Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential vitamins needed for your body. It is an essential vitamin because your body cannot produce it. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods but is also present in some of the plant-based foods. Therefore, vegans have to plan their plant-based diet carefully to include foods that are rich in vitamin B12 for avoiding deficiency.
Vitamin B12 plays a major role in many of the body functions and is necessary for DNA synthesis and red blood cell formation. The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 mcg, however, the RD will be higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the health benefits of vitamin B12.
Prevent Some Major Birth Defects
Many health experts and doctors recommend taking vitamin B12 during pregnancy because it will help in preventing major birth defects. It is found that a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 is necessary for the development of the brain and nervous system of the fetus. Maternal vitamin B12 deficiency may often lead to miscarriage or premature birth. According to a recent study, if the vitamin B12 levels in the body of pregnant women are less than 250 mg/dL, then they are 3 times more likely to give birth to children with birth defects.
Helps In The Formation Of Red Blood Cells
Studies have found that vitamin B12 plays a major role in the production of red blood cells y. If the levels of vitamin B12 in your body is very low, it will prevent the proper development of red blood cells. Underdeveloped red blood cells are typically oval and are unable to move into the bloodstream from the bone marrow, at an appropriate rate. This will lead to megaloblastic anemia.
Reduce The Risk Of Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration is a common eye disease that affects your vision. Studies have proved that you can prevent the risk of macular degeneration by maintaining adequate levels of vitamin B12 in your body. It was found that elevated homocysteine levels in your blood increase the risk of macular degeneration and vitamin B12 can help in lowering the levels of homocysteine in your blood.
With an adequate amount of vitamin B12 in your body, you can improve your bone health and prevent bone diseases like osteoporosis. Studies have found that bone mineral density is lower in people with a vitamin B12 deficiency. There is enough evidence from various studies to prove that low vitamin B12 levels in your body can increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women.
Improves The Symptoms Of Depression
There are several studies that show adequate levels of vitamin B12 in your body can improve your mood and alleviate the symptoms of depression. Studies have found that vitamin B12 has a major role in synthesizing and metabolizing serotonin and helps in regulating your mood.
Gives You An Energy Boost
For many years, vitamin B12 supplements are used for boosting energy. Almost all B vitamins play a major role in the energy production of your body. In fact, a lack of energy or fatigue is one of the most common early symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. If you are deficient in vitamin B12, then taking a B12 supplement can help overcome the deficiency and significantly improve your energy level.
Here is the list of some of the plant-based foods that contain vitamin B12.
Nutritional yeast is a go-to food of many vegans and vegetarians that contains vitamin B12. It contains several nutrients that help in improving your overall health. Also, it provides a nutty or cheesy flavor to foods. Around 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 is present in just one tablespoon of fortified nutritional yeast. Most people consume nutritional yeast by adding it to curries, or vegetable sauces.
One of the easiest ways to fulfill the daily vitamin B12 requirement if you are a vegan is through foods fortified with vitamin B12. A great choice is fortified breakfast cereal. Each serving of the cereals may contain 23% of the DV. Fortified foods have high bioavailability. Therefore, it will be easier for your body to digest.
There are several mushrooms that contain vitamin B12, such as shitake mushrooms. Even though the vitamin B12 levels in them are relatively low, adding it to your plant-based diet ensures your daily requirements of vitamin B12. Most vegans add shitake mushroom into their cooking for a tasty meal.
According to a study conducted in 2014, it was found that nori is a good source of vitamin B12. Nori is usually eaten in Asian countries. It was observed that eating 4 grams of nori each day will fulfill your daily vitamin B12 requirements. Nori is commonly used for making sushi.