Vitamins are vital nutrients for your body since they aid in performing several functions in your body. While most of these nutrients can be easily found through animal products, vegetarians often find themselves at a disadvantage due to the lack of natural vitamin sources.
One such vitamin is B12, which has several health benefits if taken appropriately, but equally, complications if there’s a deficiency. However, vegetarians often find it difficult to get the daily required amount. Worry not if you are vegetarian, now you can find several food products that are rich in vitamin B12 to include in your daily diet.
1. What is Vitamin B?
2. Vitamin B Foods for Vegetarians
3. Milk And Yoghurt
5. Fortified Cereals
6. Nutritional Yeast
8. Shiitake Mushrooms
What is Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and is a water-soluble vitamin synthesized by archaea or bacteria. It is an integral nutrient that influences the healthy functioning of the nervous system, brain, and blood cells.
While no human or fungi can produce this vitamin on their own, animal extracts naturally consist B12 which is why vegetarians often find themselves with low levels of this vitamin. However, humans who consume reduced levels of vitamin B12 are at risk of several health issues, such as anaemia and damage to the nervous system. Therefore, it is essential for each and everyone to keep a check on their vitamin intake to avoid deficiency.
Reliable sources of B12 in vegetarian diets include fortified foods and plant milk. Keep reading to find out vitamin b12 rich foods that vegetarians can include in their meals.
The National Institute of Health recommends that people aged 14 and older intake 2.4 micrograms (mcg) of B-12, and for adults and adolescent pregnant females, the ideal dose required is 2.6 mcg of B-12, and for adult and adolescent lactating females, it is 2.8mcg per day.
Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegetarians
Contrary to public opinion, there are various options available for vegetarians to up their B12 intake. Before you absolutely need to resort to supplements and external intake, consider adding the following options to your everyday diet. It might take some time to get adjusted to a new food lifestyle but follow it regularly to allow your body to adapt to the change in your diet. Vitamin B12 also improves your digestive system and blood circulation, so it won’t take time for you to observe the positive changes in your body.
Milk And Yoghurt
Including dairy products in your meal is one of the simplest ways to get enough vitamin B12 in a vegetarian diet. To monitor your intake, make a note of the following B12 content –
- 1.2 micrograms (mcg) in 1 cup of low-fat milk, or 50 per cent of your required daily value (DV)
- 1.1 mcg in 1 cup of low-fat yoghurt, or 46 per cent of your DV
TIP: Try having milk with your breakfast, yoghurt as an afternoon drink, and a few slices of cheese as a snack.
Research shows that that almost all types of cheese are high in vitamin B12 and can form a good source for those who are vegetarians. Experts say that mozzarella, feta and Swiss cheese are great sources! Check with your nutritionist or health expert about the quantities that are safe for you to consume every day. Generally, there is 0.9 mcg of the vitamin in one slice of Swiss cheese or 38 per cent of your DV.
Tip: Before you go all out, understand the fat and cholesterol content of the cheese that you consume.
You need to read the packaging of your morning cereal well, and you will realise that some of them offer a good dose of vitamin B12. This especially helps those who follow a vegetarian diet and find it tough to follow a decent intake of this vitamin with natural foods. Fortified cereal can help. Although the quantity varies from brand to brand you can opt for such a fortified cereal and then supplement it with other natural foods that are good sources of the vitamin.
TIP: Adhere to whole grain cereals which are low on sugar to up the health quotient of your breakfast.
Another go-to food option for vegetarians is nutritional yeast. Often undermined, this fortified product has several advantages. Along with health benefits, yeast offers an intense flavour and adds a cheesy, nutty flavour to your cooking. Moreover, just one tablespoon of 100 per cent-fortified nutritional yeast provides 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 or 100 per cent of the DV. Talk about being tasty, and healthy – the perfect solution for all mothers.
TIP: Try adding nutritional yeast to vegetarian sauces, or curries. For a wholesome, nutritional, and yummy snack, sprinkle nutritional yeast on air-popped popcorn, mix it with cheese sauces, or even add it to soups.
The delicious edible seaweed with the umami taste is high on vitamin B12. A staple of Japanese cuisine, nori sheets are now easily available in India. You can get the sheets and use them to make sauces, or powder them and add them to a soup. The powder can also be used as a sprinkling over the sandwiches and salads. It is extremely low in calories and high in taste and nutrition, and an excellent source of vitamin B12 for vegetarians.
TIP: You can soak the sheets in water and use the flavoured extract as a soup base.
Mushrooms are superfoods that are largely ignored by the vegetarian community in India. They are healthy and delicious and add a new spectrum of flavour when added to any dish. A few varieties of mushrooms like shiitake mushrooms are high in vitamin B12. Since plant-based sources of this vitamin are few, mushrooms may not fulfil the entire daily need you have, but will certainly be nutritional. Also, mushrooms are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, and can be incorporated in breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner recipes.
TIP: In our markets, you will get only dry shiitake mushrooms so refresh them in warm water before using.
Q. How do you know if your body has lower levels of Vitamin B12?
A. Some prominent symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, light-headedness, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Mouth ulcers or dry lips are also an indicator of the deficiency.
Q. Is it safe to take supplements?
A. Usually, after a certain age, those following a vegetarian diet are advised to go on daily supplements, especially those who have a severe deficiency. The only condition before you start popping the colourful capsules every day is that you get a thorough consultation with your doctor and take only those supplements as prescribed to your specific health and nutritional needs. Also, do not simply rest on the fact that you are taking supplements, adhere to a good and balanced diet irrespective.
Q. Is it advisable to take vitamin B12 injections?
A. These are not shots that you should be taking on your own discretion. A doctor needs to prescribe them for you, and that too for good reason. They are usually prescribed for those who suffer from a severe deficiency of the vitamin or in another dire condition where the doctor sees it medically fit to do so.
Also read: Expert Speak: How Home-Cooked Food Betters Health Over Processed Food