Vitamin B12 foods: Three of the best dinner swaps to avoid deficiency symptoms

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Are you often feeling tired? A lack of vitamin B12 could be to blame for your low energy levels. This crucial vitamin is needed for your body to create red blood cells, so when you aren’t getting enough B12, your body has to work even harder to compensate. These are three of the best dietary sources of vitamin B12.

What are the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency?

Vitamin B12 contributes to lots of important processes in your body, like helping create DNA and red blood cells, so if you aren’t getting enough of it, you may start to notice a variety of symptoms.

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
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Changes in the way you think, feel and behave
  • A decline in your mental abilities, such as memory, understanding and judgement

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 becoming deficient in vitamin B12, as many sources of B12 are dairy, meat and fish products.

According to the NHS, adults should be getting about 1.5 micrograms of B12 every day.

So, what swaps should you make to ensure you’re hitting your vitamin B12 goals?

Swap beans on toast for sardines on toast

This quick and easy dinner is high in B12 and boasts many other health benefits.

A 100g portion of tinned sardines contains somewhere between eight and 13 micrograms 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 will keep you fuller for longer.

Swap soup for a bowl of mussels

While soup is a perfectly healthy dinner choice packed with vegetables, mussels are one of the richest dietary sources of vitamin B12.

A 100g portion of mussels contains around 10.6 micrograms of B12.

Mussels are also rich in zinc, iron and vitamin A as well as being a lean source of protein.

Swap lamb chops for lamb liver

Organ meats aren’t as fashionable today as they once were, but they’re an excellent source of B12.

Lamb liver and kidneys are particularly high in the vitamin, providing about 30 times the recommended daily amount.

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You can get liver and kidneys from some supermarkets or your local butcher.

Lamb liver can be cooked in a pan with onions, and served with gravy.

What about vitamin B12 foods for vegetarians and vegans?

Many of the richest sources of vitamin B12 might be animal products, but vegans and vegetarians can still get their fix of B12 from some sources.

Eggs are rich in B12 and just two eggs gives you half the recommended amount of B12.

A serving of marmite contains three quarters of the recommended daily amount of B12, and although marmite is delicious on toast it can also be added to curries, stir fries and even pasta dishes

Many meat alternatives now have added B12 to help plant-based eaters reach their vitamin B12 goals, so check the labels of your favourite meat-free products to check the amount of B12.

If it’s easier for you, you can choose to take a vitamin B12 supplement to ensure you’re meeting your B12 goals.

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