Nutrition is vital for our body. Vitamins and minerals help regulate several bodily functions and ensure we remain healthy and fit for longer periods. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that helps build DNA and red blood cells and improves brain and nerve health. Being deficient in this critical nutrient can lead to distressing symptoms, such as fatigue, headache, heart palpitations, nerve problems, and skin issues.
Surprisingly, your body does not produce vitamin B12 naturally or independently. Animal-based foods such as meat, fish, milk and eggs, are some of the best sources of vitamin B12. However, a large variety of foods are available that can fulfil your daily nutrient requirements of vitamin B12. Let us look at some of the best food sources of vitamin B12 for non-vegetarians, vegetarians, and vegans.
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Food Sources Of Vitamin B12 For Non-Vegetarians
Animal-based foods are the richest source of vitamin B12. Some of the best food choices include:
- Organ meat, especially kidney or liver from lamb
- Fish like sardines, salmon, tuna
Food Sources Of Vitamin B12 For Vegetarians
When it comes to receiving your daily dosage of vitamin B12, vegetarians can find it difficult. Animal products are some of the best food sources of vitamin B12, so vegetarians may have to look for alternatives. But do not worry; we have you covered. Following are some of the best vitamin B12-rich foods for vegetarians.
- Nutritional yeast
- Low-fat milk
- Fortified cereals and fortified plant-based milk.
Food Sources Of Vitamin B12 For Vegans
For vegans, it is incredibly challenging to fulfil their daily requirements for vitamin B12. This is because not only do they refrain from consuming meat, but they also avoid dairy products. However, although limited, there are some healthy options:
- Soy and almond milk
- Plant-based meats
- Fortified cereals
- Cremini mushrooms
- Nori seaweed
How Much Vitamin B12 Should You Have Daily?
According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), Office of Dietary Supplements, the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 for adults and kids ages 12 to 18 is 2.4 mcg.
Pregnant teens and women should take 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12 daily, as per the fact sheet by the US health body. Breastfeeding women should get 2.8 mcg daily. Newborns under six months should get 0.4 mcg, whereas infants and children aged 1 to 3 years should get 0.5 to 0.9 mcg, respectively.
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Who Is At Risk Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Certain groups are more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency than others. These include:
- Older adults
- People with pernicious anaemia
- People with gastrointestinal disorders
- Those who have had gastrointestinal surgery
- Infants born to vegan women
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most concerning nutritional deficiencies. It is often overlooked or misdiagnosed for other health conditions, delaying treatment. A simple blood test comprising a Complete Blood Count (CBC) can help detect the disease. A person with less than 150 per mL of blood is considered deficient in vitamin B12. While a diet rich in vitamin B12 best fulfils your daily nutrient requirements, healthcare providers may recommend supplementation in severe cases. It is best to speak with your doctor about the dosage.