The story behind Vitamin B12

What you should know about this vitamin your body may be lacking

What you should know about this vital vitamin your body may be lacking.

For the most hand, we think of vitamins like teddy bears. They’re great to have around, we probably have more than we think we do, and there’s no harm in having a whole lot of them.

While that isn’t always true, it is pretty much spot on when it comes to vitamin B12. However, just because you may accidentally consume sufficient B12 to ensure your supply never goes dry doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to have a B12 shortage.

Why does this single vitamin matter so much, how do you know if you’re getting enough and what foods give you a B12 boost? You’re about to find out.

Bada-boom, bada-blood!

At its core, vitamin B12 works to maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells in your body. Because your nerves and red blood cells play an overwhelming role in your overall health and well-being, consuming B12 is vital to ensure you don’t wind up with a variety of diseases or conditions.

One of vitamin B12’s most powerful uses is to help develop the brain. Because of this, some have decided to use vitamin B12 to fight off dementia in its early stages. Unfortunately, there is no proof that this is effective. But don’t let this keep you from including vitamin B12 in your diet each day, because there are loads of other reasons to do so.

B12 also plays an important role in your mood and may lend a hand in battling all sorts of diseases.

A deficient view

Those with vitamin B12 deficiency are typically elderly and/or vegetarian. Because vitamin B12 is so closely connected with red blood cells, the symptoms of a deficiency may parallel those of anemia. These include the following:

• pale, flush skin

• feelings of weakness, lightheadedness or tiredness

• numbness or tingling in one or more limb

• unexplainable difficulty walking

• heart palpitations

• vision loss

• shortness of breath

• loss of appetite, gas, constipation or diarrhea

Better ‘B’ eating

In cases of inherited or other severe B12 deficiency, an injection of B12 or oral supplement may be necessary to maintain adequate B12 in the body. For most people, however, eating certain foods is enough to keep a healthy level of B12 available for blood and nerve development and function.

Foods that are rich in vitamin B12 aren’t difficult to access for the most part. That said, those who eat a strict vegetarian or vegan diet have more difficulty consuming B12. Those foods with the greatest amounts of B12 include meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs. Though fruits and vegetables have little if any B12, it is possible for those who avoid meat and meat products to get enough B12 through fortified cereals and through good quality multi vitamins.

B12 blues

Though rare, it is possible to suffer from excessive B12 consumption. Common complications include dizziness, bloating or diarrhea. If you’re on a B12 supplement and experience these symptoms, consult your physician to ensure your B12 levels are aiding and not harming your good health.

How much B12 is needed?

For an otherwise healthy adult, 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 are required daily, while breastfeeding women need the most (2.8 mcg) and infants the least (0.4 mcg). A single cup of low-fat milk has 1.2 mcg and a serving of wild trout has more than twice the daily allotment.

So, if you feel you may have a b12 deficiency we suggest you track your food for the week and see how many times you consume the foods higher in the vitamin – then increase it a bit the next week and see if symptoms improve.

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