If you don't eat meat, you're probably used to the question you get asked over and over again, like, "Have you got vegetables on the tip of your nose?" "Where do you get your protein?" As annoying as these well-intentioned questions are, there's something to consider: How much vitamin B12 are you getting?
First, what is vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 helps keep blood and nerve cells healthy. It plays an essential role in the formation of red blood cells, cell metabolism, nerve function and the production of DNA, the molecules inside cells that carry genetic information.
Where do we get vitamin B12?
Despite the important role of vitamin B12 in our health, the body cannot produce it on its own. This is where diet comes in! The main source of vitamin B12 is animal proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
But if you don't eat animal protein, there are still some ways to get vitamin B12 through the diet. Cereals, soy milk and almond milk are rich in this vitamin, while mushrooms contain small amounts.
How much vitamin B12 is enough?
The right amount of vitamin B12 you need varies depending on your age, diet, gender, lifestyle and specific medical conditions. Most healthy adults need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12, comparable to two glasses of 2% fat milk per day.
What happens if you don't get enough vitamin B12?
People who are deficient in vitamin B12 can experience hematological and neurological disorders. Other health risks are anemia, cramps, numbness or tingling due to the lack of capacity to regenerate blood cells.