Anemia, often caused by a deficiency of proper blood levels, can lead to health problems in humans. It occurs when the body doesn’t produce an adequate quantity of erythrocytes or red blood cells. Fortunately, this anomaly can often be corrected through dietary measures, particularly by including Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in your diet.
Studies have shown that severe Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to permanent brain damage, making it crucial to ensure adequate intake. The good news is that Vitamin B12 is naturally present in a wide variety of foods.
Regular consumption of meat, even once a week, can provide you with sufficient Vitamin B12. Eggs, cheese, and dairy products are also rich sources of this essential nutrient.
For vegetarians, fortified cereals and soy products offer plenty of Vitamin B12. However, it’s important to note that vegetarians, particularly those who abstain from animal products entirely, are more susceptible to low levels of Vitamin B12 intake.
The primary reason behind this susceptibility is the absence of animal products in their diets, and some vegetarians also exclude fortified grains or cereals. As such, it is highly recommended for vegetarians to take Vitamin B12 supplements regularly to compensate for its absence in their diets.
It’s crucial to dispel the misconception that certain vegetables contain ample amounts of Vitamin B12. In reality, only one plant has been proven to contain a form of Vitamin B12 that is usable by humans, and that plant is a Chinese herb known as Dang Guy, which is not readily available everywhere. As a result, most vegetarians have limited options other than taking supplements.
If you’re contemplating a shift to a vegetarian diet, it’s advisable to consult your physician before making the transition. If you’ve been a vegetarian for some time without undergoing a medical checkup and blood test, it’s essential to schedule one as soon as possible, even if you feel perfectly fine. This is because Vitamin B12 deficiency can take years to develop, and by the time symptoms of anemia appear, you may already be at risk of permanent brain damage.
Individuals who have undergone stomach surgery, resulting in the removal of parts of their stomach, are also highly susceptible to Vitamin B12 deficiency. Parietal cells in the stomach, which produce the acid aiding digestion, also produce a glycoprotein called “intrinsic factor.” The presence of this “factor” is essential for the absorption of Vitamin B12 in the body.
In cases where intrinsic factor is absent, diets rich in Vitamin B12 are necessary to prevent anemia. People in this situation should consider consuming Vitamin B12-rich foods like liver to ensure an adequate intake of the nutrient.
If these dietary recommendations don’t align with your preferences, Vitamin B12 injections are an alternative option to consider.