The number of vegetarians and people who are trying to eat less meat continues to increase, making plant-based nutrition as trendy as ever. To maintain their health, these people are seeking alternative sources to animal products from which they can get protein, calcium, vitamin D, and a crucial nutrient like vitamin B12.
According to Harvard Health, the cholesterol levels and blood pressure of vegetarians are lower than that of meat-eaters, meaning they have a lower risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Experts from MIT say that B12 is not only the most chemically complex vitamin but the most vital for human health.
What is Vitamin B12, and What Does It Do?
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin. It’s highly important for optimal health and also plays a part in the metabolism of all single cells and their function in the human body. The production of Vitamin B12 takes place in the guts of animals and humans. As opposed to other vegan animals like cows and sheep, the production of B12 also occurs down the digestive tract of humans, and that implies that we can absorb our B12. However, we end up excreting it and have to search for it in external sources.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) puts it clearly that that B12 improves and maintains the health of our body nerves and blood cells and also helps to enhance the creation of DNA, which is the genetic material that all cells have. Besides, B12 helps to prevent megaloblastic anemia, which is a condition that involves the development of oddly large and shaped immature red blood cells in the bone marrow. It’s a rare condition that comes with fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and pallid skin. This happens mostly due to a deficiency in B12 or folate. Taking inadequate B12 can result in devastating effects on your health, such as blindness, psychosis, nervous system damage, paralysis, and even death.
Additionally, noticeable signs of a B12 deficiency can sometimes only become noticeable after years. Vegetarians and vagans really need it as people who don’t eat meat or a balanced diet or supplement are at risk of B12 deficiency.
Top Vitamin B-12 Foods for Vegetarians
The following food options are the best answer to the question of how to get B12 as a vegetarian. The B12 rich foods include dairy products, cow milk, eggs, certain fortified foods, supplements, etc. Vegetarians can also find Vitamin B-12 in certain algae and mushrooms. The absorption process into the body is slow, and consuming it throughout the day is ideal as that enables it to break down properly.
If you’re wondering how vegetarian get B12, keep reading to find out the wide-ranging go-to foods that provide adequate amounts of Vitamin B12 for vegetarian health.
As a vegetarian, you can easily feed on enough vitamin B12 by consuming these dairy products:
For certain people, the lactose (sugar) in cow’s milk can be disastrous on the digestive system. However, for people who can tolerate milk, they get loads of nutrients, for example, protein, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and the vital Vitamin B12 as well. A vegetarian should take 2 cups of cow milk per day with added fortified cereal to make their B12 intake satisfactory.
Greek yogurt, like milk, contains lots of protein and B12. With a cup, you get 1.3 micrograms. To take care of your B12 needs, purchase plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt to stay away from added sugar, which you don’t need. You can toss some blueberries or strawberries on your yogurt to give it a natural sweetness.
– With 8 ounces of yogurt, you consume 1.1 micrograms of B-12.
– With 1 cup of low-fat cow milk, you consume 1.2 micrograms of B-12. 2 cups per day are sufficient.
– With 1 ounce of Swiss cheese consumed, you get 0.9 micrograms of B-12.
You can consume these readily available foods at any time of the day, for example, yogurt alongside your breakfast or milk for your breakfast cereal or as a midday drink and cheese as a snack.
Another means of how to get B12 as a vegetarian is to eat eggs. In a single large, hard-boiled egg are .6 micrograms of vitamin B-12. This involves eating a few eggs each day to arrive at your total B-12 requirement. Though that can be hard-to-do, you can make eggs a part of the B-12 foods you take daily. Also, try eating a hard-boiled egg in salads or have eggs for breakfast.
When you eat vitamin B-12 fortified foods, they help you to meet your intake requirement each day much easily. One of these vital fortified foods is breakfast cereal. The amount of B-12 added to cereals varies, and you can find that out on the label of the packaging to read and determine if your favorite healthy breakfast cereal supplies you enough vitamin B-12 or not. For instance, when you consume a 3/4 cup of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, your intake of B-12 is 1.5 microgram. In a 1/2 cup serving of Grape nuts, you get the 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B-12 as well.
Fortified foods are easily digestible inside your body since their bioavailability is high. This implies that your body absorbs the foods without having to break them down. Such a characteristic makes absorption to happen right away, helping your body to take in more vitamin B-12 via fortified cereals.
One other fortified food containing vitamin B-12 is nutritional yeast. It is a great choice of food for many vegetarians and vegans. Nutritional yeast brings in a delicious flavor to cooking, and that’s why a lot of people use it to create a cheese-like flavor in foods. With 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast, you’re getting as much as 4 micrograms of vitamin B-12. You just need to sprinkle nutritional yeast on your popcorn, and your snack will get better, and for vegan-friendly recipes, it’s even more reasonable.
According to a studyTrusted Source, purple laver, or Nori, is a rich source of food that contains vitamin B-12. It’s an algae product that is largely available and consumed in Asian countries. The study recommends that we eat 4 grams of Nori to reach the right daily B-12 intake. This product also features in Asian food markets, sushi and can even be a simple healthy snack by itself.
Shitake Mushroom, like Nori, is a rare plant-based food that contains the vitamin B-12. Perhaps, the fungi content is not sufficient enough to fulfill your entire Vitamin b12 dietary needs daily, but it still remains a go-to source.
Having mushrooms incorporated into your cuisine is great for a tasty lunch or dinner. Remember that it requires consuming 50 grams of dried shitake mushrooms before you can reach the recommended amount of the B-12 you need daily.
Should You Take a Vitamin B12 Supplement?
Like with every dietary supplement, it’s essential to talk to your healthcare provider about Vitamin B12 supplementation, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian. To know the amount of supplementation you need, your healthcare provider needs to help you determine it. It’s important to be aware that the typically high amount of the folate in vegetarian and vegan diets can mask the deciency of vitamin B12.
Health Benefits of B-12
Taking in Vitamin B-12 is highly beneficial to your health, especially for vegetarians and vegans. The many vital functions of Vitamin B-12 in your body include:
– Formation and division of red blood cells
– Protection of your nervous system
– Synthesizing your DNA
– Energizing your body
Your daily intake of vitamin B-12 doesn’t need to me too much before it can help to maintain the above body functions. As an adult, taking around 2.4 micrograms meets your vitamin B-12 daily allowance. For children, they require fewer vitamin B-12. Infants between 7 and 12 months require just .5 micrograms per day, and children between 4 and 8 years old require only 1.2 micrograms daily. It’s by maintaining the right level of vitamin B-12 that vegetarians can have properly functioning bodies.
How Do You Become Aware that You’re B12 Deficient?
Here are the symptoms that you might have if you’re deficient in Vitamin B12
– Hair loss
– Heart palpitations
– Lack of appetite
– Shortness of breath
– Vision loss
– Issues with walking
– Memory loss
– Weakness of muscles
– Behavioral changes
How Much Vitamin B12 Do You Need?
Knowing how to get B12 in a vegetarian diet is as important as the amount of the B12 you consume. The Vegan Society gives vegetarians and vegans these recommendations on the right actions to take in order to be consuming the right amount of vitamin B12:
– Consume fortified foods two to three times per day in order to at least take in three micrograms of Vitamin B12 daily.
– Take one Vitamin B12 supplement per day to take in ten micrograms at least
– Take a B12 supplement per week in order to be getting up to 2,000 micrograms
If you’re vegetarian and vegan, be mindful of your Vitamin B-12 intake to ensure that your body is not lacking this vitamin. Note that your B12 supplement consumption level has to meet 100% or more of the recommended daily requirement. Ensure that you involve your doctor on how to add Vitamin B-12 to your diet. Have them monitor your body regularly to maintain optimal health. If it’s necessary to take a B12 supplement to improve your health, do it.