Food and Nutrition

Vitamin B12 foods: How to avoid a B12 deficiency

Tanuja Sodhi
All age groups

Created by Tanuja Sodhi
Updated on May 13, 2014

Vitamin B12 foods How to avoid a B12 deficiency

It may sound bizarre but it’s true, that 7 out of 10 diet and fitness patients for me suffer invariably from vitamin B12 deficiency. All I need to do in order to know is to look at their pale faces and ask them whether they feel listless and low on energy through the day. If the answer is an instant and a firm nod of the head, it’s perhaps the vitamin B12 that is giving them a tough chase! The point I am making here is that B12 is extremely common and rampant in our society today.                              

What is vitamin B12 and why do we need it?

Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in a variety of foods, such as eggs, fish, shellfish, meat and dairy products. B12 is responsible for formation and maturation of red blood cells. It also works with folate to make our body's genetic material. Like most vitamins, the body can’t make B12. Instead, it must be gotten from food or supplements.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include:
• fatigue, lethargy, weakness or light-headedness
• memory loss, disorientation
• muscle weakness, stiffness & tightness of muscles
• incontinence
• low blood pressure
• vision problems
• dementia, psychoses
• mood disturbances and depression
• rapid heartbeat and breathing
• pale skin
• sore tongue
• easy bruising or bleeding, including bleeding gums
• stomach upset and weight loss
• diarrhea or constipation
• Tingling or numbness in fingers and toes, etc.
Anemia is the final stage of B12 deficiency.

Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency typically occurs in people whose digestive systems do not adequately absorb the B12 from the food they eat. Causes of B12 malabsorption include:
• intestinal dysbiosis (microbial imbalances in digestive tract, etc)
• gut inflammation
• atrophic gastritis (inflammation of stomach mucosa)
• hypochlorhydria (lack of stomach acids)
• pernicious anemia (an autoimmune disease)
• medications (especially acid-suppressing drugs)
• exposure to nitrous oxide during surgery
• Conditions affecting the small intestine, like celiac disease and Crohn’s disease
• Excessive alcohol consumption
• Long-term use of acid-reducing drugs.

Who is at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?
Since it’s the only vitamin we can’t obtain from plants or sunlight, people at most risk for vitamin B12 deficiency are strict vegetarians and vegans. It occurs in vegetarians because the best food sources of the vitamin are animal products. Others at risk are elderly people aged over 60, breastfed infants and babies born to vegetarian mothers.

Preventing B12 deficiency through diet
Most people can prevent vitamin B12 deficiency by consuming certain foods rich in vitamin b12. These are:
a) Seafood like shellfish, clams, oysters, lobster, mackerel, tuna and salmon
b) Meats like chicken and mutton, especially liver
c) Eggs

Some vegetarian sources of vitamin B12 (though weak sources as compared to animal sources) are:
d) Dairy products like milk, yogurt, buttermilk and cheese
e) Yeast extract spreads (marmite)
f) Whey Powder
g) Fortified soy milk and tofu
h) Fortified cereals

Recommended Daily Allowance for vitamin B12

1. Children upto 8 years of age: 0.4 to 0.9 microgram per day.
2. Children above 8 years of age: 1.2 to 2.4 micrograms per day.
3. Adults over age of 19: 2.4 micrograms per day.
4. Pregnant women: 2.6 micrograms per day.
5. Lactating women: 2.8 micrograms per day.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can creep into the body very slowly giving no warning signals for a long time to come. It is also very easy to overlook the condition or confuse it with something else. So, when in doubt, the best idea would be to go for the relevant blood test. Remember, prevention of vitamin B12 deficiency related complications is easier than the treatment of the same.

 

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| Feb 16, 2016

Already taking injection s of B12 as I m a vegetarian and suffering frm the symptoms mentioned above.. Fatigue, tiredness, tingling of toes, hairfall etc.

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| Sep 05, 2015

Thanks for this useful information.

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| Sep 02, 2015

Useful information thx

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| Sep 02, 2015

Useful information

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| Sep 01, 2015

Useful information ????

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| Sep 01, 2015

It's a pleasure joining this site. it helps us in many ways. i wish if you can suggest more vegetarian dishes

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| Sep 01, 2015

Am learning n getting to know lot many useful tips from this site n very essential n info thanks a lot

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| Sep 01, 2015

@rupali... may be bcos same happened with my father 3yrs ago. he is vegeterian. so doc gave him vitB12 injections nd tabs

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| Sep 01, 2015

Nice article.. my daughter's hairs are becoming grey nowadays she is 8yrs... nd its started from 6 yrs.. is it because of vit B12 deficiency??

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| Sep 01, 2015

Nice article. good tip tarala.

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| Aug 27, 2015

Very informative????

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| Aug 23, 2015

V. useful information. Thnx

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| Aug 22, 2015

Thanks for sharing such a valuable information.

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| Aug 22, 2015

Worth reading and informative.

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| Aug 22, 2015

My father is suffering from weight loss and he can not eat twice a day , he can only have meal once a day . He is 65 yrs old . Can it be vitamin B12 deficiency ?

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| Aug 22, 2015

Thanks for the information. Vitamin B12 deficiency also effects nerve cells.

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| Aug 22, 2015

Thanks for the sharing and caring

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| Jul 30, 2015

Thanks for the information

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| Jul 30, 2015

Thanx for information

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| Jul 29, 2015

Thanks for the vital information.

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| Jul 29, 2015

Very informative information thanks

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| Jul 29, 2015

Hi Parijatha Pls seek a medical advice to know about the test details.

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| Jul 29, 2015

Hi Poonam Roy Pls don't take any medicine without consulting to the doctor. Any supplement of even vitamin and minerals should only be taken after doctor's advice.

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| Jul 29, 2015

Any vitamin capsules can be taken to increase the vitamin b 12 ?

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| Jul 28, 2015

What blood test is that? Please specify the name of the test to know Vit B12 deficiency

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| Jul 28, 2015

No doubt very useful information... thx

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| Jul 28, 2015

Too good. Very nice information..

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| Jul 22, 2015

Very informative

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| Jun 21, 2015

Plz suggest supplements for b12 which can b given to kids above 10... Or any other diet since we are vegetarians.

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| Jun 15, 2015

Kneading the chapati dough with yeast( dissolved in lukewarm water) increases d B12 content of d product by almost three times d original one... esp if skimmed milk powder too is added along with d Atta. Useful tip for vegetarians... worth trying...

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| Jun 15, 2015

Vry useful information

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| Jun 13, 2015

Very much informative.. thanks

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| Jun 12, 2015

Very informative. Me too suffering from b12 deficiency... It goes unnoticed in the initial stage.

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| Jun 12, 2015

Thank you very much for good info; I am also suffering from this.

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| Jun 12, 2015

This was informative. Thanks

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| May 16, 2015

Very common in women but rare media to avail the right information, thanku for awareness.

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| May 15, 2015

Thanks for such a informative knowledge

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| Apr 26, 2015

Plz Suggest some more b12 vegetarian diet

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| Oct 28, 2014

Thanks it's very useful information

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| Jul 02, 2014

Thanks it is very useful

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| Jun 19, 2014

Thanks for sharing useful information

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| Jun 19, 2014

Absolutely. I give my kids becosule almost every day

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| May 13, 2014

Thanks for information

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| May 13, 2014

Nice information. .Thanks. .

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| Apr 08, 2014

Very informative !!

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| Feb 09, 2014

Vry useful information.... thank u :)

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| Jan 11, 2014

Thank u for sharg valuble information

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| Dec 12, 2013

Thanks. This article is very useful

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| Dec 11, 2013

Thanks... its really helpful?

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| Nov 20, 2013

Very true Facing d same problem. This article helped me

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| Oct 24, 2013

This is too good and informative.

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| Oct 24, 2013

This is too good and informative.

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| Oct 14, 2013

Very informative!!

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