Vitamin B 12 and a Plant Based Diet

As stated in my previous blog, this vitamin is a water soluble vitamin and is present in many foods derived from animals. It is normally not found in plant based foods; however, breakfast cereals, nondairy milk, and other common foods are now being fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are common amongst people, especially elderly citizens since your body tends to absorb less B12 as you age. The absorption can also be affected by different medications that you take, such as antibiotics, metformin, and other common medications. Having surgery that has removed part of your stomach can also cause a B12 deficiency. This vitamin is best absorbed in small amounts throughout the day. The recommended intake in the United States is 2.4 mcg a day for adults and 2.8 mcg for nursing mothers.

Why do we need it?

Vitamin B12 releases energy into your cells, keeping them balanced, energies and healthy. This is why you feel tired and sluggish when you are deficient in this vitamin. It helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.

Vitamin B12 removes an amino acid known as homocysteine. Having too much of this amino acid can cause your arteries to inflame and block, causing problems with your heart. An increased amount of homocysteine has also been related to osteoporosis.

Vitamin B12 maintains your nerves and how they restore over time. It also helps protect the myelin sheaths of the brain, which in turn improves memory and focusing.

Deficiencies

Not consuming enough B12 can cause anemia. You may feel tired or weak. You may also have reduced sensitivity to pain and pressure, blurred vision, and poor memory. If you have a long term deficiency it can affect your nerve cells.

Where can we get this vitamin?

Liver      71 mcg per 3 oz

Mackerel             16 mcg per 3 oz

Sardines               8 mcg per 3 oz

Fortified cereals               5 mcg per cup

Red meat            5 mcg per 3 oz

Fortified Soy      2 mcg per 3 oz

Milk       1.2 mcg per cup

Yogurt   1 mcg per cup

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