An essential vitamin which is found almost exclusively in animal foods. We need it to form red blood cells and to maintain a healthy nervous system.
Deficiency can cause a type of anaemia and may lead to irreversible nerve damage.
It is particularly important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as newborn babies have very little of their own stores and rely on obtaining vitamin B12 from their mothers breastmilk.
Vitamin B12 is found in red meat, poultry, seafood, milk, yoghurt, eggs and cheese. Plant foods are not a reliable source of this vitamin and some plant foods promoted as containing vitamin B12 contain an inactive form, which will not prevent deficiency.
Tips for meeting your vitamin B12 needs:
If you don’t consume dairy and eggs regularly, choose soy milk fortified with vitamin B12 (only a few brands in Australia currently have vitamin B12 added).
Some vegetarian burgers, sausages yeast extracts (e.g. Marmite) and nutritional yeast are also fortified with vitamin B12.
If you don’t eat sufficient amounts of foods containing vitamin B12, take a B12 supplement
Source: Dr Kate Marsh BSc, MNutrDiet, PhD, Grad Cert Diab Edn & Mgt Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian