Wednesday, 4 June 2014

WIAW: Vitamin B12

Hi everyone!

Half way through the week :)

Today I wanted my What I Ate Wednesday to focus on B12.

A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with a B12 deficiency which had caused me all kind of trouble!

B12 is important in creating iron and therefore red blood cells and helping growth. It also plays a vital part in helping the eyes, brain and nervous system functioning properly - and it helps grow our DNA!


Having a B12 deficiency can lead to some significant side effects. Not only can it cause anaemia, which will leave you feeling tired, light headed and out of breath, but it can also cause mouth ulcers, an altered sense of touch and response to pain, and disturbed vision. However for me the biggest effects were on my mood: it can cause depression and irritability. My mood dropped, I was feeling anxious about anything and everything, was having panic attacks...and generally just wanted life to give me a break.


B12 levels are easily tested through blood tests, and (provided the cause is just a dietary deficiency) easily treated through a series of injections over the course of a couple of weeks. And what's best is that the impact can be really quick!

My experience of B12 deficiency was a real eye-opener as to just how significant good nutrition is not only for our physical wellbeing, but also for our mental wellbeing.

The recommended daily intake of B12 is 1.5mg, but the liver also stores around 3-4mg of B12 , which would be sufficient for 3-4 years. Nevertheless, we need to keep ourselves topped up. The best sources are:

Sardines = 8.1mg for a little over 3oz
Salmon - 5.7mg for 4oz
Lamb = 2.5mg for 4oz
Beef = 1.4mg for 4 oz

So you can see that if you eat meat and fish you can easily cover your RDA. But what about if you're vegetarian?

Yoghurt = 0.9mg per cup
Eggs = 0.6mg per egg
Cows' milk = 0.6mg per 4oz
Cheese = 0.2mg per 1oz

Therefore vegetarians have to be a bit more aware of their B12 intake, but it's still possible to keep it topped up.

For vegans, however, it is almost impossible. There are fortified cereals (often full of additives) and soya milks which have B12 added, and nutritional yeast can also be fortified with B12. However it is incredibly difficult to meet your goals, and easy to become deficient over a period of time. Therefore vegans are advised to take a B12 supplement. As I eat a predominantly vegan diet, I started taking a B12 supplement I picked up form Holland and Barrett. It contains 20,000% of what I need - so I'm thinking I've got this one covered!

I honestly can't stress enough how important it is to ensure you're getting enough nutritional value from your food. I can't put into words how low and distant I felt when I was deficient. It's certainly spurred me on to make sure I eat the right amounts and variety of foods to ensure I get the correct nutrient profile I need :)'s WIAW hasn't been great. I can't even do you a calorie breakdown, as I can't remember everything I ate, but it involved a lot.

Breakfast started off healthily with this:

There was a lot of peanut butter with that. (No real B12 source here, but I had my supplement first thing).

Then lunch was this salad with flaxseed and soya tortilla crisps and some protein bread I'd made (which had eggs - bonus for the B12!).

Work was being pretty stressful today, and I wanted to avoid it by eating. So I started off by eating the rest of the tortilla chips, then a lot of bread, and a lot of peanut butter...and then went to the shops and bought potato wedges, crisps, a pack of 5 cookies...all gone.

So I'm estimating around 3,000 kcal, maybe more :(

This is the first time I've eaten that quantity of food for a long time, and I was feeling so good about my eating on the whole this week. So stupid.

E x


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