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Top 10 foods rich in vitamin B12 that can be incorporated into your diet to support stress management

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Mar 15, 2024 09:04 PM IST

Experience improved mood stability/overall psychological well-being by having these Vitamin-B12 rich foods that are better equipped to manage stress effectively

Amidst the various discussions about Vitamin B12, it is interesting to learn that this essential water-soluble vitamin is mainly synthesized by bacteria and far more than a mere supplement, Vitamin B12 plays a pivotal role in ensuring the health of our nerves, cells and blood. Its importance extends to safeguarding the nervous system, contributing to DNA synthesis and facilitating the formation of red blood cells.

Top 10 foods rich in vitamin B12 that can be incorporated into your diet to support stress management (Photo by Live Hindustan)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Narendra Shetty, Chief Wellness Officer at Kshemavana, highlighted, “Vitamin B12 (Cobalamine) is crucial chiefly for vegetarians as this essential nutrient is primarily found in animal products that play a vital role in various bodily functions. Vitamin B12 supports red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis and its adequate levels are essential for energy production, cognitive function, and overall health and well-being.”

Vitamin -B12 and stress :

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Dr Narendra Shetty said, “Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation and stress response since adequate levels of vitamin B12 can help maintain proper neurotransmitter balance, which may contribute to improving stress resilience and mood stability. Deficiency in vitamin B12 has been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, which are closely intertwined with stress. By ensuring adequate vitamin B12 intake, individuals may experience improved mood stability and overall psychological well-being, making them better equipped to manage stress effectively.” According to the expert, following are the Vitamin-B12 rich foods -

  1. Fortified Plant-Based Milk: Opt for unsweetened varieties of almond, soy, or coconut milk fortified with vitamin B12. Use fortified milk as a base for smoothies, cereal, oatmeal, or in recipes that call for milk, such as pancakes and muffins.
  2. Nutritional Yeast:
    • Nutritional yeast is not only a source of vitamin B12 but also adds a savory, cheese-like flavor to dishes.
    • Sprinkle nutritional yeast over popcorn, pasta, and salads, or incorporate it into homemade sauces and dressings for a nutrient boost.

3. Fortified Breakfast Cereals:

  • Choose whole-grain breakfast cereals fortified with vitamin B12.
  • Enjoy cereal with fortified plant-based milk and fresh fruit for a nutritious breakfast option.

4. Eggs:

  • Eggs are a versatile and convenient source of vitamin B12 for lacto-vegetarians.
  • Incorporate eggs into meals by making omelets, and frittatas, or adding hard-boiled eggs to salads.

5. Cheese and Yogurt:

  • Select varieties of cheese and yogurt fortified with vitamin B12
  • Enjoy cheese in sandwiches, salads, or as a snack with whole grain crackers. Use yogurt in smoothies, parfaits, or as a topping for fruit.

Talking about strategies for incorporating Vitamin B12 into your vegetarian diet, Dr Narendra Shetty recommended -

  1. Meal Planning and Prepping: Plan meals ahead of time to ensure a balanced intake of vitamin B12-rich foods throughout the day. Prep ingredients in advance, such as washing and chopping vegetables or boiling eggs for easy incorporation into meals.
  2. Recipe Modification: Modify recipes to include vitamin B12-rich ingredients, such as adding nutritional yeast to soups, sauces, or homemade veggie burgers. Experiment with egg-based dishes like quiches, scrambles, or egg muffins for breakfast or brunch.
  3. Snack Ideas: Incorporate vitamin B12-rich snacks into your daily routine, such as yogurt with fortified cereal, cheese whole grain crackers, or hard-boiled eggs.

NOTE - Make sure you intake the recommended daily allowance (2.4 micrograms/day) to maintain optimal vitamin B12 status and prevent deficiency-related health issues. Incorporating vitamin B-12-rich foods into a diet is essential for meeting nutritional needs and maintaining overall health. By diversifying food choices, planning balanced meals, and supplementation when necessary, we can ensure you obtain adequate Cobalamine for optimal physical and mental well-being and improved vitality.

Nidhi Nahata, Founder of Justbe by Nidhi Nahata, shared, “In the past, individuals working in fields naturally encountered this vitamin-producing bacteria when handling vegetables pulled from the soil. This direct exposure contributed to their B12 intake. However, in our contemporary, hygienic living environments, the exposure to these bacteria has significantly diminished. As a result, fortified plant-based foods and B12 supplements have become primary sources for obtaining B12.”

She revealed, “Vitamin B12 deficiency is not confined to specific demographics and can occur at any age. All vegetarians, non-vegetarians and vegans can experience B12 deficiencies. One of the major concerns about Vitamin B12 deficiency is that it can impact memory and mood by affecting neurotransmitter production and causing neurological changes, leading to symptoms like confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. This deficiency can contribute to depression and cognitive decline, stressing the need for a dietary change or via supplements.”

According to her, following are some plant-based sources of B12 to address this nutritional need -

  1. Fortified Nutritional Yeast: Incorporating fortified nutritional yeast into your diet can be a flavourful and versatile way to boost your B12 intake.
  2. Fortified Plant-Based Milk: Many plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond or soy milk, come fortified with essential nutrients, including B12.
  3. Fortified Health Mix: Including a health mix fortified with B12 in your daily routine can provide a convenient and nutritious solution.
  4. Fortified Breakfast Cereals: Start your day with fortified breakfast cereals to ensure you kickstart your morning with a B12 boost.
  5. B12 Supplements: B12 supplements are readily available and can be a reliable source to meet your daily requirements.

She asserted, “Understanding the importance of Vitamin B12 and addressing potential deficiencies is crucial for overall well-being. Whether you follow a vegan or non-vegan diet, incorporating fortified foods and supplements can help you maintain optimal B12 levels and support your overall well-being. Tip: Before trying any fad diets or supplements, please get a blood test and consult your doctor. Understanding your nutritional requirements is key to a healthier and happier life.”

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