B12 Deficiency? Top 10 Vitamin B12 Foods You Have to Try Before Supplements
Nutritional deficiency is always a serious matter that needs to be addressed quickly. Without proper and balanced nutrition, it can lead to many different illnesses and disease. Most often, it leads to malnutrition and causes several complications that will weaken the immune system. Your body is most vulnerable to disease when you lack the proper nutrition. Vitamin B12 is very important and you need a regular dose of this B vitamin for optimum health. B12 deficiency can cause anemia and it makes you more susceptible to infection. In order to prevent this vitamin deficiency, you need a regular intake of vitamin B12 foods.
All About Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that can travel through your bloodstream. It plays a key role in the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system, and the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 can also help in regulating and synthesizing DNA. Millions of red blood cells are being produced by the body every minute. However, if you are suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency, your red blood cells cannot multiply properly. As the red blood cell count goes down, this can lead to anemia.
Some of the key roles of vitamin B12 include:
Vitamin B12 Helps in the metabolism of all the cells in the body.
Vitamin B12 It helps the body to absorb folic acid in order to facilitate the release of energy. Vitamin B12 Keeps the body strong against infection. Vitamin B12 DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 Involved in the metabolism of amino acids.
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Range Level Value of Vitamin B12
The normal range level value of vitamin B12 is from 200 to 900 pg/mL or picograms per milliliters. If the range level falls below 200 pg/mL, it means you are vitamin B12 deficient. When the range level goes beyond 900 pg/mL, it is often caused by vitamin B12 supplementation. You should try to consult with your doctor if you think you are suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. The most common effect of B12 deficiency is anemia.
The symptoms of anemia include:
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitation
- Yellowish or pale skin
- Sore mouth or tongue
- Weight loss
- Menstrual problems When you are experiencing these symptoms, your B12 range level may be falling below 200 pg/mL. Your doctor may advise you to consume more vitamin B12 foods or prescribe vitamin B12 supplements.
Health Benefits of Vitamin B12
- Prevents Cancer – Vitamin B12 deficiency, if not treated, can damage the DNA of the body. Experts believe that a damaged DNA can lead to cancer formation. This means that a proper daily dosage of B12 is needed to help prevent cancer.
- Increase Energy Level – Vitamin B12 helps in converting proteins, carbs, and fats into fuel for your body. This is the reason why vitamin B12 deficiency causes fatigue and weakness. This vitamin is also needed by your body’s neurotransmitter to help your muscles contract, which gives you energy without getting too tired or worn out.
- Contribute to Brain Health – Vitamin B12 is known for sharpening your mental focus and prevent poor memory. Studies have shown that people who have low levels of vitamin B12 are more prone to developing Alzheimer’s disease in old age. This vitamin plays a vital role in maintaining low levels of homocysteine, which is crucial in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Prevention of Anemia – B12 is important for the production of red blood cells. With enough levels of B12 in your body, it prevents the onset of anemia. When there is an abnormal level of red blood cells, this means that there are lower levels of oxygen being distributed throughout your body. This will result in frequent exhaustion and weakness.Other benefits of vitamin B12 include:
- Reduce the risk of depression
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers sugar cravings
- Assist with ADHD
- Improve concentration level
- Lowers the risk of neurological damage
- Keeps your hair healthy
- Promotes healthy skin
- Better for your digestive system
- Help keep cholesterol level down
- Helps metabolize protein
What is Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also called folate deficiency anemia, which can cause serious health problems if not treated immediately. Your doctor can run a blood test to find out your vitamin B12 level. Older people are more susceptible to B12 deficiency because your body loses the efficiency in absorbing vitamin B12 as you age. People who have weight loss surgery to remove part of their stomach are also prone to this vitamin deficiency.
Other risk factors for developing vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- Atrophic gastritis, which is the thinning of the stomach lining.
- Crohn’s disease, parasite, bacterial growth, celiac disease, and other intestinal problems.
- Pernicious anemia, which makes it difficult for your body to absorb B12.
- Immune system disorder.
- Strict vegan diet, which means you don’t eat any animal products including eggs and dairy.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, especially if you have the risk factors mentioned above. If you don’t treat this vitamin deficiency, it may result in irreversible and severe health damage. You may develop problems in your nervous system and brain.
Neurological Symptoms: Difficulty maintaining balance. Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet. Symptoms for infants who lack vitamin B12: Growth problem, Reflex problems, Face tremors, Irritation, Difficulty in feeding. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency: Loss of appetite, Constipation, Weight loss, Depression, Confusion, Memory problems, Tiredness. A mild vitamin B12 deficiency may not bring any noticeable symptoms, but if it is left untreated, it might cause the symptoms mentioned above to manifest. Most of the symptoms of B12 deficiency can be the cause of being anemic.
Top 10 Vitamin B12 Foods You Have to Try Before Supplements
For those who are vitamin B12 deficient and anemic, the best solution is to consume more vitamin B12 foods. In general, foods that are naturally high in vitamin B12 are meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. Here are the top 10 vitamin B12 foods that you should consume regularly before you take any B12 supplements.
Sardines are very rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. It provides 8 mcg of B12 per 3-ounce servings. The high level of healthy fats or omega-3 fatty acids contained in sardines is beneficial for preventing heart disease. Pregnant women are advised to consume sardines and other variety of fishes such as salmon and mackerel because they are not only rich in vitamin B12 but also have important nutrients needed by the body and the baby inside. However, large predatory fish are also rich in mercury, which is not recommended for pregnant women. Other benefits of omega-3 include treating asthma and reducing inflammation.
Beef liver is one of the highest ranked foods when it comes to vitamin B12. Just 1 ounce serving of beef liver can provide 20 micrograms of vitamin B12, which is over 300% the recommended daily value. When buying beef liver, always choose the best quality, which means that the cow is pasture-raised and grass-fed. If you are anemic, then consuming beef liver is a great way to recover from this health condition. Beef liver is not only rich in vitamin B12, but it also contains high levels of folate and iron. These three vital nutrients are needed to help fight anemia.
Wild caught salmon is packed with more nutrition than the farmed salmon. A 3 ounce serving of wild salmon can provide 2.6 micrograms of vitamin B12, which is 42 percent the daily recommended value. Wild salmon is not only rich in vitamin B12, but they also contain high levels of vitamin D. A study has found that 800 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D daily can slow down the aging process of the bones and help improve bone health. Experts advise the elders to consume more vitamin B12 and vitamin D to improve their overall health and keep their bones strong against fractures.
Clams have the highest concentration of vitamin B12 among the seafood. Consuming 3 ounces of cooked clams can provide 84.1 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 1,402% of your daily recommended value. Aside from being rich in vitamin B12, it also has high levels of potassium, copper, iron, protein, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, riboflavin, and vitamin C. It is recommended to choose fresh clams instead of the canned clams because the fresh clams have a much higher nutritional value. Clams are known for rebuilding and repairing tissues and muscles. It can also help in maintaining the health of the nervous system and fight megaloblastic anemia. If you don’t have any experience in cooking clams, they blend deliciously with pasta dishes and stews. You just have to steam or boil them until the shells open up. You can also look for various clam recipes online that are easy to cook.
Oyster is another B12-rich seafood that is also rich in zinc and protein. For every 3 ounces of cooked oyster serving, it can provide 21.84 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 364% of the daily recommended value. If you have weak immune system, you should definitely consume more oysters. It contains the highest amount of zinc than any food. Eating 6 raw oysters can already provide 32 mg of zinc, which is 400% of your daily recommended value. The nutrition found in oysters can help fight colds and flu and encourage testosterone production, which is very good for the women’s reproductive health. Oysters are beneficial for strengthening the muscles, boosting libido levels, and prevent cardiovascular diseases. Oysters are best served as appetizers or included in a delicious seafood stew.
When choosing beef, try to go for the grass-fed variety because it is a healthier option and it is richer in vitamin B12 and protein. By consuming 3 ounces of broiled top loin sirloin beef, you are getting 1.3 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 23% of your daily recommended value. Studies have proven that grass-fed beef has higher amounts of antioxidants, vitamin A, and vitamin E, compared to the grain-fed beef. Beef also contains zinc and riboflavin, which can reduce PMS symptoms. When eating beef, it is better to keep it lean and combine the dish with vegetables and whole grains. If you have heart problems, it is not good to consume too much beef because it is high in cholesterol.
Crabs always make an enjoyable dish because of their sweet and delectable taste. It is also a great choice for people trying to lose weight because crabs are very low in calories. Consuming 3 ounces of crab meat can provide you with 10.3 mcg of vitamin B12, which is already 171% of your daily recommended value. Aside from vitamin B12, crabs are extremely rich in vitamins A, B, and C, protein, magnesium, selenium, and copper. It also contains high levels of zinc and chromium, which can help control the glucose levels in your bloodstream. Crabs are recommended for people with type 2 diabetes. You can cook crabs into a variety of delicious ways. Just look online for healthy and appetizing recipes such as crab cakes, seafood chowder with crabmeat, and salad with crabmeat.
Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods that can be cooked in so many ways. It is not only chicken eggs that have many nutritional benefits, you can also have duck, quail, goose, and fish eggs. One large hard-boiled egg contains 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12, which is already 10% of your daily recommended value. Different types of eggs have different amounts of B12 and the egg yolk contains most of the B12. Studies have shown that fish eggs have higher amounts of B12 than chicken eggs. Eggs also contain high levels of protein and vitamin D, which helps your body maintain optimum absorption of calcium to keep your bones strong. However, if you are watching your cholesterol level, you should consume just the right portion size because one egg yolk is 60% of your daily recommended allotment of cholesterol.
Chicken is a great source of vitamin B12, especially if you consume it with the chicken skin. Eating 3 ounces of the roasted chicken breast can provide you with 0.3 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 5% of your daily recommended value. Chicken dishes are perfect for people who are trying to lose weight because it is rich in lean protein. Chicken is also high in vitamin B6, folate, folic acid, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium. Chicken is a healthy alternative to red meat because it does not have too many calories and fats. It is also very popular worldwide because it can be prepared and cooked in so many different ways.
Mussels are another type of seafood that is heavy in vitamin B12. Consuming 3 ounces of cooked mussels can provide you with 20.4 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 338% of your daily recommended value. Aside from B12, mussels are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. This is definitely one of the best foods for people who are suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. You can cook these mussels as a seafood stew or serve them as a delicious appetizer.
The Last Resort: Vitamin B12 Supplements
Before taking any vitamin B12 supplements, it is advised to consult your doctor first. There are no negative side effects when you have an excessive intake of vitamin B12 but it may interact with some medications that you are currently taking.
Most doctors will advise their patients to include more vitamin B12 foods into their diet before taking any B12 supplements. The B12 foods mentioned above are not only rich in B12, but they also contain other important vitamins and minerals that can help the body recover faster. Other nutritional benefits such as proteins, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and zinc are found in the foods mentioned above, which your body needs to maintain better health.
Supplements are usually given to older adults or those who have health conditions that prevent their body from absorbing vitamin B12. The ability of the human body to absorb vital nutrients as you grow older becomes harder and more inefficient. B12 supplements are also provided to patients who already have an extreme condition of vitamin B12 deficiency. Vegans and vegetarians who do not eat meat and dairy products are also advised to take B12 supplements or multivitamins with B12. There are also foods and cereals that are fortified with vitamin B12, which can greatly help people to avoid being B12 deficient. Prevention is still the best cure for vitamin B12 deficiency. This means eating enough meat products, dairy products, eggs, seafood, and poultry. A balanced diet is required to avoid nutritional deficiency. If you eat all those vitamin B12 foods mentioned above, and you are still vitamin B12 deficient, then you should try these supplements.