Every cell in your body needs Vitamin B12 to function properly. It is vital for brain and nerve functions, as well as the creation of red blood cells. B12 also carries oxygen through your system, and without enough of it you can become anemic.
Your body cannot make B12, and in order to get enough of it you must eat animal foods, nori seaweed, or tempeh (a dense form of tofu). This makes vegetarians in particular susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Studies show B12 deficiency may be as high as 80 - 90% among vegetarians and vegans.
Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
A common sign of B12 deficiency is megaloblastic anemia, which enlarges the red blood cells. Other symptoms are:
- Pale Skin. A Vitamin B12 deficiency may give you pale or yellowish skin and whites of the eyes, often known as jaundice.
- Fatigue. A vitamin B12 deficiency means your body doesn’t have enough B12 to make red blood cells, therefore depriving your system of enough oxygen.
Changing Your Diet to Get More B12
You can increase your diet to add B12. Eating shellfish in particular can help - oysters and clams especially. Liver and other “organ meats” have high level of B12, as does steak, eggs, and milk products. If those food types don’t appeal to you, you can get the B12 you need from supplements. Vegetarians in particular should add B12 via a supplement to ensure they aren’t deficient.