Vitamins that our body collects from daily food intake are essential to keep all aspects of our existence ticking over. But what happens when we’re lacking in one vitamin? And can we rectify this purely through diet?
Vitamin B-12 – contributing towards the production of red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy – is a vital part of your diet and daily health regime. Being water-soluble, the body doesn’t store this vitamin, so indulging in a varied diet should be sufficient to provide enough B-12.
However, when a deficiency in vitamin B-12 is apparent, it’s often the last to be diagnosed. But, it can leave you with debilitating symptoms that can be confused with the menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome and many other ailments.
Symptoms of vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Lack of energy
- Extreme tiredness
- Lack of enthusiasm
- Muscle weakness and sore joints
- Disturbed vision
- Memory loss or brain fog
Commonly associated with vegan or vegetarian diets, studies show that a deficiency is far more common, with one in 10 lacking B-12. With treatments including regular injections, if you aren’t suffering from pernicious anaemia (non-diet related deficiency), then diet is particularly important to keep up your B-12 vitamin intake.
The NHS states that the average adult (19-64) needs about 1.5mcg a day, so we’ve listed five easy foods to get into your diet and kickstart your metabolism with a healthy dose of vitamin B-12.
- Fish – sardines, prawns, clams
The health benefits of fish are enormous, containing copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of vitamin D. Prawns, in particular, contain high volumes of vitamin B-12 and are unique for their high volumes of carotenoid astaxanthin, important for healthy hearts and joint pain.
Clams are ideal to introduce to your diet, containing high volumes of vitamin B-12 and niacin. Nacin helps to turn your food into energy and aids healthy skin, the digestive system and the nervous system.
- Animal products – liver and kidneys
The liver and kidneys of a lamb are the most nutritious when considering your daily vitamin B-12 count. Whilst organ meats aren’t perhaps for the faint-hearted, a four-ounce serving of lamb kidneys provides a huge 59.2mcg of B-12.
- Dairy – eggs and cheese
Swiss cheese has the highest count of vitamin B-12 with 30 grams contributing to 16% of your daily intake and studies have shown that your body is better equipped to absorb this B-12 than meat products.
Egg yolks are a vital source of vitamins, with a higher B-12 count than just the egg whites and reportedly easier to absorb in the body.
- Fortified breakfast cereals
Although not commonly associated with a healthy, balanced diet, fortified breakfast cereals from brands Kellogg’s’ and General Mills are a source of B-12. ‘Fortified’ simply means that the cereal contains added minerals, vitamins and nutrients to enhance our brain function. In particular, cereals Wheaties, Cheerios, Bran Flakes and Weetabix are our go-to.
- Yeast products – Marmite
You’ll either love this one or hate it but Marmite contains four of the eight vitamins in the B group and just one serving of Marmite contains 36% of your B3 daily allowance.