Food Sources

Lambs liver, sardines, oysters, egg yolk, fish, beef, kidney, cheese and milk. Up to 10% is lost in cooking (Wahlqvist 2002).

Plants do not contain B12 because they have no cobalamin-dependent enzymes (Croft et al 2005). Most microorganisms, including bacteria and algae, synthesise B12, which then makes its way into the food chain (FAO/WHO 2002). Human intestinal bacteria also synthesise B12, but this is not absorbed to any considerable extent (Wahlqvist 2002). Vegans living in situations with more stringent hygiene are therefore more likely to develop deficiencies.

Clinical note — Nori: a source for vegetarians

Rat studies have demonstrated improvements in B12 status following the ingestion of nori (seaweed). Nori is said to contain as much B12 as liver (Croft et al 2005) approximately 55-59 /jg/100 g dry weight. Five different biologically active vitamin B12 compounds have been identified in nori: cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin, sulfitocobalamin, adenosylcobalamin and methylcobalamin (Takenaka et al 2001); the source of B12 appears to be bacteria (Croft et al 2005).

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