Vitamin B12 Deficiency on Vegetarian Diets
B12 Foods & Deficiency Symptoms
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that helps to maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It is necessary to make DNA, the genetic material of all cells, as described by the National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B12 contains cobalt so it also known as cobalamin. It is bound to protein in food. B12 deficiency is quite common on a vegetarian diet, so it is important to know your best B12 food sources and the B12 deficiency symptoms.
Foods that commonly contain B12 typically come from animals, including fish, meat, and poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. Fortified breakfast cereals are a good source of B12. These are those foods that are typically thought of for B12 intake.
Also, B12 shots given weekly are another way to keep your level in a safe range. This would take a doctor's prescription. B12 injections is also a treatment for the disease of pernicious anemia.
Fortified Cereal with B12
Food Sources of B12
If you are a vegetarian, than you should be aware of those supplements that provide the B12 necessary for your body. One source is nutritional yeast, Red Star. The fortified cereals already mentioned are a good source, along with fortified soy milk, wheat gluten or soy beans to resemble meat or poultry products, or fish. A wide range of fortified foods are available. It is important to read labels.
Table 1: Selected food sources of vitamin B12
Food Micrograms (ug)
DV* per serving
Mollusks, clam, mixed species, cooked, 3 ounces 64.1 1400
Liver, beef, braised, 1 slice 47.9 780
Fortified breakfast cereals, (100%) fortified), ¾ cup 6.0 100
Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 3 ounces 5.4 90
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces 4.9 50
Trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 4.2 50
Beef, top sirloin, lean, choice, broiled, 3 ounces 2.4 40ast Food, Cheeseburger, pattty & bun,1 sandwich 1.9 30
Fast Food, Taco, 1 large 1.6 25
Fortified breakfast cereals (25% fortified), ¾ cup 1.5 25
Yogurt, plain, skim, with 13 grams protein/cup, 1 c 1.4 25
Haddock, cooked, 3 ounces 1.2 20
Clams, breaded & fried, ¾ cup 1.1 20
Tuna, white, in water, drained solids, 3 ounces 1.0 15
Milk, 1 cup 0.9 15
Pork, cured, ham, lean only, canned, roasted, 3 ozs 0.6 10
Egg, whole, hard boiled, 1 0.6 10
American pasteurized cheese food, 1 ounces 0.3 6
Chicken, breast, meat only, roasted, ½ breast 0.3 6
B12 affect Myelin Sheath
B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Be aware of symptoms of low B12 as the symptoms tend to develop slowly and may not be recognized immediately. As the condition worsens, common symptoms include:
- Weakness and fatigue
- Light-headedness and dizziness
- Palpitations and rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- A sore tongue that has a red, beefy appearance
- Nausea or poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Yellowish tinge to the skin and eyes
If low levels of B12 remain for a long time, the condition also can lead to irreversible damage to nerve cells, which can cause the following symptoms:
- Numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle weakness
- Memory loss
Your doctor can order a blood test is you are having any of these symptoms and you can receive B12 injections as necessary. Be aware that pregnant women need extra B12 .
What is Vitamin B12 Why does our body need B12
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Vegetarian and Vegan diets can be healthy but it is important to make sure you are getting enough protein and Vitamin B12. The more informed you are, the healthier you will feel.