In this article, we will look at the importance of having enough vitamin B12 in your diet, and the positive effects it has on your skin.
Up to 15% of people don’t get enough vitamin B12 in their diet – a staggering number considering how important the nutrient is for keeping you happy and healthy.
B12 aids in producing red blood cells, which then carry oxygen through the bloodstream. Without this vitamin, the blood cells created are unusually large, disrupting this process and preventing some parts of the body from properly functioning.
Doctors can diagnose a B12 deficiency from various common symptoms and a further blood test. It’s imperative that you catch this deficiency early as, while most symptoms can be reversed, there can in some cases be permanent neurological damage.
Stop feeling tired, and start feeling healthy! Here’s how vitamin B12 can make a huge difference to your everyday life.
What are the health benefits of vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is incredibly important for a healthy body, maintaining multiple bodily processes. B12 keeps up energy levels by supporting the metabolism, making sure that the body has enough energy throughout the day. It also aids in the reduction of elevated homocysteine levels, a leading cause of heart disease, while preventing digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) by promoting healthy bacteria in the gut.
Further supporting the body, B12 lifts mood levels through its production of SAM (S-adenosyl methionine) that regulates mood and is vital to the nervous system working as it should. By helping to produce red blood cells, B12 combats chronic fatigue and weakness, also preventing anaemia. This contributes to a decline in neurodegenerative concerns, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; B12 is frequently misdiagnosed as these two diseases due to their similar symptoms.
It’s very important that pregnant women have sufficient B12 in their diet, as this is a significant nutrient needed for a healthy pregnancy. B12 is an agent in producing DNA and has been suggested to reduce the risk of birth defects. Being integral to cell reproduction, B12 is needed for healthy skin, hair and nails, as well as reducing dryness and inflammation – so both mum and baby should be getting their fair share.
What happens if you don’t get enough vitamin B12?
If the body doesn’t receive enough vitamin B12, it will begin to display negative symptoms. One of the most common examples of B12 deficiency is fatigue, even after a good night’s sleep. The body needs B12 to create red blood cells that then carry oxygen around the body – if your organs are starved of oxygen, your body will feel incredibly sluggish and low on energy. This can further lead to light-headedness, muscle weakness and problems with memory and concentration.
Often, those diagnosed with a B12 deficiency have particularly pale, potentially yellow skin; this is due to unusual releases of the pigment bilirubin from fragile red blood cells. Patients have also commented on how it has affected their senses; strange sensations like numbness or tingling (pins and needles) may be felt, as a result of nerve damage. Loss of taste from a smooth tongue has been reported, leading to a decline in appetite; in extreme cases, there have been some instances of vision loss.
Why is it especially good for vegans and vegetarians?
If you follow a diet that excludes all meat and dairy products, watching your vitamin B12 intake is even more important as it’s in these that the nutrient is found. While a plant-based diet is full of healthy vitamins and minerals, there are some that it just cannot provide.
All vegans and vegetarians who do not consume meat and dairy should therefore be following a regimen with fortified foods or regularly taking a B12 supplement, as this is the only proven method in making sure that they get enough. Always check the label to make sure that it’s vegan-certified and does, in fact, contain enough B12 – most studies show that you need around 2.4mcg a day to stay healthy.
You now know why it’s important to consume the recommended intake of vitamin B12 – but what’s the best way of implementing this into your daily routine? While taking a supplement is a guaranteed fix, there are some incredibly easy and natural ways of making sure that your food intake contains enough B12.
Read on for the five best Vitamin B12 sources, that will keep up your energy levels and give you smoother, brighter looking skin.
This fish is a healthy all-rounder, and should be part of your weekly meal plan anyway – it’s packed with important vitamins and nutrients. Salmon provides 17g of protein, as well as up to 25% of the recommended allowance for calcium. It contains unsaturated fat, much healthier than saturates, and is a source of omega 3 and vitamin D, which has been proven to boost musculoskeletal health.
A 115g serving of sockeye salmon will give you 5.7mcg of B12, more than twice what you need.
Always choose wild-caught salmon, not farmed salmon, to receive all the nutritional benefits. For a low-fat, incredibly tasty meal, grill this fish or bake it in the oven rather than frying. Also, while fresh salmon is best, you can get vitamin B12 from canned pink salmon too, perfect for quick sandwiches and lunches on the go.
Fish and other seafood is particularly good across the board for containing good levels of B12. If salmon isn’t to your taste, there’s a long list to pick and choose from: try clams, trout, tuna, haddock, herring, sardines, crab, mussels or oysters to get your delicious B12 supplement.
An excellent source of B12, beef also contains zinc and is packed with protein. It even provides you with vitamin B riboflavin, which is believed to alleviate symptoms of PMS. As a red meat, beef is also particularly good at maintaining the health of red blood cells.
To really up your B12 intake, beef liver is an even better choice, with an 85g serving of beef liver containing a huge 60mcg. Just make sure it’s of a high quality to ensure you benefit from all the nutritional value.
However, beef shouldn’t be your main source of B12 due to it being high in saturated fats. Red meat is also high in cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Go for leaner cuts, and pair with wholegrain carbs and vegetables for a delicious, healthy meal.
A versatile ingredient that can go in salads, soups and stir fries – or be eaten on its own – the egg is a great way to include vitamin B12 in your diet. It’s also a good option for vegetarians.
Eggs are incredibly nutritious. They hold a nutrient called choline that is vital to the proper function of a liver, as well as lots of protein and vitamin D, which helps maintain strong bones through good absorption of calcium.
One egg will provide you with about 18% of the recommended daily allowance for B12. Rather than over-consuming this food, try to vary which foods you use to naturally maintain levels of B12 in your diet. Each egg yolk also contains close to 60% of your cholesterol intake, as well as some saturated fats, which can result in high blood pressure and incidents of heart disease.
Because B12 is also present in dairy products, a light cheese omelette is a healthy breakfast choice that will count towards your daily allowance.
Fortified foods are the best way, barring supplements, for vegans to regularly consume vitamin B12. It’s incredibly important that vegans keep an eye on their B12 levels to maintain bodily processes; fortified cereals, which can be consumed every day, will leave you confident that your intake is sufficiently high.
How much B12 is included in fortified cereals varies from type to brand; most cereals should provide around 30% of your recommended allowance, though this number can rise. Always check the back label prior to purchase, and as many cereals are high in unhealthy sugars and additives, go for an option that is low in sugar and made of nutritious wholegrains.
Start off your day with a great bowl of cereal with milk for a double dose of B12, or snack on fortified cereals later in the day for an energy boost.
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Also a good source of calcium and vitamins A and D, milk is a simple way to make sure you’re ingesting enough vitamin B12. For those who are lactose-intolerant or vegan, fortified milks, like soy and almond, generally contain similar levels of B12; just remember to check the label.
250ml of milk can provide you with half of your recommended daily allowance of B12, so this source is nothing to sniff at. Great ways of incorporating milk into your day include fun and fresh summer smoothies or the occasional wintry hot chocolate – your morning latte fix is even an option.
Various dairy products are high in B12, so if milk is not for you, try swiss cheese, feta cheese, cottage cheese or yoghurt. Try to stick to skimmed milks and low-fat cheeses to keep your calorie count low.
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Whether you prefer fresh fish or a strawberry smoothie, incorporating vitamin B12 into your weekly meal plan couldn’t be easier. With a nutritious diet and a healthy amount of daily exercise, there’s no reason why your vitamin B12 intake shouldn’t be high enough to keep your body going all day.
Along with the internal benefits that keep your body running on top form, B12 provides all the essential ingredients for smoother, brighter and nourished skin. Our pioneering EGF Serum is loaded with this vital ingredient, and provides everything you need to keep your skin glowing in one simple daily application.
You don’t need to be Nigella to take care of your skin! All it takes is some smart eating, and some even smarter skin care from Bioeffect.