable to obtain more information about the starting material. Florida Natural Growers also said their vitamin D is synthetically made. However, the starting material used to produce this vitamin D3 is Lanolin (a type of fat obtained from wool).

vitamin E

Also known as: tocopherol, alpha tocopherol.
Commercial source: vegetable or synthetic.
Exists in: vegetables oils, wheat germ, nuts, green leafy vegetables.
Used in: fats and oils, dietary supplements.
Definition: A vitamin which is essential for normal muscle growth.
Typically Vegetarian

Production information: Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. produces a synthetic vitamin E, although they report that they will eventually convert to a natural extraction.

Vitamin B12 in the Vegan Diet

The requirement for vitamin B12 is very low. Non-animal sources include Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula or T-6635+ nutritional yeast (a little less than 1 Tablespoon supplies the adult RDA), and vitamin B12 fortified soymilk. It is especially important for pregnant and lactating women, infants, and children to have reliable sources of vitamin B12 in their diets.

The Need for Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed for cell division and blood formation. Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals get their vitamin B12 from eating foods contaminated with vitamin B12 and then the animal becomes a source of vitamin B12. Plant foods do not contain vitamin B12 except when they are contaminated by microorganisms or have vitamin B12 added to them. Thus, vegans need to look to fortified foods or supplements to get vitamin B12 in their diet. Although recommendations for vitamin B12 are very small, a vitamin B12 deficiency is a very serious problem leading ultimately to anemia and irreversible nerve damage. Prudent vegans will include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets. Vitamin B12 is especially important in pregnancy and lactation and for infants and children.

Reliable Vegan Sources of Vitamin B12

A number of reliable vegan food sources for vitamin B12 are known. One brand of nutritional yeast, Red Star T-6635+, has been tested and shown to contain active vitamin B12. This brand of yeast is often labeled as Vegetarian Support Formula with or without T-6635+ in parentheses following this new name. It is a reliable source of vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is a food yeast, grown on a molasses solution, which comes as yellow flakes or powder. It has a cheesy taste. Nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast or torula yeast. those sensitive to other yeasts can often use it.

The RDA for adults for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms daily. About 2 rounded teaspoons of large flake Vegetarian Support Formula (Red Star T-6635+) nutritional yeast provides the recommended amount of vitamin B12 for adults.

Another source of vitamin B12 is fortified cereal. For example, Nature’s Path Optimum Power cereal does contain vitamin B12 at this time and about a half cup of this cereal will provide 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12. It’s recommend to check the label of your favorite cereal since manufacturers have been known to stop including vitamin B12.

Other sources of vitamin B12 are vitamin B12 fortified soy milk, vitamin B12 fortified meat analogues (food made from wheat gluten or soybeans to resemble meat, poultry, or fish), and vitamin B12 supplements. There are vitamin supplements that do not contain animal products.

Vegans who choose to use a vitamin B12 supplement, either as a single supplement or in a multivitamin should use supplements regularly. Even though a supplement may contain many times the recommended level of vitamin B12, when vitamin B12 intake is high, not as much appears to be absorbed. This means in order to meet your needs, you should take a daily vitamin B12 supplement of 5-10 micrograms or a weekly vitamin B12 supplement of 2000 micrograms.

We store between 2 and 5 milligrams of vitamin B12 and only excrete a very small fraction of this each day. Nevertheless, over time, vitamin B12 deficiency can develop if stores are not replenished with vitamin B12 from the diet or from supplements. Although bacteria in the large intestine of humans do produce vitamin B12, this vitamin B12 does not appear to be absorbed and is not adequate to prevent a vitamin B12 deficiency. Although some vegans may get vitamin B12 from inadequate hand washing, this is not a reliable vitamin B12 source.

Tempeh, miso, sea vegetables, and other plant foods are sometimes reported to contain vitamin B12. These products, however, are not reliable sources of the vitamin. The standard method for measuring vitamin B12 in foods measures both active and inactive forms of vitamin B12. The inactive form (also called analogues) actually interferes with normal vitamin B12 absorption and metabolism. When only active vitamin B12 is measured, plant foods including fermented soyfoods and sea vegetables do not contain significant amounts of active vitamin B12.

Very small amounts of vitamin B12 have been found in plants grown in soil treated with manure. It is not clear whether this vitamin B12 is the active form or the inactive analogue. In any case, the amounts are so small that more than 23 cups of organically grown spinach would have to be eaten every day in order to meet the adult RDA for vitamin B12