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Essential Steps for Vitamin B12 Absorption in Your Diet

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble nutrient that is necessary for an assortment of metabolic functions to take place and to prevent hematopoietic issues and spinal neuropathies. Many people get their daily requirement from a balanced diet that incorporates both animal and plant products.

 Those who eat a plant-based diet can get vitamin B12 from enriched foods or from supplements since vegetable products don’t contain vitamin B12 in adequate amounts.

Why Is Vitamin B12 Important?

Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is important for making DNA and producing energy in our cells. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause dizziness, weakness, mania, and depression. A long-term deficiency can cause permanent harm to the central nervous system. 

Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and is usually found in animal products. A synthetic form can also be added to numerous foods, such as fortified oats. 

Vitamin B12 can be consumed in large amounts since the excess is stored in the liver for use when there is a deficiency. Stores of B12 can last for quite some time, which is why it often takes time for people to realize that they have a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 include shellfish, fish, crab, low-fat meat, whole grains, fortified soy milk, enriched tofu, low-fat dairy products, cheddar, and eggs.

Foods High in Vitamin B12

There are many other foods that are rich in vitamin B12.

Non-vegan sources

  • Clams
  • Liver
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Canned tuna
  • Beef
  • Ham
  • Eggs
  • Chicken breast

Vegan Sources

Vitamin B12 is not available in plant-based foods, so people who are on a vegetarian diet need to get it from fortified foods and supplements.

Foods that are commonly fortified and may be a source of vitamin B12 for vegans include:

  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Soy milk
  • Almond milk
  • Oats
  • Cashews
  • Coconut milk
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Margarine and spreads
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Tofu
  • Fruit juice
  • Dairy-free yogurt

Foods or Beverages to Avoid

A few foods and beverages can interfere with vitamin B12 absorption.

Folic Acid Fortified Foods

Folate (vitamin B9) is a basic supplement that is particularly important during pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that women of reproductive age need 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. 

On the other hand, an elevated level of folic acid can hide a vitamin B12 deficiency. Research shows that high folate levels can even cause the weakness and psychological manifestations associated with a lack of vitamin B12. Therefore, the folic acid intake from fortified foods should not surpass 1,000 mcg per day in adults with good overall health.

Alcohol

Studies have suggested that the consumption of alcohol can lower vitamin B12 levels. 

A recent study demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption decreased vitamin B12 by 5% in "healthy, postmenopausal ladies." 

Alcohol-related liver illness may cause tests to falsely register increased vitamin B12 levels. People suffering from alcoholism may require supplements to address vitamin B12 deficiency and weakness.


Health Advantages of Vitamin B12

Protection Against Heart Disease

Adequate amounts of vitamin B12, B6, and B9 have been shown to bring down the level of the protein homocysteine in the blood. Lower levels of homocysteine can improve endothelial capacity, which may support cardiovascular well-being and reduce the danger of respiratory failure. 

Support and Repair DNA to Reduce Cancer Risk and to Slow Aging

The absorption of vitamin B12 and folate (B9) is essential for DNA repair and support, which may lessen the risk of disease and hinder the process of aging. 

Prevent Dementia and Cognitive Decline

A lack of vitamin B12 increases homocysteine levels, which diminishes the body's capacity to process synapses. A few observations propose that increased homocysteine levels hasten the onset of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and a lack of vitamin B12 has been associated with intellectual decline. 

Decrease the Occurrence of Alzheimer's Disease

One study has demonstrated that deficiency in vitamin B12 and folate (B9) can double the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Energy and Endurance

A lack of vitamin B12 will induce weakness and fatigue. A certain amount of vitamin B12 is necessary to keep up ordinary energy levels. Find the best energy supplement for vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 Supplements

Vitamin B12 supplements are available in the form of tablets or liquid that can be taken sublingually (under the tongue). 

Those who follow a vegan diet can take extra vitamin B12 as a supplement, particularly women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

In addition, older people with gastrointestinal conditions and those on specific medications, including proton siphon inhibitors and metformin, may need to take a supplement. 

The assimilation of vitamin B12 can vary from about 56% of a portion of 1 mcg to 0.5% of a portion of 1,000 mcg. Hence, a person who consumes vitamin B12 less regularly will require a higher aggregate amount to meet the daily recommended intake.

Many doctors have proposed that people can take a supplement of 50 mcg to 100 mcg every day, or 2,000 mcg on a weekly basis. Biting the tablets or letting them dissolve in the mouth amplifies the absorption.

If a person has a serious vitamin B12 deficiency, their primary care physician may encourage them to get B12 injections.

Conclusion

Vitamin B12 is a basic nutrient, and a lack of it can cause serious health issues.

Healthy individuals who eat a diverse diet can get the necessary amount from food. Older people, those who take certain prescriptions or have gastrointestinal issues, and people who follow a vegetarian diet might be more prone to a vitamin B12 deficiency. They can take a supplement or consult their physician, who may suggest vitamin B12 injections.