Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve function, red blood cell production, fat and protein metabolism, healthy hair, skin, eyes and liver. The body does not make vitamin B12; hence one’s daily requirement has to come from either supplements or animal based foods and a small amount through dairy products. Vitamin B12 deficiencies could be either due to not consuming enough of them through your diet or due to an absorption or other digestive problems. If you have a chronic B12 deficiency, your body can’t make the required amount of red blood cells that it needs and this can lead to anemia. The deficiency is also common as you age.
If you are constantly feeling tired or lethargic, have heart palpitations, nerve problems and increased memory loss, it is a good idea to check with your physician for testing Vitamin B12 levels.
Some Food Sources Of Vitamin B12 Are:
Fish and shellfish.
Fortified cereals,soy and grains.
Reasons For The Deficiency.
Vitamin B12 deficiencies could be due to various reasons such as:
Taking acid blocking/reducing medicines.
Some auto-immune disorders like Lupus,Celiac disease or Graves’s disease.
Vegan Diet without any Vitamin B12 supplementation.
Symptoms Of Deficiency.
Muscle weakness or cramps.
Lethargy and constant tiredness.
Pale skin and dull and lifeless hair.
Loss of appetite.
Nerve related problems.
Tingling or numbness.
Abdominal bloating and gas.
Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin; hence the body does not store it and the same passes out through urine. The human body cannot synthesize Vitamin B12, and hence external sources are needed. Injections, nasal sprays or sub-lingual tablets are the best ways to increase levels. If you suffer from pernicious anemia or have absorption issues, then most likely you will need large doses via injections or supplements, for life. Nip it in the bud as long term deficiency can lead to permanent nerve damage.
Since most B12 largely come from animal products, vegans are at risk for B12 deficiency. If you are a vegan or a strict vegetarian, then it is advisable that you either use supplements or consume Vitamin B12 fortified foods.
Sometimes B12 deficiency is caused by conditions other than diet. If your body can’t absorb B12 properly, you will surely need a doctor’s help to increase your B12 levels.
How Much Should You Take?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin B12 you get from both food and any supplements you take. Vitamin B12 is fairly safe and no tolerable upper levels are defined. But, it is always best that your doctor prescribes the dosage based on your body’s requirement.
The RDA in micrograms (mcg) for people who are 14 years and above is 2.4 mcg/day, for pregnant women 2.6 mcg/day and breastfeeding women require 2.8 mcg/day.
A recent study showed that vitamin B12 used along with folic acid and vitamin B6 reduces the risk for age-related macular degeneration in women with heart diseases.
Side Effects And Risks.
Vitamin B12 taken at normal doses rarely has side effects unless one is allergic to it which too is not so common. High doses may cause acne. In any case, consult your doctor before popping the pill. B12 may be your path to being healthy and positive.