The importance of Vitamin B12 as we grow older

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Jan. 31, 2024) — As we get older, it’s harder to maintain a healthy level of Vitamin B12.

Some sources of B12 are eggs and cheese, dairy, fish and meats. It’s also easy to get B12 with vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, featured in recipes at the end of this column.

You can learn to cook with these healthy additions in Saturday classes at East Bay Health. The new medical practice in Lafayette incorporates culinary medicine, recognizing that your diet affects your health in so many ways. Come change your life. See the offerings at

Those at the highest risk of low Vitamin B12 are vegans, vegetarians, people with blood sugar issues who have taken metformin for a long time and people who have had bariatric surgery. Recent studies suggest long-term use of proton pump inhibitors (medicines used to curb stomach acid) can lead to B12 deficiency, reports Dr. Tracy Hu, cofounder of East Bay Health.

B12 deficit can manifest in anemia, numbness in your feet, neuro-psychiatric changes such as weakness and fatigue in the legs, digestive tract issues, mood changes and cognition issues. In extreme cases, Hu says, doctors prescribe B12 injections, supplements and diet changes.

B12 and other B and C vitamins are water soluble, which means they get washed out of the body through excretion. Therefore, it makes sense to eat a diet consistently robust with Vitamin B12. These recipes will help with that. The nutritional yeast gives these vegan dishes a “cheesy” flavor.

“Cheesy” Vegan Roasted Cauliflower

6 servings

1 large cauliflower head
4 T oil of choice
3 T nutritional yeast
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 450. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Chop cauliflower into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with oil. Add all the spices and toss to coat.

Transfer to baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes, or until crispy and tender, tossing halfway through.

“Cheesy” Vegan Roasted Broccoli

6 servings

1 large head of broccoli, or about 4 heaping c. broccoli florets
1 T olive oil (a bit more if necessary)
3 T nutritional yeast (divided)
½ tsp. garlic salt (or more)
Optional: cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the broccoli into bite-size florets. Rinse in a colander and give them a good shake to dry them off. Transfer to large bowl.

Drizzle florets with olive oil and sprinkle with 2 T nutritional yeast, followed by garlic salt. Toss with large spoon to evenly coat the florets. You could also cover the bowl and shake until evenly coated.

Spread florets onto baking sheet and sprinkle with rest of nutritional yeast. Bake 15-20 minutes, tossing the broccoli halfway through.

Season with a bit of extra garlic salt if needed and cracked black pepper if desired.

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Cindy Gershen
Cindy Gershen

Cindy Gershen is an educator, nutritionist, chef, and co-author of “Fat Chance Cookbook.”