Family Practitioner Questions Vitamin B

Is my vitamin b12 deficiency from my change in diet?

Recently, I altered my diet to include less meat and dairy protein sources. I just went to the doctor and learned I am slightly low in vitamin b12. Is this from my dietary changes? I still want to keep my diet and would rather not take any supplements, so what can I do to help this?

18 Answers

Your B12 deficiency is most likely from the change in your diet. Some of us do not have the factor that absorbs B12 from our diet. So, when our diet is low in B12, we can become B12 deficient. Supplements are recommended. As for vegan foods, you can turn to rice/soy/almond/coconut beverages fortified with B12 or ready-to-eat cereals fortified with B12.
There are over-the-counter B-vitamin complexes which includes enough supplemental B12 to meet your needs.

...Sorry for the late response.
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Foods high in Vitamin B12 include shellfish, liver, fish, crab, fortified soy products (tofu, soy milk), fortified cereals, red meat, low fat dairy, cheese, and eggs. Sometimes people have problems with absorption and although they are eating b-12 rich foods they still develop a deficiency. These patients require supplementation via injections.
It's possible, the best way to know the answer is to review your diet with a nutritionist. Sometimes adding certain food groups can improve the B12 levels without taking a supplement.
Yes, most likely your B12 deficiency is from your diet changes. Vitamin B12 is found in exactly the foods you identified as reducing. B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, neuropathy, mood disorders, fatigue, and other symptoms, so it is not to be taken lightly. I would recommend you either take the supplement as recommended by your doctor or find a way to get enough in your diet, and have your levels rechecked.
Vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in foods from animal sources: eggs, dairy, and meat. While there are fortified foods (some non-dairy mills, in particular) that are good alternative B12 sources, I find that some of my vegetarian and nearly all my vegan patients will need to supplement their B12 intake to maintain adequate levels. If you're just cutting down on meat and dairy, again, fortified nut/soy milks (check the label) and eggs are great options.
The main source of Vitamin B12 is from meat. All vegetarians are vitamin B12 deficient. Also, vitamin B12 is better absorbed with stomach acidity. The chronic use of anti-acid medications or a low stomach acidity will drop the level of vitamin B 12.
Most commonly its do to Pernicious Anemia which is a condition were you cannot absorb B12 from your diet so it has to be taken by another route.
Without knowing your Vitamin B12 level before your dietary change there is
not a way to be sure. However, you have reduced B12-rich foods in your diet
including red meat and dairy. Other foods you could consider are fish such
as mackerel and salmon, and shellfish. Many foods such as breakfast cereals
are B12-fortified, so look for that on the label as well.
Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. Vitamin B12 is generally not present in plant foods, but fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12 with high bioavailability for vegetarians . Some nutritional yeast products also contain vitamin B12.
Vegans, and also vegetarians but to a lesser degree, may be at risk for B12 deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake of B12, if they do not supplement. However, B12 deficiency can occur even in people who consume meat, poultry, and fish.[ Children are at a higher risk for B12 deficiency due to inadequate dietary intake, as they have fewer vitamin stores and a relatively larger vitamin need per calorie of food intake.
Other causes for B12 deficiency include medical conditions and medication.
Add more Fish and soy to your diet
egg and milk will help too
Thank you for the question about your Vitamin B levels. I recommend you see the physician that tested your levels and/or has your medical record to better answer your questions. Also, you may walk-in our clinic at 2556 Old Hwy 24, Hattiesburg, MS: office hours 8:30-12 and 1:30-5, Monday- Friday. We also have alternative hours or house calls to help serve your medical needs. Have a blessed day!
It's quite possible that the recent diet changes you've made contributed to a mild B12 deficiency. You can add dark green leafy vegetables to your diet such as spinach and kale as well as use a vitamin supplement daily.
Hope this reassures you.
Hello, I am a family physician with a private practice in lifestyle medicine, which mainly entails using proper nutrition to allow patients to heal themselves without needing medications. I advocate a plant-based diet for nearly all of my patients, one that is based on whole plant foods. People who eat entirely plant-based do not get enough Vitamin B-12; I recommend all my vegan patients to take supplemental B-12: the dose if you are under 65 is 500 mcg per day; if over 65 then 1,000 mcg (1 mg) per day. The cheapest form, cyanocobalamin, works just fine.

So in answer to your question, yes, it is probably your diet which is causing you to be deficient in B-12. Vitamin B-12, and sometimes vitamin D (for people who don't get much sunshine) are pretty much the only supplements I recommend. Vitamin B-12 is not made by plants. It is not made by animals either, but is present in meat because animals harbor the bacteria which actually manufacture vitamin B-12. Hundreds of years ago, when our food wasn't so sterilized and was contaminated with a certain amount of bacteria from the soil, we didn't need supplemental B-12, but now we do.

I understand your reluctance to take supplements, but B-12 deficiency is a serious issue, so I strongly urge you to take a supplement in this case.

Dr. Jon

You could try and incorporate more animal products like eggs and cheese.
Most people get more than enough B12 from eating meat, eggs, milk, and cheese. Normally, the vitamin is absorbed by your digestive system--your stomach and intestines. Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia usually happens when the digestive system is not able to absorb the vitamin. This can happen if you have pernicious anemia. In this anemia, your body destroys the cells in your stomach that help you absorb vitamin B12.

You may have had surgery to remove part of the stomach or the last part of your small intestine, called the ileum. This includes some types of surgery used to help very overweight people lose weight.

You may have problems with the way your body digests food, such as sprue (also called celiac disease), Crohn's disease, bacteria growth in the small intestine, or a parasite.This anemia can also happen if you don't eat enough foods with B12, but this is rare. People who eat a vegan diet and older adults who don't eat a variety of foods may need to take a daily vitamin pill to get enough B12. Other causes include drinking alcohol and taking some prescription and nonprescription medicines.

Yes it's most likely from your diet. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluable vitamin that comes mainly from animal sources: meat, poultry, and dairy. It can also be found in fish like salmon or sardines, and eggs, or certain soy or fortified cereals. Almond, soy, or coconut milk are also fortified with B12. There are also vegan supplements. Some people may have diseases with problems absorbing B12 and for them, we would recommend supplementation with B12 injections. Since yours is only slightly low, try to add the other foods to your diet. I hope that helps.