Vitamin B12 plays an important role in health. Vitamin B12 deficiency in a person’s diet can affect physical and mental health.
Vegetarians should pay close attention to getting enough vitamin B12; This vitamin is found mainly in meat, eggs and dairy products. Therefore, vegetarians are more likely to experience vitamin B12 deficiency .
In this article, we look at the amount of vitamin B12 needed and list the sources of vegetarianism.
Properties of vitamin B12
Adequate intake of vitamin B12 in the diet is essential for good health. The health properties of vitamins include:
- Formation and division of red blood cells
- Nervous system protection
- DNA synthesis
- Provide energy for the body
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 depends on your age:
- Adults and adolescents: 2.4 micrograms per day
- Children between 9 and 13 years: 1.8 micrograms per day
- Children between 4 and 8 years: 1.2 micrograms per day
- Toddlers 1 to 3 years: 0.9 micrograms per day
Infants between 7 and 12 months need 0.5 micrograms of B12 per day, and infants less than 6 months need only 0.4 micrograms per day.
Pregnant women need 2.6 micrograms, while lactating women need 2.8 micrograms a day.
List of foods B12 for vegetarians
There are several sources for vegetarians looking to absorb vitamin B12. Some good options for vitamin B12 include:
- low-fat milk
- Fortified vegetable milks
- Enriched cereals
- Nutritious yeast
While seaweed , algae, and certain fungi contain vitamin B12, they are not reliable sources because they do not act similarly in the human body. Studies have shown that consuming these foods does not increase vitamin B12 and can still lead to deficiency.
A vegetarian should eat enough of the following foods on a regular basis. You need to know how much vitamin B12 these foods have:
- 8 ounces of yogurt contains about 1.1 micrograms of vitamin B12
- 1 cup of low-fat milk can provide 1.2 micrograms of vitamin B12
- 1 ounce of Swiss cheese can contain 0.95 micrograms of vitamin B12
- One large egg contains 0.6 micrograms of vitamin B12
Fortified cereals are a good choice because they are high in bioavailability. This means that vitamin B12 does not need to be broken down by the body before being absorbed.
What you need to know about vitamin B12:
Learn more about how vitamin B12 helps the brain and nervous system function.
Nutritious yeast is very popular among vegetarians because it is easily added to foods and has a rich flavor. Nutritious yeast can be added to cooked meals or sprinkled on food and snacks.
To use nutritious yeast, one can:
- Sprinkle it on the popcorn
- Mix it in cheese sauce
- Combine it with baked potatoes
- Mix with eggs or tofu
- Make creamy soup
- Add to pasta dishes
- Pour it into salads
Food sources B12 for vegetarians
Because vegetarians avoid all animal-derived products, they may rely on foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as some breakfast cereals and nutritious yeasts. Plant foods do not produce vitamin B12, so consuming alternative sources of vitamin B12 is vital.
Some foods rich in vitamin B12 include:
- Fortified non-dairy milk
- Substitute meat
- breakfast cereal
- Nutritious yeast
It is best to read the labels on these foods, as some may not contain vitamin B12. For those who are currently B12 deficient, a B12 supplement in capsule or injection form may be needed.
Symptoms of B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can have serious health consequences. Common problems with vitamin B12 deficiency include anemia, certain neurological disorders, and stunted growth and recovery.
Common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Nerve damage
- Weakness and fatigue
- Burning in the hands and feet
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty walking
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Sore tongue or mouth
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling weak or dizzy
- Mood swings
- Difficulty in memory, judgment and comprehension
- Loss of appetite
- Tinnitus (ringing, buzzing or ringing in the ears)
Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform tests to determine if vitamin B12 deficiency is the cause of the problem.
Vegetarians should take steps to ensure that they have the right amount of vitamin B12 in their diet. Health professionals can provide advice on finding sources of vitamin B12 and how much of it is needed.
Without maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12, a person can suffer from serious side effects, including nerve damage and depression.
Since no plant-based food contains vitamin B12, vegetarians should be aware of alternative sources, such as fortified products.