Vitamin B12 is the most complex vitamin in the range of B vitamins. It is an essential nutrient which the body does not produce naturally. So we have to rely on vitamin B12 food and medical supplements to get vitamin B12 in the body. The nutrient is crucial for body movement and physical activity. Other than this, there are multiple health benefits of vitamin B12 foods. This article will be discussing the best vitamin B12 foods, the functions of vitamin B12, and its potential side effects. But before knowing these extended pieces of information, let us first know about vitamin B12.
Table of Contents
- Meet Vitamin B12!
- Vitamin B12 Sources for Non-Vegetarians-
- Vitamin B12 Sources for Vegetarians-
- Benefits of Eating Vitamin B12 Foods-
- How Can Lack of Vitamin B12 Foods in The Diet Cause Nutritional Deficiency?
- What are Vitamin B12 Supplements?
- Side Effects of Vitamin B12 –
Meet Vitamin B12!
Vitamin B12 is responsible for some of the core body functions, such as producing red blood cells and DNA. It boosts the effective functioning of the brain and takes good care of improving cognitive abilities by keeping the nerves healthy. Meat and dairy are the most famous sources of vitamin B12 food. This member of the vitamin family is water-soluble and gets an easy transit through the bloodstream. A human body can store vitamin B12 for up to 4 years. The protein called intrinsic factor present in the digestive system is mainly responsible for absorbing vitamin B12 foods. Lack of production of the intrinsic factor protein can cause vitamin B12 deficiency in the body. Here vitamin B12 foods come to the rescue of health.
The average body requirement for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg, but it is higher for sick, breastfeeding, and pregnant people. These people should incorporate more foods high in vitamin B12 into their daily diet. However, vitamin B12 foods are limited for vegetarians and vegans. Hard to find nuts, vegetables, and fortifying cereals, and dairy products are the only few vegetarian options. The exceptional ability to produce RBCs and DNA makes the vitamin B12 foods high in demand. However, most vegetarians and vegans have no other option than to rely on these limited vitamin B12 sources.
Vitamin B12 Sources for Non-Vegetarians-
It is a blatant fact that the sources of Vitamin B12 are more for non-vegetarians as compared to vegetarian sources. Most of the meats have loads of Vitamin B12 in them.
1. Organ Meat is The Top Source of Vitamin B12 for Nonvegetarians-
The kidneys and lungs of animals such as lambs and goats are the richest sources of Vitamin B12. The value of only 100 grams of lamb’s liver comprises a whopping 1500% of daily recommended Vitamin B12. Vitamin A is also abundant in lamb’s liver. Other nutrients in a lamb’s liver are copper and selenium. Similarly, beef kidneys also have a high content of Vitamin B12 in them. Only 100 grams of beef kidneys provide 3000% of daily value vitamin B12.
2. Clams Are Another Potent Source of Vitamin B12
Clams are other jampacked Vitamin B12 foods. These are tiny shellfishes filled with nutrients and enjoyed by people who eat seafood. Along with having a high amount of protein, only 20 clams can offer a daily value of more than 7000% of vitamin B12, roughly 99 mcg of the B12 vitamin. Besides, the broth we get after boiling the clams also retains a good amount of vitamin B12. This is mainly because clams easily dissolve in water without losing nutrients. Apart from being a great source of vitamin B12, baby clams also contain rich content of protein and antioxidants.
3. Beef Is An Excellent Vitamin B12 Food-
Beef is a popular food for being a rich source of vitamin B12 and other healthy nutrients. Did you know that one grilled steak of beef can provide more than 450% of the daily value of Vitamin B12? crazy, right? But that is not that. The same amount of beef also contains decent amounts of vitamin B3, B6, and B2 along with nutrients like zinc and selenium. To take the most vitamin B12 out of beef, make sure you eliminate the fat from the meat and grill or fry it before eating. This ensures the preservation of vitamin B12 content and makes beef a yummy vitamin B12 food.
4. Dive in Vitamin B12 With The Fishes!
Fishes of various types are famous and rich sources of vitamin B12. Among the non-vegetarian vitamin B12 foods, fishes rank pretty well. Here are some fishes which are easily accessible and healthy sources of vitamin B12.
- Tuna– Both canned and freshly sourced tuna fish have a high vitamin B12 content, especially its darker muscles. Other than that, it is also a viable source of proteins, minerals, selenium, and phosphorus. It is a delicacy in North America and a few Asian countries. A 100 grams of cooked tuna fish contains more than 400% of the daily value of vitamins. Vitamin B12 benefits amount to 85% of daily value intake in just 165 grams of tuna fish.
- Trout– Species present in freshwater are rich in proteins, fats, and vitamins. Rainbow trouts are one of the healthiest vitamin B12 foods. Trout is rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Experts say 250-350 grams of omega 3 fatty acids is enough for an individual. A 100 grams serving of trout fillet offers omega 3 fatty acids of about 1,171 grams and 312% of the daily value of vitamin B12.
- Sardines– Sardine fish is another among the seafood rich sources of vitamin B12. the soft bones of sardine fish are eatables and rich in vitamins and other essential minerals. Both the canned and freshly derived sardines are good vitamin B12 sources. Sardine offers 554% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B12. Apart from being a great source of vitamin B12, sardines also contain a high amount of omega 3 fatty acids. Hence adding sardines to the diet can help maintain a healthy heart along with improving overall health.
- Salmon– Salmon, again, is among the rich sources of vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. Just half a fillet of salmon can offer more than 200% of the daily value of vitamin B12. The same also provides more than 4,000 mg of omega 3 fatty acids. With being among the famous vitamin B12 foods, salmon also offers a high content of fats and proteins.
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5. Eggs Are Also A Healthy Vitamin B12 Food-
Both vegetarians and non-vegetarians generally consume eggs. However, some vegetarians and vegans avoid eggs because of subjective dietary choices. Eggs are called the perfect proteins; not only that, but eggs also contain abundant vitamins. This is the reason they are counted among the sources of vitamin B12 foods. Just two eggs can suffice the need of vitamin B12 by providing 46% of the daily value. It is an interesting fact that egg yolk is a rich source of vitamin B12. Hence it is advisable to eat the whole egg instead of just egg white. Eggs are not only among the top of vitamin B12 foods but also consist a high amount of other essential nutrients such as protein and vitamin D.
Vitamin B12 Sources for Vegetarians-
There are fewer vitamin B12 foods available for vegetarians. Most veggies do not have a high amount of vitamin B12 in them. The same goes for fruits and pulses. For vegetarians, fortified and dairy products are a good source of vitamin B12 foods. Vegetarians can go for vitamin B12 supplements instead of finding vitamin B12 foods if their physician permits them. However, first, let us have a look at vitamin B12 food options available to vegetarians.
1. Fortified Cereals Are Rich Vitamin 12 Foods for Vegetarians-
Vegans and vegetarians can easily rely on fortified cereals as foods high in vitamin B12. Fortified foods are nothing but foods having external nutrients added to them to increase their nutritional value. Similarly, fortified cereals have added vitamin B12, making them viable vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians. Fortified cereals offer up to 130% of the daily value requirements of vitamin B12. Adding just one cup of fortified to the daily diet can exceptionally increase the concentration of vitamin B12 reserves in the body. However, these are not generally considered healthy because of their artificial ingredients.
Apart from being famous vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians, fortified cereals also offer other nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. If combined with high fiber foods, fortified cereals can add up to make a balanced diet. Hence, fortified cereals are a real lifesaver for vegetarians and vegans who do not have many vitamin B12 food options.
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2. Fortified Yeast Is Another Among Nutritional Vitamin B12 Foods-
Fortified yeast is a boon for vegans and vegetarians as a vitamin B12 food. This vegan food with vitamin B12 has got proteins, vitamins, and minerals as well. The type of yeast that is generally used for brewing and baking and not for beer is used for fortification of yeast to suffice the vitamin B12 need of vegans. This is so because vitamin B12 is not naturally present in this yeast. However, the fortification of yeast that makes up the fortified yeast makes it an excellent vitamin B12 source.
Only 16 grams of fortified yeast provides for 160% of the daily value of vitamin B12. Researches even show that consuming dry yeast can significantly reduce vitamin deficiencies among vegans. Hence synthetically derived yeast gets a top position among vitamin B12 sources for vegans and vegetarians. The fortification also adds other essential vitamins and minerals to the yeast.
3. Fortified Non-Dairy Milk Products Are Great Vitamin B12 Sources for Vegans
Various varieties of milk such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk do not fall in the category of naturally rich vitamin B12 foods. Therefore, they are fortified to get a place in the list of vitamin B12 sources. Fortified non-dairy milk products are an excellent replacement for dairy products for vegans. They are nutritionally high and avoid vitamin B12 deficiency as well. Only one cup of fortified non-dairy milk products provides 86% of the daily value of vitamin B12. Hence the synthetic form of these types of vitamin B12 foods can cope with deficiencies of hard-to-find nutrients for vegans.
4. Milk And Dairy Products Are Famous Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegetarians-
Milk and dairy products are whole vitamin B12 foods. Whole as in, they also contain other vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin A along with a decent amount of protein. Whole milk of just one cup provides 46% of the daily value of vitamin B12. 22 grams of a normal size cheese slice consists of 28% of the daily value of vitamin B12. Hence cheese, especially swiss cheese, is a viable source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. Yogurt is also a viable option to balance the vitamin B12 deficiency in vegetarians as they are unable to find potent vitamin B12 foods.
Along with being important in the list of vitamin B12 foods, milk is also most easily accessible and absorbed by the human body. In fact, researchers point out that the absorption rate of vitamin B12 is much faster through milk in the body than meat.
Benefits of Eating Vitamin B12 Foods-
As discussed earlier in this article, Vitamin B12 foods are vital for smooth brain functioning and overall well-being of the body. The human body’s nervous system demands vitamin B12 for sending signals to the brain to give commands for movement to other parts of the body. Vitamin B12 foods also help in recovering from certain illnesses and injuries. Given below are some problems that can be prominently prevented by consuming vitamin B12 foods.
- Vitamin B12 foods help combat anemia by stimulating blood production in the body.
- Vitamin B12 foods reduce the possibility of health issues in pregnant women by adding ample nutrition to their diet.
- Vitamin B12 foods help prevent osteoporosis by aiding in optimal bone health.
- Vitamin B 12 foods help in coping with macular degeneration and its related effects on health.
- Vitamin B12 foods improve the mental and cognitive health of the body as they regulate anxiety and stress.
- Vitamin B12 foods try to recover and produce more neuro cells in the brain.
- Vitamin B12 foods keep the human body’s energy levels high by fostering fast and smooth metabolic activity.
How Can Lack of Vitamin B12 Foods in The Diet Cause Nutritional Deficiency?
As vitamin B12 plays an essential role in many core body functions like blood and DNA production, its lack can lead to some severe medical conditions. Not incorporating vitamin B12 foods in the daily diet can cause low levels of vitamin B12, which brings other repercussions along. Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can cause a drop in folate levels as well. Multiple problems can cause a reduction in folate levels of the body, so it becomes difficult to diagnose if vitamin B12 deficiency caused it. It is an alarming situation when one comes across the symptoms of deficiency very late; due to this, the diagnosis also starts late and can even become complicated. Many people, especially vegetarians and vegans, are prone to vitamin B12 deficiency as they have fewer vitamin B12 foods available for them. Hence it is necessary to add some vitamin B12 foods or supplements to the diet. Let us now see what type of people are prone to be affected by vitamin B12 deficiency-
- Vegetarians– Vegans and vegetarians have fewer options of viable and potent sources for vitamin B12 foods available to add to their daily diet. Therefore vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk of getting vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Old-aged people– It is common to witness vitamin B12 deficiency among older people. Because of the weak digestive system and slower absorption capacity of the body, older people may miss nutrition. Hence it is vital to add vitamin B12 foods or supplements to their diet.
- People with the damaged or sensitive digestive tract– We have already learned that vitamin B12 is absorbed in the body by the intestinal tracts. Doctors may advise people with sore and sensitive digestive tracts to avoid vitamin B12 foods to give the digestive tract time for repair.
- Metformin intake– People who take metformin may get vitamin B12 deficient. Metformin is a drug given to people with serious diabetes.
- People who face heartburn issues– People who often take medicines like antacids to treat the regular occurrence of heartburn also have a chance of getting vitamin B12 deficiency.
There are many ways through which you can understand your body is vitamin B12 deficient. The deficiency caused by the inability to incorporate vitamin B12 foods in the diet can be supplemented by adding vitamin B12 supplements if the doctor allows you to do so.
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What are Vitamin B12 Supplements?
Vitamin supplements are recommended to people who face the risk of being deficient in the vitamins. The same goes for vitamin B12. As we have understood about the natural and synthetically available vitamin B12 sources and people who need them the most, let us know what vitamin B12 supplements are.
Vitamin B12 foods’ unavailability can replenish vitamin B12 in some people. Vitamin B12 supplements are present in liquid or solid form. These can be swallowed, eaten, chewed, or even injected into the body if the doctor recommends so. Researches show that these supplements can adequately supplement people with vitamin B12 deficiency. However, they also indicate that it might take 90 days to store vitamin B12 in people with vitamin B12 deficiency.
The reason behind the deficiency is not only the lack of vitamin B12 foods in the diet. It can also be the lack of a protein called intrinsic factor responsible for efficient vitamin B12 absorption.
In the case of diseases like pernicious anemia, lack of intrinsic factor is a common phenomenon. It is common to treat the disease by giving them injections of vitamin B12 for a prolonged time. These shots are generally less in quantity so that the impaired intrinsic factor is able to absorb the supplement.
Hence mostly vitamin B12 supplements are advised to people who do not consume animal products. However, to replace the vitamin B12 foods with supplements is a decision that they should make only on their doctor’s advice.
Side Effects of Vitamin B12 –
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble form of the vitamin. Hence there is a limit to how much vitamin B12 a human body can absorb. The body passes the excess of vitamin B12 deposits through the urine. Thus a little excess can do no harm. However, a high concentration of vitamin B12 doses injected into the body can lead to certain complications. So it is vital to stay aware of these complications in order to avoid them. Here are some types of complications that can be a cause of vitamin B12 side effects-
- One of the most prominent side effects of vitamin B12 injections is deformed skin structures. Skin conditions like acne and rosacea (redness and small bumps on the skin) can develop if the vitamin B12 supplements create complications in the body.
- Vitamin B12 supplements can also affect people with diabetes and kidney disorders. Both the diseases can further aggravate if high doses of vitamin B12 are injected into people with these conditions.
- Researches show people with diabetic neuropathy have high chances of kidney degeneration if given high doses of vitamin B12 supplements.
These vitamin B12 side effects are majorly seen only with injecting the supplements into the bloodstream. Oral supplements of vitamin B12 are generally a safe option to use. Adding vitamin B12 tablets to the diet is thus a viable alternative to cope with vitamin B12 deficiency.
Deficiency or inability to incorporate vitamin B12 foods in the diet can cause other health problems such as fatigue and stress. Vitamin B12 deficiency can thus certainly make you feel sluggish and weak. Low levels of vitamin B12 in the body can hamper brain function and cause dementia. Other symptoms are weak memory and inability to concentrate. Further, less access to vitamin B12 foods can cause dizziness and lethargy body also.
Hence to avoid any of these situations and ensure a holistically nutritious diet, everyone should manage to incorporate either vitamin B12 foods or supplements into the regular diet. However, doctor’s advice is necessary to add supplements and vitamin B12 rich foods in the diet of people who lack it or who suffer from any specific health condition and take regular medicines.