Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia that makes people tired and weak. You may hear people talk about B12 as an "energy vitamin". It does not in and of itself provide energy, but along with other B vitamins, it helps the body convert the food you eat into glucose, which gives you energy.
Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food. First, acid in the stomach separates vitamin B12 from the protein to which it is attached in food. After this, vitamin B12 combines with a protein made by the stomach called intrinsic factor and then it is absorbed by the body.
How much vitamin B12 do I need?
The amount of vitamin B12 you need each day depends on your age. Average daily-recommended amounts for different ages range from. 5 micrograms (mcg) for infants to 2.4 mcg for adults. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are 2.6 - 2.8.mcg.
What foods provide vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods. It is not found in plants at all but is added to some fortified foods such as cereals. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products, some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products that are fortified with vitamin B12 (check the product labels).
Am I getting enough vitamin B12?
Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 and might have a deficiency even if they get enough vitamin B12. Your doctor can test your vitamin B12 level. Many older adults for example, have trouble absorbing the vitamin B12 found naturally in animal products, but can absorb it from fortified food. Therefore people over 50 should get most of their vitamin B12 from fortified foods or dietary supplements. People with pernicious anemia usually require vitamin B12 shots, although very high oral doses of vitamin B12 might also be effective for some. People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease, or people who eat little or no animal foods such as vegetarians and vegans may also need to take supplemental B12 as recommended by their doctor.
What happens if I don't get enough vitamin B12?
People who don't get enough vitamin B12 may experience tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Nerve problems, such as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet, can also occur. Other symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include problems with balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory, and soreness of the mouth or tongue.
Can I get to much B12?
B12 is a water soluble vitamin, and what your body does not use, will be eliminated. It has not been shown to cause any harm. There are potential medication interactions, so talk to your doctor if you take any medications.
Where can I find out more about vitamin B12?
Make sure you are getting information from a reputable source. Universities, Medical Facilities and Government sources are most reliable. This information was adapted from the National Institute of Health Office of Dietary Supplements Consumer Fact Sheets. You can visit their web site for further details.