Vitamin B12 is one of the most valuable nutrients for humans. It is a vitamin with specific properties that perform dozens of different bodily functions, so its deficiency is harmful.
Vitamin B12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia, a type of anemia characterized by the formation of unusually sized red blood cells. B12 deficiency can also cause problems at the neuronal level, leading to brain problems.
Vitamin B12 is one of the most valuable vitamins for blood circulation and brain health. It participates in the production of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the genetic material found in every cell.
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B12 is in the middle of 2.4 to 2.8 micrograms, which is very easy to get from certain foods.
One of the most significant properties of vitamin B12 is that it is found naturally only in foods of animal origin. Here are the foods richest in vitamin B12.
Red meat and offal
Sources of vitamin B12 are of animal origin, and the strongest ones are offal.
Beef liver: 80 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Lamb kidney: 55 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
In addition to offal, red meat also contains a good amount of vitamin B12:
Veal: 13 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Lamb: 2.6 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
It is valuable that we choose lean meats where we can find more vitamin B12.
Fish and shellfish
Shellfish and different fish, especially oily sea fish, is an adequate source of vitamin B12. In addition to providing vitamin B12, they also provide quality fats and are a very healthy way to enrich meals.
Oysters: 98 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Mackerel: 19 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Sardines: 8.9 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Salmon: 3.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Dairy artifacts and eggs
Various dairy products and eggs are also rich in vitamin B12.
Cheese: Cheese contains, on average, 4-6 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
Egg: Egg yolk contains 2 micrograms of vitamin B12 per 100 grams.
In addition, dairy products such as milk and yogurt also contain vitamin B12.
Causes of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in many different conditions. The most common are not properly consuming vitamin B12 and issues of absorption and storage.
Vitamin B12 deficiency develops in people (vegan) who never consume animal products. If a vegan mother breastfeeds her baby, the baby is at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency.
The most common cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is poor absorption. The following factors can cause insufficient absorption:
– Overgrowth of bacteria in one part of the small intestine.
– Impaired absorption (absorption disorders such as celiac disease or mild pancreatic disorders).
– Inflammatory bowel disease.
– Bariatric surgery for weight loss
– Surgical removal of the small intestine where vitamin B12 is absorbed
– Medicines such as antacids and metformin (used to treat diabetes)
– Decreased stomach acidity (common in the elderly)
The absence of intrinsic factors may be due to unusual antibodies produced by an overactive immune system that attack and destroy stomach cells that synthesize inherent factors. Vitamin B12 deficiency caused by a lack of intrinsic factors causes a type of anemia called pernicious anemia.
Especially in the elderly, absorption may be insufficient due to decreased stomach acidity. The drop in stomach acid reduces the body’s ability to extract vitamin B12 from meat proteins.
Liver disorders interfere with the storage of vitamin B12, as most of the body’s vitamin B12 is stored in the liver.
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest in many forms. Common symptoms include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, tingling, numbness in the feet and hands, constipation, memory loss, finitude, and mood swings—all signs of anemia. It is quite difficult to diagnose.
Swelling the tongue, also known as glossitis, may indicate a vitamin B12 deficiency. It develops quickly and without warning. A change in the appearance and color of the tongue becomes red and painful, and sores appear. In addition to tongue swelling, people with significant vitamin B12 deficiency may also develop mouth ulcers or a pins-and-needles tongue.
Stability disorders can be seen in people with severe deficiency. This can make walking and moving more difficult.