The human body requires 13 vitamins, and B-vitamins form 8 of them—B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12. B12 or Cobalamin was discovered in 1948 and is the last vitamin in the B group to be found. It is red and consists of cobalt in bulk. The other constituents are carbon, oxygen, phosphorus, and nitrogen.
The bulk of B12 is contained in animal-based food like meat and seafood. Vegetarians and vegans, in particular, find it challenging to meet their body requirements of B12 from plant or dairy-based sources. Therefore, finding vitamin B12 rich foods for vegetarian Indians is difficult.
Fortified food is a good substitute for vegetarians and vegans since they do not consume dairy products or other animal products. This article explores some Vitamin B12-rich foods for vegetarians.
Vitamin B12 Foods Vegetarian Indian
1. Milk and Cheese
Milk is one of the best and widely found vitamin b12 foods in vegetarian India. A 250 ml of cow's milk is akin to half of the daily intake of vitamin B12.
Among cheese, Swiss cheese provides the maximum amount of vitamin B12, with 50 gms of cheese containing 1.5mcg of vitamin B12.
Yoghurt is a good source of Vitamin B12 rich vegetarian foods in India. 170 gms of low-fat plain yoghurt provides 16% of the body's daily needs of vitamin B12. This makes it a fairly decent source of the vitamin for vegetarians.
Pro-tip: Yoghurt can be mixed with fortified cereals to satisfy the body's adequate vitamin B12 requirement.
3. Paneer (Cottage Cheese)
Paneer or cottage cheese is another Vitamin B12 rich vegetarian food in India. Paneer is slated to provide at least 20% of the daily B12 vitamin needed. For example, 100 gms of paneer contains about 0.8 grams of vitamin B12. This amounts to a third of the required quantity an adult needs.
4. Fortified Food
Fortified food like fortified cereals can be a good vitamin B12 rich vegetarian food in India. Fortification adds various nutrients to food that are not naturally present in the food. However, it needs to be ensured that the fortified product you choose to consume has no undesired or harmful additives and is high in whole grains and fibre.
5. Whey Powder
Whey powder provides a reasonable measure of vitamin B12. For example, 32 gms of whey powder offers around 8% of the daily intake of vitamin B12. Whey powder isolate is a purified form of whey powder and is supposed to hold a greater content of vitamin B12.
Pro-tip: Vegetarians can combine their intake of whey powder with milk or yoghurt to meet their daily requirements of vitamin B12.
6. Shiitake Mushroom
Shiitake mushrooms are a vitamin b12 rich vegetarian food in India. However, shiitake mushrooms do not contain a large amount of vitamin B12. Therefore, to meet your daily vitamin B12, you will need to consume many mushrooms.
Pro-tip: Saute shiitake mushrooms with other vitamin B12 rich veggies and cottage cheese to meet your daily requirements.
Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake eaten as a delicacy in Japanese cuisine. Like tofu, tempeh is rich in vitamin B12 and consumed in curries or soups.
Nori is an edible seaweed with an umami taste used in Japanese cuisine. It is a vitamin b12 rich vegetarian food in India and is readily available as nori sheets. Use nori to make sauces or add it to soups in a powdered form. You can also use nori powder as a sprinkle over sandwiches and salads.
Eggs are considered a non-vegetarian food item since they are animal-based products. However, quite a few vegetarians do consume it. If you do, an egg is the most potent vitamin B12 for vegetarians. A hard-boiled egg has 0.6 mcg of vitamin B12, i.e., 25%.
Fruits Rich in Vitamin B12
Apples are a rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids, fibre, and polyphenols. In addition, it is one of the many fruits rich in vitamin B12.
Bananas are one of the many fruits rich in vitamin B12. It is a very useful fruit for humans as it reduces stress levels, controls body pressure, and cures constipation and ulcer-related problems.
Blueberries are rich in vitamin B12 content. It helps reduce weight, improves digestion, relieves stress, and helps with cancer and diabetes.
5. Almonds and Peanuts
Dry fruits like almonds and peanuts are a rich source of vitamin B12.
Foods or Drinks to Avoid if You Want to Increase Vitamin B12
The following food items are not recommended and would hinder the intake of vitamin B12.
1. Folic Acid - Fortified Food
Folate (vitamin B9) is an essential requirement before and during pregnancy. However, it could hinder the vitamin B12 intake by masking its deficiency. In addition, high folate levels could exacerbate the anaemic and cognitive symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Hence the folic acid intake from fortified foods should not exceed 1000 mg daily among adults.
Consumption of alcohol can reduce vitamin B12 levels. Moderate alcohol consumption can diminish vitamin B12 up to 5%, even among healthy, well-nourished, and postmenopausal women. In addition, alcohol-related liver ailments can falsely show an increased vitamin B12.
What are the Symptoms of B12 Deficiency?
Here are the major symptoms of B12 deficiency:
1. Yellow, Pale Skin
Pale skin with a yellow tinge is evident in the lack of red blood cells (RBC) in the blood. It could be the consequence of the lack of vitamin B12 in the diet. As a result, the RBC becomes too large and may not be able to squeeze through the bone marrow into the bloodstream.
2. Weakness and Fatigue
RBC (Red Blood Cells) transport oxygen through the blood. When the cells lack oxygen, it results in body fatigue and could be associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency.
3. A Sensation of Pins and Needles
Myelin, a fatty substance, surrounds your nerves to protect them from damage. Vitamin B12 is a contributory factor to the production of myelin. The tingling sensation on the hands and feet results from the failure of myelin production.
4. Balance and Coordination Problems in the Body
Imbalance in movement results from nervous system dysfunction caused due to the lack of vitamin B12 in your diet.
5. Frequent Mouth Ulcer and Inflamed Tongue
An inflamed tongue is known as glossitis and is a painful condition. There could be discolouration of the tongue as well. Some individuals experience mouth ulcers and a pricking sensation of the tongue.
6. Shortness of Breath and Dizziness
Due to an RBC deficient blood, you often tend to experience breathlessness and dizziness.
7. Vision Problems
Vitamin B12 deficiency could impact the optic nerve signals between the brain and eyes, causing blurred vision.
8. Moodiness and Behavioural Changes
Mental health gets impacted as a result of vitamin B12 deficiency. It could lead to depression and anxiety in individuals and could pave the way for more ailments like dementia and mood disorders.
9. Decline in Cognitive Abilities
Low levels of vitamin B12 could mar your memory and ability to understand. It could also result in muscular weakness, heart palpitation, and digestive issues.
Summing Up on Vitamin B12 Foods for Vegetarians in Indians
It is difficult for many vegetarians and particularly for vegans, to maintain a diet rich in vitamin B12 food. The maximum vitamin B12 is found in meat and seafood, posing issues of a balanced diet regime for vegans and vegetarians.
Fortified food is a good substitute for vegetarians and vegans in particular, but they are artificially manufactured, and some are unreliable. While the vegetarians who can have dairy-based food products can increase their intake of milk and cheese, paneer (cottage cheese), yoghurt and a variety of food rich in vitamin B12, the vegans have to rely on fortified food, mushrooms, and fruits to meet their needs. However, fruits are not known to have a sizable amount of vitamin B12 in them.
Folic acid (folate) and alcohol are considered undesirable for vitamin B12 to be used by your body. A vitamin B12 deficiency could result in serious consequences like anaemia, difficulties in breathing, mouth ulcers and could later develop into nervous disorders and other mental challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does Ghee Have Vitamin B12?
No, ghee does not have vitamin B12.
Do Almonds Have Vitamin B12?
Almonds are a great source of plant-based protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Although they do have Vitamin B 12, they are not rich in it, but you can include other foods rich in vitamin B12 to meet your daily requirements.
Does Paneer Have B12?
Yes, dairy and dairy products are considered rich in vitamin B12. 100 gms of paneer contains about 0.8 grams of vitamin B12, which amounts to a third of the required quantity an adult needs.
- Vitamin B12 and vegetarian diets - https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/4/vitamin-b12-and-vegetarian-diets
- Fumio Watanabe, May 2014; Vitamin B12-Containing Plant Food Sources for Vegetarians - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4042564/
- Vitamin B12 - https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
- Roman Pawlak, February 2013; How prevalent is vitamin B(12) deficiency among vegetarians? - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23356638/