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Posts Tagged ‘b12 for vegetarians’

B12 Deficiency: Don’t Ignore the Symptoms

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011



Vitamin B12 deficiency can start with a few symptoms like tiredness and slight tingling or numbness in hands and feet; ignore the symptoms and low B12 levels could escalate into severe nerve damage, disease or death.


What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Below is a list of some of the most common side effects which may arise from insufficient stores of vitamin B12.

(Please note that the severity of the symptoms may vary according to the stage of B12 deficiency.)

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Sleep problems
  • Frailness
  • Imbalance, difficulty walking with coordination
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Altered taste perception
  • Heart palpitations
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Also read: B12 Deficiency can really Get on your Nerves

B12 and your body

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient. Therefore, your body is only able to store it for a short time. Vitamin B12 has many important functions in your body.

  • Vitamin B12 is essential for producing plenty of healthy red blood cells and for synthesizing DNA. A lack of B12 severely reduces your body’s ability to make sufficient red blood cells for carrying oxygen throughout your body.
  • Pernicious anemia is a life-threatening condition that is often the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Your nervous system is dependent on vitamin B12, which enhances communication between the brain and your many nerve sensors, such as those in your fingertips, feet and mouth. This explains why sufferers of B12 deficiency notice a sensation similar to wearing gloves throughout the day; others report that their food tastes unusual, another clue that the body’s neurons are not operating correctly.
  • A deficiency of vitamin B12 compromises your nervous system and could result in permanent neurological damage.
  • Researchers have found a direct link between vitamin B12 deficiency and brain atrophy among the elderly. In one study which appeared in the Journal of Nutrition, senior citizens who had the highest levels of B12 experienced healthier cognitive functioning skills.
  • Also read Now Eat This: Preventing Age Related Hearing Loss
  • Vitamin B12 helps your body monitor already healthy homocysteine levels, a factor in heart health.

What diseases are associated with B12 deficiency?

There are many illnesses which occur when B12 levels are low; some conditions may be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency, while others are closely correlated. Below are some common illnesses associated with B12 deficiency, including many which most people don’t realize are affected by vitamin B12 levels.

  • Alzheimer’s disease, brain deterioration, cognitive decline, memory loss and other forms of dementia
  • Neurological diseases such as Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Cardiovascular disease, caused by high homocysteine levels
  • Mental illness, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and psychosis
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Autoimmune diseases, such as AIDS and pernicious anemia
  • Infertility

Eating Your Way Out of Depression with B-12

B12 deficiency is often misdiagnosed

According to a Tufts University study, 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 83 have low to medium-low B12 levels, indicating a deficiency severe enough to cause neurological disorder symptoms, while 9 percent are depleted enough to the point of irreversible neurological damage and life-threatening symptoms. Approximately 16 percent are close to becoming vitamin B12 deficient.

Why is vitamin B12 deficiency overlooked?

Only a blood test can properly determine if somebody is suffering from B12 deficiency, and most physicians don’t include a B12 screening with yearly check-ups. Also, many of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are similar to common health disorders, such as diabetes, chronic depression and fatigue.

How can you get enough B12?

Vitamin B12 is found in many high protein foods. Excellent sources of B12 are:

  • Lean beef cuts, such as chuck and sirloin
  • Poultry
  • Fish, particularly salmon, tuna and halibut
  • Shellfish, including crab meat, mussels, clams and oysters
  • Dairy products, such as swiss cheese, yogurt, milk and cottage cheese
  • Eggs

Vegans are at a high risk for developing vitamin B12 deficiency, as their diet specifically excludes food items which provide vitamin B12. Other people who are at risk of getting B12 deficiency are patients of weight loss surgery, diabetics on metformin, individuals with gastrointestinal disease, people who lack intrinsic factor and anybody taking prescription heartburn medication.

The only way to prevent becoming deficient in vitamin B12 is by constantly replenishing your body with B12-rich nutrients.

Alternatively, patients diagnosed with vitamin B12 deficiency are encouraged to take vitamin B12 supplements, such as sublingual B12 tablets, B12 shots, or over-the-counter (OTC) vitamin B12.

Find more information on preventing vitamin B12 deficiency:

Getting Enough Vitamin B12? Three Reasons Why You Might Not B

On Becoming Vegan: Avoiding Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Others

Eating Your Way Out of Depression with B-12

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

We’ve all heard of overeaters binging themselves into a state of depression- a vicious circle which is difficult to get out of. But eating for happiness?

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is linked with depression

Vitamin B12 is essential for many aspects of brain development, such as myelination (the production of a protective layer around the brain) and the distributing of neurotransmitters to and from the brain. So it comes as no surprise that the Mayo Clinic suggests eating foods rich in vitamin B-12 as a means of preventing the onset of clinical depression.

“Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

That’s a great motto if you happen to be an android. The fact is, eating is a sensual experience which we were meant to enjoy. (Why else would we have taste buds?) The key to good nutrition is finding foods you love that will love you right back.

Male depression is on the rise. Is it the recession or “Manpression?

Here are some yummy appetizers and entrées which are naturally high in vitamin B-12:

  • Fish tacos- Made popular by Rubio’s, the fish tacos is a tasty fusion of Cal-Mex and seafood cuisine.  Take a soft flour tortilla, add some fiery mango salsa, a dab of sour cream and a grilled fish fillet (hint: salmon is high in B-12).  It’s a wrap!
  • Are you a Sushi lover? Then you’re going to love this- sushi and sashimi recipes typically include such high-in-B12 ingredients as roe (fish eggs), octopus, crab, shrimp, and mackerel. Pass the soy sauce!
  • New England clam chowder- just the name elicits images of salty sea breezes, sailboats and clam bakes. Don’t have any recipes handy? Here is a list of variations on this classic soup recipe.
  • Lean cuts of lamb are high in vitamin B-12 and a popular staple of many Middle Eastern cuisines. Here is a flavorful Lamb Moussaka recipe, as featured in epicurious.
  • Tuna casserole is one of America’s fave comfort foods and it’s simple to make- combine canned tuna, cooked broad noodles, and a can of concentrated mushroom soup. Top it with some fried onions and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes. Tuna is high in B-12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Hamburgers barbecued with low-fat ground beef chuck are a great source of vitamin B-12. Serve it up on whole-grain buns with a side of oven roasted root veggies for a healthy upgrade from the typical artery-clogging burgers ‘n fries.




Vegan Dieters at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease, After All

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

New research indicates that the vegan diet, while low in animal based fats, is nevertheless not as heart healthy as previously thought.

According to experts, eating an exclusively vegan diet may elevate your chances of developing blood clots and atherosclerosis- both of which may lead to heart attack and stroke.

The vegan diet excludes protein sources such as fish, meat, eggs and dairy, which are rich in essential vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.

The report, published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists have collected data over the past 30 years relating to cardiovascular health of vegans versus omnivores.  They concluded that vegetarians have a statistically high risk of accumulating blood clots and suffering from atherosclerosis as a result of not including vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.

Good sources of vitamin B12 include beef liver, lamb, oysters, clams, cheese and eggs. Foods which are rich in omega-3 oils include oily fish such as salmon and canned tuna.

Vegans and vegetarians are advised to supplement their diet with adequate amounts of vitamin B12 and omega-3 in order to prevent heart disease, stroke and vitamin B12 deficiency.


Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry



Homocysteine Forum



Vitamin B12 and Vegetarians

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

This presents a serious problem for vegetarians and vegans alike as they avoid eating animal products where vitamin B12 is found.  Vitamin B12 is found almost predominately in animal foods such as kidney, meat, liver, shellfish, fish, milk, and eggs. The source of Vitamin B12 is bacteria found in nature. Bacteria is the only creature able to produce Vitamin B12. Bacteria produce Vitamin B12 in the colon of humans and animals.
However not much vitamin B12 is absorbed across the wall of the colon so therefore it is essential that humans get B12 from animal foods.  Eggs are not a good source of B12 for vegetarians as they contain substances that block absorption of B12. Milk is a good source of B12 for vegetarians. Most vegetarians and vegans are recommended to take routine vitamin b12 supplementation. Some people can go longer on a vegatarian diet than others before they develop b12 deficiency.

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