Vitamin B12 is essential to overall health, and can easily be found in red meat, pork, and fish.
However, this sometimes presents a challenge for those who choose not to eat different kinds of meat, whether it’s due to personal choice, allergies, or intolerances.
Health benefits of vitamin B-12:
Ensuring a person includes enough vitamin B-12 in their diet is essential for optimum health. The health benefits of the vitamin include:
- the formation and division of red blood cells
- protecting the nervous system
- synthesizing a person’s DNA
- providing the body with energy
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of B-12 depends on a person’s age:
- Adults and teenagers: 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day
- Children between 9 and 13 years old: 1.8 mcg per day
- Children between 4 and 8 years old: 1.2 mcg per day
- Toddlers between 1 and 3 years old: 0.9 mcg per day
- Infants between 7 and 12 months old require 0.5 mcg of B-12 per day, and babies less than 6 months old only need 0.4 mcg per day.
- Pregnant women require 2.6 mcg while breastfeeding women need 2.8 mcg per day.
Not eating meat does not mean you’re doomed to have a deficiency! Read below for vegetarian options that can help you reach your daily Vitamin B12 intake.
*Note: The recommended daily value of Vitamin B12 varies based on age and individual needs, but the general recommendation for adults is 2.4 micrograms (mcg).
One serving (8 oz) of yogurt contains about 1.1 mcg of vitamin B12.
Low Fat Milk
One cup of low-fat milk can provide up to 1.2 mcg of vitamin B12.
The level of vitamin B12 in fortified cereals can vary, but what makes them a great option is their bioavailability. That means the vitamins can be easily absorbed.
Foods fortified with vitamin B-12 can help you meet your daily intake requirements. One great fortified food is breakfast cereal.
Cereals can range in the number of vitamin B-12 added. Therefore, you should read the packaging to determine whether your favorite healthy breakfast cereal provides adequate vitamin B-12 per serving.
For example, a 3/4 cup serving of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes contains 1.5 micrograms of B-12. Grape-Nuts have the same amount of vitamin B-12 in a 1/2 cup serving.
Fortified foods are easy for your body to digest as they have high bioavailability. This means that they do not have to be broken down by your body before they can be absorbed. Rather, they are used right away. This will help your body get more vitamin B-12.
One large egg contains 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12. Another source of B-12 for vegetarians is eggs.
One large, hard-boiled egg has .6 micrograms of vitamin B-12. You would need to eat several eggs each day to meet your total B-12 requirement.
This may be difficult, but eggs can be one part of your daily B-12 intake. Try a hard-boiled egg in salads or scramble eggs for breakfast.
Fortified Nutritional Yeast
Vegans love fortified nutritional yeast for its delicious, cheesy flavor, and it’s also a source of B12! 1 tablespoon has roughly 40% the recommended daily value.
Related: Side Effects Of Nutritional Yeast
One study links purple laver, or nori, as a good source of vitamin B-12. This algae product is commonly eaten in Asian countries.
The study recommends eating 4 grams of dried purple laver to meet the daily requirements for vitamin B-12 intake.
You may find this product in Asian food markets. It is used in sushi and maybe a healthy and simple snack on its own.
Shike nori, some mushrooms like shitake contain vitamin B-12, which is rare in plant-based foods. Likely, these fungi cannot supply your entire B-12 dietary needs each day, but it may be a good source sometimes.
Mushrooms can be incorporated into cooking for a tasty lunch or dinner. Keep in mind you would need to consume 50 grams of dried shitake mushrooms to meet your daily requirements of vitamin B-12.
You can buy great shitake mushrooms online on Amazon here.
Vegetarians and vegans should always be mindful of their B-12 intake. This is a vitamin that is very important to the body and may be lacking in those who do not eat meat.
You can get vitamin B-12 from animal-derived foods like dairy and eggs or fortified foods. Mushrooms and algae can even cover your B-12 intake on some occasions.
Make sure you discuss ways to add B-12 into your diet with your doctor and get your levels monitored regularly to maintain optimal health. You may decide that a supplement is necessary to ensure you get enough vitamin B-12 into your system.
Risks and complications
Common complications and conditions caused by a deficiency of B-12 include anemia, neurological disorders, and the inability of cells to divide.
If you do not have enough vitamin B-12 in your body, you may also experience the following symptoms:
- nerve damage
- tingling of hands and feet
- blurred vision
- excessive sweating
- walking difficulties
- digestive problems
- sore tongue
If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may need to perform some tests to determine if your B-12 levels are normal.