All of the B-vitamins are necessary for your body to function properly, as they play a vital role in making fuel out of food. Vitamin B-12 is crucial to the manufacture of DNA and RNA, which are the body's building blocks, and in maintaining the health of your nervous system. However, B-12 is not reliably found in plants, which means most food sources of vitamin B-12 aren't good for juicing by themselves.
Vitamin B-12, also called cobalimin, is a water-soluble vitamin, which means that your body can't store it for later use. Vitamin B-12 works with vitamins B6 and B-9 to help your keep your homocysteine levels low. This is important since homocysteine is linked to heart disease, although according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, experts are not certain exactly what that link is. It is unknown whether homocysteine is present when heart disease begins, or whether it is one of the causes. What is known is that vitamin B-12 is absorbed more readily by your body in combination with vitamin B-9, which is also called folate.
Sources of Vitamin B-12
Vitamin B-12 is not naturally found in plants; it can only be obtained from animal sources, supplements or fortified foods. Animal sources include beef, dairy, eggs, fish, kidney, liver, pork and shellfish. Aside from milk, yogurt and ice cream, none of the best sources of Vitamin B-12 make very good juices, though you can add eggs to smoothies if you are certain they are free from salmonella. Reed Mangels, Ph.D., R.D., notes that about 2 rounded teaspoons of Red Star brand nutritional yeast provide the recommended amount of B-12 for an adult, from a vegetarian source. You could also add nutritional yeast to your juice or smoothie.
Vitamin B-9, or folate, is proven to help prevent birth defects such as anencephaly and spina bifida if expectant mothers take at least 400 micrograms per day in the first few weeks after conception, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Folate is found in beans, fortified breakfast cereals, whole grains and fortified grains. For those looking to add folate to their B-12, it is also found in cantaloupe, oranges and strawberries and oranges, which make excellent juices. Asparagus and other leafy green vegetables also contain folate, which helps your body process vitamin B-12.
Tips and Hints
Use orange juice and an egg or animal-derived protein powder to make a breakfast smoothie packed with vitamin B-12 and folate. Juice kale and blend it with protein powder and frozen cantaloupe and strawberries for a light and nutritious lunch or after-workout juice. Nonfat milk, nonfat ice cream and frozen strawberries make an excellent dessert shake. And although it isn't technically juice, low-sodium beef broth is a liquid source of vitamin B-12.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)
- Harvard School of Public Health: Three of the B Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B-12
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Facts about Vitamin B-12
- Ohio State University Extension: Folate (Folacin, Folic Acid)
- The Vegetarian Resource Group: Vitamin B-12 in the Vegan Diet
- National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B-12