Have you ever been diagnosed with B12 deficiency? Are you a vegetarian and uncertain which food to eat? If we lack enough B12 in our diet, we need to take an expensive vaccine, which many people cannot afford. So, increasing our intake of foods rich in this vitamin is a wise idea.
It is True that B12 is found in mostly animal products, but there are also some vegetarian foods that are high in B12 and we are going to discuss those foods in this article.
What is vitamin B12?
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in animal products and fortified foods. These food sources are indeed mainly non-vegetarian food, but it is also found in plant-based foods. This deficiency is rare but can lead to neuropsychiatric problems, including depression and dementia.
Why vitamin B12 is important?
- It is important for the development of the nervous system and the production of red blood cells.
- It is necessary for the body to make energy.
- It plays an important role in maintaining heart health and blood vessel health.
- Helps to prevent anemia.
- Helps to improve the appearance of skin, hair, and nails.
- Helps to reduce the risk of some types of cancers.
- Improve mood and cognitive function.
What are the signs and symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?
You can get to know that you are lacking in this vitamin by observing some simple symptoms. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency can be:-
- A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- Mouth ulcers.
- Blurred vision.
- A pale yellow skin.
You should visit your local doctor if you experience any of these symptoms for a regular checkup for vitamin B12 deficiency. Tests that check the red blood cell count and appearance may help diagnose vitamin deficiency.
How to check B12 Deficieny?
In patients with suspected B12 deficiency, initial lab tests should include a complete blood count (CBC) with a peripheral smear and serum B12 and folate levels. After Initial testing, if the diagnosis is not clear then other lab tests, such as MMA and homocysteine levels, are done.
The amount of vitamin B12 and folate in the blood is checked. In patients who are deficient in this vitamin, the CBC(complete blood count) would show anemia. Human beings need 1.5 μg per day ( μg= micrograms)
How to fulfill the B12 requirement from vegetarian food?
People think that B12 can only be obtained from non-vegetarian food. But do you know that vegetarian food also has some good options. Vegetarian food can be a good source and provides important nutrients such which is essential for overall health.
There are many types of vegetarianism, and each one has its own benefit. Various types of vegetarian food can provide a good source of this vitamin. Vegetarians can explore which food can benefit more to them as some are allergens to a specific food. They should be sure to get enough through in their diets through organic sources.
Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegetarians
Fortified foods are a good source of vitamin B12. There are many products available in the market. Many plant-based foods are fortified with vitamin B12, such as plant-based milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.), breakfast cereals, and meat substitutes like veggie burgers or vegan sausages. Check the labels to ensure they are fortified with B12.
2. Fruits and vegetables
Some fruits such as oranges, apples, and blueberries and Vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, potato, and mushroom are a rich sources of this vitamin. Try to include at least 4 servings of fruits in your diet as it will also boosts your immune system.
3. Lentils and Peas
Some plant-based foods, such as lentils and peas, are good sources of B12 and it is best to include it in our meals at least once a week.
Walnuts contain a plant-based form of this vitamin called alpha-linolenic acid.They are also rich in antioxidants. Walnuts can be eaten as an evening snack.
5. Dairy products
If you’re a lacto-vegetarian (someone who consumes dairy but not meat or eggs), dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese can be good sources of vitamin B12. Look for products that are fortified with B12 for an extra boost.
6. Chia Seeds
If you are vegetarian and looking for a protein source, Chia seeds are a great choice. They are not only a good sources of protein but also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 , fiber, and great antioxidants.
7. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient in vegetarian and vegan diets and is often fortified with vitamin B12. It can be sprinkled on dishes like popcorn, pasta, and salads to add a cheesy flavor. Nutritional yeast contains high levels of vitamin B12 and folic acid (B9), which your body needs to make and maintain DNA.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin found in animal products and fortified foods. It is necessary as it helps the body to make energy, prevents anemia, and cancer, and also improves cognitive function.
A deficiency of it can cause problems with the heart, eyes, nerves, digestive system, nervous system and muscles, and joints.
It can be found in milk, cheese, yogurt, lentils and peas, cereals, Fortified foods, and fruits such as bananas and blueberries.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the dangers of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Deficiency can cause problems with the digestive system and nervous systems, muscles and joints, heart and eyes and problems with immune system.
Can I check B12 at home?
Yes. home test kits to check B12 are also available. You order a test online or pick up a test kit from a store/clinic.
Mostly, it contain a finger prick and corresponding vial to collect blood from your finger so that it can be tested for vitamin B12.