It is very important to keep a proper level of vitamin B12 in your body because it affects the nerves, the blood cells and DNA synthesis. Insufficient vitamin B-12 intake could lead to some serious health issues, like pernicious anemia.
Commonly, this vitamin is present in animal products, especially meat, eggs and dairy. So, vegetarians (and vegans) need to make sure that they consume a proper amount from other sources.
Vitamin B-12 can be produced either by bacteria or inside the body of animals. Plant based foods can’t supply us with sustainable quantities of vitamin B-12. This is why vegetarians need to find a different source of vitamin B12 which may include supplements.
BEST VITAMIN B-12 RICH FOODS FOR VEGETARIANS
There are several sources of vitamin B12 for vegetarians. Among them are eggs, dairy products and certain fortified products. You can find vitamin B12 in some algae and mushrooms. Because the body absorbs this vitamin slowly it is best that you consume it through the day so it breaks down correctly.
The easiest way to ensure a proper vitamin B12 amount if you are a vegetarian is eating dairy products:
- 250ml of yogurt provide 1.1µg of vitamin B12
- A glass of low-fat milk provides 1.2µg of vitamin B12
- 30gr of Swiss cheese contains .9µg of vitamin B12
All these foods can be eaten whenever you want during the day and are easily available. You can incorporate them into your meals for breakfast, lunch and any snacks you could be having.
Vegetarians can get vitamin B-12 from this source as well. One boiled egg contains .6µg of vitamin B-12. However, to meet the daily requirements of vitamin B-12 you will have to eat more than one boiled egg. This might not be easy, so you should incorporate eggs as a part of your intake.
Thanks to foods which have been fortified with vitamin B-12 you can reach your daily requirements. A good example is breakfast cereals. There is a wide range of cereals with different levels of vitamin B-12 content. Make sure you read the package before choosing the perfect cereal for your breakfast which will provide you with the adequate amount of vitamin B-12.
Another good thing about fortified foods is that they are easy to digest due to their high bioavailability. In other words, the body doesn’t have to break them down before the nutrients are absorbed and they are absorbed instantly.
This is yet another fortified food with high vitamin B-12 content. It is known as the go-to food for vegetarians. It can enhance the flavor of foods and make it cheesy. A tbsp of nutritional yeast contains 4µg of vitamin B-12. You can add it to virtually any of your favorite recipes.
According to a study, nori (or purple laver) is a great source of vitamin B-12. Commonly, this algae product is consumed in Asian countries. The study recommendations are about 4 grams of dried nori per day to meet your daily requirements of vitamin B12. This product can be found in Asian food markets and can be used in sushi, or on its own as a snack.
Even though it is rare, some plant based foods contain vitamin B12, like shiitake mushrooms. They cannot supply you with your daily requirements of vitamin B12, however, they can be a good additional source.
You can use them in a variety of ways, such as incorporating them into your lunch and dinner. But, you’d have to eat 50gr of dried shitake to reach the daily requirements.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VITAMIN B12
It is very important to get vitamin B12 in your diet since it contributes to many vital functions in the body, such as:
- Formation and division of red blood cells;
- Nervous system protection;
- DNA synthesizing;
- Energizing the body.
In order to keep all these bodily functions in balance, you don’t really need a lot of vitamin B-12. The daily requirements for an adult are about 2.4µg of vitamin B-12 intake. For children, it is less.
Vegetarians need to take extra care to maintain a sufficient level of vitamin B-12 in order for their bodies to function correctly.
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
Among the common conditions and complications arising from vitamin B-12 deficiency are neurological disorders, anemia and inability of cell division.
Additionally, if you have a lack of vitamin B-12 in the body you might experience these symptoms:
- nerve damage
- hand and feet tingling sensation
- blurred vision
- walking difficulties
- excessive sweating
- sore tongue
- digestive problems
Make sure you talk to your doctor if you are experiencing these symptoms. They might need to perform a certain test to determine if your vitamin B-12 level is within the normal.
Everyone, but especially vegetarians should be careful of their intake of vitamin B-12. Because it is essential for proper bodily functions, it can be insufficient in individuals who aren’t consuming meat. However, there are alternative sources which are plant based, such as eggs, dairy and fortified foods.
Discuss the ways you can increase your vitamin B-12 intake with your doctor and monitor your levels regularly in order to take proper care of your health. Sometimes supplementation is necessary to reach the proper amount of vitamin B12 in your body.