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B12 is an important vitamin that is found in some foods naturally. It is also available as a supplement and alternative therapies. It is one of the important nutrients, as it helps in regulating neurological functions and proper formation of red blood cells. It is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system.

Foods Rich in Vitamin B12

Many animal products like shellfish, eggs, meat, cheese and eggs are good B12 foods. Shellfish is the highest source of B12 and it can be taken baked, fried or steamed. Clams, mussels and oysters are also excellent B12 foods. Liver of beef, lamb, turkey, goose and duck is packed with B12.  100 gram serving of lamb liver offers 85.7 µg of B12. Octopus is a B12 rich food. Japanese, Mediterranean and Hawaiian cuisines have place for octopus.  You can get 36 µg of vitamin B12 from 100 gram cooked octopus.

Fish is renowned as a source of omega 3 fats. However, it is also a great source of vitamin B12. Mackerel, tuna, sardines, salmon, cod, herring, bluefish and trout are some of the best B12 foods that help improve your health.  Baked and steamed crab and lobster contain this vitamin in higher amounts.

Though animal products are the best sources of B12, vegetarians can also get their daily dose by taking some foods. Cheese, yeast extract spreads, milk, yogurt and whey powder are some of the good sources of this vitamin.

B12 Benefits

• Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in converting carbohydrate into glucose in your body. This helps to produce energy and reduce tiredness and fatigue. Taking foods rich in B12 can help you remain energetic all through the day.

• One of the important B12 benefits is it regulates the nervous system and helps reduce stress and depression.

• The vitamin is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system. It helps curb unhealthy levels of cholesterol in blood and thereby helps prevent heart disease. It also gives protection against high blood pressure and stroke.

• B12 benefits include healthy skin, hair and nails. It helps to keep your skin hydrated and promotes glowing skin.  The vitamin also helps in cell reproduction and skin renewal.

• It helps protect against some types of cancer, including prostate, lung, breast and colon cancer.

What Causes B12 Deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can be caused by conditions like pernicious anemia and atrophic astritis. Surgery in stomach or small intestine may also cause deficiency and can also be seen in something like comfort zone and depression. Conditions affecting small intestine like celiac disease, parasite, bacterial growth and Crohn’s disease may contribute to B12 deficiency. If you take acid reducing drugs for a long period of time, you may get this problem. Some autoimmune disorders, including Grave’s disease increase the risk factor of developing deficiency of B12 vitamin.

B12 deficiency is common among vegetarians, as the most excellent sources of this vitamin are animal products. Strict vegetarians who do not even take milk and eggs are more prone to develop deficiency. If you feel that your diet does not provide you with sufficient amount of vitamin B12, you can consider taking supplements after consulting with your doctor.