Today we are going to talk about an essential vitamin – Vitamin B12! A Vitamin B12 deficiency can have a lot of impacts to your health, so here are a few tips that will help you optimise your health…
Why do you need Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is essential for a series of different processes from healthy blood to energy production and other things. It helps produce red blood cells so oxygen can travel freely to all cells, tissues and vital organs.
In addition, Vitamin B12 helps your brain function, supporting neurological processes and protecting the myelin sheath, which is the outer coating of neurons. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in your metabolism and creates and repairs DNA, the genetic material in your cells.
Side effects of a Vitamin B12 deficiency
If you have a chronic lack of B12, your body can’t make the amount of red blood cells that it needs, which can lead to anemia.
Most people with vitamin B12 deficiencies have a mild problem, but it can have serious consequences if not monitored.
Fatigue is the most common symptom of people who have low levels of vitamin B12. This may not only be attributed to Vitamin B12 deficiency however, as fatigue by itself can be a sign of almost any health condition, even lack of sleep or lack of iron.
Other symptoms include experiencing constipation or diarrhea, bloating, even tingling in hands and feet. A vitamin B12 deficiency can also cause depression, confusion and seizures and more, it is even related to dementia.
Why are you deficient?
Vitamin B12 deficiencies usually occur when you are not getting the right nutrients in your diet or when your body can’t absorb nutrients properly due to a variety of other problems in the digestive system.
Most of the B12 in our diets comes from animal products and therefore vegans need to be vigilant. Crohn’s and celiac disease, weight loss surgery, and chronic alcoholism can all interfere with a person’s ability to absorb enough of the nutrients they need.
Seniors have more problems with nutrient absorption and can suffer from malnutrition. Some medication also influence absorption such as certain antibiotics, antacids, as well as certain diabetes or seizure medications.
Foods high in Vitamin B12
If you want to boost your B12 intake, animal products like meat, poultry, and seafood, and dairy foods like milk, eggs, yogurt, and cheese are the best sources of vitamin B12. Honey, vegetables, and fruits are not really sources of vitamin B12.
If you are a vegan, think about eating a breakfast cereal fortified with B12, or find a good brand of vegan nutritional yeast flakes and sprinkle it on your food.
You can also take a B12 supplement, which is recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers who are vegans or even strict vegetarians. Only a blood test can establish if your B12 levels are adequate.
How much Vitamin B12 do you need?
You only need a small amount of B12 per day, 2.4 micrograms, whether man or woman, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Pregnant or breast-feeding women need slightly more, 2.6 and 2.8 micrograms, respectively.
Most nutrients have a tolerable upper intake level, or UL for short, that lets you know the maximum amount you can have on a daily basis before serious problems occur. Since vitamin B12 does not tend to cause significant problems in healthy adults, it does not have an established UL.
However, more does not mean it is better – care should be taken when supplementing vitamins and minerals as they are toxic in most cases when overdosing.
And of course… always endeavour to obtain nutrition from your diet first if possible!