There are a number of people who are shunning dairy products, meat and grains these days, for a number of reasons thinking that their diet would be healthier without them.
However, vitamin b12 is one of the only vitamins that we get from dairy products, fish and meats,and fortified cereals and it is not naturally made by the body, so we need to obtain it from food. Vegans can supplement with Nutritional Yeast, fortified cereals and or use supplementation to gain vitamin B12.
If you are vegetarian then you can also get your b12 from eggs, however, you would need about 5 eggs a day to meet your daily requirements if they were your only source. Surprisingly, how the eggs are cooked also has an effect on the absorption rate. For example boiled or fried eggs have a higher rate of absorption than scrambled eggs.
If you are pescotarien and eat fish, then Sardines have a high amount of vitamin b12 and other fish such as salmon also contain vitamin B12
Vegans are more at risk of vitamin B12 deficiencies, but meat eaters can also have deficiencies. Some meat eaters have deficiencies if they have digestive malabsorption or a leaky gut. In these cases it would be important to find the cause of the digestive problems first and heal the gut so that proper absorption of nutrients can take place. People who suffer from conditions such as Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease can suffer with b12 deficiencies for this reason.
Some medications (heartburn medication) that reduce acid production in the stomach can also have a deficiency. Stomach acid is needed to absorb b12. Older people over 50 are more at risk because they produce lower levels of acid in the stomach.
Another reason why meat eaters can have low levels of vitamin b12 other than not eating enough foods with b12, is for genetic reasons. Some people have a common gene variant that impairs folate and b12 metabolism. Often people have to have b12 injections in these cases obtained through your doctor.
Folate works with B12 and helps release the energy from food. But if folate levels are too high it can mask the symptoms of a B12 deficiency.
People who have had weight loss surgery are also at risk of a deficiency since the operation can interfere with the body’s ability to get b12 from food.
So How Does A Deficiency Have An Impact On My Mood?
Both low folate and low vitamin b12 have been seen in depressed patients. It is recommended that oral doses of both folic acid (400 micrograms daily) and vitamin b12 (2.4 micrograms) daily should be tried to improve overall mood and for health.
But What Are The Best Sources?
Top Ten Sources of B12 Foods
1. Beef Liver
3 oz: 18mcg (over 100% DV)
3 oz: 7.6 mcg (over 100% DV)
3. Beef (grass-fed)
3 oz: 1.5mcg (25% DV)
3 oz: 2.5 mcg (41% DV)
5. Raw cheese
1.5 oz: 1.5 mcg (25% DV)
6. Cottage cheese
1 cup: 1.4 mcg (23% DV)
3 oz: 2.07 mcg (18% DV)
8. Raw Milk
1 cup: 1.1 mcg (18% DV)
1 large: 0.44 mcg (7% DV)
3 oz: 1.1 mcg (18% DV)
How Do I Know If I Am Deficient?
Vitamin b12 is vital for the production of red blood cells as well as the proper functioning and health of nerve tissue.
The most common symptoms are tiredness, shortness of breath and palpitations and pins and needles in the hands, and joint pain.
long term deficiency can lead to anaemia and possible nerve damage.
You should get your levels checked if you:
Take a proton- pump inhibitor
Are over 50
Take the diabetes drug Metaformin
Are a strict vegetarian or vegan
Have had weightless surgery
If you are concerned that you might have a deficiency, you should seek the advice from your doctor and a qualified Nutritional Therapist, or dietician to discuss the best options of implementing it into your diet.