Vitamin B12 keeps your nerve cells and blood healthy. It helps make DNA. A deficiency of B12 can make you feel weak and tired. It can also cause heart palpitations, pale skin, loss of appetite, weight loss and nerve problems. Additionally, it can cause poor memory, dementia, depression, other mood problems and balance issues.
People with blood sugar concerns who take medications are more likely than others to experience vitamin B12 deficiencies. So, if you are taking medications, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about your risks, diet and possibly adding a vitamin B12 supplement to your routine.
Additionally, as we age, it becomes harder for our bodies to absorb vitamin B12. “Older adults are less able to absorb vitamin B12 because up to 30 percent of adults over 51 years of age have atrophic gastritis with low stomach acid secretion,’” said registered dietitian Megan Wong. “B12 deficiency can lead to changes in mood, memory, and cognition. To prevent vitamin B12 deficiency, older adults who don’t regularly eat a B12-rich diet should take a B12-containing supplement.”
You can eat a lot of vitamin B12-rich foods. It’s present in fish, meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, beef liver and clams. The problem is if you are vegan, all of those are off-limits. Thankfully, it’s found in some vegetables. It is also in nutritional yeast, which can be used as a cheese replacement on nachos or a topping on popcorn or other savory dishes. It’s also added to fortified breakfast cereals. But, we advise against eating cereal as a general rule.
Spinach, beets and chickpeas are three of the top sources of vitamin B12 for vegans. Incorporating these veggies into your diet can help you stay healthy and reach your daily value. They’ll also help you have a diet that is rich in fiber! Tofu is another great source of B12. It’s also an excellent substitute for meat in many recipes, so it can play a dual role in your meal. Another option is nori — the seaweed found in Japanese soups, noodle dishes and sushi. Using more nori and tofu may have the added benefit of opening you up to new cooking styles and turning you on to recipes you might not have made in the past. It’s always wonderful to learn new recipes.
As we age, absorbing vitamin B12 becomes more difficult. That can be even more of a problem for people with blood sugar concerns. If you have seen any symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, speak to your doctor. It can be checked with a simple blood test. A supplement might be right for you, but your diet is always a great place to start!