What Foods To Avoid And Why If You Have A B12 Deficiency?
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause everything from emotional stress to fatigue and poor health. Foods such as folic acid fortified foods and seaweed can inflame this deficiency and worsen your health if you’re suffering or diagnosed with a B12 deficiency. Seaweed and foods containing synthetic folic acid are not only deficient in the level of vitamin B12 necessary for your health, but they can exacerbate your B12 deficiency and worsen your condition. In addition to this, alcohol consumption can worsen B12 deficiency and deplete your body of this important nutrient for both your emotional and physical health.
The necessary dietary changes for a B12 deficiency are often not discussed the way that they should be. It’s incredibly important to treat your body with care and be aware of what foods to avoid as well as which foods are rich in B12.
Vitamin B12 is a critical nutrient that keeps nerve cells functioning and improves brain function. We regularly associate anemia with a lack of iron in the body, but a B12 deficiency can also lead to a different form of anemia. Having the recommended level of B12 is key to living a healthy life, fighting off disease, having energy, and achieving optimal health.
Just like with all aspects of a healthy diet, attaining a balance between foods that are rich in vitamin B12 and lacking in vitamin B12 are an important aspect of healthy living.
Read on to see which foods to avoid if you are suffering or diagnosed with a deficiency in vitamin B12!
Folic Acid Fortified Foods
Folic acid, also referred to as synthetic vitamin B9, works similarly to vitamin B12 in the sense that it helps blood cells and nerves to function. However, too much folic acid can negate and deplete your B12 levels, leading to further deficiencies.
What are some examples of foods that are rich in folic acid? Chickpeas, kidney beans, broccoli, peas, and fortified breakfast cereals are only a few of the foods that are rich in vitamin B9.
If you’re diagnosed with a B12 deficiency, countering it with an excessive amount of synthetic B9 can do more harm than good, as well as hide your B12 deficiency and prevent you being able to realize that you are deficient. Memory loss can be a symptom of overconsuming B9, especially if you are 60 years or older.
Because the function of B9 and B12 are so similar, consuming folic acid can give you energy even though you are actually deficient in a separate vitamin, causing you to not realize that you have a vitamin deficiency.
Some symptoms of B12 deficiency are fatigue, irritability, and depression. B12 deficiency not only causes fatigue, mood swings, and more, in severe or untreated cases it can actually lead to irreversible nerve damage. Given this potential severity, it’s always recommended to treat B12 deficiency as effectively as possible.
Because of this it’s highly important to find balance between the two nutrients, avoid consuming over 1,000 mcg of synthetic folic acid per day.
Too Many Synthetic Vitamin B12 rich foods can also be harmful
Intake of too much synthetic B12 (also known as cyanocobalamin) can be harmful for your health, just like not enough B12. Taking too much cyano B12 can cause lethargy, skin rash, dizziness, skin itching, and even diarrhea and nausea. It's important to take a natural form, like methylcobalamin.
The National Institutes of Health recommends that the correct daily dosage of B12 should be:
- 2.8 mcg for women who are breastfeeding
- 2.8 mcg for pregnant women
- 2.4 mcg for people over the age of 14
- 2.4 mcg for people over the age of 50
- 6 mcg for vegetarians and vegans
It is often necessary to take hundreds of times this amount as a supplement when one has a deficiency, as only 1% or less of the B12 consumed in supplement form is absorbed. However, it's important to consume a natural form of B12 like methylcobalamin. By taking methylated vitamin B12 tablets or supplements, you can receive the proper amount as listed above for your lifestyle and diet without the adverse effects.
One Food That Is Not A Sufficient B12 Source Is Seaweed
Nori, a commonly purchased seaweed from Japan, is often seen as a great source for vitamins. While nori can be a great source of certain vitamins, contrary to popular belief it is not a significant source of B12.
A great excerpt from a book by Tieraona Low Dog, MD, Fortify Your Life, discusses the basis of how uninformed the belief that seaweed holds a significant amount of B12 is.
It is often best to combine B12 supplements with large dose seaweed intake, such as the Why Not Natural B12 supplement.
There are, however, many alternative B12 rich food sources that you can either combine with seaweed or substitute seaweed or nori with.
Spirulina will not Treat a B12 Deficiency
For someone who is deficient in the vitamin B12, Spirulina is not a great choice for a supplement that will properly aid in your health journey. Often considered to be rich in many vitamins and minerals, it is easy to assume Spirulina could aid in a B12 deficiency, but this is a myth.
The truth is that spirulina contains something known as a B12 analogue or "pseudo" B12 that is not active when consumed by humans.
While this unique plant is rich in iron, copper, protein, and vitamin B1, B2, and B3, it does not contain B12 for human consumption. It's a common misconception that spirulina is a vegan source of B12, but spirulina is ineffective in aiding those with a deficiency in vitamin B12.
Consuming pseudo B12 has no health benefit for humans and should be either replaced by natural food sources (animal products) or supplemented with natural B12, methylcobalamin.
Alcohol Is Among The Worst For Those With A B12 Deficiency, And Can Even Cause One
Alcoholics are one of the highest statistics and demographics of B12 deficiencies in the world. Alcohol not only expels water from your system in large doses, but along with that hydration comes water-soluble vitamin expulsion as well. It is recommended that anyone suffering from B12 deficiency refrains from alcohol use.
Alcohol gets broken down in the body by utilizing nutrients that are currently stored. By consuming alcohol regularly or in excess, your body is required to expel all of the nutrients and vitamins found in your body especially water-soluble B vitamins and C, but also A, D, K, and E.
Your liver provides a necessary function by breaking down the alcohol and helping metabolize it. If necessary, the liver will use all of your body's nutrients including vitamin B12 to make sure that this process is able to happen.
One common symptom of binge drinking is gastritis, which in turn only further robs your body of nutrients due to severe stomach inflammation. Through this inflammation, B12 is further expelled and lost from your body, causing your deficiency to worsen.
In addition to expelling nutrients, alcohol can render tests for vitamin deficiencies including B12 to be inconclusive, which can lead to you not being able to recognize or know that you have a vitamin deficiency and require supplementation, which can, as we mentioned before, cause more serious health issues.
It is incredibly important for your overall health to take note of the foods not to consume in addition to ensuring to consume B12 rich foods whenever you suffer from this vitamin deficiency. Avoiding alcohol, ingesting supplements, and having a balanced diet that includes knowing which foods to consume is incredibly important.
While synthetic folic acid is often seen as a health supplement, for those suffering from B12 deficiency, it can have a negative impact. Not only can it hide your deficiency causing you to go undiagnosed, but it can also negatively impact your body's absorption of B12.
Consuming alcohol worsens health in general, but this is especially true for those with vitamin deficiencies and B12 deficiencies in particular. This is done by causing nutrients and hydration to be expelled from your body, making it difficult to absorb B12, in addition to causing inflammation of the stomach and liver which further exacerbate the condition.The best way to treat your B12 deficiency is by keeping a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol whenever possible, and using a supplement such as the Why Not Natural B12 liquid drops. Our all natural B12 supplements even come in an enjoyable and fully organic cherry flavor!