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What are Sources of Vitamin B12?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Vitamin B12 is an important substance, but it’s only available, aside from in supplements, in a few sources. Without sufficient levels of this vitamin, problems can occur. People can become anemic because B12 is needed to make things like red blood cells, although pernicious anemia should be understood as a different symptom that makes it difficult for the body to absorb the vitamin. Those who have the most trouble with the sources of vitamin B12 are people who are vegan vegetarians, since their diets may be completely absent of the main foods that give people a steady B12 supply.

Most people get adequate supply from the main sources of vitamin B12. Red meat is a principal source, and in this form, plenty of the vitamin gets absorbed by the body. The two other common sources of vitamin B12 are eggs and milk. It’s easy to see how a vegan diet is absent any of these products. Vegetarians who consume milk and eggs may still get adequate amounts because they have access to two principal sources of vitamin B12.

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An additional way to find sources of vitamin B12 is to look for products that are supplemented with it. This isn’t always useful. When in a natural source, a vitamin may be absorbed by the body easily. In other foods, as a supplement, it may not always be as successfully used. It’s also worth pointing out that people with B12 insufficiency may not know it or have lab tests accurately show it, if they are concurrently taken folic acid, and many supplements or products that are supplemented contain a large selection of B vitamins and folic acid

Should the diet be lacking in the usual sources of vitamin B12, it’s still generally agreed that supplements are important. These are many in number, and given the importance of the vitamin, even most doctors may have recommendations on what to take. Generally B12 is fairly well absorbed in supplement form, so people will be able to pick from a wide variety of supplements. They can find fully vegan supplements, too, if abstention from meat is a choice of conscience or necessity.

If there are any potential signs of anemia, doctors can check vitamin B12 levels to determine if a supplement dose is high enough. Vegetarians who seldom eat any form of meat byproduct, and vegans might be wise to occasionally have levels checked. Without appropriate levels people have complained of gastrointestinal discomfort, tiredness, ragged mood and other symptoms. Even a B12 level that falls into low normal range ought to be considered as a potential indication to supplement, if people have other unexplained conditions.

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SteamLouis
Post 3

I have to take a vitamin B12 supplement because I have a health condition that limits the absorption of vitamins in my body. I eat a healthy, balanced diet but I am unable to get enough vitamin B12 through food. My vitamin B12 levels are consistently low so I take a supplement.

I think that vitamin B12 deficiency is more prevalent in society than we realize. Almost all of us use medications on a regular basis. Some of these medications decrease vitamin absorption. Americans who are not on medications or who don't have a health disorder, don't generally eat very healthy. So it's a good idea to take a multi-vitamin supplement with vitamin B12 in it.

candyquilt
Post 2

@turquoise-- Yes, yogurt is rich in vitamin B12. So are mushrooms, soy products, whole grain bread and cereal and some sea foods like crab and oysters.

I don't know why people take supplements when they can eat great food like this for their vitamin B12 requirement. Plus, vitamin B12 supplements can cause side effects like upset stomach and increased appetite. Food doesn't have side effects. No one will experience vitamin toxicity from fresh foods.

turquoise
Post 1

I think yogurt has a lot of vitamin B12. My mom makes homemade yogurt. After a few days, water accumulates on top of the yogurt in the container. My mom never throws this water out. She drinks it saying that it's rich in B vitamins. I can't drink it but I do eat yogurt a lot, so hopefully I'm getting enough vitamin B12 that way.

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