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Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin. In most nutritional supplements, B12 comes as cyanocobalamin, which breaks down in a healthy body into two active forms of cobalamin: methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosyl cobalamin.

What Does Vitamin B12 Do in Your Body?

  • Helps to form myelin, which is a fatty cover that insulates your nerves.
  • Helps to produce energy from metabolism of fat and protein.
  • Helps to produce hemoglobin, which is the component of your red blood cells that carrys oxygen to your cells. This is why a vitamin B12 deficiency can cause fatigue.
  • Reduces your homocysteine level, which lowers your risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's disease, and many degenerative diseases.
  • Regulates growth, maintenance, and reproduction of all of your cells

Here are some healthy, whole food sources of vitamin B12:

Whole Food Sources Serving Vitamin B12 (mcg)
Beef Liver, cooked 3 ounces 68
Wild Salmon, baked 3 ounces 2.4
Grass-fed beef, cooked 3 ounces 2.0
Raw cow's milk 8 ounces 0.9
Organic cheese 1 ounce 0.5
Organic egg, hard boiled 1 large 0.4
Organic chicken, cooked 3 ounces 0.3
Organic turkey, cooked 3 ounces 0.3

Signs of Deficiency

  • Chronic fatigue - macrocytic / megaloblastic anemia
  • Unexplained numbness or tingling of arms or legs
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems like a sore tongue, loss of appetite, and constipation
  • Poor hair

Normally, B12 must be broken apart from food by acid and enzymes in the stomach. B12 must then be tied together with a protein called intrinsic factor, which is produced by cells that line your stomach. Intrinsic factor carries B12 across your intestinal wall into your blood, to be delivered to your cells. This journey across your intestinal wall requires the presence of calcium, which is suppled by your pancreas.

Pernicious anemia is a condition that involves gradual destruction of cells that line your stomach, which decreases the ability to break B12 apart from food and decreases the availability of intrinsic factor to carry B12 into the blood.

If you are deficient in B12 because you don't have enough stomach acid, enzymes, and/or intrinsic factor, you might have to receive injections of B12 directly into your blood via your muscles.

Another option is to take high oral doses of vitamin B12, which can lead to a small percent being absorbed into your bloodstream without the help of intrinsic factor. An oral dose of 1000 mcg results in approximately 10 mcg entering your bloodstream.

Dietary Allowance for Vitamin B12 - 1998
Life Stage Age Males (mcg/day) Females (mcg/day)
Infants 0-6 months 0.4 0.4
Infants 7-12 months 0.5 0.5
Children 1-3 years 0.9 0.9
Children 4-8 years 1.2 1.2
Children 9-13 years 1.8 1.8
Adolescents 14-18 years 2.4 2.4
Adults 19-years and older 2.4 2.4
Pregnancy all ages - 2.6
Breastfeeding all ages - 2.8

Diagnostic Test for Vitamin B12

Urinary Methyl Malonic Acid (UMMA). For more information on this test, visit I highly recommend that all strict, long term vegans do this test along with a blood test for homocysteine.

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