Dr Dawn Harper on signs of vitamin B12 and vitamin D deficiency
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Are you getting enough vitamin B12? This crucial vitamin helps create red blood cells and transport them efficiently around your body, so a lack of it can leave you feeling deflated, as well as a host of other unpleasant symptoms. You should be able to get all the vitamin B12 you need from your diet, but do you know which B12-rich foods you should be eating?
What does B12 do?
Vitamin B12 contributes to lots of important processes in your body, like helping create DNA and red blood cells.
Your body doesn’t make B12 on its own, so you have to ensure you’re getting enough B12 from your diet, or taking B12 supplements.
Vegans and vegetarians are particularly at risk of developing a vitamin B12 deficiency, as many sources of B12 are dairy, meat and fish products.
Vitamin B12 deficiency results in having fewer red blood cells.
The NHS lists the symptoms of B12 deficiency as:
- A pale yellow tinge to your skin
- A sore and red tongue (glossitis)
- Mouth ulcers
- Pins and needles (paraesthesia)
- Changes in the way you walk and move around
- Disturbed vision
- Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
- A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement
To avoid developing or worsening these symptoms, you need to ensure you are getting a sufficient amount of B12 from your diet or from a supplement.
According to the NHS, adults should have 1.5 micrograms of vitamin D every day.
What are the five best food sources of B12?
1 – Sardines
A 100g portion of tinned sardines contains somewhere between eight and 13mcg of vitamin B12.
Not only are sardines high in vitamin B12, they also give you omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and other minerals.
They’re high in protein too, meaning eating sardines for breakfast or lunch will give you plenty of energy throughout the day and keep you fuller for longer.
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2 – Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast – or ‘noosh’ as its become known in recent years – is a fantastic source of vitamin B12 for vegans and vegetarians.
Because the vitamin B12 in nutritional yeast is manmade, it contains no animal products.
Plenty of plant-based recipes use the nutty and cheese-like flavour of nutritional yeast to mimic the flavour of cheese.
3 – Eggs
The yolk of an egg is an excellent source of vitamin D.
Eating two eggs should give you about half of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12, and they’ll keep you full and satisfied.
4 – Liver and kidneys
Organ meats, although not everyone’s cup of tea, are high in B12.
Lamb liver and kidneys are particularly high in the vitamin, providing about 30 times the recommended daily amount.
You can get liver and kidneys from some supermarkets, but your best bet is to visit your local butcher.
5 – Cereal with added B12
Another source of B12 that doesn’t contain animal products, cereal with added B12 is a great way to add extra B12 to your diet.
Check the label of your cereal to see if it contains extra B12.
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