Vitamin B12 is one of the many essential water soluble vitamins our bodies require in order to survive. Vitamin B12 is needed for maintaining the health of nerves and nervous system. Our nerves are made up of different things including something called myelin sheaths. Myelin sheaths act as a protective shield for our nerves. To maintain our nerves and central nervous system, our bodies need to be fueled with adequate nutrition. Getting enough Vitamin B12 is important for everyone young and elderly.
What Foods are Good Sources of Vitamin B12?
Typically, Vitamin B12 is found naturally in meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, and dairy products. There are breakfast cereals that are fortified with Vitamin B12. Fruits and vegetables lack Vitamin B12 unless it is added to it.
How much Vitamin B-12 do I need?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the amount needed each day depends on your age. On average adults need 2.4 mcg (micrograms) of Vitamin B12 everyday.
Who’s at Risk for a Vitamin B12 Deficiency
One of our favorite food groups in the United States is the “protein food group.” Our culture can’t get enough meat; thus, most adults are getting enough Vitamin B12. The down side is that sometimes our bodies can’t absorb Vitamin B12 to its fullest potential. As we age, our stomachs tend to lack appropriate quantities of stomach acid (also called hydrochorlic acid) to fully absorb Vitamin B12. Some adults lack another substance called, “intrinsic factor.” Intrinsic factor is also needed for our bodies to absorb Vitamin B12 fully. If you know someone who has to get “Vitamin B12 shots” they likely have trouble absorbing Vitamin B12 in foods. Also, vegetarians are at risk for a Vitamin B12 deficiency since the basis of their diets are plant based. Vegetarians may benefit from taking a Vitamin B12 dietary supplement.
What are Signs of a Vitamin B12 Deficiency?
- Sensation of numbness/tingling in hands and feet
- Loss of appetite
- Poor memory
- Difficulty balancing
Points to Take Home
- Meat, dairy, eggs, and seafood are natural sources of Vitamin B12
- Only take a Vitamin B12 dietary supplement if it’s recommended by your health care professional
- The standard American diet typically does not lack Vitamin B12
- Adults (greater than 50 years old) and vegetarians are at risk for a Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Consult with your health care professional if you are concerned if you have a Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Supplementing Vitamin B12 orally is not recommended for boosting energy levels
* This blog post is not intended for self medical diagnosis.