Vitamin B12: What’s the Big Deal About B12?

What Is Vitamin B12 Good for?

We all hear about how important it is to take care of our bodies, but are we doing everything we can to promote a healthy lifestyle?

For the most part, we consume the suggested amount of vitamins (like vitamin C and vitamin D) and minerals (like magnesium) from a regular balanced diet. However, if we don’t consume enough of those valuable vitamins and minerals, which can lead to deficiencies.

To ensure that you are living the healthiest life possible, you should pay close attention to your vitamin intake, specifically one of the most useful ones such as vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is a part of the many vitamins we need to make sure our bodies are operating correctly. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that we do not produce on our own. Sometimes people are surprised to learn that we don’t create every vitamin that we need thrive.

However, this is true for many of the recommended vitamins that our bodies need to complete necessary functions. Instead, we must get it from an outside source such as through the food we eat or in some cases through a daily supplement.

How Does Vitamin B12 Help the Body?

Vitamin B12 is critical for proper bodily function, which includes:

  • Helps to maintain the nervous system and brain function
  • Aids in red-blood-cell formation
  • Assists in digestion
  • Prevents amenia
  • Improves overall mood, for example, B12 may help to decrease depression
  • Produces energy
  • Protects the heart from cardiovascular diseases

Where Can You Get Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 is typically found in animal products. Common food sources of B12 include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Eggs
  • Some cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese

People who eat a balanced diet will achieve the recommended daily intake. The recommended intake is 2.4 micrograms for people over the age of 14. However, it is slightly lower for younger children.

I Have a Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Now What?

As with most deficiencies, if you don’t get enough B12 you will start to feel poorly. You may be surprised to learn about the variety of symptoms associated with not getting enough of this valuable vitamin.

Common signs of B12 deficiency include:

  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
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  • Nausea
  • Tingling in extremities
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Poor memory
  • Dementia
  • Confusion
  • Inability to balance
  • Failure to thrive for infants

Anemia is the most common symptom, however; keep in mind that people may experience B12 deficiency and not suffer from anemia. In fact, earlier signs may lead to an improper diagnosis of common illnesses. Early detection is necessary to avoid irreversible damage.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency Treatment Options

Vitamin B12 deficiency is treated with injections of the vitamin because the body can readily absorb it. However, higher doses of oral vitamin B12 have also proven useful.

People start to feel better after a single dose and will continue to improve over time. People compare it to feeling a burst of energy and have a much better ability to focus and complete tasks.

Who Is More Likely to Experience Vitamin B12 Deficiency?

Most people easily obtain the recommended dose of vitamin B12 just through their regular daily diet. However, there are groups of people who are at higher risk of developing a deficiency.

  • Elderly. As people age, their body doesn’t absorb vitamin B12 as easily. However, it is proven that older people avoid deficiency by adding a daily supplement to increase their vitamin intake. This is something that most doctors have on their radar as their patient’s age. However, be sure to bring it up to your doctor if you have any concerns.
  • People with Gastrointestinal disorders. Celiac’s disease and Chron’s disease may make it difficult for individuals to absorb vitamin B12 easily. It’s important for these individuals to discuss their options with their doctor and potentially begin a daily supplement.
  • Vegetarians. Because much of vitamin B12 is consumed from animal products, vegetarians are at higher risk of not getting enough of this necessary vitamin. It is important for vegetarians to focus on other foods such as eggs, cereals, yogurt, and cheese to get their daily consumption. This is especially true for vegetarian pregnant women and their infants.
  • People with pernicious anemia. This particular type of anemia makes it incredibly difficult for individuals to absorb vitamin B12. The recommended treatment is very high doses administered via injections.

The Bottom Line…

Vitamin B12 helps the body function the way that it should. It’s one of the vitamins that we each need to thrive. If you suffer from any of the signs or symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, then you should consult your doctor right away.

There are treatment options that will help you feel better and ensure that your body is working correctly.

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