Are you weak and pale? Do you often feel tired or agitated? Chances are it all stemmed from stress or anxiety. Perhaps a long day at work or due to an irregular sleeping pattern. Yet all of this could be sourced back to a Vitamin B12 deficiency. It is a condition characterized by deficiency of this
Vitamin, which helps carry oxygen throughout your body. Insufficient Vitamin B12 can make you anaemic, rendering you weak and tired almost often.
Whatever you eat, either keeps you or kills you. Your diet or as such, your dietary habits are the primary sources of intake of all the essential nutrients and minerals in the body. And moreover as our bodies do not make vitamin B12, we intake it from the foods and supplements which we regularly consume. Animal-based foods such as meat, milk and eggs are excellent sources of vitamin B12. Although, precisely how much you need and from what you should get it depends on factors such as age, sex and metabolism.
Causes of Vitamin B12 deficiency
There can be other causes of such deficiency, besides a diet. It can also happen if you have certain conditions.
Categorically put, the causes of the deficiency can be divided into 3 parts. Namely:
Heavy drinking is attributed to low vitamin B12 levels.A strict vegetarian diet over a prolonged period of time can also cause this deficiency.
A condition that causes thinning of the stomach lining, known as Atrophic gastritis, is known to cause B12 deficiency.Pernicious anaemia, a condition marked by lack of vitamin
B12, leads to lowered productions of red blood cellsPost gastrectomy (a procedure which requires the removal of the stomach, either partially or as a whole)Certain immune and neurodegenerative disorders such as Grave’s disease (an auto-immune disease of the thyroid gland) or lupus (a group of diseases characterized by an inflammation of one’s skin) can also lead to vitamin B12 deficiency.Certain medications contain acid reducing compounds which can also cause such deficiencyIntestinal diseases such as celiac disease (a condition in which digesting food becomes troublesome because of the small intestine’s sensitivity to gluten) or Crohn’s disease (marked by inflammation of the intestines) can be responsible as well.
A genetic disorder known as Transcobalamin deficiency can also lead to this deficiency. This disorder damages the circulation of ‘Cobalamin’ or Vitamin B12 throughout the body.
Symptoms of this deficiency are quite apparent. Signs of this condition resemble anaemic symptoms as a lack of vitamin B12 directly leads to anaemia.
The following are some of the typical signs of this condition:
Weakness and fatigueFrequent palpitations and difficulty in breathingDry and pale skinA smooth, slippery tongueNumb and tingling nerves and bouts of light-headednessLoss of appetiteGas, diarrhoea or constipationFrequent mood swings, memory loss and behavioural problemsGreying of hair, though a rare condition, can happen in the event of a vitamin B12 deficiency
In severe cases, you may experience difficulty while walking. Infants born to vegan mothers, who are entirely breastfed, can be at a risk of anaemia, weakness and associated physical developmental delays.
The condition is easily diagnosable through a blood test. It has been also observed that the risk of vitamin B deficiency increases with the age of an individual.
Preventing Vitamin B12 deficiency
You may avoid this deficiency by including the right ingredients in your diet. Having a healthy combination of leafy vegetables and animal based foods such as eggs, meat and fish can help balance the vitamin B12 levels in the body. Because B12 is an essential nutrient for improved red blood cell production and nerve function, foods rich in the vitamins are also known as brain foods.Some commonly available foods that you should eat your way to a smarter living include:
Animal based meats such as beef and lean chicken are an excellent source of vitamin B12.Sea foods such as fishes and clams provide vitamin and essential nutrients.Eggs, which can be used with a variety of salads and soups, are also rich in B12. Other dairy based foods such as cheese and milk also help.Other kinds of generic foods such as whey powder, low-fat buttermilk, rice milk, liver sausagesand even veggie burgers are also replete with this Vitamin.
Consuming the above mentioned multi-vitamin foods does help the body absorb essential nutrients. Yet, having the right combination of foods is necessary for enjoying all the benefits. Moreover, there are several subcategories for each of these vitamins such as B1, B2, B7, B12 etc.The top 20 foods that help you avoid Vitamin B12 deficiency have been enumerated below. For the sake of convenience, they are categorised according to their types.
Animal based foods
Not only is the mammal liver loaded with nutritional ingredients, it is also a storehouse of vitamin B12. Packed with minerals and energy, it helps increase muscle strength, libido and brain functions.
As previously cited, eggs are easily available and are very good sources of vitamin B12. A yolk of a single egg contains about 300 grams of vitamin B complex. Moreover, it contains 6 grams of protein and 9 essential amino acids which help the body in various ways, the most significant of those being keeping heart diseases at bay and strengthening the immune system.
Pork, when consumed in moderate amounts, can be a very good energizer, besides being a good source of vitamin B12.
Not only is Turkey meat low in fat, but is also rich in nutrients that are required to control the levels of cholesterol. It helps reduce chances of cancer and cardiac ailments.
Lean chicken and beef
Chicken, lamb and mutton are good sources of vitamin B12. Beef or in general red meat, in controlled quantities,suppliesyour body with around 6 micrograms of vitamin B12 which is more than adequate for your daily requirements.
Organic substances such as vegetables are also rich in B12. Some of the different vegetables rich in B12 include:
The classic American sprout is delicious as well as nutritious. Widely used in sandwiches and salads, these thread-like sprouted veggies are an excellent source of vitamin B12.
Mushrooms are a good source of this vitamin. B12 is one of the complex and large vitamins present in mushrooms as compared to the other chemically simple vitamin B forms.
Cereals and Soy products
Bran and soy based cereals, in particular, are excellent plant-based source of vitamin B12. Don’t forget to include soy based cakes, burgers and sauces in your daily diet.
Look no further! Did you know that the humble potato is packed with Vitamin B12? With the different types of potatoes and the wide of variety of dishes they can be incorporated into, potatoes could just be the perfect remedy for a B12 deficiency.
Popularly known as beet, beetroot is considered as a popular superfood because of its high nutrition content. In addition to being rich in vitamin B12, this vegetable is packed with the goodness of iron, magnesium and potassium.
Fruits are not only delicious but are also a popular source of vitamins and minerals. Some of the B12 rich vitamins are:
This energy-rich fruit is also a nutrition vault. Due its availability and low price, it is one of the most highly cultivated fruits in the tropical and sub-tropical regions. Along with being B12 rich, it also has a high calorie content.
Mango is a widely popular fruit in India. Cultivated widely, it comes in different shapes and tastes. The fruit is rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and also offer protection against cancer.
Apart from being a rich source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, this bright coloured winter fruit is a good laxative. It reduces cholesterol level and is a recommended source of vitamin B complex (Vitamin B12 complex refers to the different types of vitamins).
An apple a day keeps the doctor away; this old adage is no fluff. Apple is a rich repository of anti-oxidants and is a proven detoxifying agent. It is rich in vitamin B12 and helps maintain a glowing skin.
Blueberries, besides being popular anti-oxidants, also have a high nutritional content. These have different types of vitamin B complex groups which are also good for the metabolic system.
Daily intake of fish is called to counter certain diseases. You may be advised for 1-2 weekly servings of fish if you are deficient in vitamin B12.
Sea foods and fish
This fresh water fish is not only a good source of vitamin B12 but is also packed with Omega 3 fatty acids, the same acids that keep your ticker, hale and ‘hearty’.
An average cup of sardines provides 310 calories of energy along with being a key contributor of essential nutrients and vitamins.
Crabs and crustaceans
Crabs and lobsters are popular seafood. Apart from being a joy to your taste buds, they are also generously packed with essential vitamins. The average crab has 9.7 micrograms of vitamin B12 in it.
Many molluscs fall under the category of top B12 rich foods. Oysters and scallops are the most popular delicacies within this group.
Possibly the best vitamin B12 food among its habitat counterparts, 3 shellfish clams provide around 84 micrograms of vitamins, the major ones being Vitamin B7 and B12.