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Vitamin B12 Rich Foods: Everything You Need to Know

Vitamin B12, which is also called Cobalamin is an essential nutrient that your body needs for your overall health & wellbeing. Your body does not produce vitamin B12 and therefore you need to take in the form of food or supplements. In most cases, breastfeeding women, vegetarians, and pregnant women are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. 

The deficiency of vitamin B12 can affect the quality of your life causing depression, fatigue, mania & anemia. In fact, a long term vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause permanent damage to the central nervous system & your brain. 

Bacterias help your body create vitamin B12. It is also found in certain animal products in its natural form. However, vitamin B12 is also present in its synthetic form in a variety of food products including packaged cereals. 

Can you consume heavy doses of vitamin B12?

Since your body is capable of storing excess vitamin B12 to use it when your body is deficient. So, there is no harm in consuming heavy doses. In fact, this store of vitamin B12 can at times last for several years. Because of this vitamin B12 store, it takes people a long time to even realize that they are relying on vitamin B12 deficient food.

Vitamin B12 Rich Food:

  • Clams
  • Crab
  • Fish
  • Fortified soymilk
  • Low-fat beef
  • Fortified cereal
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Fortified tofu

Daily Vitamin B12 intake Requirement:  2.4μg per day

Note: This daily value of vitamin B12 intake was recently reduced from 6μg per by the USDA food labeling standards. This is why in most of the outdated product labels you would notice the Daily value is lower. 

Why does your body need vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in a variety of functions in the body. It helps in the proper functioning of your brain, it keeps your nerves in healthy condition & helps in the production of DNA & RBC. 

While the standard daily intake of vitamin B12 should be 2.4 mcg, for breastfeeding & pregnant women it should be a little high. 

Vitamin B12 is absorbed in the stomach with the help of a protein called intrinsic factor. This substance binds to the vitamin B12 molecule and facilitates its absorption into your blood and cells.

When can you develop vitamin B12 deficiency?

While factors like your diet & age are some of the most occurring reasons for vitamin B12 deficiency, it could also be caused when your body is not producing enough intrinsic factor. 

Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal products, therefore vegans & vegetarians could be at the risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans can anyway add fortified foods into their diet for maintaining the optimum amount of vitamin B12 in their bodies. 

In this article, we’ll further be discussing top foods rich in vitamin B12. Let’s read to discover how you can keep your overall health going. Let’s get started:

Vitamin B12 Rich Foods for vegetarians:

While the richest source of vitamin B12 is animal products, vegetarians do have a lot of choices if looked closely. Some of the best food to include in your diet if you want to increase vitamin B12 (vegetarian sources) include:

Nutritional yeast:

  • Cheese
  • yogurt
  • fortified plant-based milk
  • low-fat milk
  • fortified cereals

While mushrooms, algae, and seaweed have considerable vitamin B12 content, they are not as reliable and you can still be deficient even if you have enough of it in your diet. Fortified cereals are the perfect choice for vegetarians. Nutritional yeast is a popular choice among both vegans and vegetarians. They can be easily added to your food, snacks, and cooked meals. 

Nutritional yeast is popular with both vegetarians and vegans because it is easy to add to dishes while cooking and has a rich, cheesy, nutty flavor. Nutritional yeast can be added to cooked meals or sprinkled on food and snacks. It is available to buy online. 

You can use nutritional yeast with:

  1. Popcorns
  2. Cheese sauces
  3. Eggs or tofu
  4. Mashed potatoes
  5. Creamy soup
  6. Pasta dishes
  7. Salads
  8. Creamy soup

Vitamin B12 Rich Foods for non-vegetarians:

A variety of non-vegetarians & animal products are rich in vitamin B12. Most non-vegetarians maintain an optimum amount of vitamin B12. However, if you ever have to face a deficiency you can rely on the following food:

  1. Beef
  2. Animal liver and kidneys
  3. Clams
  4. Sardines
  5. Tuna
  6. Trout
  7. Salmon
  8. Eggs

Add these foods to your diet and vitamin B12 deficiency will disappear. These are some of the richest sources of vitamin B12.

When you should turn to Vitamin B12 Supplements?

People including pregnant women, vegetarians, who have stomach surgery, older adults, and breastfeeding women should take vitamin B12 supplements as suggested by the dietician. 

Vitamin B12 supplements are vegan-friendly. They can be taken in a number of ways -- you can chew them, swallow them, place them under the tongue & can also be sometimes injected. Usually, it takes 90 days to recover from vitamin B12 deficiency (depending on your level of deficiency).

In the worst cases, vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia, which is an autoimmune disease. This is mostly found in older people. In most cases, the treatment is lifelong vitamin B12 injections. 

How to find vitamin B12 deficiency?

While the best thing is you should get your health tests done regularly and keep a check on the vitamins, minerals & about various other health parameters. But, if we particularly talk about vitamin B12 deficiency there are certain symptoms that would tell you about vitamin B12 deficiency. 

Symptoms of vitamin B12:

  1. Fever
  2. Difficulty walking
  3. Dizziness
  4. Sweating
  5. Nerve damage
  6. Fatigue
  7. Weakness 
  8. Tingling Feet & hands
  9. Blurred vision
  10. Digestive System Issues
  11. Breathlessness
  12. Mouth ulcers
  13. Depression
  14. Sore tongue
  15. Mood swings
  16. Memory Loss
  17. Judgment & understanding problems
  18. Pale skin
  19. Buzzing sound in ears.

A person who has all of these symptoms or is experiencing any of these symptoms in extreme must consult a doctor immediately.

Takeaway:

Vitamin B12 is essential for your overall health. While for non-vegetarians there are plenty of options to take in through their diet, a vegetarian diet lacks vitamin B12. But, definitely, there are certain foods that can help with correcting your vitamin B12 deficiency. 

If you are facing vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms, you must consult a doctor and get the tests done or it can deteriorate the quality of your life. People with vitamin B12 deficiency might have to suffer serious issues like 

Eat plenty of vitamin B12 rich food -- even if you consume heavy doses it will be stored in the liver for use when required. Be healthy, be happy!

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