Vitamin B12, More Important Than You Think
Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient required for tissue growth and repair. Plus, it helps decrease inflammation in the body. Evidence also shows that B12 combined with fish oil may help reduce total serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Some patients choose a vegetarian diet for personal reasons. Is that you? If so, know that as vegetarian diets become more restrictive, you may not receive enough B12. That deficiency leads to elevated systemic inflammation; a prolonged deficiency manifests into neurological and gastrointestinal disorders as well as anemia (2).
One of the challenges for vegetarians is to find food sources with bioavailable B12. Typically, plant sources don’t contain adequate amounts of bioavailable B12, and often the only reliable source for vegetarians is dietary supplements (1).
Though each source has a different level of bioavailability, the following list has options for vegetarians to help improve B12 ingestion from dietary choices:
- Plant foods (purple and green algae)
- Purple Nori or Laver
- Dairy products (eggs, yogurt, milk) (<9% absorption) (4)
- Pescatarian sources (oyster muscle, short-necked clam) (42% absorption) (4)
- Fish meats (skipjack, yellow fin tuna, and rainbow trout) (3)
- Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula
- B12 injections
The absorption of B12 is variable. To ensure that your body absorbs B12 from the diet, have a lab draw to test B12 levels. If they are suboptimal despite the ingestion of the named sources above, then consider injectible B12 as an alternative. Your Cenegenics physician can help you decide if you suffer from a low vitamin B12 level.
—helpful facts from Cenegenics Nutrition/Fitness Counselor Jaime Scholz, MS at Cenegenics Chicago.