Welcome to the Vitamin B12 blog! Find information on topics related to vitamin B12. This blog is dedicated to providing up to date research, news and resources pertaining to vitamin B12, general health information surrounding the benefits of vitamin B12. Learn from, and contribute to information on B12, vitamin B12 and other connected subjects. Feel free to participate in blog discussions and contribute your opinion on the related topics covered in the Vitamin B12 blog.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most important nutrients for the body- and the hardest to digest, for many people. A water-based B vitamin, cobalamin is essential for the nervous system, blood cells, and for DNA. Yet an increasing number of people don’t get enough vitamin B12 from food, and as a result feel fatigued and disoriented from pernicious anemia.
What does vitamin B12 do?
Vitamin B12 is essential for survival; it is involved in some of the most vital processes that take place in the body.
Vitamin B12 helps to maintain production of healthy red blood cells. Without enough vitamin B12 in your system, your body starts producing overlarge irregular-shaped blood cells that cannot function properly, resulting in a depletion of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin.
Vitamin B12 also aids in converting carbohydrates into necessary energy, ensuring that you have plenty of stamina and mental focus during the day.
Vitamin B12 enhances your nervous system functioning by helping to maintain myelin, a fatty coating that surrounds each individual nerve cell.
Vitamin B12 supports cell reproduction and renewal in preventing common signs of aging.
Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include meats, seafood, poultry, dairy, and eggs. Among these, organ meat and shellfish provide the richest natural source of vitamin B12.
While it’s possible to find vegan products that are fortified with vitamins such as B12, these are not natural forms of the vitamin, and don’t provide the maximum amount needed to maintain healthy vitamin B12 levels.
To prevent deficiency, vegans and vegetarians are recommended to take vitamin B12 supplements on a regular basis.
Vitamin B12 is one of the few nutrients that require a cofactor for proper absorption. It’s not a simple matter of eating plenty of foods the contain vitamin B12, such as beef, chicken, seafood, and dairy products. To complete the digestion process, your body uses a digestive enzyme called intrinsic factor, which bonds to the vitamin and escorts it through your digestive system.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is anemia
If your vitamin B12 levels have been low for a very long period of time, you may have pernicious anemia, a type of megaloblastic anemia that occurs when people are unable to produce intrinsic factor.
Pernicious anemia can result from an autoimmune disorder or it can occur as a result of damage to the stomach lining (gastritis).
If you have pernicious anemia, then you can’t get enough vitamin B12 from swallowing pills or other dietary supplements. Only supplementation with a highly-absorbable form of vitamin B12 that enters directly into the blood stream can reverse the symptoms of severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
Risk factors for pernicious anemia include:
Gastric bypass surgery
Removal of ilium for Crohn’s disease
Metformin for diabetes
Protein pump inhibitors (PPI’s) for GERD, acid reflux, chronic heartburn, or ulcer
By the time you start to notice the signs of vitamin B12 deficiency, you are already on a dangerous decline, as it takes years for the symptoms to manifest themselves. Also, blood tests for vitamin B12 deficiency don’t give you ample warning to up your vitamin B12 intake, as they only test for extremely low levels of vitamin B12, and aren’t always even accurate in such screenings.
Symptoms that indicate vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Constant fatigue, even after sleeping well
Slow talking and thinking
Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
Muscle spasms, eye twitches
Difficulty walking in a straight line
Sore, burning red tongue
How much B12 do I need?
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 consumption for healthy people who don’t have a deficiency is a scant 2 or 3 micrograms per day. Why then do most vitamin B12 supplements contain a whopping 1,000mcg of vitamin B12 in one weekly dose?
If you are unable to produce intrinsic factor, then you can only digest about 1% of all the vitamin B12 you get from foods, pills, or other supplements.
So, to get the amount you need to keep your B12 levels at a normal rate, you need to take about 100 times the amount any other person would need to stay healthy.
Please tell us…
Have you ever been tested for vitamin B12 deficiency? Do you suffer from chronic fatigue that you can’t explain?
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
Share with your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, twitter, or Facebook.
Most people know that the best vegan protein sources consist of a variety of legumes, grains, nuts, and vegetables. To get the most nutrition out of a plant-based diet, then it’s important to mix it up a bit, choose from a variety of low-fat, high-protein, and high-fiber foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Ounce for ounce, these non-animal foods provide the best vegan protein sources.
Protein is essential for many important bodily reactions, including building and repairing muscle tissue, fighting illness, and growing strong, healthy bones and nails.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to eat meat to get your fill of protein. Protein is everywhere- it’s in vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and of course, meat, milk, and fish.
Vegan Vitamin B12
One nutrient you can’t get from a strictly vegan diet, however, is vitamin B12 (cobalamin). For that reason, many vegans are susceptible for severe vitamin B12 deficiency, which can manifest itself slowly over several years. In order to prevent symptoms linked with vitamin B12 deficiency (fatigue, memory loss, muscle pain, and numbness), it’s essential to supplement with large doses of vitamin B12 on a regular basis.
Eaten as a grain, quinoa is really a “pseudo-grain” that is more alike in composition to a seed. Unlike most vegan protein sources, quinoa is a complete protein that delivers all the amino acids you need in one meal. Use quinoa in your favorite tabouli recipe or in place of white rice or couscous. Alternatively, serve porridge of sweetened quinoa as a naturally gluten-free breakfast cereal, for 10 grams of complete vegan protein per cup.
Technically a fruit, avocado is usually eaten as a vegetable. One avocado provides 10 grams of vegan protein, in addition to healthyfiber and healthy fatty acids. Other vegetables that provide adequate amounts of protein are broccoli, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
TVP (texturized vegetable protein), tempeh, and tofu are all excellent vegan protein sources that derive from the soybean. One cup of soybeans or tofu provides 22-28 grams of protein, while one cup of tempeh (fermented soybeans mixed with grains) delivers a whopping 30 grams of vegan protein.
One ounce of sesame seeds provides 6 ½ grams of vegan protein, while 3 tablespoon of tahini (ground sesame butter) contains 8 grams of protein. Sesame seeds are also powerhouses of essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and thiamin (vitamin B1).
Nuts may be fattening, but most contain healthy oils and provide protein, to boot. One ounce of shelled pistachios provides 5.8 grams of protein. Other healthy nuts are almonds (2 grams of protein per tablespoon), cashews (4.4 grams of protein per ounce), and walnuts, at 5 grams of protein in ¼ cup.
Please tell us…
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
Share with your friends!
If you found this article helpful, then please share with your friends, family, and coworkers by email, Facebook, or Google+.
If your body stores vitamin B12 in the liver for years, how does vitamin B12 deficiency happen? Even if you eat plenty of foods that supply vitamin B12 (cobalamin), such as meat and fish, you might still run the risk of developing severe vitamin B12 deficiency that can culminate in pernicious anemia or nerve damage. What conditions and lifestyle choices affect your B12 levels?
Vitamin B12 helps your body protect the nervous system’s myelin sheath; as a result, B12 deficiency symptoms may include painful tingling or numbness in the hands, feet, and tongue, muscular weakness, difficulty walking, frequent clumsiness, altered sense of taste, burning mouth syndrome, and eye twitching.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that occurs exclusively in animal-based food items. The basic food sources of vitamin B12 are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk. Contrary to popular opinion, brewer’s yeast does not contain vitamin B12, although it does supply other essential B vitamins. Purple and green seaweed are the only naturally rich vegan sources of B12. So, if you follow a vegan diet and do not eat generous portions of nori every day, then you are likely to develop B12 deficiency over the course of several years.
If you’re over 50, there’s a 30% chance that you suffer from atrophic gastritis, a general wearing down of your stomach lining. As a result, your body doesn’t produce enough stomach acids to fully absorb vitamin B12 and deliver it to the small intestines. Insufficient stomach acids may also lead to bacterial overgrowth, which also interferes with vitamin B12 absorption.
Other people at risk include individuals taking protein pump inhibitors (PPIs) for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, and long-term antibiotic use.
Another chemical the stomach produces for digesting vitamin B12 is intrinsic factor. Certain autoimmune disorders may inhibit your body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12 by attacking stomach cells before they have a chance to produce this necessary protein. Regardless of how many vitamin B12 supplements you swallow, the B12 never reaches the small intestines, so it never enters the bloodstream. Pernicious anemia, resulting in diminished red blood cell production, is a common occurrence when intrinsic factor is lacking.
The ileum of the small intestine is responsible for digesting vitamin B12. Located at the very bottom of the intestinal tract, the ileum grabs vitamin B12 and dispenses it to your blood supply. But if your ileum is not working properly, then you cannot derive the many benefits of vitamin B12.
Gastrointestinal factors that interfere with B12 absorption are:
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as Crohn’s and colitis
It’s simple. If you are unable to get your vitamin B12 from dietary sources, then the only other option is to bypass the digestive system and redirect B12 directly to your bloodstream. Below are some popular methods of supplementing vitamin B12 without using the stomach.
Vitamin B12 shots: B12 require a prescription from a doctor. Because of the size of cobalamin molecules, B12 shots are usually painful, and must be inserted into thick muscular tissue, such as the thigh or buttock. Even if you have a high threshold to pain, the idea of having to take vitamin B12 injections for the rest of your life can be worrisome.
Sublingual B12 pills: The jury’s still out on the effectiveness of sublingual vitamin B12 tablets that dissolve under the tongue; whether they actually enter the bloodstream or just travel through the digestive system is under debate. Your physician might prescribe B12 pills to be taken three times per day.
Vitamin B12 sprays and creams: There is insufficient data to support the use of nasal sprays or lotions as a means of combatting vitamin B12 deficiency.
What are some meatless meals that have protein and vitamin B12? Here are some nutritious food choices for vegans.
Are you a committed vegan?
Anybody who has ever cried during Walt Disney’s Bambi has probably flirted with the idea of converting to veganism, a diet which mindfully excludes eating, wearing or utilizing any product which is derived through the slaughter of animals.
Who hasn’t fantasized about growing their own organic vegetables, tossing out their leather sneakers in favor of a pair of cruelty-free recycled-material loafers, and living off a steady diet of barbecued tofu sandwiches, mixed bean sprouts and Matcha green tea?
Many of us have tried being vegetarian for at least a day; some of us for even longer.
What eventually makes or breaks your commitment to the vegan lifestyle is the inevitable need to maintain the same nutritional balance that you had back in your meat-eating days…
Namely, you need to replace the iron, vitamin B12 and protein that you used to get from meat, fish, milk, and eggs, and find new plant-based foods which meet the same nutritional needs.
Vegans who neglect to include sufficient amounts of vitamins such as B12 in their diets often end up with vitamin B12 deficiency, chronic fatigue, and increased risk for heart attack and severe neurological damage.
A good preventative measure is to take regular supplementation, such as iron pills and a vitamin B12, in addition to including the following 6 vegetarian-based nutrients:
#1 Vegan Protein: Beans, soy products, nuts and seeds
The dilemma about not getting enough protein in a vegan diet has nothing to do with availability. Most foods, vegan or non-vegan, have adequate amounts of protein in them.
Vegetables, beans, grains and nuts are rich in protein. Particularly healthy protein sources are almond butters, tempeh (mock meat), quinoa, lentils and kidney beans.
But in order to obtain enough amino acids, you must include a variety of protein foods in your diet, as none (except for the soy products) are single whole sources of complete protein.
#2 Vegan Vitamin B12: Soy milk, fortified cereals
A majority of the foods which are rich in vitamin B12 are animal-based: lean beef, chicken, organ meats, eggs, fish and dairy products.
Don’t skimp on vitamin B12; your body needs it to produce red blood cells, maintain the nervous system and convert food into energy.
Vegan milk substitutes often have vitamin B12 added in order to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. But don’t become too complacent; B12 levels can plummet steadily without your realizing it. Make certain your doctor gives you a vitamin B12 blood screening at every checkup, and become familiar with the basic symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency.
#3 Vegan Iron: Dark leafy greens, beans, raisins and fortified breads
Iron is essential for collecting oxygen produced in our lungs and distributing it to the rest of the body.
Of all the vitamin deficiencies, the most common is caused by low iron levels, affecting up to 20 percent of women. Iron sources obtained from meat are the most easily digested, but vegan sources are available.
whole grains, including cereals and breads made with whole grains;
nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds;
beans and lentils;
dark green vegetables
#6 Vegan Iodine: Iodized salt, seaweed
Vegetarians are more likely to not consume enough iodine, as some or the richest sources of iodine include many seafoods.
According to one study, 80% of vegans and 25% of vegetarians do not consume sufficient amounts of iodine.
Make a point of using iodized salts, and try incorporating toasted seaweed into your diet. Or better yet, learn how to make vegan sushi, complete with nori sheets, avocado, cucumber slices and compressed tofu.
As reported by Us Magazine, Pregnant Natalie Portman, Oscar winner for The Black Swan, has reportedly taken a leave of absence from her vegan ways; whether this change is permanent or just an extra precaution to deliver more vitamin B12 to her unborn baby remains to be seen.
The 29-year-old actress, who is expecting a child with boyfriend Benjamin Millepied, has always been an outspoken advocate for the vegan lifestyle, which excludes such vitamin B12 sources such as eggs, meat, milk products and fish. Ms. Portman made the decision to become Vegan after reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals in 2009, according to the Daily Mail.
Recent news, such as the death of an infant in France who was exclusively breast-fed by her vegan mother, has brought to light the health risks involved with vitamin B12 deficiencyandanemia, which are common risk factors of veganism.
Natalie, who called in on the Q100 Bert Show, admitted, “I know there are people who do stay vegan, but I think you have to just be careful; watch your iron levels and your B12 levels, and supplement those if there are things you might be low in in your diet.”
Don’t expect to see Natalie heading for the steak house just yet, though; the Star Wars actress is following more of a traditional vegetarian diet, including eggs and dairy products which are rich sources of vitamin B12.
The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:
Short term memory loss;
Numbness or tinging in hands and feet;
Change in taste perception;
Left untreated, vitamin B12 deficiency could result in pernicious anemia, neurological damage or in severe cases, death.
For many vegetarians and especially vegans finding food which can replace other foods nutritionally is still a fair feat. To locate food which tastes like something you had to give up due to your convictions is an even greater experience. However as the world begins to accommodate the lifestyle/dietary choices of all individuals more and more products become available which not only taste like the old times, but as well provide the proper nutritional value.
Nutritional Yeast is one of these wonderful food replacements. It is an inactive yeast which is said to have a strong nutty, pungent smell reminiscent of parmesan cheese. This item is used mostly by vegans as a cheese replacement when can be added to pasta, soups, and even popcorn for a great cheesy flavouring. However, this is just the surface benefits of this yeast.
Nutritional Yeast is a complex source of nutrition, and just happens to contain a full B-complex in its makeup and also happens to be a complete protein, bearing great nutritional value. It is low in fat and sodium and is extremely beneficial for the health of the GI tract and absorption. Currently most brands of nutritional yeast fortify the yeast product with vitamin B12 produced by special bacteria and then added to the mix. The resulting product becomes not just a cheese substitute in flavour, but one in function, as it provides the much needed nutrients normally found only in animal products.