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The Benefits of B12

Are you getting enough B12? Read on to discover what B12 Deficiency Symptoms are, How you can benefit with more B12, and how you can get more of it in your diet.

Vitamin B12 Facts

B12 is also known as cobalamin. It’s a vitamin that is found in meat protein products: dairy, eggs, poultry, beef and fish. In order for the body to get Vitamin B12, it must be consumed through meat products or through supplementation.  The human body cannot make its own Vitamin B12. Some cereal products and other plant-based products are fortified with it.  And most nutritional yeast is fortified with it.

Your body doesn’t store Vitamin B12, so you either need to regularly eat foods that contain it or you need to take a good Vitamin B12 supplement daily.

Adults need about 2.4 mcg (micrograms) of Vitamin B12 daily. If you’re pregnant, you need 2.6 mcg daily and if you’re breastfeeding, you need 2.8 mcg daily. This factsheet from the National Institute of Health also gives information about how much Vitamin B12 is optimal for infants and children, as well as the amount of Vitamin B12 that different food products contain.

What Does Vitamin B12 Do?

Vitamin B12 helps to form red blood cells and it helps your body to make DNA.

It may improve your mood and it might help with enhanced mental performance.

Different Groups of People Are at Risk for Vitamin B12 Deficiency

Vegans and vegetarians who don’t consume very much or any meat must supplement with a Vitamin B12 supplement or eat foods that are fortified with it.

People who take PPI or H2 heartburn or acid reflux medications are at risk for a deficiency, because their medications reduce the stomach acid secretions which are needed to help the body absorb Vitamin B12.

Older people are at risk for deficiency because their stomach acid can also be lower.

People who have had weight loss surgery must supplement with Vitamin B12 or eat food products that contain Vitamin b12 as the weight loss surgery interferes with the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin B12.

And people who suffer from Chrohn’s or Celiac disease as these conditions can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, so they must make sure they’re getting enough B12 (and other nutrients).

People who take the drug Metformin for diabetes should supplement with or eat food products with B12 due to Metformin’s ability to decrease the body’s intake of Vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms

  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Anemia
  • Weakness and Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trouble walking or trouble with balance
  • Bad vision
  • Behavioral changes, cognitive decline, memory loss and/or depression
  • Smooth or swollen, inflamed tongue
  • Gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • In babies, a Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a failure to thrive and a failure to meet typical milestones

IF you are taking more than 1,000 mcg of folate, folic acid or methylfolate per day, it can disguise megaloblastic anemia from a Vitamin B12 deficiency.  However, if you have a Vitamin B12 deficiency and it is not detected due to a high intake of folic acid, the B12 deficiency can cause nerve damage.  It’s important to not take more than and/or ingest more than 1,000 mcg of folate, folic acid or methylfolate in your diet or supplement regime, per day.

If you think you may have a Vitamin B12 deficiency, contact your medical practitioner and get your blood levels tested. If you find you need more Vitamin B12, you may be able to easily correct it by eating more meat products in your diet. If eating more animal products doesn’t help, if you have a condition that predisposes you to Vitamin B12 deficiency, or you don’t eat animal products, you may either need to supplement with Vitamin B12 injections or take a high-quality Vitamin B12 supplement like this one or this one (if you take Vitamon B12 in the form of methylcobalamin) that we offer at Otte Foods.