Vitamin B12 is an important nutrient that contributes to the healthy functioning of our body. As it is not produced by our body and we need to get it from animal-based foods. Hence, there is a need to consume vitamin B12 rich food regularly to maintain good health. Vitamin B12 supplements are a good alternative to make sure that an individual doesn’t suffer from any severe deficiency disorders.
B12 and Its Significance
Vitamin B12 is water-soluble having a significant role in brain function and healthy nervous health. It is required for synthesizing of myelin- a fatty substance that forms a layer around the axons and enables quick transmission of brain signals.
Vitamin B12 also helps in the formation of red blood cells. Moreover, it contributes to the synthesis of DNA and metabolism of fatty acid and amino acid. Vitamin B12 supplements can be very useful at the same time.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B-12 deficiency is not a very common condition in America. In case you are unsure get a blood test done to diagnose yourself or consult a doctor.
Common factors that lead to vitamin B12 deficiency could be aging or heavy alcohol consumption. Weight loss surgery, removal of parts of the stomach or long-term consumption of acid-reducing medication could also lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency.
A vegan diet could be another obvious reason for incurring deficiency as there is no source of animal-based food intake. Such a person’s daily requirement would not be met and slowly lead to a deficiency.
A few disorders could also lead to lack of B12 in your body. These are-
- Atrophic gastritis: thinning of the stomach lining.
- Pernicious anemia: a condition that impairs adequate vitamin absorption from food.
- Small intestine disorders like Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, bacterial growth, or a parasite all hamper the normal vitamin absorption from food.
- Graves’ disease or lupus: these are immune system disorders
Effects of Deficiency
The most immediate and common health effect of B12 is anemia. If one cannot manage the intake of vitamin B12 supplements, then this may lead to severe disorders. Mild deficiencies usually do not cause any serious harm although if it is untreated it could get severe and lead to:
- Muscle weakness, fatigue, or dizziness
- Rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath
- Dull skin
- Smoothness of tongue
- Gastric issues like constipation, diarrhea, or gas
- Nervous problems in muscles like numbness or tingling, weakness and difficulty in walking
- Loss of vision or reduced vision
- Reduced mental health including onset of depression, loss of memory and behavioral changes
Vitamin B12 supplements need to be taken in a balanced amount to get effective results. There is a minimum threshold or requirement of vitamin B12, depending on age.
Recommended dietary amounts for
- 14 years and older: 2.4 micrograms of daily dosage
- Pregnant females: they need 2.6 micrograms as daily dosage
- For breastfeeding females: They need a slightly higher amount of 2.8 micrograms.
- Above 50 years of age: They need supplements based on their specific deficiencies and inability to absorb the vitamin. It could range between 25 to 100 micrograms per day.
- Children aged between 9-18 years: 1.8 micrograms of daily dosage.
- Infants aged 0-6 months: These newborns need 0.4 micrograms per day as an adequate intake.
- Infants aged 7-12 months: These babies need a portion of 0.5 microgram dosage for natural development.
- Children aged 1-3 years: They require 0.9 micrograms as adequate intake for healthy growth.
- Children aged 4-8 years: They need a slightly higher amount of vitamin B12 i.e 1.2 micrograms per day.
In all cases, a doctor or at least a pharmacist must be consulted before taking supplements. This would ensure you are taking the correct dosage and prevent the condition from getting worse.
Natural Vitamin B-12 Supplements
Not everybody needs to opt for supplements in case of mild deficiency. Unless you are vegan you can meet vitamin B12 requirements by simply increasing or introducing animal-based foods in your diet.
Best sources of food having vitamin B12 are:
- Seafood: Shellfish, sea and freshwater fish, crab
- Meat: Red meat like beef and pork, liver
- Dairy foods: milk, cheese, and butter and yogurt
- Tofu and soy milk.
Top 5 Vitamin B12 Supplements In The US
Among 13 of the top sellers in vitamin B12 supplements, the following rank as top five. The analysis has been conducted by Labdoor, based on active ingredient content and contamination levels(arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury):
- Vegan Safe B12
- Nature Made B12 Timed Release
- Twinlab B12 Dots
- Live Wise Naturals B12
- Nature Made B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency although is not a common occurrence, but it is a condition that should be treated and looked at immediately. If you experience, relevant symptoms do get yourself diagnosed and start compensating for deficiencies. You can opt for Vitamin B12 natural or supplement pills, but make sure you are taking the right dosage. Vitamin B12 is a necessary vitamin for healthy physical and mental functioning. Hence, it should never be ignored.