B12 deficiency

Best Natural Sources of Vitamin B12

Many people who practice yoga regularly experiment with a vegetarian lifestyle or permanently shift to a diet based on plant-based foods. Even yoga practitioners who regularly eat meat would do well to keep an eye on one essential nutrient, which many people get too little of in modern society: vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential nutrients for proper physical function as well as mental and emotional health. According the National Institute of Health, Vitamin B12 is required for a variety of biological processes ranging from proper red blood cell formation, to neurological function, to even DNA synthesis.

Even a slight deficiency in the vitamin can cause anemia, emotional instability, mental and physical fatigue, and insomnia among other disorders. Over a long time, B12 deficiency can lead to permanent brain and central nervous system damage.

The recommended daily allowance for vitamin B12 for adults age 14+ is 2.4 micrograms (for pregnant and lactating women, RDA is slightly higer.) As you get older, your vitamin B12 requirements also increase, as they do for all the B vitamins.

If you regularly eat meat, B12 is naturally and abundantly accessible in a variety of foods. Some of the best sources of B12 include shellfish, liver, caviar, and fish, such as herring and salmon. Clams alone can provide 98.9 micrograms of the vitamin per a 100g serving, a whopping 1648% of the RDA. Lamb liver provides 85.7 micrograms per 100g serving (1428%), and fish eggs offer up 54.6 micrograms per 100g serving (940%). Salmon and herring give 302% and 312% respectively. 

Ovo-lacto vegetarians can obtain B12 from eggs and dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. While these animal products offer less of the vitamin than meat sources, regular intake can still provide necessary quantities of the vitamin. A breakfast of one cup of yogurt and two eggs, for example, provides you with over 100% of the RDA. Many ovo-lacto vegetarians can also benefit from B12 fortified foods or supplements.

Unfortunately, for strict vegetarian and vegans, B12 is not so easy to come by. Since the vitamin only forms naturally in animal products, vegetarians and vegans who don’t consume eggs or dairy products should add B12 fortified cereals, soy, or nutritional yeast products to their diet and consider taking a B12 supplement.

Although some claim that soy, spirulina, and other plants naturally contain sufficient levels of the vitamin, the majority of B12 from vegetation is analog, an inactive form that is not only inaccessible to the body, but actually increases your physiology’s requirement for it. 

In short, if you are a vegetarian, and especially if you're a vegan, adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your diet is not just a good idea, it is often a necessity. Boosting your body’s B12 levels will be important to prevent health issues down the road; it will also increase your energy, uplift your mood, and promote overall physical health.

Taking vitamin B12 supplements is not as simple as it may seem, however. Simply swallowing a pill doesn't do the trick, because it doesn't provide the body with a readily absorbable form of the vitamin. The body begins absorbing vitamin B12 in the mouth, where small amounts of unbound crystalline forms when the vitamin interact with the mucosa membrane. Studies have shown that oral B12 supplements are more effectively absorbed when chewed or dissolved in the mouth. Consequently, many people looking for an effective B12 supplement may wish to consider an oral supplement, particularly one designed either to be chewed or sublingually dissolved.

 Below is a review of three different types of B12 supplements. (Disclaimer: we get an affiliate commission on the product links to Amazon).

Oral Supplements:

Sublinqual B12 with MethylCobalamin .  “Methylcobalamin” is the name for the active coenzyme form of vitamin B-12 that is essential for proper cell growth and neurological function. These concentrated tablets dissolve under your tongue to deliver a potent boost of B12 to your body’s system. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, as the tablets contain no yeast, dairy, egg, or other animal products.

Mercola’s B12 Energy Booster Spray. Dr. Mercola is well-known for his in-depth research on common health issues, and this is his choice for the most effective B12 delivery system. The spray delivery system breaks down the B12 into smaller, more available particles for more thorough and quick absorption. Each pre-metered spray delivers a B12 boost to your energy levels, aids digestion, and supports healthy metabolism and blood cell formation.  

External Supplements:

Vitamin B-12 Patches. If you are looking for non-oral form of B12, patches have been shown to quickly and discretely deliver the vitamin to the bloodstream, raising blood levels up to 90%. Easy to use, these dime-size patches can be placed behind your earlobe for up to 24 hours, during which they will release 1000 mcg of B12 to clear and energize your mind, promote balanced emotions, and encourage healthy cell growth. 

 

Could You Be Suffering from B12 Deficiency?

Do you often feel tired or low energy? Do you find it hard to focus as the day wears on, and yet at night, have a hard time falling asleep? Do you find that little things bother you more than they should, and that you sometimes feel anxious or emotionally unstable for no discernable reason? If you’ve experienced several of the above, there could be one simple cause behind your discomfort: you may be suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in a variety of essential physiological processes and is necessary for maintaining normal energy levels, promoting nerve health and neurological activity (including mental alertness and healthy stress response), and producing melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. Furthermore, B12 supports healthy cardiac function, maintains healthy cell growth, and promotes normal immune, digestive, and metabolic function.

Previously, many experts were under the impression that only strict vegetarians were at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. This was believed because the majority of B12 sources are animal products, and plant sources of the vitamin often deliver uptake inhibitors for the essential nutrient. However, B12 deficiencies have been found to be much more widespread than initially thought, especially among those in their senior years. According to some experts, nearly one fourth of people over age 60 are B12 deficient. Furthermore, suboptimal levels of B12 are increasingly common in other age groups as well. Why?

A B12 deficiency is not dependent on diet alone: digestion and assimilation of the vitamin play an equally key role. In today’s society, our diets do little to promote digestive health. In fact, the standard American diet takes quite a toll on our intestinal tract. Over time, overworked stomach lining looses its ability to produce hydrochloric acid, a key component in B12 absorption. Furthermore, the use of common antacid or anti ulcer drugs—as well as ulcers themselves—contribute to deficiency. Doctors also now recognize a condition known as food-cobalamin malabsorption syndrome, in which the stomach lining fails to produce the protein that binds with vitamin B12 to allow absorption.

Consequently, you could be consuming everything from lamb’s liver to B12-rich brewer’s yeast and still suffering from B12 deficiency.

The most commons symptoms of B12 deficiency include: mental and physical fatigue, mood fluctuations, nervousness, sleep difficulties, and even occasional indigestion. If you suspect that you may have lower-than-normal levels of the vitamin, speak with your doctor about taking a natural B12 supplement, such as: Source Naturals 5mg Methyl Cobalamin tablets, Vita Sciences B12 Patches, or Mercola’s B12 Energy Booster Spray.

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