A guide to preventing Vitamin B12 deficiency.

A Vitamin B12 deficiency can make you tired, weak and even cause mood swings or depression - here is how to avoid it.

Function in the body

Why it is worth avoiding a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
Nervous System Function

Vitamin B12 is crucial for maintaining the health of the nervous system. It is involved in the production of myelin, a fatty substance that forms a protective sheath around nerves, facilitating nerve impulse transmission.

A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage and neurological symptoms such as tingling sensations, numbness, difficulty walking, memory problems, and cognitive decline. In severe cases, it can result in irreversible nerve damage.

DNA Synthesis

Vitamin B12, along with folate, is required for the synthesis of DNA, the genetic material in cells. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 are necessary for normal cell division and growth. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to impaired DNA synthesis, affecting cell division and leading to abnormal cell growth and development.

Energy Production

Vitamin B12 plays a role in energy metabolism by helping convert food into energy. It is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness.

Red Blood Cell Formation

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow. It works together with folate (vitamin B9) to synthesize DNA, which is required for the production of red blood cells.

Without enough vitamin B12, red blood cell production is impaired, leading to a type of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia. Symptoms of this type of anemia include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and neurological symptoms such as numbness or tingling in the hands and feet.

Homocysteine Metabolism

Vitamin B12 is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine, an amino acid. Adequate levels of vitamin B12 help convert homocysteine into methionine or cysteine, preventing the buildup of homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

How does a Vitamin B12 deficiency occur?

A deficiency usually occurs if either your diet does not contain enough Vitamin B12 or if your body has difficulties absorbing Vitamin B12.

Risk Groups

Who is at risk for a Vitamin B12 deficiency and why?

Vegans

Vitamin B12 is created by bacteria in the intestines of humans and animals, there is no 'natural' occurance in plants. Therefore, with a plant based diet, it is very likely that you are not taking in enough Vitamin B12.

Vegetarians

Vegetarians, especially those who exclude dairy and eggs, are at a higher risk for a B12 deficiency, because their food typically does not include enough Vitamin B12.

Individuals with gastrointestinal conditions

Certain medical conditions such as pernicious anemia or gastrointestinal disorders can affect B12 absorption.

How much Vitamin B12 do we need?

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms.

How much Vitamin B12 do we need?

The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 micrograms.

Good sources of Vitamin B12

01

Eggs

Start your day with eggs - a delicious and easy way to boost your B12 and energize your morning. One egg contains ~23% of the required daily intake.

02

Salmon

Utilize the benefits of B12 with delicious salmon - it's a savory solution to support your health and 175g of it contain over 200% of the required daily intake.

03

Dairy Products

Dairy products are a delicious way to replenish your Vitamin B12. A glass of milk (240ml) covers ~46% of your daily intake, while 20 grams of Swiss cheese cover ~28%.

04

Shellfish

Enjoy a Mediterranean meal with shellfish - Clams for example are abundant in B12 - 200g contain over 7000% of the required daily intake.

Supplementation for Vegans & Vegetarians

There are several options for supplementations, such as B12-fortified foods or supplements like tablets, capsules, or drops.

Daily intake recommendations vary between 100-150 µg once every day and 6-10 µg twice daily. Supplementing twice a day reduces the dose and can prevent possible B12 acne.

When choosing a supplement, check the dosage on the label or consult a pharmacist for guidance.

However, overdosing is unlikely, because B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is non-toxic.

Recipes against Vitamin B12 deficiency

Breakfast 1: B12 Boost Wrap

Spread hummus on a whole-grain tortilla, add slices of hard-boiled eggs, fresh spinach, and diced tomatoes, then roll it up for a delicious morning wrap packed with B12 power.

Breakfast 2: Veggie Omelette Delight

Whip up a fluffy omelette with diced bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms, cooked to perfection and served alongside whole-grain toast to kickstart your day with a burst of B12 goodness.

Breakfast 3: Yogurt Berry Parfait

Layer creamy Greek yogurt with ripe mixed berries and a sprinkle of chopped nuts, creating a vibrant parfait that's not only delicious but also packed with essential B12 nutrients to fuel your morning.

Lunch 1: Tuna Avocado Boat

Mix canned tuna with crunchy celery and red onions, then stuff the mixture into halved avocados for a quick and satisfying lunch that's rich in vitamin B12 and healthy fats.

Lunch 2: Chickpea Spinach Salad

Combine canned chickpeas with fresh baby spinach, toss with a zesty vinaigrette, and top with cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese for a refreshing salad that's bursting with B12 goodness.

Lunch 3: Turkey Veggie Wrap

Fill a whole-grain wrap with slices of lean turkey, crisp lettuce, juicy tomatoes, and creamy avocado slices, creating a flavorful and nutritious lunch option that's loaded with vitamin B12.

Dinner 1: Salmon Quinoa Bowl

Grill seasoned salmon fillets and serve them over a bed of fluffy quinoa, accompanied by roasted vegetables and a drizzle of tangy lemon sauce, offering a satisfying dinner that's brimming with B12-rich goodness.

Dinner 2: Beef Stir-Fry

Stir-fry thinly sliced beef with colorful bell peppers, broccoli florets, and snap peas in a savory soy-ginger sauce, serving over steamed brown rice for a hearty dinner that's packed with vitamin B12 and protein.

Dinner 3: Mushroom Spinach Frittata

Bake a fluffy frittata filled with sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach, and shredded cheese until golden brown and serve slices alongside a crisp green salad for a simple yet satisfying dinner option that's loaded with B12 nutrients

Dessert: Mixed Berry Yogurt Popsicles

Create refreshing yogurt popsicles by blending Greek yogurt with mixed berries and a drizzle of honey, then pouring the mixture into popsicle molds and freezing until set. These fruity treats are not only delicious but also rich in vitamin B12 thanks to the yogurt.