The Battle of B12

Updated: Jul 25

Many Indians are increasingly turning out to be low on B12, an essential water soluble vitamin.

Some of the common symptoms that may reveal a possible deficiency are:

  • Fatigue

  • Tingling of extremities like hands and feet

  • Numbness

  • Weakness

  • Difficulty thinking

  • Imbalance

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Moodiness

  • Behavioural changes

  • Chronic digestive issues

While it is difficult to connect these symptoms to a deficiency, it is always a good idea to include Vitamin B12 tests in your annual health checkup. Having an optimum level of B12 is imperative for healthy living.

According to the National Institutes of Health, an adult requires 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin every day to maintain important body functions like forming and dividing red blood cells, effectively functioning nervous system, and more. Whereas children between 4 to 8 years of age require only 1.2 mcg per day.

Because your body cannot make Vitamin B12, it is dependent on diet and supplementation. To begin with, B12 is broken down in the gut and hence it becomes imperative to have a healthy gut. If you are on antacids, or have low stomach acids, it may be difficult to break down B12. People on diabetes medicine also have difficulty absorbing Vitamin B12.

While animal products have more bioavailable and concentrated values of Vitamin B12, some vegetarian sources include:

  • Dairy products such as milk and cheese

  • Fortified foods like cereals and juices with high bioavailability

  • Nutritional yeast and yeast spreads

  • Edible algae

  • Nori and Shiitake mushrooms

  • Tofu, Tempeh, Whey powder

  • Nuts like Almonds and Peanuts

  • Fruits like Banana, apple and orange

  • Alpha Alpha, potato

Fermented foods have the highest amount of B12:

  • Yogurt

  • Pickles

  • Sauerkraut

  • Kimchi

  • Sourdough

  • Kefir

  • Meso

  • Sprouts

Have you been tested low on Vitamin B12? While the above information gives you an idea of vegetarian sources, you must consult an expert/ a nutritionist on the required quantity of these foods and whether you need supplementation through oral/injectable medicines or fortified foods.

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