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Posts Tagged ‘vitamin b12 foods’

FAQ: Do Normal (Healthy) People Get Sick from Low Vitamin B12?

Monday, November 4th, 2013



Thousands of people in the US suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency; some questions people often have are, “How did my B12 levels get so low? I eat healthy and I don’t have any chronic illnesses, so how did I become anemic?” That’s a complex question to answer, because there are many ways that people become gradually deficient in this crucial B vitamin.

FAQ: Do Normal (Healthy) People Get Sick from Low Vitamin B12?

First, why is vitamin B12 important?

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is a water-soluble B vitamin that is essential for basic survival.

  • Vitamin B12 helps to keep your nervous system functioning normally, as it sustains myelin, a fatty coating that protects your nerve cells and enhances intercellular communication.
  • Vitamin B12 also supports a healthy metabolism in converting fuels into much-needed energy and synthesizing DNA.
  • Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, as it helps to maintain a healthy level of normal-sized functioning red blood cells for oxygen transportation to your brain, organs, and cell tissues throughout your body.
  • Vitamin B12 helps to control levels of homocysteine, a hormone that has been linked with increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.

How do you get vitamin B12?

So we know that vitamin B12 is important; now the question is, “What foods are high in vitamin B12?”

  • The richest sources of vitamin B12 are animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs.
  • Still, if you have vitamin B12 malabsorption, a common risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency, then you must take supplemental forms of vitamin B12 in order to prevent pernicious anemia. (More on vitamin B12 malabsorption later.)

These Foods are Highest in Vitamin B12

Symptoms that mean you need more B12

It’s always good to test for low vitamin B12, but the best way to know if you’re getting enough is by paying close attention to telltale symptoms of severe vitamin B12 deficiency.

Since vitamin B12 depletion happens slowly, you may not realize you’re experiencing a deficiency until you start to notice yourself always feeling tired, depressed, or just generally slower than usual.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of low vitamin B12:

  • Constant overbearing fatigue
  • Long-lasting depression
  • Brain fog
  • You’re talking slower than normal
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Painful numbness and tingling in the hands and feet
  • Burning, sore red tongue
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty walking in a straight line
  • Constantly dropping things

Risk factors

If you keep a vegan diet, or refrain from eating many animal-based foods, then you are a risk factor for vitamin B12 deficiency, simply because there are no vegetable-based foods that supply sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 to prevent anemia.


If you’re not a vegan, and you have no chronic illnesses, then you may still be at risk, as there are a number of medications that interfere with your ability to digest vitamin B12 naturally from foods, resulting in vitamin B12 malabsorption- a major cause of vitamin B12 depletion that often slips off the radar.

Some medications that lead to vitamin B12 malabsorption include:

  • Metformin (for diabetes)
  • Protein pump inhibitors (for acid reflux, heartburn)
  • NSAID’s (ibuprofen, etc.)
  • Certain antibiotics

Here is a longer list of medications that cause vitamin B12 deficiency


If you have had a gastric bypass for weight loss, then you may be at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Also, gastrointestinal surgeries recommended for treating Crohn’s disease, such as removal of the ileum, necessitate frequent vitamin B12 supplementation in order to prevent pernicious anemia.


Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) from vitamin B12 deficiency is one of many ailments that occur with long-term alcohol abuse.

Autoimmune disorders

An underlying autoimmune disorder can also be the basis of low vitamin B12. Autoimmune intrinsic factor dysfunction causes your body to attack intrinsic factor, a digestive enzyme that bonds to vitamin B12 and helps to distribute it into your blood supply. People with autoimmune pernicious anemia cannot get vitamin B12 from foods, regardless of diet, and must use supplemental forms of vitamin B12 for survival.

If you have any other autoimmune disorder, such as celiac disease, fibromyalgia, or lupus, then your risk for autoimmune vitamin B12 deficiency is higher than normal.

GI damage

Finally, any kind of damage to your stomach, intestines, or esophagus can interfere with your ability to absorb vitamin B12, increasing your chance for pernicious anemia. If you suffer from chronic heartburn, gas, and bloating, then that may be an important clue in determining why you often feel tired, anxious, or agitated.

Illnesses that cause frequent vomiting, such as migraines, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s, are linked with comorbid vitamin B12 deficiency.

Old age

As we age, our bodies tend to slow down; that includes a reduction in the amount of digestive enzymes we produce- proteins needed to absorb vitamin B12. For many healthy individuals over 60, signs of depression and forgetfulness are often discounted as the first symptoms of senility, without even checking vitamin B12 levels.

For that reason, health experts recommend strict vitamin B12 supplementation for all senior citizens, even if they don’t think they need it, as the symptom don’t manifest themselves until vitamin B12 levels reach a dangerous low.


Don’t ignore symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, even if you are “healthy” and “normal.” Plenty of people have vitamin B12 deficiency, and don’t even know it- not until they start experiencing severe ailments.

Get a blood test, take your vitamin B12, and keep track of your mood and energy levels each day; this will be your best Richter scale for determining how much vitamin B12 you need in order to prevent anemia and maintain good health.

Also read:

Vitamin B12 Deficiency- Can it be Genetic?

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Caused by H. Pylori Infection

Image courtesy of stockimages/freedigitalphotos

Eating 1000 mcg of Vitamin B12 foods: How many Clams is that?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012



Vitamin B12 increases stamina, restores mental alertness, and promotes healthy muscle tone.  To maximize on the benefits of vitamin B12, you need to eat plenty foods that have vitamin B12 every day, preferably totaling 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 per week.


Foods that are rich in B12 include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk.  But what if you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet?  Are there any natural vegan sources of vitamin B12?

Judge for yourself -see our no-nonsense list of foods that provide maximum vitamin B12.

How much vitamin B12 do I need?

According to the current RDA, you only need one or two mcg of vitamin B12.  However, that amount doesn’t suffice for people with vitamin B12 deficiency, or people who need extra B12 for energy, sports endurance, or mental focus.

To avoid getting B12 deficiency, or just to boost stamina and promote well-being, many scientists recommend taking between 1000 mcg -3000 mcg of vitamin B12 per week.  (Read  Will Vitamin B12 Boost Energy if I don’t have B12 Deficiency? YES!)

Which foods have the most vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 naturally occurs in protein foods like beef, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products.  If you follow a diet that excludes meat, fish, and milk, such as a vegan diet, then you may opt for plant-based foods that are infused with vitamin B12.  To get enough B12 to avoid deficiency, you might need to supplement with extra vitamin B12 as well.

How many clams do I have to eat?

Here is the nutritional data for foods that are rich in vitamin B12, starting with the highest- clams.


One 3-ounce serving of cooked clams contains 84.1 mcg of vitamin B12.  To get to your weekly dose, you would have to eat 11 servings of cooked clams each week.  Hope you’ve got recipes!


After clams, liver is the richest source of vitamin B12.  A 3-ounce serving of cooked lamb liver contains a whopping 72.8 mcg of vitamin B12.  You would have to eat nearly 14 servings of liver pate each week, or 2 servings per day, to get the most vitamin B12 for your money.  Want onions with that?

Eating 1000 mcg of Vitamin B12 foods: How many Clams is that?

Fish eggs

Caviar is usually savored in small doses, but to get 1000 mcg of vitamin B12 from this luxurious treat, you would need to eat 17 3-ounce servings of whitefish eggs each week.  Don’t forget the crackers.


In some countries like Hawaii and Japan, octopus is a common staple, much like burgers and fries in the US.  Three ounces of cooked octopus provides about 30 mcg of vitamin B12.  To reach 1000 mcg, you would need to eat 33 helpings of cooked octopus.  (Unless you prefer your octopus raw, in which case you would need to eat about 58 servings of octopus sushi each week.)


Among the finned creatures of the sea, mackerel is the fish that has the most vitamin B12, at 19 mcg per 100 grams.  That’s 52 weekly servings of fish per week.  (Can you say Holy Mackerel?)


Let’s face it- most of us don’t eat a lot of seafood or beef liver.  Most of your dietary stores of vitamin B12 are probably going to come from good old-fashioned beef.  (It’s what’s for dinner.)

Choose lean cuts of beef- not only are they healthier for your heart, but they also contain the richest amounts of vitamin B12 on the butcher aisle.  Lean beef chuck shoulder contains 5.25 mcg of vitamin B12 per 3-ounce serving.  To get even close to 1000 mcg of vitamin B12, you would need to eat over 80 beefsteaks per week. Hope you like chewing!

One double-cheeseburger contains 2.1 mcg of vitamin B12.

One cup of low-fat milk has 1.2 mcg of vitamin B12.

A serving of low-fat yogurt has 1.1 mcg of vitamin B12.

A beef taco has 0.9 mcg of vitamin B12.

One hard-boiled egg contains 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12.

Coming next: What about vegan vitamin B12?

Please tell us…

How do you get your vitamin B12- from supplements in pill form, vitamin B12 shots, or otherwise?

We’d love to hear from you- please feel free to leave your comments!

Spread the love…

Please share this article with your friends, family, or anybody you care about!

Read more about vitamin B12 in food:

Vitamin B12 for Weight Loss- Why it Works

9 Vitamin Deficiencies and the People who are affected by them

B Vitamins prevent Cardiovascular Disease- B6, B12 and Folate


Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B12 Health Professional Fact Sheet


opencage, public domain images

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.




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