Do you know that some of the unexplained neurological symptoms could be traced back to vitamin B12 deficiency in many clinical cases? Today we talk about Vitamin B12 deficiency and ways to enrich its levels in the blood.
Vitamin B12 which is also known as cobalamin is a crucial member of water-soluble B vitamin family. It plays an essential role in producing red blood cells and DNA and also helps in the maintenance of nerve tissues and brains.
Our body cannot synthesize vitamin B12. We need to get it from food sources and for that, we need to eat vitamin B12 rich foods on a daily basis, because, our body cannot store vitamin B12 for a long time and the extra amount is excreted through urine.
Nowadays vitamin B12 deficiency is very common and it is mostly being seen among elderly people. Since vitamin B12 is found mostly in meat and non-vegetarian products, vegans, who do not eat non-vegetarian foods, are also at risk. Improper intake of vitamin B12 rich food or metabolic issues in absorbing vitamin B12 can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency in the human body.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system. Even a slight deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in depression, confusion, and memory loss.
Vitamin B12 actively takes part in the body’s metabolic processes. It helps in fat metabolism and energy production. So in the absence of vitamin B12, the energy production process gets impaired. This results in fatigue.
Our body produces millions of blood cells per minute. The multiplication process cannot happen properly in the absence of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in an abnormality in blood cell production leading to a condition called Megaloblastic anemia.
Apart from that, jaundice, glossitis and mouth ulcer, disturbed vision, etc can also be seen in vitamin B12 deficiency.
You’re prone to develop vitamin B12 deficiency if you are –
- Having celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, infection in the small intestine.
- Atrophic Gastritis
- Grave’s Disease or lupus
- Pernicious anemia.
The recommended dietary allowances for Vitamin B12 vary as per age –
- Infants up to 1 year – 0.2 (µg/Day)
- Children (1 -9 years) – 0.2-1.0 (µg/Day)
- Adolescents (10-17 years) – 0.2-1.0 (µg/Day)
- Adults – 1 (µg/Day)
- Pregnancy – 1.2 (µg/Day)
- Lactation – 1.5 (µg/Day)
The most common sources of Vitamin B12 include:
Besides being high in protein, cottage cheese is also a good source of vitamin B12. Vegans, who do not eat meat or egg, can incorporate cottage cheese in their daily diet to meet the vitamin B12 requirement. It can be used as a topping on toast or can be cooked as sabji to get the benefit of vitamin B12.
The delicious crustacean is one of the best sources of vitamin B12. 100 grams of shrimps provide 9 micrograms of vitamin B12. It can be used in salad, soups, curries, or can be grilled to enjoy. Do not discard the stock while cooking and cook it in a covered pan to get the maximum benefit of vitamin B12.
Goat liver is another great source of vitamin B12. 100 grams of goat liver provide around 90.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 which is way more than the daily requirement of an Indian adult. Liver curry is delicious and full of vitamin B12.
Whole eggs are high in vitamin B12, so are egg whites and egg yolks. 100 grams of whole eggs provide 1.8 micrograms of vitamin B12 whereas 100 grams of egg yolk provides 4.4 micrograms. Compared to these two, egg whites are relatively lower in vitamin B12 content, providing only 0.2 microgram/100 grams.
Buffalo meat, goat meat and/or mutton, etc are also rich in vitamin B12. They provide approximately 1.7- 2.8 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams which is sufficient to meet the RDA of an adult Indian. Do not discard the stock while cooking red meat, as vitamin B12 being water-soluble, has a tendency of getting leached out in it.
Milk and Milk Products
Milk and milk products are fairly rich sources of vitamin B12. Skimmed milk powder is the richest source among milk products. Apart from that milk and curd also contain some amount of vitamin B12.
Vegans or people who do not consume any animal products – keeping them in mind vitamin B12 fortified cereals have been introduced in the market. These can be taken on a daily basis to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency disorder.
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