The RDA of B12 is 2.4 mcg in food. For supplements, which are not as well absorbed, the recommended dose is 5-10 mcg (and sometimes higher).

So does nooch count as a supplement or food? (Please cite a reliable source.)

2 Answers 2


I asked the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)...

ODS's page on B12, it says under the "food" section:

fortified nutritional yeasts are readily available sources of vitamin B12 that have high bioavailability [12,13].

This may mean B12 in nootch counts similar to B12 in diary (filtered through cows). Further down the page:

Vegans who consume no animal products and vegetarians who consume some animal products (e.g., dairy products, eggs, or both) but not meat have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because natural food sources of vitamin B12 are limited to animal foods [3,52]. Consumption of foods fortified with vitamin B12 (such as fortified nutritional yeasts) as well as vitamin B12 supplements can substantially reduce the risk of deficiency [52].


...and they got back to me:

Thank you for contacting us with your question about Vitamin B12 and nutritional yeast.

As you noted, the recommended intake of Vitamin B12 for healthy adults of 2.4 mcg (micrograms) per day is for most men and women. I’m not familiar with a recommendation of 5-10 mcg from a supplement due to poor absorption. There can be issues with digestion and absorption of B12, primarily as we age. It tends to be food sources that are more problematic in terms of digestion with aging. Supplement B12 is actually potentially better absorbed since there is no digestion (release from the food source eaten) needed. However, there can be issues with absorption of even supplemental B12 due to a decrease in the stomach factor needed to assist the absorption, known as Intrinsic Factor (IF). These reasons are why for those over 51 years of age and those that may have trouble digesting and absorbing B12 from the food they eat, it is recommended to get this amount of vitamin B12 from fortified foods (foods to which it has been added when processed like some breakfast cereals), nutritional yeasts, or from supplements. You will commonly see very large amounts of B12 in supplements. Since it is considered non-toxic at even larger doses, it is not a concern for most people and may actually help overcome some of the lack of intrinsic factor if present. In cases when B12 can’t be digested and absorbed, that is when a health care provider might recommend injections, which then bypass the gastro intestinal system and go directly into the body, ready for use.

As to your question about nutritional yeast being a supplement or a food. Nutritional yeast is considered at food product/food additive (and as you noted, can be a source of Vitamin B12 if it has been added to (fortified) the product…check the ingredient list on the product for the addition of B12). It is marketed as a seasoning or often as an addition to vegan food/dishes. If it is provided in tablet form, which is also on the market, then it is more a supplement and as such has a “Supplement Facts” label on it. If you see a “Nutrition Facts” label on the product, this indicates it is considered a “food”.

If you have specific concerns about your own vitamin B12 status please talk with your healthcare provider as they can assess and make recommendations if needed. Here is a link to our fact sheet on Vitamin B12 for more general information: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer -- [J.M.], MS, RD


noun /ˈsʌplɪm(ə)nt/ 1. a thing added to something else in order to complete or enhance it. "the handout is a supplement to the official manual"

Strength athletes supplement their training with tomatoes and curcumine plus pepper to decrease inflammatory response from training.

Bodybuilders supplement their training with protein powder to enhance sarcoplastic hypertrophy.

Polyglots supplement their studies by reading books in the language they want to learn.

Endurance athletes supplement their training by doing half repetitions at the end of the workout as cool downs.

Salt supplements the flavor of chocolate milk by making the sweetness stronger.

  • 1
    While this is entirely accurate from a linguistic perspective, I believe OP was more interested in nutritional yeast specifically (presumably whether its B12 is better absorbed?)
    – Erica
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 17:37

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