Vitamin B12 deficiency: Five foods to include in your diet to keep the condition at bay

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause a range of symptoms, including extreme tiredness, breathlessness and headaches. Left untreated, complications such as vision problems, memory loss, pins and needles and damage to parts of the nervous system can occur. Making sure you get your daily recommended requirement of vitamin B12 can stop these health problems from developing. But which foods are the best sources of B12?

Making sure you get your daily recommended requirement of vitamin B12 can stop a deficiency from developing

Harvard Health Publishing, part of Harvard Medical School, offers an “A list” of B12 foods.

The following are included for good dietary saucers of vitamin B12:

  • Egg – one large egg contains 0.6mcg of B12
  • Low-fat milk – one cup contains 1.2mcg of B12
  • Ham – three ounces contains 0.6mcg of B12
  • Clams – three ounces contains 84mcg of B12
  • Fortified cereal – one cup contains 6mcg of B12

The NHS advises that adults aged 19 to 64 get about 1.5mg a day of vitamin B12.

It explains: “If you eat meat, fish or dairy foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin B12 from your diet.

“But as vitamin B12 isn’t found naturally in foods as fruit, vegetables and grains, vegans may not get enough of it.”

For vegans, good food sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Nori – one study recommends eating 4g of the dried purple laver to meet the family requirements for vitamin B12
  • Shiitake mushroom – you would need to consume around 50g of dried shiitake mushrooms to meet your daily requirements of vitamin B12
  • Soy milk – 8 ounces equates to around 3mg of vitamin B12

While you should be able to get all the vitamin B12 you need by eating a varied and balanced diet, some people who don’t get enough may consider taking vitamin B12 supplements.

The Department of Health advises if you take vitamin B12 supplements, not to take too much as this could be harmful.

Taking 2mg or less a day of vitamin B12 in supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.

The symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency are listed by Bupa as:

  • Feeling very tired
  • Breathlessness even after little exercise
  • Heart palpitations
  • headaches
  • A reduced appetite
  • A sore mouth and tongue

Another symptom of vitamin B12 deficiency can also affect a person’s bowel habits. 

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