Natural Sources of Vitamin B12: A complete guide with Health Benefits
Water-soluble Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient for your body. For the brain and nerve cells to perform well you need Vitamin B12. However, your body cannot generate this crucial component on its own. Thus including Vitamin B12 foods in your regular diet becomes vital. This particular vitamin is easy to obtain while taking an animal-based diet. But what about the vegetarians? People often wonder about how to get Vitamin B12 naturally because not everyone is aware of foods containing Vitamin B12. In this blog, let us learn more about Vitamin B12 food sources and how to increase B12 to avoid deficiency.
But let us first define Vitamin B12 before revealing some of the natural sources of Vitamin B12.
What is Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12, often known as cobalamin belongs to the Vitamin B family. Your body needs Vitamin B12 to produce new cells, including red blood cells and the creation of DNA. It is necessary for healthy neurons and blood function and also contributes to the production of folate (vitamin B9). (1)
However, the human body cannot synthesise Vitamin B12, thus it must be received through food sources.
Why B12 is important for adults
- Supports healthy nerve cells: Vitamin B12 is essential for the development of myelin, a fatty coating that covers and safeguards nerve fibres. Lack of vitamin B12 can result in nerve damage. (2)
- Supports formation of RBC: Red blood cell formation is supported by vitamin B12. A deficiency of this vitamin can lead to anaemia.
- Supports the maintenance of healthy DNA: Vitamin B12 is essential for the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material that regulates all bodily processes.
Why B12 is Important as we age?
Vitamin B12 is also essential for the elderly because it,
- Promotes bone health
- Prevents anaemia
- Supports cognitive function
- Maintains healthy nerves
Deficiency of Vitamin B12
Some of the common symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency are
- Fatigue and weakness
- Shortness of breath or rapid breath
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
- Muscle weakness
- Memory problems
- Depression or other mood changes
Benefits of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient that is necessary for the body’s functioning. Let’s check some of the benefits of including Vitamin B12.
- Improved cognitive function - Vitamin B12 needs must be met in order to maintain healthy nerve function and reduce the risk of neurological issues and nerve damage.
- Increased energy levels - It is essential for the body's synthesis of energy. Having enough B12 vitamin foods can help people feel less tired and have more energy.
- Heart health - According to studies, Vitamin B12 helps lower homocysteine levels, which may lower your chance of developing heart disease. (2)
- Improved mood - It's critical to have enough vitamin B12 for healthy mood, memory, and cognitive function.
- Supports Bone Health – This vitamin is also essential for improving bone health.
- Prevents birth defects- It is crucial for foetal development and can guard against brain and spinal cord birth problems.
- Supports formation of RBC: Vitamin B12 helps in the formation of red blood cells in the blood.
Vitamin B12 is easily found in animal-based diets where people consume eggs, meat, etc. But if you are a vegetarian and wondering how to get vitamin B12 naturally, we have answers for you. It is possible to find Vitamin B12 foods in plant-based diets too. Include fruits rich in Vitamin B12 and other fortified foods containing vitamin B12 in your regular diet to avoid any deficiency.
Food Sources of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 can be found in both animal-based diets and plant-based diets. Let us check some of the best sources of Vitamin B12.
Plant-Based Vitamin B12 foods list
- Plant-based milk that has been fortified: Some varieties of plant-based milk, including soy, almond, and oat milk, have been supplemented with vitamin B12.
- Breakfast cereals that have been fortified: Some types of breakfast cereals are available that have been fortified with vitamin B12.
- Nutritional yeast: Some varieties of nutritional yeast are enriched with vitamin B12, making them a popular food among vegans and vegetarians.
- Vegan sausages & Burgers – Meat substitute vegan sausage & burgers are sometimes fortified with Vitamin B12
- Tofu – This soybean-based product is a good Vitamin B12 source for vegans.
Fruits rich in Vitamin B12
Some of the common fruits found in our kitchen are rich sources of Vitamin B12.
- Apple -is rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, fibre, and Vitamin B12.
- Banana – it is one of the best sources of Vitamin B12 which can be found easily in the home.
- Blueberries – this antioxidant rich fruit is also a rich source of Vitamin B12
- Orange – Apart from Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and antioxidants, orange is also one of the common foods to increase Vitamin B12
What vegetables have Vitamin B12
- Butternut Squash
Recommended daily intake of B12
Your daily requirement for Vitamin B12 varies with your age. (3)
- Infants up to 6 months - 0.4 mcg per day
- Children (1-3 years): 0.9 mcg per day
- Children (4-8 years): 1.2 mcg per day
- Children (9-13 years): 1.8 mcg per day
- Adolescents (14-18 years): 2.4 mcg per day
- Adults (19 years and older): 2.4 mcg per day
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 2.6-2.8 mcg per day
Micronutrients are essential for an individual's proper existence and so is Vitamin B12. People often wonder if a vegetarian diet can give enough Vitamin B12 and how to get Vitamin B12 naturally. Much to the contrary, this essential vitamin can be found in plant sources as well. A well-balanced meal with dairy and fruits can help you to increase Vitamin B12 and fight the deficiency in the body. We hope our Vitamin B12 foods list will be helpful for your healthy living and healthy eating.
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FAQs For Vitamin B12 Benefits & Food Sources
What are the signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency?
Some of the common signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency are
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Vision problems
How can I prevent vitamin B12 deficiency?
You can easily prevent this deficiency by including Vitamin B12-rich foods in your regular diet. You can easily find natural sources of Vitamin B12 foods to make it easier for you. Some of the foods to increase Vitamin B12 are
- Low-fat milk
- Whey Powder
How can I incorporate vitamin B12 into my diet?
You can incorporate foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, whey protein into your diet for Vitamin B 12. You can also include Vitamin B12 fruits like oranges, apples, and blueberries in your regular diet so that you get the required amount of Vitamin B12. You can also include mushrooms like Shitake mushrooms that are high in Vitamin B12.
Can vitamin B12 be obtained through plant-based foods?
Yes, you can get this essential vitamin through plant-based foods. Include foods containing Vitamin B12 in your balanced meal. Dairy products like cheese, paneer, whey protein, milk, and yogurt contain Vitamin B12. You can also have fortified food like nutritional yeast, and fortified breakfast cereals to get the required amount of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 fruits like oranges, mango, and blueberries can also provide enough Vitamin B12.
How is Vitamin B12 deficiency diagnosed?
A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anaemia. (4) So it is best to get it checked if you are complaining about weakness, dizziness, or fatigue frequently. A Complete Blood Count (CBC) with a serum B12 test can diagnose if you have Vitamin B12.